Interview with Hokkei co-founder Larkin Cen

MasterChef star Larkin Cen has recently been trying to change how the British public perceive Chinese/Asian food by setting up Hokkei in Cardiff, with business partner and fellow MasterChef runner-up Dale Williams.

You can find out more about their culinary journey as they are on TV at the moment, starring in the BBC series Larkin and Dale’s Takeaway Revolution. 

Nee Hao’s Jenny Chan catches up with Larkin to ask him a few questions.

How is your takeaway revolution going? Is business good?

Business is very good. On the opening night we sold out within an hour. It was crazy. We have recently launched a new menu which has gone down really well. In terms of the job in general, it’s pretty intense. It’s been a very steep learning curve but it’s a really exciting time.

Do you still cook much?

Yes, all the time!

You obviously gave the packaging for Hokkei a lot of thought, is this the way forward for takeaways?

Ultimately it is all about the food, but packaging should be important for a takeaway. It has to be robust enough to survive the journey and also have good heat retention. However, in this day and age there is an added responsibility to reduce packaging and look at the environmental impact. We have recently cut down on packaging as a result.

There are many girls who think you are very good looking, how do you deal with this new found fame?

They obviously have commendable taste… Only joking. I’m not so sure they would have the same opinion if they saw me come out of a kitchen after a 12 hour shift nor would I say I’m particularly famous but its flattering to hear that.

What advice would you give to people in the community who want to bring their Chinese takeaway to the next level?

Get your concept right, plan meticulously and go for it. It is a risk but if something is easily obtained then it’s probably not worth obtaining. If you have the passion you should do it. When you do something different and without a precedent you will undoubtedly divide opinion.

What is your favourite dish at the moment?

Love a Laksa. Beautiful coconut and tumeric broth. Add some shellfish in there for good measure. So fresh and addictive!

Larkin's favourite dish at the moment
Larkin’s favourite dish at the moment

Is there anything you would like to say to the members of the British Chinese forums?

Thank you so much for your support. I have read all your messages. It’s an honour to be appreciated by your own community.

Please tune in on Friday 24th April 2015 to see episode 3! There are a few hair raising moments coming up!


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