Helping my mother succeed: Rojak BAR

Nuttier and thicker than its counterparts, Yamin and his mother are on a mission to commercialize Brunei’s own rojak sauce

When Mauludiah Hj Md Yusof retired from her job at the Language and Literature Bureau in 2009, she suddenly found herself with time on her hands. Not used to the sudden vast amount of free time she suddenly had, she started to look for activities to occupy her time.

She tried her hand on decorating flowers for ‘hantaran’ – wedding presentations between bride and groom – in the traditional style. It turned out well the first few years; she even succeeded turning it into a bridal boutique business from home. However, she struggled to keep up with the increasing amount of competition and the shift towards more contemporary designs.

One of her six children, Yamin Abd Hamid, who was working at a communications company at the time,  started to notice his mother’s business slowing; but he couldn’t afford to support her financially much with his salary, so he brainstormed a business venture that they could both run.

Seeing people come in and out of his house with containers filled with his mother’s cooking was a routine sight, as Mauludiah would often take on people’s orders for functions.

Out of all the orders, he noticed people would most frequently return for one item: a peanut-based rojak sauce. Most know rojak as a savoury and sweet sauce from Malaysia and Singapore, usually using tofu or shrimp as a base, that’s served with a mixture of fruit, vegetables, and sometimes seafood.

Mauludiah’s version – which Yamin claims is the authentic Bruneian recipe – has more in common with the nutty, thick texture of your average satay sauce.

Yamin had also registered a company at the time Dream Makers – where the 31-year-old would do odd end jobs in marketing and graphic design by himself.

He put the skills to work creating a modern design branding it the Rojak Brunei Authentic Recipe (BAR) sold in the three different flavours of spicy, savoury and fruity.

The rojak sauces comes in 450ml bottles with three flavours: spicy (R) savoury (C) fruity (L). Yamin typically prices each jar at $5 each, going lower for large orders.

Friends and family were their first customers, with their first milestone coming in January 2016, where they supplied 500 jars of rojak sauce as door gifts for a family friend’s wedding.

To make the sauce, each ingredient had to be cooked separately. The peanuts and chillis were blended separately while the gula melaka is liquified before mixing them together in a big cauldron.

But with the production done manually, the process is time consuming for the mother-son duo, but promise of being able to pioneer Brunei’s first commercially produced rojak sauce continues to drive them.

“We have a plan to build a small space in the compound of the house to be able to build a separate kitchen to be able to step up production and get certifications like halal,” said Yamin.

 Early validation came in May at Made in Brunei Market Fair at Bridex, where they sold 500 bottles, and 300 bowls for fruit, vegetables and crisps, with their choice of rojak sauce.

“We were quite overwhelmed; we didn’t expect to sell out of the rojak bowls as quickly as they did,” said Yamin.

They followed by a weeklong stunt at the Tampines Hari Raya Bazaar in Singapore last June, an opportunity faciliated by the Energy and Industry Department, Prime Minister’s Office, along with Darussalam Enterprise and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“Right now, our goal is to get our product known first so we could expand further in the future,” Yamin said.

Their future plan includes making their rojak sauce available in supermarkets and ultimately building their own factory. Eventhough the future is uncertain, Yamin’s determination and his mother’s drive could easily take them there.

For more information follow their Instagram @drm_mkrs or contact +6738999900 to order or inquire.