Fikri Rohaimi: The 23-year-old behind Blackgoat Burgers
CHARIS JOY sits down with Fikri Rohaimi to learn more about his unconventional journey to running his food store in Mountbatten Hawker.
Hype Issue #57
July 10, 2023
Fikri Rohaimi, the brains behind the well-known Blackgoat Burgers. Photo taken from 8 days Singapore.
Meet Fikri Rohaimi, a budding entrepreneur, who runs the shop “Blackgoat” at Mountbatten Hawker Centre. At the tender age of 23, Fikri has already amassed a wide range of experiences, ranging from operating his own home business to working full-time at a Michelin restaurant. Nevertheless, his remarkable path continues to unfold in unexpected ways.
When I first read about him, it was in an 8 days article about his food. Being a food enthusiast myself, I was eager to taste the dishes, given their delectable appearance. However, as I read on, I discovered that his store held a deeper significance beyond the realm of delicious food. I then decided to pay him a visit and find out more.
One of The Blackgoat’s menu items, Australian GrassFed Sirloin steak. Photo by Charis Joy.
During the interview, I asked Fikri’s co-workers to describe him. Among them was Ethel Yam, 23, who met Fikri during his full-time job at Zén, a Michelin Star Restaurant, and is presently responsible for crafting desserts for the menu. The other was Mu’az Kassim, 23, who works as a cook alongside Fikri. Both of them concurred that Fikri could be best characterised as a very driven, passionate person who strives for perfection in his work.
Ethel, Kassim and Fikri (from left), in front of their store after a long day of serving customers. Photo by Charis Joy.
Having completed his studies in a junior college, Fikri defied conventional expectations by opting to delay his university studies in favour of expanding his experience in the culinary field.
“I was very young, and my grandad would cook a lot. So I would just help him and I would watch a lot of cooking shows, that’s how I got started,” Fikri said.
Upon completing his O-levels, he signed up for part-time jobs and gradually honed his craft. Following his internship at Zén, he eventually became a full-time employee there. The skills he acquired helped him improve his culinary expertise, and his sense of individuality pushed him to pursue more in his career.
What truly surprised me was the revelation that none of this was anticipated by Fikri himself. It was during our conversation that he humbly shared the origin of his venture, aptly named Blackgoat. He recounted how the idea stemmed from his father’s desire to start a “fun” project, initially limited to a home-based business. However, fate had different plans. Their small-scale enterprise evolved into a full-fledged physical store. Reflecting on this unforeseen journey, he said: “It just came together, I didn’t plan it.”
Fikri (middle of the picture), in his younger days, while he was working at Michelin Star Restaurant, Zén. Photo courtesy of Fikri Rohaimi.
You might be wondering, what’s his secret to being able to keep his career afloat seemingly on autopilot and just live in the moment? To Fikri, the most essential thing in anything he does is his mindset and passion. “I think that nothing is impossible. You can do anything you want to, and you should not let anything stop you,” he said as he reflected on his experiences.
As of now, he manages the store along with Ethel and Kassim, as he prepares to pursue a business degree at Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). Regarding his plans for the shop upon resuming school, Fikri said, “We have yet to discuss that, but we’ll do things differently to fit the new situation.”
Blackgoat is more than just a shop for Fikri and his team. It’s a place for them to both experiment with operating a shop and venture into new menu options, broadening their capabilities. “This is a big improvement from the home business we used to do,” Kassim said.
“The oil used to get all over the walls, people were doing things everywhere and it took us half the time to clean up the house,” Ethel added.
Before Blackgoat, Fikri helped out with his family’s home business. The space was small and the workstations were messy. Photo courtesy of Fikri Rohaimi.
As I observed their business operations, it became clear to me that their authenticity was apparent not just in their cuisine, but also in their interactions with customers. I realised that preserving such authenticity proved to be challenging, considering the complexity of their menu.
Throughout the interview, their recurring focus was on their desire to expand their efforts, emphasising how the joy of seeing people enjoy their food serves as sufficient motivation to keep going. “I’m still in the process of finding out (how to be a student while running a store), but all I know is you have to have a really good idea and follow it through,” Fikri said.
Some of the excellent food served at Blackgoat. Photo taken from 8 days Singapore.
Fikri shares valuable advice for aspiring young entrepreneurs: “It is good to have a structure rather than going with the flow and keep your eyes on the end goal. Follow your passion, ensuring your chosen path aligns with your personal desires. Don’t let external influences affect your vision.”