Local Yoo Tiao chain taking the nation by storm with fresh and quality ingredients
By Syed Zaid
The ‘cakoi’, also known as Yoo Tiao, it is one of the most treasured snack among Malaysians. While it is usually obtained from roadside stalls along our ‘pasar malam’ and morning market, the shop known as I Love Yoo! took it into the next level by commercialising the product and having it available in shopping malls.
The founder, Gian Lim says that he learned the potential of a commercialised Yoo Tiao business when he started his first outlet at the Food Republic, Pavilion back in September of 2007. “Yoo Tiao have over 800 years of history as one of the traditional Chinese snack food. Normally, we get Yoo Tiao from coffee shops and roadside stalls. We are the first ones to bring this snack into shopping malls to have a better, hygienic, safe and comfortable dining area for customers to enjoy our food,” says Lim.
I Love Yoo!! for everyone
With over 50 outlets located around Malaysia, I Love Yoo! is one of the few Chinese Cuisine-based brands that puts a strong emphasis on being halal. According to Lim, he wants everybody to enjoy his product. “Before this we have less than 15 percent Malay Muslims customers. We believe that we can share the love by obtaining the Halal Certification. With this, we attracted more Muslim customers. Moreover, 40 percent of our staffs are also Muslims,” he says.
However, the brand do face a little bit of a problem in getting their Halal Certification. Mohamad Hairull Anuar, The Assistant Manager cum Halal Excutive of I Love Yoo! says that “we are still waiting for JAKIM to finish the process of certifying all of our outlets. We are not allowed to advertise our brand as fully halal until we have received the certifications for all our outlets. It has been a very long seven months while they process our applications. We wish to have it done as quickly as possible to help put our customers’ mind at ease.” The board of directors share the same sentiment.
According to the Chairman of I Love Yoo!, Datuk Ahmad Zaki, “on a business stand point, it helps us in creating a bigger market reach. To appeal more to the local Muslims, we’ve added a lot of Malay and Indian cuisine like Rendang Ayam, Hot Chicken Masala, Dried Curry Laksa and Sakura Shrimp Cake into our menu. We want to make I Love Yoo! something that is truly Malaysian by adding the Muhibbah aspect into our brand name.”
Loving palm oil
I Love Yoo! prides their brand on being fresh. The doughs are handmade and cooked at the store. “Maintaining the quality and serving good food to our customers are our main priority. We like to use the traditional way to prepare our food, which is to have all the items in our menu made from scratch. It adds that nostalgic feeling that takes our customers back to their childhood memories. The traditional way of making things is very synonym and near to our customer’s heart,” Lim says, tugging in our heartstrings.
“As a Malaysian brand, we need to support Malaysia local product, and palm oil is our Malaysian main product. Since we started this business, we have been using palm oil in all our products especially for frying process, and it’s prove that palm oil is suitable for deep frying. We are confident in palm oil and will continue using it as our main ingredient,” Lim says patriotically.
Lim and Zaki are aware of the dangers of reusing cooking oil. “Our practice to change our frying oil every day is to maintain the quality of our products. This ensures the products served to our customers are safe and healthy. To our knowledge, palm oil is the best cooking oil. We don’t think there’s any health risk from consuming palm oil.”
“Our used oil collection is sold to a vendor. The money goes back to our staffs. It’s an incentive we provide to encourage them to change the oil and dispose of it properly. We offer them this incentive to help our staffs gain some extra earning for their diligence,” says Zaki.“We made sure that our workers understand the importance of changing the oil and we make sure that it gets done,” states Lim.
Spreading the love
Not just our products, we aim to have a Muhibbah board of directors and franchise holders. “Lim founded it and now we have a Malay chairman and we’re opening more room for Indians and Malays as our franchise holders,” says Zaki with humility.
The founder says that he is proud of what they have achieved so far. He hopes that the brand can continue to expand in the next five years. “For now, we have a total of 70 outlets located all around Malaysia and we are confident that the brand will continue to grow continuously and rapidly in the next five years – the Halal Certification would really be helpful to our growth,” he says in a chuckle. “In addition, we have received positive feedbacks from other ASEAN countries and they have expressed their interest in bringing the brand into their home country. We currently have outlets in Singapore and Brunei as well,” Lim continues.
“Right now, we are negotiating with interested parties in Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines. The brand really have grown bigger than when I founded the brand more than 10 years ago. We hope that I Love Yoo! will become a well-known Malaysian brand in the eyes of the world in the future. We hope that the readers will come and say hi to our outlets and if you’re looking to be a part of our family, feel free to contact us and we can talk shop,” says the founder with a smile. — The Health Plus