Porridge (or congee) is a staple dish for many Malaysians. It’s simple to make, only requiring you to boil rice (or other grains) in water.
It can be eaten plain or paired with a variety of accompanying side dishes such as a fried egg, some fermented vegetables like radish, or even braised meat.
Many reach for it when they’re down with the sniffles, or out of convenience. But for the majority of the Muslim population in Malaysia, porridge can be harder to enjoy because a lot of it is served with non-halal ingredients.
This is where specialised Muslim-friendly bubur berlauk stores in Malaysia fill the gap. But not many of them provide online delivery services.
Seeing an opportunity there, Aida decided to launch Bubur In Box.
Boiling up new opportunities
Trained in advertising, Bubur In Box is not Aida’s first venture into the food industry. She had previously established an online lunchbox business called Cheap Lunch Everyday.
It was so successful that the business attracted investors and is currently under FoodAsia Ventures, a company specialising in online food delivery.
“They reached out to me in early 2023 and I decided I wanted to be a part of their team,” Aida shared. She then sold Cheap Lunch Everyday to FoodAsia Ventures, where a new team now runs the business.
Thus, Aida’s time was freed up to focus on newer projects, specifically Bubur In Box.
The idea for Bubur In Box came about last year when she was on the lookout for project inspirations. It finally hit after she realised the online delivery market lacked vendors who focus on selling bubur berlauk.
“Given the nature of online business as I understand it, I knew customers preferred a specialised store,” the founder explained.
“Instead of creating a multi-cuisine restaurant with many different menus, I decided to focus exclusively on bubur and try to create the best quality.”
Trusting her gut, Aida figured it was worth a shot as the demand was evidently there. Just look at how Muslim-friendly bubur berlauk eateries like Bubur Nasi Melawati (which has two outlets) have been thriving amongst the local community.
It’s like a pizza box, but for porridge
Prepared in small batches to keep the meals as fresh as possible, Bubur In Box does exactly what its name suggests—serving porridge with a variety of side dishes in a box.
This makes it convenient for assembling, delivering, and even eating. Though, this is only applicable to its combo (RM43, excluding delivery) which serves up to four people.
Each combo box contains four bowls of porridge, sambal paru, stir-fried kangkung, shredded chicken, salted and boiled eggs, fried tempeh, serunding, roasted peanuts, anchovies, and salted radish.
There are also sachets of black pepper, soy sauce, and fried shallots to top off the whole meal.
If you calculate the whole meal, each individual portion costs RM10.75 excluding delivery charges. This is quite standard pricing if you were to visit a physical bubur berlauk store.
For those who live alone or can’t find companions keen on sharing a combo box with, Bubur In Box also offers individual meals. There are four sets available, specifically its Bubur D.I.Y., Bubur Anak, Bubur All in Spicy, and Bubur All in Sedap.
Bubur D.I.Y. (RM6.90) is plain porridge with sesame oil and fried shallots, while Bubur Anak (RM9.90) has additional shredded chicken and half a boiled egg. They’re both ideal for when you have leftover dishes but no rice or porridge to eat them with.
If you’re looking for a punchier all-inclusive meal, the brand’s Bubur All in Spicy (RM15.90) and Bubur All in Sedap (RM13.90) might be better choices.
Each of these contain the same side dishes as the combo box, but the spicy one has an additional side of plain sambal.
The porridge business is heating up
Looking at the brand’s Instagram page and Oddle online ordering portal, you wouldn’t think they sold personalised porridge meals. (Though, they are available on foodpanda and Grab.)
You could say it’s an intentional marketing effort as the brand wants to be known for its combo boxes, a sentiment that Aida has shared with Vulcan Post.
“Unlike my earlier business which produced individual lunch boxes to private and corporate customers, I wanted to promote a shared experience with my Bubur In Box brand.”
While orders were slow in the beginning, she was happy to share that the numbers have been gradually increasing. Currently, the brand receives orders for 30 to 35 combo boxes a day.
Operating out of a central kitchen in Sentul, KL, the team of four running Bubur In Box start preparing for the day as early as 5AM. Ingredient conditions are checked and new groceries are bought before the kitchen starts cooking by 8AM.
As for Aida’s main role, her duty as manager at Bubur In Box is in menu development, purchasing, and marketing.
The three others handling the ingredient preparation and cooking were previously crewmates from Cheap Lunch Everyday. So they’re pretty attuned to each other’s working styles.
Speaking candidly to Vulcan Post, Aida shared that Bubur In Box’s growth took her by surprise. “As I tried to scale up the business, I found I had to adjust a lot of ways of cooking to deal with the demand. Producing porridge in larger batches to meet demand while maintaining quality was a challenge.”
As someone who figured she had mastered cooking certain dishes only to fail at recreating them for more people, I can see where she’s coming from.
Although other bubur berlauk eateries like Tangkap Bulan and Mangkuk Tingkat Place also do deliveries, you could say that the space Bubur In Box occupies is still quite niche, considering the huge Muslim population in Malaysia that can be served.
With plans to expand their reach to more locations and the backing of their investor, Bubur In Box’s expansion seems like a win for consumers. The brand in the process of obtaining its halal certification too, which will increase its credibility among the Muslim population.
Featured Image Credit: Bubur In Box