Malaysians nowadays are a more open-minded bunch. The rise of healthy eating in Malaysia is a promising trend to be looked forward upon, what with the growing concern of obesity, hypertension, and heart diseases in this country. A few good lads from Malaysia has taken initiative to help us eat healthier and improve our state of well-being. One of them is Dennis Lee, a part of a duo who started the Chai Bar in Oasis Square, Ara Damansara.

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Chai Bar is a salad bar that has been operating since October 2014, with the two owners – Dennis Lee and Edward Wong – at the helm. A recent unique concept in Malaysia as the bar offers a wide array of ingredients to choose from and customers can choose the ingredients one-by-one to make their own perfect salad. The ‘make your own salad’ concept is a nice touch as it provides customizability to customers.

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Chai Bar also offers ready-made salads. Salads such as the ‘Caesar’, ‘Sombrero’, ‘Steakhouse’ and ‘California Girls’ are some of the ones decorating the menu with each displaying different combinations and flavours. The variations become even wider with the addition of 15 salad dressings to choose from. They also specializes in meat where its salad can be accompanied by quite a portion of beef or chicken besides fresh vegetables.
In an interview, Dennis said they wanted people to enjoy food without having to compromise on their health.

“We want to give Malaysians the option of being healthy, while still have a good time eating,” he said.

The idea for Chai Bar came about a few years back. The two owners have experience working in Singapore where healthy eating outlet are plenty.

“Back then, it was hard to find any kind of healthy eating place [in Malaysia]. That is when we thought that it would be a very good idea to open up a salad bar here,” said Dennis.

What makes Chai Bar unique is its fusion salad offering. It incorporates local and familiar flavours into their ready-made salads like ‘Porntip’ and ‘Chicken Rice’. Dennis explained that they wanted Malaysians to experience something new while still feel the familiarity of local cuisine.

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“We incorporate Asian flavours into our salads as a way to appeal better to our customers,” he said. The Chicken Rice salad for instance, uses ingredients like poached chicken, fried shallots, beansprouts, spring onions, red rice and sesame soy dressing to have that Chicken Rice feel, with much less carbs.
The customizability of Chai Bar’s ‘make your own salad’ concept also makes eating salad a fun activity.

“We try to make eating healthy fun, not boring.” Dennis adds.

When asked why it is important to offer healthy food to the Malaysian mass, he replied: “I found out recently from The Star that we are now one of the fattest countries in Asia. Our obesity level is very high and I was legitimately surprised.”

“We want to make an impact and try to change the way we eat by providing a better option for people,” he said.

The culmination of healthy salad bars begs a curious question; how are Malaysians reacting to having a healthier option besides their usual ‘NasiCampur’ and ‘Char KueyTeow’?

Dennis said that transitioning is no easy feat. “In my opinion, I wouldn’t say that it is easy for people to just start eating healthier. We are so used to eating very heavy tasting food which uses a lot of salt, oil, and sugar. Being an Asian country, a lot of our food also relies heavily on carbohydrates. A diet of more carbs than protein and fibre is an unhealthy one indeed,”.

“It will be hard to change the way we eat. Eating a salad for lunch may feel less fulfilling then rice. But if you have the resolve to change, 3 weeks of eating healthy salad can be just as fulfilling,” he said.
The focus the owner is trying to give with the creation of the salad bar is to make healthy food fun and delicious, not boring and bland.

As we are now living in the digital age, Chai Bar also provides nutritional information for each of their ready-made salads on their website. The nutritional info can also be found on the MyFitness App for those who are counting their calories.

As a closing statement from Dennis, he advised: “Start eating healthy guys! Don’t procrastinate and start now! It is easier for you to start quickly and improve your health as soon as you can. Procrastinating only makes things worse for you in the long run.”

Try them out at:

G31, Oasis Village, Oasis Square
Jalan PJU 1A/7A, Oasis Damansara
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Email: hello@chaibar.my
Phone: +60 3 78320524
Website: chaibar.my

Chai Bar – Fun & Healthy Food
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