Baking on K-food craze

Daniel Lim

The rise in the popularity of South Korean culture has continued across the Sultanate. People consume Korean products nearly everyday, be it K-pop, K-dramas or Korean food.

Sisters Janice and Joanna Lim decided to join in on the trend and brought garlic cheese bun, a popular street food in Korea, to the local market. They started Cheesis.bn, which is a portmanteau of ‘cheesy’ and ‘sister’, in December 2020

Janice, 23, said, “Even though Cheesis began last December, we went on a hiatus due to other commitments. We only resumed our business this October.”

Both sisters, graduated with a master’s degree in management, decided to start a business to earn some side income.

“Cheesis was born soon after my final semester in university. I wanted to be productive while looking for a full-time job,” said Janice.

After she landed a job earlier this year, Cheesis went on a break as she needed time to adjust her schedules.

“Now that things are more stable, I am starting up the business again,” she said.

Freshly baked garlic cheese buns. PHOTO: DANIEL LIM
Janice packing the baked garlic cheese buns for one of the customers

To make the street food from the comfort of her home, Janice said, “The process of making the cheese buns is quite simple. I buy my ingredients a day before I bake to ensure freshness.

“In terms of preparation, it usually takes 15-20 minutes, then another 10-15 minutes to pipe the cheese into the buns before going back in the oven for another 10 minutes.”

Since the buns take about an hour to prepare, she tends to bake close to the customer pick-up time, as she believes the buns are best eaten fresh out of the oven.

While the process of making cheese buns is not taxing, Janice said there are a number of challenges to overcome.

“As we are just a small business, the oven we are currently using is an average-sized home oven. I can only bake 10 buns at a time. After three trays of baking, the oven will get too hot.”

The increase in prices of key ingredients and packaging due to inflation and increasing transportation costs is another hurdle to overcome, she added. “For now, we are still able to cover the extra costs. But if the prices continue to rise, we might need to consider alternative ingredients without compromising the quality. Increasing the product price will be the last resort.”

Janice said the initial goal was to improve on the existing recipe.

“It was quite a challenge to find the right recipe.

“Before we started selling these buns, we sent them to our family and friends to obtain feedback.

“Some found the taste just right, while others said there was too much or not enough garlic,” she said.

This extended to the time they began selling the buns, as the additional feedback from their customers helped them to improve their recipe further. “By mid-December 2020, we came up with the perfect recipe that balances out the garlic and cheese.” With the success that the business has enjoyed despite the COVID-19 pandemic, she expressed hope of opening up more slots for customers to place orders in the near future. The goal right now is to expand the menu with other delicious treats, she added.