Overseeing Safari World and Kacha Brothers, Litti Kewkacha is one of Bangkok’s busiest and brightest entrepreneurs. Despite a loaded schedule, he’s also deeply in the know when it comes to fine dining, travelling around the world and Instagramming his finds @litsfree. He recently talked with Bangkok 101 about work, inspiration, and his take on the city’s dining scene.
When and how did you decide to start your own business?
I guess I’ve always had this entrepreneurial spirit in me, wanting to start my own business along with my brothers, Amnaj, Dej, and Duang. It was a combination of business and personal reasons for founding Kacha Brothers as an F&B company. I wanted a business resilient to economic crises and the ups and downs of the tourism industry. And, personally, food is mine and my brothers’s first love. Back then, [in 2007], there was no such thing as a dessert cafe or healthy dessert in Thailand. So we started SFREE (short for “sugar-free” and “stress-free”), with me overseeing the business and marketing and Dej in charge of the products.
When you were young, did you expect you would continue the family business, Safari World?
In Chinese families, businesses tend to get succeeded by the next generation, so we always knew one or some of the brothers would come back to run the company. As possibly the closest to my dad, it was natural that I would to take over the business [when my dad retired]. I have fond memories of Safari World since before the park was built, when it was still barren land in Ramindra. My dad always brought us along when there were exciting moments, such as when the first wild animals (giraffes, lions) or the first panda in Thailand arrived at Safari World. Needless to say, it was the most exciting thing for a young kid back then. I guess I’m very lucky. Not many kids have that kind of childhood.
What does a typical day look like?
I oversee two businesses—Safari World and Kacha Brothers. Luckily, both offices, as well as my home, are in the same area and so I can juggle both on a typical working day. On weekdays, unless I have a meeting in town, I’m usually at Safari World. I work late, until around 9pm or 10pm, before I head home. Weekends are when I tour around my F&B outlets [54 in total citywide]. I enjoy visiting my “babies” to meet staff and customers. In that way, I get honest feedback on how we are doing. Weekends are also the time I have to explore the malls, the restaurants, the spas—basically all the “happenings” in and around the city.
What are your favourite areas to visit in Safari World? What are the “can’t miss” zones?
My favourite area is, unfortunately, off-limits to the public—behind stage at the dolphin pools, where I can swim with the dolphins whenever I need to clear my head! It’s the best stress-remedy in the world. Visitors shouldn’t miss our orangutan, sea lion, and dolphin shows. Then there’s Eggs World, the incubation centre where our birds’ breeding program takes place. It’s truly one-of-a-kind. New lives are born every day in front of visitors’ eyes. Last but not least, visit the Giraffe Terrace, where you can get up-close-and-personal and hand-feed the world’s largest herd of giraffes—more than 300 and counting!
Who is your role model?
My parents, especially my dad, who’s one of the most visionary businesspersons in the country. He’s been through three economic crises but has still managed to “survive” and rebuild our family business. He began working at the age of 10, earning 10B of salary, and built up to where we are today. Even at the age of 75, he’s working seven days a week, so it’s natural for me to follow his footsteps—learning that nothing comes easy in life and to work hard, be humble, and not take things for granted.
With all the new restaurants and young chefs, do you think Bangkok is becoming a fine dining capital?
I don’t necessarily see Bangkok as a fine dining capital—food capital, for sure, but not fine-dining yet. We have many good restaurants, but not really at the finest luxury level. Not that we should want to be either—Bangkok’s charm lies in diversity, value, and dynamism. And for that reason, funnily enough, I tend to eat at very simple and local places. It’s what I grew up with.
What are your favourite places to eat in Bangkok?
I like to eat at noodle shops—beef noodles, yen ta fo, pork noodles: you name it. There’s a great little roadside pork noodle vendor below the Rama 4 expressway in a small alley, and it always runs out by 2pm. My favourite food is, of course, Japanese, although I struggle to find really good places at the high-end level. My favourites are Nanohana, which is reasonably-priced Kansai cuisine in J-Avenue; Sakuragawa sushi at Jasmine Tower (my favourite in Bangkok); and Shunbo Izakaya in Sukhumvit 11. The places I frequent the most are Isshin, which does high-quality homemade soba in Sukhumvit 24, and Yokoi Udon in Sukhumvit 39. Of course, when I feel like splurging, I drop by to see my friend Gaggan.
Are there any other things you wish to try, apart from owning ice cream shops and bakeries?
I now have over 50 outlets of cafes and casual Japanese restaurants, like my gyoza joints. So maybe one day I want to step up and do fine-dining, too. But it’s got to be the right project with the right people at the right time. It would be a natural culmination of my journey as a foodie.