Before Ahong was the candid chef and restaurateur behind Grub, he was an architect. He quit after 2 years because life in the rat race was draining. He didn’t know then that it would eventually lead him to life in the….beef lane.
The idea started small, unlike his serving portions. A little food kiosk at University Malaya Hospital selling Western “economy rice”, pastas, pies, fish, all types of food; but that failed after 3 years. The lot that PJ folks (and beyond) now love and know as Grub used to be the central kitchen for this kiosk. They had just renovated it, but was about to be driven to sell it when restaurateur, Ren Yi of myBurgerLab advised him to give the food business one last shot. “Set up tables, and start serving”.
“We were an accidental restaurant. We started with fish soup, grilled chicken, and steak. People found the steak to be so good value for money that steak items took up half our menu. So now we’re a steakhouse.”
Ahong started cooking when he left home. He learnt how to do it from watching TV, online videos, and books. He describes the vision for Grub, “I want it to be an establishment instead of a hype, like those restaurants in Europe that are hundreds of years old. It should be an extension of people’s lives, and it will have a role in the community; it will shape culture. It’s the neighbourhood’s refuge.”
“My grandfather was a farmer; he did durians, fruits, cocoa, and pepper. My mom is also particular about the kind of veggies we used to get. She grows her own veggies and goes to the market at 3am for choice chicken. It’s where restaurants go for their poultry.
When I was travelling Italy, I had access to world-class produce. Quality was not reserved for atas people. A veggie at any given market is damn good quality. When I saw Cultiveat produce at the farm, I decided then and there that I would get it.
“Look at how fresh it is: the colour, vibrancy, and even the packaging shows how well you treat them.”
Ahong, Chef & Restaurateur at Grub
The first time my sous chef prepared your lettuce, he told me “Boss, this one must continue buying.” It’s impressive, the amount of tech you’ve invested in; it’s my dream farm. Farming cannot go on the traditional way. It’s not something customers see, so it’s the restaurants’ responsibility to use products that are much better for the environment. We have to educate customers through the food we serve.
Buying local matters because firstly, it tastes better. Secondly, you are so nearby, so your veggies are damn fresh. Less travel time also means less carbon footprint.
It’s not something customers see, so it’s the restaurants’ responsibility to use products that are much better for the environment. We have to educate customers through the food we serve. Restaurants that do well always have good sides. Whatever I put on the plate has to be eaten. My customers notice the difference in Cultiveat’s produce. They finish their plates, that tells me everything.” – Ahong, chef and restaurateur at Grub.