Speaking on The Restaurant podcast, Kat and Sue, founders of food business Makan Malaysia, discuss how they have adapted their business model from being a food catering company to selling sending freshly cooked Malaysian food across the UK.
The pair had previously been serving their Malaysian food at pop-up venues but say the lockdown gave them the opportunity to create a delivery business that is now thriving.
Customers order from Makan Malaysia’s menu or can even email the duo with specific dishes they want, which are then prepared and vacuum packed and send to them via next day courier service.
The Malaysian-born friends, who met while at high school, moved to the UK about a decade ago and started Makan Malaysia about two years ago, originally cooking for friends and family.
“When we moved here, we couldn’t find anywhere that could do Malaysian food how we wanted it or that we could afford on a poor student budget, so we started cooking for friends and family,” they say.
However, they have no pivoted their business to online delivery because they say not only has the lockdown made more people willing to buy meal kits the prolonged closure of restaurants has encouraged people to try cuisines with which they might not be too familiar.
“People were in lockdown and trying to find new foods,” they say. “Malaysian food is still quite new on the [UK] scene and we’re giving people other options – something that might not be their usual food.”
Makan translates as means ‘eat’ in Malaysia, and the pair say they are on a mission to get more people in the UK eating Malaysian food and understanding more about it.
“We try to talk about the history and culture of Malaysian food. Where [Malaysia] is geographically located there are lots of influences form different cuisines and cultures. But its food is not as popular as the areas around it like Thailand. We want to make more people aware of it."
Core dishes in Makan Malaysia’s range include beef rendang; nasi lemak, a dish of coconut rice, ikan bilis, peanuts, cucumber, egg and sambal chilli paste that is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Malaysia; and prawn fritters.
The pair have also started selling a range of satay barbecue kits, with either chicken leg or tofu, because “everyone must be bored of cooking sausages and burgers” they say.