At our November 30 RADII Happy Hour, hosted at Heartbreaker restaurant in Shanghai, we had the pleasure of chatting with Zrou (株肉) CEO Frank Yao about sustainability, green living, and building a plant-based future in China.
Founded in Shanghai in 2019, Zrou is a plant-based protein company that aims to create a holistic plant-based food and beverage ecosystem in China. The brand often collaborates with famous chefs to create versions of traditional Chinese dishes made without animal meat (more on that below!).
Zrou is owned by YouKuai Group International, of which Yao is the founder and CEO. The brand’s mantra is “own what you eat,” and it aims to produce “tasty, healthy, and sustainable protein alternatives.”
In Mandarin, rou (肉) means meat. Along with the Z, the name is a play on the word zero, as in their food items contain zero animal products.
RADII Managing Editor Matt Bossons began our candid dialogue with Yao at 7 PM. During the conversation, we touched on why he started the company, the challenges of introducing a plant-based diet to Chinese consumers, and some exciting changes the Chinese market is going through right now.
Yao shared his observations of how Chinese people view plant-based food and what he wishes people would understand about the ethical-dining lifestyle. He also gave us some tips on what it takes to create a Chinese food brand that can thrive internationally.
During the conversation, attendees were able to try several of Zrou’s signature dishes — created with guidance from renowned culinary experts, such as: Zrou meatballs, Zrou southern-style buns with mixed vegetables, Zrou northern-style dumplings with pak choi, and Zrou old-Beijing-style zha jiang noodles.
If you couldn’t make it, no worries, we have a video recap below, and we’ll be hosting more RADII Happy Hour events in the coming months! Also, Frank Yao will be featured as a guest in the first season of China From All Angles, our newest podcast hosted by Wes Chen. China From All Angles will drop on all major podcast directories in early 2022.
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