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#BUROSupportsLocal: 6 Malaysian brands championing artisanal local produce

#BUROSupportsLocal: 6 Malaysian brands championing artisanal local produce

Putting the 'art' in artisanal

Text: Natalie Khoo

Image: @mutiarafigs / Instagram
Image: @genpenang / Instagram
Image: @milkywheycheese / Instagram

Here are six local brands championing Malaysian-made artisanal produce to know of and support

Over a decade ago, one might not have thought of Malaysia being a producer of cheese or caviar. Besides, those are typically referred to as European delicacies (though it was arguably the Russians who catapulted the latter to popularity). Today, we’ve checked both boxes and then some.

In addition to giving foreign produce a Malaysian spin, some brands and entrepreneurs have pioneered new categories of local artisanal produce from previously untapped agricultural opportunities and Malaysian terroirs. Think along the lines of single-origin chocolate and heirloom rice, to name a few.

For the record, artisanal produce is defined here as "foods that are hand-crafted by small producers in small batches". Artisanal brands rely on local labour, farmers, and indigenous communities rather than machines and industrial processes. The exponential growth of this category comes on the heels of the sustainability movement and heightened awareness to #SupportLocal brands and makers, not just in Malaysia but in developed and developing countries around the world.

Here are six local brands that are championing Malaysian-made artisanal produce to know of and support.

T’lur Caviar

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Photo: @genpenag / Instagram

T’lur Caviar is Malaysia’s first caviar brand, offering what it calls “tropical caviar”. Born from a farm in Tanjung Malim, Perak, T’lur started from an ambitious plan to establish a sturgeon farm in Malaysia—a feat that global industry experts presumed would be in vain. Producing caviar was not part of the original plan, but as luck/fate would have it, the farm’s first harvest led to a newfound opportunity.

Thus began the company’s mission to defy the odds in farming not just tropical sturgeons, but also their roe. Since 2019, T’lur has expanded its caviar range to include amur, kaluga, oscietra, beluga, and Siberian caviar, on top of offering pre-packed sturgeon meat.

Shop T’lur Caviar online here.

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Mutiara Figs

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Photo: @mutiarafigs / Instagram

As figs originate from Western Asia, it’s not a commonly eaten fruit here in Malaysia. However, our warm climate provides the ideal conditions for growing figs. Led by his interest in gardening, one architect by the name of Mohd. Hilmi bin Yusoff started growing them in his house as a form of landscaping. Upon learning of their health benefits, he designed a greenhouse where he farmed and collected up to 300 varieties of figs.

From there, he began producing fig products to suit Malaysian taste buds, while educating consumers on its benefits. Today, his brainchild, Mutiara Figs, offers an extensive range of fig products spanning fresh fruit, tea, desserts, and even bodycare.

Shop Mutiara Figs online here.

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Chocolate Concierge

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Photo: @chocconcierge / Instagram

While artisanal chocolate brands have been around in Malaysia for more than a decade, Chocolate Concierge makes an exceptional case for #MalaysianSingleOrigin chocolate. This means that the chocolate is made from cocoa beans that can be traced to the day and location of harvest from one of various Malaysia cacao plantations, a few of which involve partnerships with local Orang Asli communities.

Helmed by farmer and chocolatier Ning Ong, the brand celebrates the role of each origin’s unique terroir in the bean to bar process, resulting in highly distinctive chocolate flavours. Besides the single-origin chocolate bars, there are also seasonal bon-bons, brittles, and barks with unique infusions, such as Sweet Laksa, Onde-onde, and Blushing Geisha Raspberry Wasabi.

Shop Chocolate Concierge at its counter in Bangsar Shopping Centre. For large orders or shipping enquiries, email [email protected]

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[READ: 7 Artisanal chocolate brands in Malaysia to check out for your next indulgence]

Langit Collective

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Photo: @langitcollective / Instagram

Founded by a team of four rural community organisers, Langit Collective launched in 2015 to promote heirloom agricultural produce by smallholder farmers from East Malaysia to larger markets. The social enterprise is known especially for its heirloom rice, grown using traditional Lun Bawang farming practices.

Among the rice offerings in its catalogue include Beras Sia (Red Rice), Beras Rumie (Black Rice), and Pulut Buda (Heirloom White Glutinous Rice). It also offers other Sarawak produce such as Lada Mupoh (Sarawak White Pepper), Gula Apong, and Layo (Ground Ginger).

Shop Langit Collective products at selected retailers or online here.

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Milky Whey Cheese

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Photo: @milkywheycheese / Instagram

Annisa Iwan, the female artisan behind Milky Whey Cheese, first rose to fame in 2017 when she started selling Malaysian-made cheese from her humble abode in the Hartamas neighborhood in KL. Little did she know that her cheese-making hobby would turn her home into a factory of sorts to meet the high demand from local cheese lovers.

Her production of local fromage doesn’t just consist of the usual brie, mozzarella, and goat cheese—though those are no less worth trying—but also quintessentially Malaysian types. Some popular options include chili padi gouda and “Goat Sarawak” (cheese made with cow’s and goat’s milk with a spicy kick of Sarawak black pepper).

(Note: Milky Whey Cheese is currently closed due to the lockdown but you can follow @milkywheycheese on social media for updates on when you can shop her cheeses again!)

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[READ: Where to get cheese platters and grazing tables in KL]

Mu, Artisan Soy Sauce

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Soy sauce is every Asian household’s must-have condiment, so it’s understandable that it necessitates mass production. With that said, Musees is on a mission to keep the ancient art of soy sauce alive for discerning cooks and palates with its brand of handmade soy sauce.

Spearheaded bv Shirley, chief curator of Musees, the brand stays true to the traditional taste and brewing process of soy sauce—no shortcuts taken. Brewed under the sun for months to acquire its deep, rich flavour and natural aged taste, Mu, Artisan Soy Sauce is the product of the same natural methods that have been passed down in her family for over three generations.

Shop Mu Soy Sauce at selected retailers or WhatsApp +012 946 8861 for direct orders.

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