A typical day in Malaysia, if you so choose, can be filled with amazing local cuisines, from the early morning Nasi Lemak (aromatic pandan steamed rice, spicy belacan and a soft boiled egg), accompanied by a piece of Roti Canai (thinly pulled dough fried to a crisp and dipped into a small helping of beef curry), washed down with a glass of sweet Teh Tarik, to the late night craving for Char Kuey Tiaw (stir-fried ricecake strips with shrimp and oyster), and Mee Goreng (fried noodles) accompanied with Air Bandung (evaporated milk drink flavoured with rose syrup) and probably two to three other meals in between.
Yum. It’s a small wonder how much we can fit into our stomachs. Must be all the exercise we do in between (I’m lying I don’t actually exercise).
It’s easy to forget that a balanced diet requires something else in our diet: Vegetable. Food technologist and food stylist Elaine Ho aims to provide an easy way to get a good, healthy meal through her online portal Chopstick Diner.
The website is a simple one that doesn’t require any specific instruction, which is a real breath of fresh air as compared to some convoluted websites that seem to require a degree in astrophysics with minors in computer engineering to navigate. Each dish is accompanied with a photograph as well as a description illustrating what the lunchbox offers.
I’ve never had a dish so vegetable-heavy that looked more appetizing to me.
For a reasonable price of RM20, Chopstick Diner Lunchbox is sent to your doorstep. Orders above RM50 will be delivered without additional charges, so order with your friends and colleagues!
They currently deliver to Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Mont Kiara, Sri Hartamas, Mid Valley, Bangsar, Bangsar South, Sentral, Damansara Heights, Taman Desa, and Sri Petaling. Once the delivery boy arrives at the delivery address, you are required to receive the box from the delivery boy personally.
There are five flavours that has remained consistent since the website launched and a weekly special that changes every week.
This week, Chopstick Diner is featuring a delicious looking Poached Salmon Salad With Miso Carrot Dressing as well as the usual Crunchy Vietnamese Salad, Classic Caeser Salad With Grilled Chicken, Creamy Avocado Salad, Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Smoked Salmon Caeser Salad, And Half Half (half Vietnamese Rolls and half Chicken Salad).
She also added a few drinks to the menu this week, Crush Mango Fresh Juice, Crush Citrus Goji-Ra Juice, and Crush Banana Pineapple Juice for RM9.00 per drink.
If you’re into the sesame seeds bandwagon, an additional 10g of sesame seeds will just extra RM2.00.
Vulcan Post managed to get a hold of the Ms. Elaine to talk about her business. Prior to operating Chopstick Diner as a business portal for selling lunchboxes, the website was used as a site for her to share recipes and served as her portfolio as a food stylist.
“I was doing freelance food styling and recipe development work for medias and some advertisers,” she shared. Ms. Elaine is a mother of two, a 3-year-old daughter and a 22-month-old son. With her children in mind, she decided that she wanted a flexible career where she is able to be a hands-on mum. “I thought my kids are bigger now and I can start doing something I’m passionate about,” she added.
“Basically within a month of thinking about this business, I worked with my website developers, sourced packaging materials and came up with Chopstick Diner Lunchbox! Just like that.”
The website originally began as a platform for Elaine to share recipes. After she started selling Chopstick Diner Lunchboxes, the idea has been taken up well, with occasional days where Ms. Elaine has to tell customers that she has already reached the maximum orders for the day.
It is surprising to hear that she only started her business August this year! That’s barely three months ago!
“Luckily the media noticed us and approached to write about us,” she shared when asked for the secret to her shot to fame, “Word of mouth helps, too!” It took them about 2 months to get a steady stream of customers, but they are now handling an average of 80-100 orders a day! She added that she normally buys enough food to prepare about 120 lunch boxes.
They’re looking at getting more help in the kitchen to keep up with the orders but she added that they’re “taking things one step at a time”.
A Day In The Life Of Ms. Elaine
With all the cooking and preparation to do, we were curious on how her daily life is like. No better way to find out then to ask!
“My day normally starts at 5am,” she started, “I have a kitchen helper who helps me out with preparing the vegetables. We do all the preparations on the day of delivery to ensure that our customers get their food as fresh as possible. We also grill the chicken, boil eggs, poach chicken and other preparations in the morning before prepping it into lunch boxes.”
“My delivery boys come by at around 9:30 to 10:00am to pick up the lunchboxes and start delivering then. After that, I liaise with my market person and tell them what I need for the next day and pick it up from him.”
“I also find some time in the day to meet clients, bring my kids for playgroup or meet my husband for lunch.”
Ms. Elaine dreams of an almost impossible dream: for the majority of Malaysians to eat healthy. “I think educating people on what’s right to eat and what’s not is so important and lacking in the Malaysian Society.
I’ve heard of some people who eat out every single meal, eating hokkien mee, nasi lemak, etc. I’m not saying you can’t eat it at all, but every meal is excessive! There’s hardly a strand of vegetables in any of those meals!” she exclaimed.
When asked about her own family’s eating habits, she shared that they eat out twice a week, “But most of the time I cook at home for my family (lunch and dinner). Especially with my kids being so young, I always want to make sure they have home cooked food as often as possible.”
She is hoping to continue selling deliciously healthy meals long term. So we’re hoping to see more of her beautiful designs and try out her exciting new recipes (available on the same site!).
In the meantime, did you know a typical serving of Nasi Lemak has almost four hundred calories? Even the unassuming and small piece of Roti Canai can pack an impressive three hundred calories! Take a look at how much calories you’re ingesting with the delicious local cuisines using Cekodok.com, a free Malaysian database with all the nutritional facts for local cuisines and weep consider getting your lunch from Chopstick Diner Lunchbox instead.