I was contacted by a fellow from Malaysia about his company’s new line of noodle products. I never miss a chance to try new things from Malaysia, and so we are. Let’s start this Meet The Manufacturer by learning about Way Sauce Sdn Bhd’s Premium Foods line from Benson Tan, Director of Business Development.
THE RAMEN RATER> Can you start by telling me a little bit about the history of Way – how did you start?
WAY FOOD> Mrs Tan the founder and my mother is a fantastic cook. Has hosted dinner parties for decades and always to rave reviews. 15 years ago, opened a small restaurant featuring recipes which were passed down to her and she perfected over years. It was very well received and ever since she has wanted to produce and sell the pastes that are core to all the recipes. 5 years ago after finding a suitable location, a factory was set up and the rest is history!
TRR> For my readers who aren’t familiar with your product lines, can you tell a little about them?
WAY FOOD> We initially started with a set of pre mixed pastes focused around the Nyonya flavours that formed the basis of the founder’s forte. Expanding on these, we started to incorporate more local flavours and then regional South East Asian flavours. The latest line is our Hawker Fare range of instant noodles which are all-natural and authentic in taste. This just launched 4 months ago.
TRR> I hear you have a new premium product line. Can you tell my readers about it and why is it special?
WAY FOOD> We have a few lines of products now. The premium line consists of 3 types of XO Sauce, which originates from Hong Kong. This is WAY’s personal interpretation of XO sauce and while they share the same base, there are 3 variants:- XO Value which consists of scallops and dried shrimp, XO Original which is a pure scallop version, and finally the XO Masterpiece which uses only 100% Hokkaido Scallops and even has a whole XL sized Hokkaido Scallop floating right at the top!
TRR> Do you produce products other than instant noodles?
WAY FOOD> Our Noodle range is our homage to the diverse and award winning hawker fare that is so synonymous with Malaysia and our cuisine. It was only launched a few short months ago.
We initially started with producing pre-mixed pastes/sauces such as chicken curry sauce, sambal sauce, chilli crab sauce and even briyani sauce just to name a few. Currently our total number of SKUs is around 30.
TRR> How do you noodle products differ from those by other manufacturers?
WAY FOOD> As with all our retail products, we pride ourselves on authenticity of taste/flavours coupled with all natural ingredients. Our noodle range maintains these high standards and contains absolutely ZERO artificial additives, preservatives or MSG.
TRR> Can your products be purchased outside of Malaysia?
WAY FOOD> Yes indeed. We currently are available in Singapore, Brunei, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, China, Netherlands and Germany.
TRR> Where do you make your noodles?
WAY FOOD> Our noodles are produced in Malaysia.
TRR> What was your first product?
WAY FOOD> Our first line of products consisted of 5 flavours in 200g bottle format and the flavours were Sambal Sauce, Sambal Spicy Sauce, Turmeric Vegetarian Sauce, Turmeric Garlic Sauce and Chilli Crab Sauce. The Turmeric V and Turmeric Garlic Sauce were and are still unique with no other product like it in the market! They remain bestsellers to this day!
TRR> People are concerned with health more than ever. Instant noodles are generally higher in sodium. How can one balance the enjoyment of instant noodles and their health in your opinion?
WAY FOOD> Convenience is playing an increasingly larger role today when it comes to food choices and we recognized that instant noodles are here to stay. This is why we decided to tackle this segment by offering a completely all-natural solution for those who are indeed more health conscious but without compromising on the taste factor.
With respect to the sodium level, even in this regard we are ensuring that it isn’t excessive. In broad terms, WAY noodles contain roughly 1/3 of the sodium of most typical instant noodles available in the market. Having said that, a balanced diet is always key but if you enjoy noodles (which we all do) then why not opt for a healthier version such as WAY noodles and not worry about compromising on your enjoyment!
TRR> Are you involved in the local community/charity?
WAY FOOD> We work very closely with an NGO called Food Aid Organisation here in Malaysia. They are involved in foodbanking and more details of their work can be seen at http://www.foodaidfoundation.org/ . We have also done various other charity and CSR initiatives such as https://www.thestar.com.my/metro/community/2015/10/15/shopping-treat-for-ppr-folk-100-families-from-kota-damansara-get-chance-to-shop-with-rm200-coupons/
TRR> How many packs of instant noodles do you produce annually?
WAY FOOD> Currently as we have only just launched 4 months ago, the production is still small but we are seeing phenomenal growth and interest in various international markets. We expect this new line to help grow WAY brand overseas at a much quicker pace.
TRR> Have you ever thought about varieties like macaroni and cheese or pizza flavored instant noodles?
WAY FOOD> Currently our forte and expertise centres around Malaysian and Nyonya flavours. We do do R&D for large corporations who request different, more Western flavours so definitely never say never. For example, we have just finished three new flavours for Food Service:- Malaysian Pesto Sauce, Malaysian Paella Sauce and Malaysian Pasta Sauce. These may form the foundation of a new range of noodles in the near future so keep a look out!
TRR> Which is your personal favorite variety of WAY noodles and what (if anything) do you add to them?
WAY FOOD> Being from Penang originally, my favourite is the WAY Authentic Penang Prawn Mee (Or Hokkien Mee as its affectionately and more commonly known to locals in Penang). I used to make a trip back ( a 4 hour drive) just to have a good bowl once a year or once every 18 months but now that we’ve produced it I can have it in the comfort of my own home anytime I wish! As per how it is served originally, I just add a few prawns, a few stalks of morning glory, some beansprouts and half a boiled egg with a small garnish of fried shallots to top it off. Perfect.
TRR> To most in the USA, Malaysia sounds like a very exotic place – can you tell us a little about daily life there?
WAY FOOD> For Malaysians, food is life. Our daily life really does revolve around food and eating. Good food is abundantly found at all times of day (although not necessarily the healthiest hahah). It would not be uncommon to have 4 or 5 meals interspersed throughout the day and because we are a multiracial country, it is very normal for those meals to comprise 3 different cuisines and cultures (namely Chinese, Indian and Malay) and also a fusion of any or all of the above.
Penang especially is very well known for the hawker fare but each of the 13 states has their own charm and cuisine.
As anyone who ever comes to Malaysia will find out, our national dish Nasi Lemak is a MUST.
TRR> Why the name Way?
WAY FOOD> The reason for the name WAY is two-fold. First of all it is a family endeavor and the name is a part of me and my siblings actual names. The second reason is that Way (the homonym as well as the actual word we use for the brand in chinese) means taste. It falls back to how we believe that taste is paramount and that cannot be achieved if we cut corners in terms of ingredients and process.
TRR> Are there any new products on the way from WAY? Can you give my readers a ‘sneak peek?’
WAY FOOD> As I mentioned a little earlier, our 3 new flavours of Malaysian Pesto, Malaysian Paella and Malaysian Pasta Sauce which we developed specifically for our Japanese food service market have received very good feedback after initial testing. We are also coming up with a range of hotpot/steamboat base soup pastes. So watch this space!!!
THE RAMEN RATER> Thank you very much for this opportunity to learn more about your company! I and my readers thank you very much!