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Get homemade Hong Kong baked goods at this new oriental store and cafe in the Highlands

Bringing something new to a town can be daunting yet exciting. Will the concept work? Will people come? These are all questions 28-year-old Kenny Mei asked himself before launching Invergordon’s first oriental store.

He believes it to be the most northern store of its kind.

Opening the venue around a month ago, K Style Oriental Market and Café has already undergone another renovation since launching due to the amount of stock it is receiving as a result of customer demand.

Kenny sources a lot of his oriental products from London and ships them north.

Owner Kenny Mei, right, and his staff.

When I speak with Kenny, he has just arrived back at the Chinese takeaway that he opened one week before the UK was forced into lockdown in March 2020.

On the hunt for a quieter and slower pace of life, it was a holiday to the Highlands that inspired the entrepreneur to move to Invergordon after selling his restaurant in Manchester two years ago.

Some of the products available to purchase.

Featuring Korean, Japanese, Malaysian, Thai, Chinese and Hong Kong ingredients, K Style Oriental Market and Café brings a whole new offering to the area, and Kenny and his team have been pulling out all the stops to entice customers in.

He said: “There’s not been a oriental market here before so it has been quite popular. There’s a market in Inverness, but nothing else really.

Staff cook up samples for customers to try and also give tips on how to use the ingredients.

“We’ve been hosting tastings in the shop so that we can teach people how to use some of the sauces and ingredients in their cooking. People are really enjoying that.

“We’d had a lot of feedback from our customers at the takeaway who were keen to purchase Chinese ingredients but they were so expensive online. I wanted to bring some Chinese street food to the Highlands.”

Hong Kong baked goods

Located at Old Admiralty Pier on Shore Road, just around the corner from his takeaway on the High Street, customers will be able to enjoy a range of dishes, too, in the café area located within the market building.

From Korean fried chicken, Asian fusion burgers and bubble tea, there’s even Hong Kong style baked goods available to purchase which are made by Kenny’s master chef who has more than 15 years experience.

Some of the Hong Kong buns.

Items available at the bakery include Chinese chicken curry buns, chunky potato curry buns, honey roast pork buns and custard coconut buns.

“Our Hong Kong bakery goods have been really popular. My master chef, who is based in Manchester, makes all of the bakery goods fresh in a commercial kitchen,” said Kenny. “They are then transported up to Invergordon every week.”

“The flavours of the savoury buns aren’t too traditional. I knew that people in the area love curry flavours as the dishes were popular at my takeaway. You can put everything like spicy beef in it and pork and sesame is more traditional.

One of the Asian fusion burgers.

“Sliced Swiss cream rolls are also available and they come as the whole roll, but we slice them up. There’s lots of cream and they are very tasty. We’ve even got an Oreo chocolate one and it is really popular.

“We’ve got original Taiwanese bubble tea available – all of the tea leaves are from Taiwan.”

The bubble tea,

Market products everyone loves

Customers will find all sorts of products available to purchase in the market including snacks, drinks, noodles, sauces, spices and more.

“Everyone is loving the dim sum and Japanese drinks. In the café we offer yum cha (brunch) dishes which is Chinese tea and dim sum”, he added.

The aisles are stocked with a range of products.

“We’re adding products as we go. We had about 70% of all the items we wanted for opening, and we’ll just add to the shelves as we go.

“I want to really help educate customers about oriental flavours. The staff will be able to advise the best products for our customers and will be able to help them no matter what the cuisine.”

Starting his career in hospitality as a kitchen porter at just 12-years-old, he has worked in Michelin restaurants specialising in fusion Asian cuisine and had his own restaurant, No. 8 hot pot restaurant in Manchester.

Outside K Style Oriental Market and Cafe.

Kenny has employed seven members of staff for the store, with three additional staff for the weekend, and has two chefs working in the kitchen – his brother-in-law and himself.

“I really like cooking, but I thought it was important to offer something different.

“I think there’s this perception that Chinese food needs to be something particular, but actually you should enjoy different cuisines together and I think that’s what we’re really trying to do.”

The store is open from 8am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday.

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