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The Peak Next Gen | Murasaki Group founder Kashma Budhrani loves Japanese cuisine, but can’t do without chicken rice

The Murasaki Group founder explains how her love for food translates into the businesses that she manages.

TIMOTHY CHIANG

Thumbing through Kashma Budhrani’s Instagram account (@ kashmab), it is clear that she is a foodie. Every third post is one of food. Japanese food, in particular, which she enjoys for its “surprises in taste and technique”.

One of Budhrani’s favourite haunts in the Japanese capital is Ginza Kagari Ramen, where the collagen-rich broth is made with chicken feet. Then there is the high-end sushi restaurant Zoroku Yuzan. “It hasn’t quite hit the Michelin radar, but I think it’s better that it has not done so. (The prices are) a lot more reasonable and they give you more food.”

Born in Singapore but raised in London, the 34-year-old’s understanding of Japanese cuisine was shaped by the likes of Nobu, Sumosan and Zuma. Their contemporary twists on Japanese food inspired her to open Kinki Restaurant & Bar here with a group of friends. The Japanese restaurant was part of hospitality group The Big Idea, which was sold to Far East Organisation’s F&B arm, Kitchen Language, in 2014.

However, Budhrani could not stay away from the restaurant business for long. Recently, she founded the Murasaki Group, with the aim of partnering chefs to open restaurants. “I’m backing chefs that I’ve known for ages. This is important in Singapore, where you have a lot of chef changeovers. When you make them partners, they’re more likely to stay and put their passion into the project,” she explains, citing the restaurants she now owns – Sushi Murasaki, Kurama Robatayaki and Yoi Sake Bar – as examples.

(RELATED: Secret that Cuppage Plaza hides: It’s a haven for authentic Japanese food)

Last May, she became a franchisee of Japanese confectionery brand Yoku Moku, which has retail outlets in Raffles City and Ion Orchard. Budhrani got to know of the family-owned company through her father, who would lug home several tins of biscuits. The firm’s signature bestseller is its Cigare, a butter cookie rolled into the shape of a cigar. To seal the deal, she jokes that she “ate a lot of sushi and drank a lot of sake” with her Japanese partners.

SWEET TREATS
Yoku Moku’s butter-rich confections come packaged in colourful metal tins.

Currently dividing her time between London, Dubai, Nigeria, India and Singapore, Budhrani helps to oversee Naraindas Essardas & Sons, her family’s commodities trading business, as well as its real estate investments. Her family has homes in locations where they trade.

The globetrotter admits that she cannot do without her weekly fix of chicken rice, typically prepared by the family’s private chefs. And, when she is on the road, she dresses in pyjamas for comfort.

(RELATED: How Singapore restaurants are putting a fresh spin on rice dishes)

Ironically, this casual getup has worked to Budhrani’s benefit. Airport staff routinely mistake her for a solo young traveller, and offer to ferry her on buggies. Fittingly, this scenario is depicted on a customised Goyard bag – featuring Miss Piggy sitting in a buggy stacked high with Globe-trotter luggage – that she brings to the interview. A friend had engaged an Antwerp-based illustrator to embellish the bag which was gifted to her. With 2019 being the Year of the Pig, the hog lover is thrilled. “I love pigs! I’m excited about next year.”

 

OFF-DUTY

LUXE TOTES

“One of my favourite (fashion) brands is Ethan K. I’ve known Ethan since he joined Central Saint Martins. I have about 15 of his bags. He just sent me a new one for my birthday.”

SCREEN TIME

“Very simple things make me happy. I like watching movies. A friend of mine was recently in a Bollywood film, so I went to watch it in [Golden Village] Gold Class, where I can put up my feet and enjoy a glass of wine.”

OUT-OF-OFFICE

“My family is keen to open a hotel in the Maldives. We’re really into that place. We like (staying at) One&Only and Cheval Blanc Randheli. The former has a lot of restaurants. We’re foodies!”