Opened on 17 February, CombiniCo. is a new ready-to-go retail store just across from St Mary’s Quad on South Street. It replaces what used to be the Cherries sandwich shop and aims to provide fresh, quick sushi to the residents of St Andrews. Their elegantly modern aesthetic serves as the backdrop for this new convenience-based business model.
The co-founders, recent graduate Alex Longson and third year Juno Lee, have a uniquely St Andrews story. After meeting on Raisin Sunday of Juno’s first year, Alex adopted Juno as his only academic child. The two described how they instantly became friends and ended up chatting for hours about their love for business, Korean and Japanese cuisine.
Two years later they are now co-founders of CombiniCo.
The two share a love and appreciation for cultural fusion through their unique backgrounds. Alex is Korean-Hawaiian and British, having grown up in Manchester. Juno is from South Korea but lived in Japan for 9 years as well as having spent some time in the US.
Juno proclaimed, “Combini is a Japanese word for convenience store and you can get all sorts of necessities and fresh food at these combini stores. They have various selections and very affordable prices.
“That’s what combini is in Japan and since our roots come from Japan and Korea, we felt like we wanted to bring that idea to the UK but with our own twist.”
After their exclusive opening preview on Friday, Juno and Alex agreed that the most popular items were the salmon Bini bowls and the salmon and avocado sushi rolls.
“It seemed like the common denominator today was the fresh salmon. And that’s what you get best in Scotland so we wanted to highlight Scotland’s unique flavours.”
CombiniCo. offers three types of fresh products. The Gimbap is the smallest of the three options and is a rice patty with a choice between tuna, smoked salmon and sweet potato. Each are wrapped in nori and start at £2.20.
“The rice sandwich is perfect for a quick bite to get your energy up” Juno says.
The second option is a classic sushi roll priced at £4 and comes with three filling choices.
The Bini bowl is the largest option and is priced at £6 for a rice bowl with various toppings. All of the products are made fresh before opening.
Each of the three products comes in a vegan option which Alex was especially proud of. He explained how he wanted to make the vegan options just as flavourful as their meaty counterparts in order to break the stereotype that vegetarian sushi is often tasteless and dull.
The vegan options include ingredients like sweet potato and tofu and can be served with any of their sauces as they are vegan friendly too.
The first day of full opening hours clearly went well as CombiniCo. sold out of their fresh food options by 3:30 pm, although they were expecting to be open until 6 pm.
CombiniCo. will definitely need to stock-up and keep their prep chef busy if they want to feed the masses of sushi hungry students in St Andrews.
In addition to their fresh food, CombiniCo. also has a section of ‘convenience store’ style products such as Korean and Japanese sauces, drinks and even microwavable sushi rice which epitomises ‘combini’.
Furthermore, CombiniCo. will soon be stocking Muji brand stationary products because why shouldn’t a ‘combini’ just cater to what we eat?
CombiniCo. is also now open till 4:30 pm.