Mekong is a unique fusion restaurant located in the heart of Derry beside the famous walls. It combines the flavours from Asia, Vietnam, and Thailand. It was started in 2017 when owner and head chef Stephen Forbes had an idea to start a food truck business which has expanded into the restaurant ‘Mekong’.
It started with a pop-up restaurant located in the Nerve centre in Derry and due to popular demand, it’s still going strong today. Mekong is also part of the Legenderry food network and its very innovative in the local area as no one else is trading with the exclusive style of food and drink. They have also paired with a local brewery ‘Rough Brothers’ to create their own brand of beer.
The company wanted to develop a new hot sauce for retail as part of the Department for Economy InnovateUs programme however they required upskilling support from NWRC Foodovation Centre in order to make this a reality.
They also wanted to develop a stir-fry marinade for their customers to take home as part of the Invest Northern Ireland Innovation Voucher programme.
To assist and make their idea a reality Mekong contacted North West Regional College (NWRC) Business Support Centre (BSC) who supported them through the InnovateUs programme which is funded by Department for the Economy.
NWRC Culinary Technical Consultant, Ciaran Deery, provided upskilling in new recipe development, recipe engineering and sensory value of the new hot sauce, allergen advice and finding a better preservative for the sauce, sourcing fresh ingredients whilst maintaining the best pricing of items required to develop the sauce, ingredient research, sourcing and application.
The company also utilised Innovation Voucher funding from Invest Northern Ireland for upskilling support in packaging and labelling sourcing, HACCP, allergen management & storage, legal labelling and nutrition and allergen information, new product development and shelf-life testing.
The company successfully developed a new hot sauce for retail and stir-fry marinade as part of the Department for Economy InnovateUs & Invest NI Innovation Voucher programmes, which have since launched and are ready to buy in their restaurant.
Mekong described the benefits of working with NWRC’s Business Support Centre via the Department for Economy InnovateUs & Invest NI Innovation Voucher programmes:
”We found working with NWRC’s Foodovation Centre to be such a big help into achieving exactly what we were looking for in terms of the production of our sauces. From help with the labelling to the bottling and one on one help with the actual production of our sauces, it’s been such a great help. The help we received really gave us a push to get the sauces over the line and start selling them in the restaurant.”