A DIY Art event was held in Aeroville Mall, Kuching for two weekends from November 18-20 and November 26-27 on the ground floor in an effort to strengthen family bonding between children and their parents.
Some of the activities available included henna tattooing, sand art, nail art, and the fluid bear stand, which attracted people of all ages because not only is the fluid bear easy to paint, but everyone can express their creativity and innovation in creating their own colours to douse the ceramic bear.
Among the art activities available, a muar chee (glutinous rice snack) stall owned by Vinny Chang, a 26-year-old wedding ceremony emcee, stood out in the vicinity of the event, serving the traditional Chinese snack to attendees.
“I have a friend who was working at the fluid bear workshop, and he suggested inviting food and beverage vendors to participate in this event so that patrons could enjoy themselves while participating in the activities. Furthermore, the muar chee I made does not require frying, so the public can rest assured that the food is halal, and I agreed to his proposal to set up a stall at the event,” she said.
Vinny’s muar chee business began in September 2022 near Carpenter Street, catering to customers of various demographics, including children, the elderly, and people of various races. She also said that her muar chee is suitable for vegetarians because it contains no meat products.
“Because muar chee is considered normal for the Chinese, my product has attracted more Malay customers than Chinese customers. Muar chee is not commonly consumed in the Malay community, so when my Malay customers tried it, they were immediately hooked. However, a small percentage of Malay customers said that they are not used to eating muar chee because the texture is too soft,” she added.
Vinny’s muar chee is available in four flavours — peanut, black sesame, milk powder, and cocoa — with the peanut and milk powder flavours being the most popular, and customers can choose how many flavours they want to buy per box. Aside from that, each individual box of muar chee costs the same — RM10. Vinny also mentioned that most first-time customers would purchase a box containing all of the available flavours before returning to select the flavours they preferred.
“The muar chee I made contains a lot of high-quality ingredients, but instead of water, I used milk to enhance both the base flavour and the texture of the muar chee, making mine a little heavier than others,” she said.
According to Vinny, muar chee is made with glutinous rice flour, which does not contain any animal products because the flour is made by milling white rice, making it suitable for both halal and vegetarian consumers.
Furthermore, some other ingredients (trade secret) will be added to the glutinous rice flour before steaming the mixture to complete the process. She also said that making muar chee in a small portion is very simple.
“To sell my product, I need to make the muar chee in bulk, so it will take me about three hours to finish one large batch of muar chee before moving on to other items,” she said.
In addition to the arduous three-hour muar chee preparation, Vinny had to roast ground peanuts continuously for one hour because the peanuts burn easily if not constantly roasted. Aside from roasting peanuts, she had to carefully roast her black sesame seeds to a certain point because if they are roasted for too long, they will burn and become unusable.
“Fortunately, I have my mother to assist me in roasting the peanuts and black sesame seeds, allowing me to concentrate on making muar chee. I’d have to blend the peanuts and black sesame seeds into powder after she finished roasting them, then add a little sugar to make the powder fragrant. It took us about five hours to complete the entire cycle,” she said.
Vinny will base her stall at her father’s stall in Hui Sing Open Air Hawker Centre Food Court at the very end, which also sells local confections and fried bananas, in addition to attending events and having her stall near Carpenter Street to sell muar chee. If she is attending wedding ceremonies or other events, she will not sell muar chee from her father’s stall.
“Juggling my wedding emcee job and selling muar chee made me feel very rushed, but also very satisfied. Wedding couples would find me and invite me to be their emcee. If there are no events for me to attend, I am mostly free to make muar chee as a side hustle,” she said.
• This article was written by a student from the Strategic Communication Programme at the Faculty of Language and Communication, UNIMAS.