Entrepreneur

He Created Butter Prawns In 1987, Now His Son Is Bringing His Dishes To KL Doorsteps

  • YongSifu is a food delivery platform founded by Kenji Yong, Spring Wong, and Titus Wong.
  • The platform is named after Kenji’s father Yong Sifu, who is the Malaysian chef who came up with a recipe for butter prawns in 1987.
  • Currently, YongSifu delivers Chinese cuisine lunch sets to customers within the Klang Valley with prices beginning at RM16.90.
  • There are also options for less oil, salt, and sugar for the health-conscious.

Every so often, a culinary creation appears that ticks all the right boxes as far as gastronomic qualities are concerned. Locally, we’ve seen things like the Hainanese chicken chop, and the Ramly burger all combine the intricacies of both Malaysian and Western fare and take their spots as local favourites.

The same also goes for the famous butter prawn dish. One particular family traces the origins of their signature recipe back to 1987 when Malaysian chef Yong Sifu stumbled upon the idea for what would become the beloved seafood dish after travelling around Europe.

“My father found out that Westerners loved to bake their prawns with cheese,” said Kenji Yong, the son of Yong Sifu himself.

“However at that time, many Malaysians didn’t fancy having cheese as flavouring.”

Old newspaper clippings featuring Yong Sifu and his dishes / Image Credit: YongSifu

“So he discovered that by mixing fermented butter and Planta margarine, he could replicate the smell of cheese and created a unique buttery gravy with an aromatic smell. This then became his signature dish for the next 30 years!”

Famous Flavours On Demand

Today, Kenji aims to bring the signature flavour profiles that made his father so successful to the doorsteps of urban Klang Valley denizens by way of food delivery.

Founded in February 2018 by Kenji and his friends Spring Wong and Titus Wong, the food delivery startup YongSifu (so aptly named after Kenji’s father) now serves up a number of Chinese delicacies in addition to the signature Golden Butter Cream Chicken that is derived from his father’s original butter prawn recipe.

And although his father’s signature butter prawns are yet to feature on the menu (Kenji attributes this to early costing issues), YongSifu have introduced a substitute butter cream seafood option to their selection. Additionally, other modern Chinese favourites like sweet and sour fish fillet, roasted honey chicken, and fish-stuffed egg with tomato sauce are all available as set meals with a side of rice that start at RM16.90 each.

“Even though Yong Sifu himself doesn’t cook as often as he used to, he still closely supervises the chefs and kitchen staff to make sure that his recipes are closely followed,” Kenji said.

To deliver their meals, YongSifu partners with other delivery services such as foodpanda and Delivereat, on top of doing their own deliveries.

Each YongSifu menu item starts at RM16.90 each / Image Credit: YongSifu

“We launched because we found that most of the food deliveries in Malaysia were focused on Western cuisine,” Kenji said.

“We felt that Malaysia’s Chinese food delivery market was still new and that it had a lot of potential,” Kenji said. “By going the food delivery route, we can now access a wider target market instead of just focusing on one location.”

“Our objective now is to bring Chinese food closer to modern lifestyles.”

In trying to adapt their dishes to modern lifestyles, YongSifu aims to provide meals that are better suited to the health-conscious, with the dishes all inspired by his father.

“We are also the first online food delivery service that specialises in Chinese food with options for less oil, sugar, and salt,” he added. “Also, our food portion is much bigger compared to other food delivery services.”

Slow And Steady Does It

On the topic of business growth and sustainability, Kenji thinks that the most important thing for YongSifu at the moment is to concentrate on making customers happy, and believes that having returning regulars is key to business longevity.

“We believe that it’s important to keep existing customers happy, even more than attracting new customers,” he said. “I’d say more than 80% of customers who have ordered from us have become repeat customers.”

“I guess it also helps that we have my father’s recipes as a solid foundation for the business.”

Currently, the challenge faced by the YongSifu team has more to do with efficiency than anything else. Kenji said that they are currently still in the process of streamlining their operations, all the while learning as they go.

Co-founder Kenji Yong / Image Credit: YongSifu

“In the beginning stages, we faced difficulties with the actual cooking process as well as the delivery system,” he said. “However, we’ve learned how to simplify the process to become more productive and efficient.”

Since the beginning of February, the YongSifu told us that they’ve sold over 3,000 meals including corporate orders, and they hope to build on this steady start by maintaining their quality while at the same time widening their reach.

“We want to become the leading Chinese food delivery service in Malaysia,” he said. “But first, we will start by aiming to cover most of the Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya areas.”

Feature Image Credit: YongSifu

 

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