Interview, Sangeethan Sivagnanam, Manager, A Li Yaa, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
Going back to 2005, I realized there was a highly lucrative industry that I wanted to be a part of. In pursuit of this dream, I left Sri Lanka for Singapore and joined the Asian Educational Consortium (AEC) Business School, where I spent the next three years working towards my higher diploma in Hospitality Management.
Having gained the necessary skills I needed, I knew I wanted to continue my journey in the hospitality industry, but also wanted to do something close to home. Marrying the two ideals, I sourced out Sri Lankan restaurants in Malaysia and Singapore and came across A LIY AA. My six month internship started in 2008 and through hard work and a committed attitude to providing genuine delectable Sri Lankan cuisine, I earned my way into a managerial position.
What's the best/ worst part of your job?
The best part about my job has to be hosting my customers. Watching them enjoy the food put in front of them and then hearing them wax lyrical about the flavours is always a joy. I don’t think there is a worst part of my job. It has its challenges. The long hours on some nights may be hard but still enjoyable. I think maybe the hardest part about managing a restaurant is finding the right people to create an experience to remember for our customers.
What's your personal favourite meal/ drink at A Li Yaa?
My personal favourite is the string hopper kuttu. It just reminds me of home and of comfort food that my mom would cook for us as children.
The perfect day would be... when all our customers go home with a full tummy and a smile on their face.
A day in the life of a restaurant manager is... waking up, checking my email, checking updates on the internet for A LI YAA, getting to the restaurant, checking on my staff, checking on the fresh produce, checking on my customers, checking cash flow, checking on reservations, checking checking checking...
What do you do for fun?
My work is fun so I work for fun ;-)
What's something you'd like guests to know about A Li Yaa?
A LI YAA now also has an outlet in Ipoh!
What's your view on the KL food scene?
KL's food scene is amazing. The competition to offer the best in everything, from the kind of fresh produce, to dishes, to plating to hosting is overwhelming. Every possible kind of restaurant/cuisine is available in KL and it is just out of this world to see the kind of dishes that are whipped up in each kitchen.
What's in store for you in the upcoming months?
We look forward to bringing in famous Chefs from Sri Lanka to A LI YAA here in Damansara as well as Ipoh to excite our customers with a change of menu and style every now and then.