Relishing a lecturer’s Korean-Japanese noodle journey with Asian fusion food

ABILITY to impart professional wisdom is a vital criteria to ensure industry-oriented courses taught at tertiary institutions – ie journalism, public relations, entrepreneurship, accounting or information communication technology – meet their objectives of producing students who are ready for the job market.

In fact, one wonders how effective is lecturing theories without having prior industry know-how or a pulse on the subject matter. Suffice to say that there could be a wide disparity between the ideal theoretical state of things and the stark reality of life outside the classroom.

Apart from soft skills, this could be the reason why many graduates of industry-oriented courses don’t possess the right mindset of the challenges that lie ahead or simply, are ill-equipped to meet industry expectations.

At least at the Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) Business School, the lecturers are encouraged to venture into start-ups so they can share their hands-on experiences with students rather than just disseminating theories.

This on top of the fact that the school puts a lot of weight on industry experience as part of its selection criteria for lecturers. This is in line with UniKL’s high technical and vocational education and training (TVET) teaching philosophy, unlike most conventional institutions of higher learning.

To put his entrepreneurship prowess to test, Associate Professor Dr Baharudin Kadir has come out with the idea of ready-to-eat/convenient Asian fusion noodle varieties.

“Coupled with my past experience working for Dewina Food Industries (a subsidiary of Brahim’s Holdings Bhd), I did a bit of mapping using criteria such as market observation and  price vs content, among others,” Baharudin who specialises in innovation & new product development, R&D commercialization and international business told FocusM.

“And I notice that there is a potential niche for Asian fusion ready-to-eat food with product range that offers more solid content (vs the typical watery version).”

Convinced of the potential for this niche segment, Baharudin was fortunate to have a handful of former school mates who have been very successful in their careers to give him benefit of the doubt with regard to funding matters.

However, the challenge was to find an existing retort food manufacturer who is willing to do contract manufacturing (OEM) for my products.

“I almost gave up the idea of starting the business until by chance in June 2020, I came across a retort food manufacturer that was willing to do OEM,” recalled Baharudin  who rented the first floor of in Taman Melawati, Ulu Kelang as his office.

“R&D on formulations and production were done with the OEM manufacturer but I’ve to manage other vital tasks from pack designs, getting the bar codes from GS1Malaysia, sending samples for nutrition facts analyses with approved lab, getting the suppliers of raw materials (the OEM manufacturer only does manufacturing) and sourcing for raw materials (including the retort pouches).”

By September last year, Baharudin successfully rolled out three initial tteokproducts comprising Korean Tteok & Malaysian Chicken Rendang, Korean Tteok & Thai Green Curry Chicken and Korean Tteok & Malaysian Curry Chicken with Bird’s Eye Chilli.

A month later, the Dr Bahar Asian Fusion Food brand was launched on the Shopee online shopping platform.

In February, another six complementary products under the 3 Minit Udon line and the 3 Minit Mi Segera line were launched.

“Yes, our prices are not cheap – RM7.90 for the tteok, RM6.90 for the udon and RM4.90 for the mi Segera (although cheaper with our three-pack bundle deals),” quipped Baharudin.

“However, they are real value for money – the udon is quite filling; it comes with 200gm udon and 100gm chicken meat in gravy (not watery stuff).”

The same applies for the tteok (100gm tteok and 100gm chicken meat) and Mi Segera (70gm of noodles with 100g chicken meat) – both in thick spicy gravy.

“Now all of our products come with the Pedas Giler option for those who prefer real hot stuff,” added Baharudin.

By : Cheah Chor Sooi – FOCUS MALAYSIA

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