Tucked away in the bustling area of Batu Bersurat is a homegrown eatery serving an array of Asian, Western and fusion dishes.
Yin Yang Café is a very personal venture for Law Siao Ju. Her aspiration was to open a place where she could share recipes she holds close to her heart.
Most of all, it is a dedication to her beloved mom, who has always been a strong influence and inspiration in her life and goals.
Every aspect found in the café is well thought out; from the culinary style that combines the best of both worlds to the contrasting yet complementary elements of the interior. Everything is designed to give a sense of balance.
Running an eatery can be a challenge for anyone – particularly for someone new to the food and beverage industry. But when Ju opened her very own café in 2023, her mother is what motivated her the most.
“The idea of opening a restaurant came about sometime in late 2019 when my late mother advised me to retire from the banking industry seeing that I was always working late hours and stressed. She encouraged me to start something of my own that I would enjoy,” she shared.
“It was a promise I made to my late mother who was my biggest supporter and my only regret is that she passed away before the launch of the café. But I believe she is watching over me and cheering me on,” she added.
Ju’s journey toward realising her dream began in 2020. Unafraid to roll up her sleeves, Ju made the decision to follow her passion and leave her job in the banking industry, which she had been in for over 20 years.
“Actually, Yin Yang Café is Plan B for another business idea overseas under the same Yin Yang branding due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020 preventing me from exploring business overseas,” she said.
“So I decided to register the Yin Yang Café business in early 2020 as I have always been passionate about food and enjoyed cooking since my university days,” she added.
However, when Ju made the decision to explore the opportunity of opening her own business, there was no way to know that the pandemic would soon cause a major upheaval in the F&B industry for the next two years.
“Yin Yang Café was officially founded and registered in January 2020 but due to the pandemic, I had to hold back on establishing the business until later in 2022,” she shared.
Despite the unexpected challenges, Yin Yang officially opened its doors to the public in 2023.
Piecing together all that inspires her, from an interior that reflects on the harmony of contrasting energies both inside and out to a menu that boasts a vast array of Asian, Western and fusion dishes, every visitor cannot help but feel the love that has been put into this place.
Located on the ground floor of the Pg Hj Menudin and Anak-Anak building at Batu Bersurat, the decision for the restaurant came after the budding foodpreneur noticed its strategic location.
“I had been looking around many places for the café set up, trying to balance between rental cost, foot traffic and convenience for customers,” she said.
“Batu Bersurat is considered quite central and easily accessible by the highway, near Kiulap, Gadong, government offices, schools and universities and near to many other popular eateries around Little Soho,” she continued.
Upon entering the eatery, although modern in design, Yin Yang Café evokes a warm feeling of nostalgia, with an interior that blends Western and Asian elements highlighted by an olive green feature logo wall punctuated by pops of gold evoking a simple classic Zen feel.
“For the café design, I wanted it to incorporate Asian and Western themes, cool vs warm colours, classic vs modern furnishings and decorative items that could seamlessly blend together in harmony, creating a cosy place for our customers to hang out and enjoy our good food and drinks,” she shared.
Family-friendly is what the eatery is all about; the seating fits more than 50 people. Customers can comfortably enjoy dining inside or on the outdoor patio.
“The indoor dining area can accommodate roughly a maximum of 22 pax whereas the outdoor dining area could accommodate around another 34 pax,” she explained.
Ju’s personal touch and ode to her mother can be seen everywhere in the restaurant – from her favourite colour to walls adorned with pictures and knick-knacks of chrysanthemum flowers, a nod to her mother’s Chinese name.
According to her, the eatery’s name was also inspired by her mother’s name.
“My late mother’s name Yin forms part of the café name in memory of her who encouraged me on this new journey and reminds me to strive hard to make it a success and make her proud of my achievements,” she shared.
“The inspiration behind the name was also driven by the concept or idea of achieving balance and harmony in many aspects of the cafe business,” said the entrepreneur.
Moreover, when it comes to cooking, Ju has a strong passion for experimenting with different flavours and recipes.
Not only does she create every meal with passion as her main ingredient, but many of the food on the menu hold a personal story to her.
Yin Yang Café dishes up a harmonious dining experience of varied Asian, Western and fusion dishes with most of the recipes inspired by Ju’s childhood and favourites dishes.
From a recipe that started out from her days as a university student to her food adventures around the world, a lot of thought and love goes into every dish on the menu.
The menu at Yin Yang Café mostly features a varied selection of comfort food with a twist inspired by the Ju’s favourites, including Yin Yang Cafe’s signature Curry Laksa, Nasi Lemak Classic, Fried Eggplant and many more.
Ju said that at the beginning of their journey, it was not smooth sailing as they had to endure challenges and setbacks in setting up and running a café.
New to the food and beverage business, Ju admits she had a lot to learn from the industry. She has grown with the business over the months, learning and trying out new things along the way.
“Learning about the F&B business after being in the banking business for more than 20 years can be a challenge but with the right mindset and willingness to learn and people willing to give tips and advice, I have learnt a lot and am grateful,” she shared.
Over time, one of the biggest challenges for Ju was managing her employees. “Of all the challenges no matter what business you are in, the toughest to manage is people” she said.
“I have tried to be an understanding and fair boss. I am open to staff ideas and suggestions but at the end of the day, I would like to have the final say as it’s my business. I am held accountable and responsible for it,” she further added.
When asked about future plans for the Yin Yang Café, Ju said that they want to focus on growing the business, and adding more items to their menu to give customers more options.
“Next big step is to officially get ourselves ready for the soft opening when additional team members join us. We will update our menu and operating hours thereafter,” she said.
“Hopefully once business operations stabilise, we can look into offering catering and delivery services in the near future,” she added.
The eatery had recently taken on a small staff meal catering job. “However, at the moment we can’t do large volumes. On average, 20 orders per day is still manageable for us.”
When opening a business, Ju advises budding entrepreneurs to always be prepared.
“Be mentally, emotionally, physically and financially prepared. There are no shortcuts, need to be hands-on especially at the start up stage and do your research. If you are lucky and meet nice & helpful people along the way, be grateful,” she advised.
“Being your own boss comes with a price but if you succeed with hard work and determination, the sense of satisfaction will be worth it,” she concluded.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN