Like many kids his age, Tim Yap grew up watching Wok with Yan on TV.
“As a kid I was always home, happy to watch TV on weekends and one of the shows I used to really enjoy watching was Wok With Yan, a show that featured an Asian man cooking easy-to-make, restaurant-quality stuff for the home,” he says. “I told myself as early as then that I would have my own restaurant.”
So it’s no big surprise that, as an adult, the eventologist and entrepreneur has started his own food-delivery business, Wok with Yap.
‘Wok With Yap was conceptualized pre-COVID as a Cloud-based restaurant, delivery-only service that serves Asian comfort food at home,’ says founder Tim Yap.
“Inspired by my childhood faves, travels abroad and just a general love for hearty and healthy food, Wok With Yap was born in 2020, conceptualized pre-COVID as a Cloud-based restaurant, delivery-only service that serves Asian comfort food at home,” Tim says. “We were supposed to launch first quarter of the year — and then COVID happened. So we channeled our initial launch efforts into aiding frontliners in the beginning of the quarantine season. And then we had the time to develop the product further. And so, Aug. 12 was when we finally launched it publicly online.”
So many restaurants and home cooks are currently doing food delivery that I asked Tim why he decided to jump on the bandwagon.
“I have always been fascinated by the food business,” he replies. “I had already ventured into the restaurant business by investing here and there. But during the lockdown, it became my personal mission to help small businesses via my social media, knowing full well that I am among them, too. I wanted to show that, amid everything, we are in this together.”
Since Tim doesn’t really cook himself and is more of a foodie (“I have a very healthy relationship with food. We both love each other and nurture each other with gusto”), to come up with a menu for Wok with Yap, he sat down with a team and they talked about the kinds of food that made them happy.
“Food with flavors that give them a smile — and we looked at how it could be the healthier version of it. Hearty and healthy can go hand in hand!
“We came up with an initial eight, which includes hummus with tabbouleh, Hainanese chicken rice, beef with broccoli, orange chicken, kung pao chicken, soy ginger tuna, spicy salmon and kani mango.”
These proteins are served as toppings over brown rice in kawaii bowls that bear Tim’s anime likeness on them, though if you’re on a low-carb diet, you have the option of substituting the rice with adlai or quinoa.
“Aside from the fact that we have a top chef ensuring the preps and the foods are all premium and topnotch, I feel there is a need for yummy eats but with a deeper emphasis on health — that’s why we also have quinoa and adlai options,” explains Tim. “Right now we may be the only one offering that option. We source all our ingredients locally from farmers that we have been supporting for quite some time with our other ventures and adventures in food.”
Wok with Yap’s chef is Carlo Miguel, who has been Tim’s partner in several other ventures, and a team of dedicated chefs prepares every bowl that gets delivered to your home.
I tried the majority of these healthy rice bowls and my absolute favorite is the hummus and tabbouleh salad, a super-yummy hybrid served with pita bread you can toast. Other standouts are the crispy, sweet-sour orange chicken — Wok with Yap’s healthier riff on sweet-and-sour pork — and the seafood bowls: the soy-ginger tuna has the zest of a ceviche; the spicy salmon has just the right kick and amount of heat; and one vegetarian I know says the kani-mango is her favorite.
Tim says his inspiration was the small businesses born out of the home during the pandemic — “people who became insta-chefs, cooks, entrepreneurs when they lost their jobs and found new ways to make use of their time. Their pivot became my purpose.”
I ask Tim if he’s on any special diet and he says he’s on the “see-food diet. When I see food, I eat it.”
He tries to maintain fitness and his figure by keeping active. “I have a treadmill, spinning bike, saddle row machine at home to counter all the eating that I do. One must exercise more than one eats. But if we apply that, I don’t think we have enough time in the day with the amount of food that I consume. I call it ‘research.’”
Before the pandemic he would always host a slew of events, so I asked how he kept trim back then.
“My body semi-follows the requirements of my job,” he says. “If it needs to trim down, it listens. I was preparing to run the New York Marathon this year, so I knew I had to train, so I was safe. But then the marathon got cancelled/postponed. So I had to find other ways to keep fit. I joined online classes, ran where I could run and tried my best to eat healthy.”
Aside from Wok with Yap bearing his name, Tim put his personal imprint on everything about the business: “Everything from the design of the bowl to the actual dishes is a result of a long process of back and forth between myself and the chefs and the team,” he explains. “A lot of time, effort, thought, frustration, positivity and prayers went into this labor of love, which I hope you’ll enjoy in the comfort and safety of your home.”
Even after this pandemic is over and people are brave enough to dine out regularly again, Tim plans to continue with Wok with Yap.
“Even when a vaccine is discovered, it will still take some time before people really step out and feel ‘normal,’” he observes. “I am all for supporting small businesses and industries so we can all rise again — together. Wok With Yap isn’t like other businesses with a set five-year plan and all — we intend to grow it organically, taking a step one day at a time, maybe expanding the menu to more dishes, making sure you get to have the most flavorful, colorful, yummy and Yappy experience at home.”
(Wok with Yap is available for delivery through Foodpanda and GrabFood PH. Follow @wokwithyap on Facebook and Instagram.)
Follow the author @theresejamoragarceau on Facebook and Instagram.