Taiwanese chicken steak franchise Chickilicious has opened in Kiulap, hoping to replicate in Brunei the growing popularity of Ji Pai in neighboring countries.
Originally a street food dish, Ji Pai – the Taiwanese fried chicken steak – has been popularized in Southeast Asia through different franchises, with Bruneian Gary Leong (pictured below) the first to bring the brand of Chickilicious into the Sultanate.
The Taiwanese dish has gained notoriety for its size, achieved by pounding chicken breasts into a flat, steak-like form usually measuring 12 inches, that’s typically breaded then deep fried and then dusted off with a variety of seasoning powder.
“I saw the popularity of the chicken, nearby in KK when I was in the middle of researching of what business I could start,” says Gary Leong, who works full-time at a bank.
The 32-year-old invested in buying the franchise rights from Taiwan, believing the brand’s simple, affordable dishes – between $5.50 to $6.50 for the chicken steak plus a side of fries or rice – could become a popular choice for Bruneians for dining out. The franchise also serves its own line of milk teas.
“I’ve been researching F&B businesses and different franchises, as well our market, for 10 years before I came across (the Chickilicious franchise),” said Gary.
While the seasoning for the chicken steaks and flavoring for the milk teas have to be imported from Taiwan, Gary said that the franchise is flexible in allowing him to customize flavours for the chicken and develop side dishes that suit local tastes.
“We get the chicken locally, then prepare it seven different ways; with batter or no batter, along with 10 different flavors and 4 different sauces,” he said. “We have also introduced local staples, like IndoMee, as sides and make sure the teas are made fresh for each drink.”
Gary added that he’s working on reducing the average waiting time for customers, after running into some challenges with manpower after some local staff abruptly quit.
“We still have eight locals are we’re committed to keeping them,” said Gary. “But we have to focus on keeping the production (times) consistent for the customers.”
Chickilicious is located at Unit 20, Regent Square in Kiulap and opens from 10am to 2pm and 5pm to 10pm. On Friday, Chickilicious opens from 3pm to 10pm.