Organic food has risen in popularity in recent years, as more people adopt a healthier lifestyle – but farm-to-table experiences are still relatively rare in Malaysia, as is awareness to the concept. BMS Organics, a popular local organic food and cafe chain, is aiming to change that – by bringing the experience to urban dwellers.
Located within a quiet spot in Kampung Pulau Meranti Puchong, Bugs Paradise Farm is a relatively new endeavor, having opened in the later half of 2020. The compound houses a spacious open-air shop selling organic goods, next to a cafe and a plot of farmland where organic vegetables are grown. There is also an enclosure with small animals like rabbits, chickens and ducks. The cafe serves fusion dishes by day, and steamboat (hotpot) by night. PS: This is a vegetarian cafe, so most of their products are plant-based.
The fam and I visited on a weekend and the place was not too busy. Most of the visitors were families with young children. There is plenty of space, so definitely a better option than crowded shopping malls. The cafe itself is a simple structure with attap roofing, which gives the place a rustic feel. The ceilings are high, so even though there is no air-conditioning, it’s quite cooling even in the afternoon.
The menu has a variety of dishes, including rice and porridge meals, noodles and spaghetti, poke bowls and appetisers. Prices range from RM15-RM25 for mains.
Visitors can go on farm tours, where a guide will share knowledge on organic farming and take visitors on a stroll around the farm, followed by lunch at the cafe. Pre-bookings are required. (RM38 per pax)
Organic food lovers will be thrilled as there are lots of products available at the shop, from organic soybeans, quinoa and tri-millet, to fresh vegetables, kombucha, sauces, jams, and more. There’s also a frozen food section where you can buy pre-packed food that you can cook at home.
As for the cafe, we had a hiccup during our visit. Orders are made by scanning a QR code, but for some reason, they did not register in the system. We ended up going to the counter, where the staff manually keyed in each dish into the computer.
Even so, there was still a mix-up, and all the dishes that came to our table were the wrong orders. The kitchen had to make our dishes again from scratch, and we had to wait about 50 minutes to an hour for them to arrive. It didn’t help when other people who arrived to the cafe later than us got their orders first. We inquired with one of the waitstaff, who took the receipt we had and disappeared to the back of the resto for a long time.
I think it was genuinely a computer error and miscommunication, as the items printed on the receipt were correct, but the orders came out wrong. Still, it would have been nice if they had communicated the situation/updated us on the status of our dishes, rather than have us wait for an hour unsure if we should remind them again in case they had forgotten our orders.
Mom’s Herbal Soup with Yee Mee (RM16.90), which came served in a claypot. The soup had a good amount of red dates and wolfberries in it.
Pops’ Herbal Soup with Multigrain Rice (RM15.90). You can opt to change to cauliflower rice at an additional charge.
I ordered the Lion’s Mane Mushroom Wrap, which is essentially a vegan burrito. Inside was fresh lettuce, carrots, purple cabbage and mushrooms plus a creamy sesame sauce, which bound all the elements together. I don’t like vegetables in general, but these were fresh, sweet and crunchy, and the mushrooms had a nice meat-like texture to them.
Also got two half-boiled asthaxanthin eggs (not pictured). Asthaxanthin is an antioxidant that is present in many types of sea creatures like salmon, crabs, lobsters and shrimp, and is purported to have health benefits such as boosting the immune system and cardiovascular health. Chicken feed is mixed with it to get eggs rich in asthaxanthin – which is a good option for vegetarians who can’t consume seafood.
PS: When we made payment, the cafe gave us a free packet of veggies as an apology for the mix-up with our orders, which was a nice gesture.
Bug’s Paradise Farm is a good place to visit, especially now that interstate travel isn’t yet allowed due to the pandemic. Aside from the issue I mentioned above, which I think they tried their best to rectify, I enjoyed my time there. The food is slightly more expensive, but that is to be expected for organic ingredients. The location isn’t ideal, since it’s in an area surrounded by factories, but the fencing around the plot helps to block out the view.
Bookings for farm tours can be made here. Tours are in Mandarin or English.
Bugs Paradise Farm is located at Lot 46692, Jalan Pulau Meranti, Kampung Pulau Meranti, 47120 Puchong, Selangor. It is a 20 minute drive from the Puchong city centre (IOI Mall area), and about 20 minutes from Cyberjaya. Opens 12PM – 10PM from Wednesdays to Fridays, and 10AM – 10PM on weekends. Closed Mon – Tues.
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What with travel and movement restrictions worldwide by the coronavirus pandemic, the hospitality and travel industry is undoubtedly one of the most impacted. But while many hotels struggle to stay afloat and running despite empty rooms and cancelled reservations, one company in Sabah is proving that it pays to diversify.
Formed in 2007 in Kota Kinabalu, Echo Resorts – a family business which owns Gayana Marine Resort, Bunga Raya Island Resort and Borneo Eagle Resort – is keeping busy amidst the worldwide pandemic. Founded on the principles of family and community values, it has a wide range of interests covering hospitality, environmental conservation and wellness – and while its hotel division is not operating due to global travel restrictions and the Movement Control Order in Malaysia, it’s business as usual for the other divisions.
Organic Food Supply
Its Borneo Eco Fish Farm by Bayu Aquaculture Sdn Bhd and Green-Os organic vegetable farm has seen a rise in orders from consumers and restaurants since the pandemic began. The fish farm rears an assortment of fish and prawns, including the Backcross Grouper Fish and the Echo Grouper, a hybrid produced by back-cross of a male giant grouper and a female hybrid grouper. The farm adopts environmentally friendly practices, including chemical and antibiotic-free organic feed, to ensure product quality and safety.
Green-Os organic vegetables, locally farmed without the use of pesticides or chemicals, is popular for its variety of organic vegetables grown in healthy, fertile soil created by quality compost and organic fertilizer.
“As a result of the Movement Control Order and a conscious desire to adopt a healthier lifestyle in the midst of this pandemic, we are seeing increasing delivery orders from the public. We are pleased that the public are recognizing the benefits of consuming natural, wholesome produce,” says Gillian Tan, Echo Resorts’ owner representative.
The supplies are also delivered to Alu Alu Kitchen, the group’s restaurant located in the city, which was opened with a mission to serve fresh, organic seafood and vegetables from the farms. Its talented Head Chef Ah Keong creates nourishing menus inspired by Chinese and Malaysian influences to bring out the fresh tastiness of the produce untainted by chemical fertilizers and obtained from sustainable sources. According to Tan, home orders placed at Alu Alu Kitchen has also increased significantly since February, with some families placing orders for the whole lockdown period.
Marine Ecology Research Centre – Corals, clams and seahorses
In the absence of visitors, the group’s environmental conservation arm, the award-winning Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) attached to Gayana Marine Resort, is devoting more time to research and development of its reef regeneration and giant clam propagation programmes, including caring for the Baby Giant Clam nursery. MERC’s successful efforts in the propagation of seven of the world’s giant clams found in Malaysian waters were recognized by the Malaysia Book of Records. The team has also expanded their R&D to include seahorses which have been overly harvested for supposed medicinal values. The recent births from two male seahorses have provided much excitement and encouragement into the behaviour of seahorses with the hope of increasing the seahorse population in the foreseeable future.
Health and Wellness
Reflecting the increasing current global awareness for health, Klinik Gayana and Gayana Pharma from Echo Resorts’ health and wellness division, are registering a higher demand for its supplements and medical services.
To keep employees safe and productive in this difficult time, the company has taken concerted action by providing training programmes, educational courses and encouraging voluntary work.
Tan says, “We understand it may take time for travel to return to a semi-normal state and we have decided that this is the perfect time to go back to basics and reinvest in education and training. It has always been our ethos to give back to the local staff, and this is a wonderful opportunity to take them back to school.”
With the temporary closure of Gayana Marine Resort, Bunga Raya Island Resort and Borneo Eagle Resort, 50 hotel employees are deployed to render support to Green-Os (organic vegetable farm), Borneo Eco Fish Farm by Bayu Aquaculture Sdn and Alu Alu Kitchen – aimed at helping them gain a deeper insight into different areas within the group’s approach.
Besides volunteering to man the three resorts during this lockdown period which meant sacrificing time away from their families, employees are also putting their time to good use by making 800 reusable masks for all ECHO staff.
Tan adds,” Employee welfare and wellbeing remain the very core of our business. No employee has been made redundant. These may be trying times, but it has also revealed the tenacity of our people and it has been beautiful seeing everyone rally together to weather this storm.”
As part of its community outreach during this time, Echo Resorts has also contributed towards 2,000 food packs to affected families in need on Pulau Gaya.
When I was a teenager, I remember reading a quote from Jurassic Park that has stuck with me until this day. Gravely injured after a T-rex attack, mathematician Ian Malcolm responds to John Hammond on ‘saving the planet’.
“Let’s be clear. The planet is not in jeopardy. We are in jeopardy. We haven’t got the power to destroy the planet – or to save it. But we might have the power to save ourselves.”
Even back then, I felt like these words made a tonne of sense. It’s so typical of mankind to think that we are the ones to ‘save’ the world – conveniently forgetting that the world is in so much shit because of us. Many species of life forms will probably die out, but at the end of it all, the planet will adapt, and it will survive. To borrow another quote from JP, “Life, uh, finds a way.”
Time isn’t running out for the planet – it’s running out for us.
There has been a lot of conversation on reducing single use plastic, and even though many are still finding it hard to adopt the lifestyle, there is a slow but sure movement among Malaysians. There are now several zero-waste stores in and around the Klang Valley, aimed at encouraging people to go package-free and to buy items in bulk to reduce waste. Recently opened at The Linc KL, Frangipani Bulk used to be an online store, but have since gone brick and mortar to provide a physical space for their goods.
Located on the Ground Floor just across the aisle from Ben’s Independent Grocer, the store carries everything from home made soaps and beauty/body care products (lip balm, hand creams, lotions, toothpaste, etc.) to food stuff (spices, nuts, herbs) and other household essentials.
True to its zero waste philosophy, most if not all of the items are free from plastic packaging. You bring your own bottles to fill up on detergent, dishwashing liquid or shampoo. Fret not if you’ve forgotten or don’t have a container at hand – the store has some which are free to use.
Visitors will also find homemade, organic food stuff such as pasta, cacao nibs, nuts and spices sold in bulk. The containers are labeled accordingly with information such as the origin and best before.
Reusable cups – so you don’t have to get a plastic or paper one the next time you grab a coffee! Patterns are pretty too. 🙂
Metal and bamboo straws, cutlery, napkins, flasks and tiffin carriers.
The amount of plastic we use each day is astounding – if you think about it, if every Malaysian throws away just one plastic bag a day, it still amounts of 30 million plastic bags. Two things are still lacking – awareness and action – but we’re off to a start.
Let us remember: we don’t inherit the earth from our forefathers – we borrow it from our children.
15, The Linc KL – Lot 1, 360, Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM (daily)