NINETEEN years in business and seven restaurants to boot – now that's a mean feat for any restaurateur.
But this is what husband-and-wife team Yeong Hooi Wing and Low Siew Luan have done and achieved.
Though these are no easy achievements, Yeong and Siew are not yet resting on their laurels as they believe they can do much more to grow the vegetarian food industry.
Their business started in 1986 when they opened Chameleon (Beancurd) Vegetarian Restaurant in Jalan Putra, Kuala Lumpur.
Years later, they expanded their business and opened Nanking Court Vegetarian Restaurant in Section 19, Petaling Jaya.
Currently, Ahimsa Group Sdn Bhd, which they set up, has outlets in Kuala Lumpur, Taman Desa, Old Klang Road and Petaling Jaya.
It even has its own factory that manufactures ingredients to be supplied to the seven outlets.
“From what I saw over the years, we have not stopped for a minute,” said Low.
“We have been constantly making our food and products better to meet international standards,” she added.
What's important to them is that their customers get to try new dishes and enjoy a refreshing new dining experience each time they patronised the various outlets.
She said there were times when she had to stick by her principles and refused to use certain ingredients that were in great demand but not totally vegetarian.
“We research on the texture, recipe and hygiene of our products and improve and test them thoroughly to see how long they can last so that their nutrients are still retained when served,” she said.
Low said the five main ingredients used in their cooking are seaweed, soy-based products, organic plants, mushrooms and oat.
Nanking Court has several speciality dishes such as the Sharkfin with Crabmeat, Rice with Smoked Meat, Four Season Combo, Famous Monkey Head Mushroom and Fried Marble Glory Fish.
The Fried Marble Glory Fish is one of Nanking Court's special dishes. It is made of wheat-based ingredients, seaweed and sugar cane, which gives the dish its sweetish flavour.
A unique dish with an interesting name is the Famous Monkey Head Mushroom, which has chunks of mushrooms that resemble the monkey's head.
This said Low was complemented with herbal soup, which helped balanced the slightly bitter taste of the mushrooms.
Low said the mushrooms were rare and they used to be only available In the courts of ancient China,
Ahimsa Group Sdn Bhd sales and marketing manager Normalis Mohd Nor said the company was using local and Thai expertise to research on its products and make them as close to the real food as possible.
“We have applied the halal status for all our outlets because we want to promote vegetarian food among the Malays as well.
“Most Malays eat more meat than vegetables,” Normalis said.