In January 2018, a team of 5 established Wizards at Tribeca in Bukit Bintang.
Lee Hai Lin, Jason Loo, Ryan Cheah, Shaun Liew and Lee Yew Kheong are the people behind the restaurant.
Tribeca Serviced Suites approached the team in 2017, requesting them to be an F&B service provider for the apartment hotel.
“We decided to take on the challenge,” Hai Lin said, “But we wanted to add our own flair, story and personality to the restaurant.”
Meet the party
Wizards was created by the same team behind the award-winning Yellow Brick Road café at Damansara Heights.
The name Wizards was inspired by the Wizard in “The Wizard of Oz”, just like how Yellow Brick Road took its name from the iconic path in the story.
Taking on a contemporary dining concept, the menu at Wizards offers innovative Western dishes, pasta, rice bowls and other mains.
The chefs enjoy putting their own spin on the dishes, infusing local flavours into Western ones. An example of such a dish is “Turning Japanese”.
The dish “consists of cold somen noodles tossed with truffle soy, served with barbecue unagi, braised shiitake mushrooms, crispy seaweed and tobiko,” said Hai Lin.
Behind the bar you’ll find Jason, a 3-time Malaysian Barista Champion and Shaun, a 2-time Malaysian Brewers Cup Champion, who take charge of coffee and drinks.
To complete the party, Wizards also has a dedicated pastry team specialising in crafting unique desserts for customers to end their meals with.
Diversity is where the magic happens
Not only does the Wizards team have Yellow Brick Road on their resume, but they’re also the same team behind The Red Beanbag.
Instead of opening a chain of restaurants under the same brand, the team decided to use different brand names each time.
“We wanted the different outlets to have very distinct and unique identities in terms of the food served, location, concept, interior décor etc.,” Hai Lin said.
“Yellow Brick Road and Wizards is also an expansion of The Red Beanbag team so all outlets are being run quite differently,” she added.
To distinguish between the 3 eateries, the team crafted distinct menus for each one and designed the interiors to portray different atmospheres.
“The Red Beanbag is a cosy, Australian-inspired café serving hearty meals,” Hai Lin said, and while Yellow Brick Road is also a brunch-centric café, it has the added advantage of the Wicked Pancake Parlour one floor above.
Hai Lin described Wizards as being more “posh” in comparison to the other two establishments where the focus is on their dinner menu as much as their lunch one.
Lessons from the journey
Managing the first 2 cafés before Wizards came along helped the team become more experienced in running a successful F&B business.
Ryan was hired as the first head chef of The Red Beanbag and Jason was their first Head Barista. Yew Kheong and Hai Lin were running the café and had hands-on experience with operations.
When Yellow Brick Road came about, the 4 of them joined forces and incorporated Shaun into the team.
With all the different expertise and personalities brought to the table, Hai Lin said that it helped in managing the business and building it organically.
Their previous F&B experiences also taught them to hire the right people for the team and to not compromise on quality and customer service.
To avoid pitfalls, Hai Lin said they never underestimated the importance of the team as a whole.
The capital for Wizards differed in the sense that much of its physical startup and restaurant fittings were provided for by Tribeca’s management.
As a 3rd party service provider, the team’s role was simply to provide kitchen and bar equipment, manpower and the necessary expertise to run the business.
There’s still a way to go
According to Hai Lin, some of their best-performing dishes are their Malaysian-inspired Clam & Mussel Pot, braised Wagyu Cheek and their Mediterranean Seabass, with the latter two being dinner favourites.
Wizards trusts that their quality of service is worthy of praise amongst the public, so they rely heavily on social media and word of mouth for advertising.
As someone who’s not a particularly adventurous eater, I stick to dishes with familiar ingredients on the menu in fear of wasting my money.
Looking at Wizards, their menu is undeniably innovative when it comes to flavour and texture combinations I’d never have considered.
The food and drinks look good but as for how good they taste, it’s subjective and I’d have to visit Wizards myself to pass judgement.
It may take some convincing for me to try some of their more ambitious dishes, but if you’re a gastronomical adventurer, go forth and conquer!
For those who love an alcoholic drink (or several, I don’t judge) after their meals, you can anticipate the opening of Flying Monkeys, a bar expansion project of Wizards’ on the 8th floor of Tribeca.
- Find out more about Wizards here.
Featured Image Credit: Wizards