Special Feature

TV Dinners Anyone?

by Honey Ahmad Photography FriedChillies on Thu, October 22, 2009

Suddenly facing an attack of absolute slothness but really fancy Malaysian to sink your pearlies into? Enter Sri Kulai, Malaysia's first frozen ready-to-eat meals. So who has the guts to launch something like this? Meet Ren Jan, the man behind Sri Kulai..

Never underestimate human laziness

This interview was done during the fasting month. I facebooked it:

Me: will be trying out Malaysia's first TV dinner (or some incarnation of it) for buka today
D: Menatang apa tu? Sedap ke? (what nature of beast is that? Tasty?)
A: Got, meh?
AP: Hmm... TV dinner... interesting...
B: Why does it sound less than appetising?
Me: Ya imagine me after a day of starvation... hehe... but open minds folks...

And indeed an open mind is what you need when dealing with something like frozen dinners. Afterall us Malaysians are spoilt for food, many of them just a stroll from your apartment.

But never underestimate human laziness is what I say.

"We're selling convenience..." says Ren Jan, the CEO of AYS that markets Sri Kulai, the first micowavable frozen ready to eat Malaysian meals. And that's pretty much it. Told with earnest. I liked him instantly, he doesn't sell you a whole spiel on how his frozen dinners are healthy (although it does not contain MSG or preservatives) nor does he go on and on about how great it tastes (although the recipes are authentic). Sri Kulai is all about convenience. You can pop one of their meals in the microwave and have something hot on your plate in 4 minutes. All you need to do is walk to your freezer, pop it in your microwave and press a button.

Because folks frozen dinners are frozen dinners- how gourmet can it get? And yet as far as frozen dinners go, Sri Kulai is pretty tasty. Definitely tastier than half the fast food take-outs that deliver. Oh and you can get Sri Kulai meals delivered straight to your doorstep too.

Their best-sellers are nasi lemak followed closely behind by chicken rice. They also do brisk business with their dim sum sets. The dim sum is packaged in a cunning way. It's frozen with some broth so that when you zap it in the microwave, the broth would steam up so the dim sum would not be dry. Also quite cunning are the 'dishes' set. You can get microwavable lauks like sambal udang and curry chicken, that can feed a family of three. You just need to boil some rice. The BBQ chicken set is quite good too.

Pretty packages all in a row...

Ren Jan himself started out from a cosmetic company. He hails from Kluang and loves local food. So when the opportunity came for him to start his own business he looked around, found a flailing food production company and the rest they say is history.

It's now been a year since they launched. Ren Jan reckons it's going to take 2 more years for the market to catch up. It takes them a few months to develop a new meal and they talk to a lot of cookbook writers. Once the food is cooked, they blast freeze it to -18 degrees and it lasts for about a year. Last year they won Best Halal product. Not bad for a new kid on the block.

"There's all sorts you can do with Sri Kulai," says Ren Jan. They are already selling some of their products on Airasia. Restaurateurs can also buy Sri Kulai, heat it up and put it on a plate to serve (in fact some do). If you come to the Sri Kulai concept store in Jaya 1, you can also enjoy some of their fried goodies (not yet in the market but available at the store). They have a fried beancurd roll and a cheesy roll that is surprisingly good.

So what of the future? Perhaps a healthy diet line for people who like their Asian food and want to loose weight? How about a vending machine in schools? " We're definitely going to do more. Desserts should come out in a few months," smiles Ren Jan and judging by all the possibilities he has a lot to smile about.

For more information on AYS and Sri Kulai check out their website at http://www.ays.com.my