Food Tech Startup Yo-Kai Express Expands Partnerships with Japan, Celebrity Chefs
YKE announces first Tokyo office opening for Summer 2021 via Scrum Ventures' Food Tech Studio - Bites! Program
SAN FRANCISCO, April 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- While restaurants and small businesses everywhere have struggled to survive the pandemic, U.S.-based food tech startup Yo-Kai Express (YKE) has leveraged its technology and ideas to evolve and transform its business models to broader platforms. An innovator that featured at CES this year, YKE made its first splash in 2018 with a robotic ramen vending machine that served just a few options. Since that time, the firm has successfully built out several partnerships and platforms with major food corporations on multiple continents and is even collaborating now with celebrity chefs.
Scrum Ventures'Food Tech Studio - Bites! (FTS-B!), an open innovation program that connects global startups with Japan's leading food manufacturers, has recognized YKE as a stand out among the participants. This resulted in a series of business matching meetings with program partners such as JR East, Japan's largest railway company, and led to YKE Japan's new Tokyo headquarters plan. The new office will be located at K, D, C,,, a JR East facility developed as a food tech coworking space with shared concept kitchens and dining hall demo workspaces. Other program partnerships have introduced innovative materials to YKE so it can debut new vegan menu items.
"We're excited not only to grow during these challenging times but to find so many outstanding business partners through Food Tech Studio - Bites!who share our vision of creating a unique Yo-Kai ecosystem," said company founder and CEO Andy Lin. "We're honored to be the first U.S. food tech company at K,D,C,,, and pleased to be uniting small businesses with large corporations in Japan as well as help modernize dining habits, save resources and reduce food waste with our platform."
More than just food lockers that warm noodles, Yo-Kai's devices are already incorporating co-branded items with celebrated Michelin-recommended ramen restaurants such as Bigiyi, Ivan Ramen, Ramen Nakamura, Menya Jiro and MokBar. Its technology handles the last-mile cooking of both hot or cold, savory or sweet dishes and bowls. It now boasts a growing list of over 20 menu items, including Taiwanese beef noodle soup, Vietnamese pho, gyu donburi, chicken teriyaki and even desserts such as vegan brownie, tiramisu and a matcha mousse bombe. New this summer: milk tea shave ice topped with boba and Himalyan salt whipped cream.
YKE's vending machine got a popular reception two years ago at Lake Tahoe's Squaw ski resort and can also be found in some Marriott hotels, Ontario International Airport, several U.S. university dining halls and on major Silicon Valley corporate campuses. YKE already has one machine in Taiwan, and an established presence in California, Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. It's preparing for further expansion soon in the Seattle, NY and Boston areas. The firm also has its sights set on including non-Asian cuisine in the future.
During the pandemic, YKE pivoted to develop mail-order meal kits, and its two newer platforms—the Yatai, a fully autonomous mobile unit, and the Takumi, a food subscription-based, single-button home appliance, build on the trends of contactless food delivery and the rise of gourmet ghost kitchens.