If you live in Malaysia, chances are you’ve encountered a lok lok stand or truck at least once or twice during your lifetime.
A popular local street food, lok loks are skewers of steamboat-styled foods, from fishballs and cockles to meat and vegetables. My favourite options include fish tofu and quail eggs. Boring for some, I’m sure.
For the uninitiated, you can think of lok lok as something similar to oden, or satay celup without as much celup-ing. Instead of a big boiling pot of satay gravy, lok lok is usually enjoyed with dipping sauces.
The thing about lok lok, though, is that it’s typically not halal, making it something that not all Malaysians get to enjoy.
Determined to change this, Mohd Radzi bin Wahab and Mahalim bin Hashim Lim came together to start a new halal lok lok business by the name of Mr Lok Lok.
Meet the misters behind the lok lok
Before venturing into the F&B realm, Radzi had been a Maybank officer, then later a department manager at Yayasan Pelajaran Mara.
In 2016, though, he pivoted and started a brand known as Muo Kopi.
Meanwhile, his business partner, Mahalim, had pursued his Bachelor’s degree in business, specialising in marketing. Prior to starting Mr Lok Lok, he had managed a restaurant by the name of SuperTea, now known as Power Tea.
Leveraging the two’s expertise in F&B, they came together in November 2019, opening a 40-seater restaurant in Bandar Seri Alam, Johor. From there, Mr Lok Lok’s story began.
Rebranding lok lok
As mentioned, lok lok is often associated with the Chinese-Malaysian population, something that the owners of Mr Lok Lok have recognised.
“As we know, lok lok is a Chinese cuisine food, whereas some Malays feel sceptical about eating them,” they said, referring to the halal status of most lok lok places.
Thus, Mr Lok Lok set out to be the first halal lok lok restaurant in Johor with a halal certification from Majlis Agama Islam Johor.
“After we received the halal cert from MAIJ, our sales increased because more people are confident to eat at Mr Lok Lok,” they said.
More than just the certification, however, Mr Lok Lok decided to rebrand lok lok, in a way, so Muslims can also enjoy the food. Branding aside, the team diversified to offer more than 80 types of lok lok options.
“Mr Lok Lok has developed a culture and style unique to modern Malaysia, creating a total gastronomic and visual [appeal] to its ever-growing customer base, both local and expatriates,” the founders elaborated.
That explains their tagline on Facebook, which reads: “Brand Lokal Rasa International”—a local brand with an international taste.
More than just lok lok
To go with the skewers, Mr Lok Lok has 16 types of sauces for customers to choose from, such as spicy sauces, mayonnaise cheese, Thai sauce, sesame sauce, and wasabi.
A spokesperson of the company also told BERNAMA in March 2022 that there were plans to commercialise those sauces for the local and international markets.
However, research and development for these sauces are still underway. The process is finicky, as the team is aiming to preserve the taste and uniqueness of their sauces, which are all homemade.
“We are also collaborating with UTM to do the latest packaging, so we can sell the sauces as a side income for Mr Lok Lok,” they added.
Other than the skewers, Mr Lok Lok also serves speciality drinks such as bubble tea and coffee.
Bringing halal lok lok to the rest of Malaysia
In the aforementioned interview with BERNAMA, the business shared that it has plans to expand to the Klang Valley through franchising its brand, as well as a second outlet in Kulai.
The team shared with Vulcan Post that instead of Kulai, they’re now considering Gelang Patah for their second outlet, which they tentatively shared will be ready by the end of 2024.
“And for the franchising in the Klang Valley, it is still under progress for applying licensing,” the team shared.
In the meantime, though, the founders are hoping to strengthen Mr Lok Lok’s presence in Johor, with a goal to cover all 10 districts in the state.
Featured Image Credit: Mr Lok Lok