Moving with times invigorates a company

Updated: Friday January 3, 2014 MYT 10:04:18 AM

Moving with times invigorates a company

MAKING tau sar pneah pastries in an open kitchen has helped to improve the business of Penang’s Tean Ean Local Products Sdn Bhd by leaps and bounds, and now Tean Ean wants to expand its business riding on the open-kitchen idea to Kuala Lumpur and Johor.Tean Ean managing director Teh Tatt Huat, 67, said prior to the introduction of an open kitchen that allowed customers to view the entire baking process, Tean Ean was selling an average of about 300 boxes of tau sar pneah daily.

“When we started the open kitchen concept last year to allow our customers to view the entire process of making Tau Sar Pneah pastries, our daily sales increased to 700 to 800 boxes daily,” he said.

The open kitchen is appealing because it reveals to customers that no preservatives are used, and that orders are freshly made for delivery, according to Teh.

“To complement the open-kitchen concept, we introduced the idea of allowing the customers to learn the tau sar pneah making process on the spot recently on Dec 1.

“For a RM15 fee, the customer gets to learn how to make Tau Sar Pneah from the master chef and director of Tean Ean, Teh Kok Chee, who is my son.

“The fee covers the cost of making four pieces of Tau Sar Pneah, which the customers get to take back.

“On top of that, we also give them a gift of eight Tau Sar Pneah biscuits.

“The learning process takes about 10 minutes and while the pastries are being baked in the oven for 20 minutes, customers can tour our shop which also sells a variety of locally made food stuff.

“When they complete the tour, the tau sar pneah that they make are also ready to take home,” he said.

Since introducing the idea of allowing customers to make their own tau sar pneah on Dec 1, Tean Ean has instructed about 300 customers keen to learn the art of making the pastry, Teh said.

Tean Ean started the tau sar pneah business about 25 years ago, when there were few competitors in the local market.

According to Tatt Huat, he started the business after learning a special recipe from an old tau sar pneah master chef.

“Since the day we open for business, Tean Ean sell only freshly baked tau sar pneah. In those days, we did not have an open kitchen, but the practice has always been the same: the biscuits are made according to the number of orders we received.

“This is to ensure that there are no excess stock left for the next day,” he said.

In a health-conscious society, consumers want assurances that the food they consume is hygienic and does not contain any chemicals such as preservatives, Tatt Huat said.

“What better way to eliminate their doubts than an open kitchen that reveal to customers the entire biscuit making process and the ingredients used,” he said.

Tatt Huat is now grooming Kok Chee, 40, to take over the business, headquartered for the past 25 years at Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, popularly known as the millionaires’ row, a stone’s throw from Gurney Drive, the famous sea-front promenade.

Besides tau sar pneah, Tean Ean is also well known for its Bah Kut Teh ingredients which are available in packets.

The special bah kut teh ingredients were formulated by Tatt Huat’s grandfather in the 1900s in Penang.

Tatt Huat’s grandfather, who hails from Hui Ann in China, came over to Penang as young boy to work as a labourer.

After having saved some money, the grandfather married a Nyonya woman through the help of a matchmaker.

“My grandfather worked at his father-in-law’s farm, located at Lebuh Presgrave, which produced a variety of local fruits, herbs, spices, and vegetables in exchange for lodging.

“Whenever my grandfather had the time, he would cook his favourite soup using the recipe from his mother in China. To enhance the flavour of the soup, my grandfather started to use the different herbs, spices, and vegetables from the farm as additional ingredients for the soup.

“When the soup is ready, the aroma would drift over the neighbourhood, attracting curious neighbours to come over to ask to try the soup.

“The recipe for the soup eventually became the recipe used today for Tean Ean’s Bah Kut Teh,” he said.

Since the soup are made from spices and herbs from a farm, Tatt Huat gave the name Tean Ean, or “Vegetable Patch” in English, to the company, formed 25 years ago, to make the bah kut teh ingredients available in packets.

Besides bah kut teh ingredients, Tean Ean also makes its own nutmeg rheumatism oil, nutmeg oil, and nutmeg syrup under the Tean Ean brandname at a premise in Air Itam.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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