Indulgence
Return of an Old Favourite
Grace Lim 
Ho and his daughter, Tiffany
advertisement[x]

Those who have tasted the handcrafted meat dishes at Mr Ho’s Fine Foods years ago and were saddened by its closure in 2009, will be happy to know that the man is back.

Rebranded as The Butcher’s Table, this newly opened deli may be one of many in a row of eateries in the bustling SS2 neighbourhood but it has created quite a lot buzz. We are just as excited that Mr Ho a.k.a. Ho Kim Loon has decided to come out of “retirement” and quickly make plans to pay it a visit.

When I arrive at the tail end of lunch hour, Ho is chatting away with the remaining customers. His daughter Tiffany greets me at the door. I survey the surrounding; the décor is simple and minimalist. Long wooden tables dominate, a veritable invitation to dine in large groups.

Next to the cashier’s counter is a large refrigerator showcasing the deli’s array of temptations, from the sausages to the smoked meats such as pancetta, pork knuckles and even chicken legs, to name a few. Nearby is a chiller stocking an array of soft drinks and beers that would go so well with the meaty meal.

Ho leaves the party and comes over to introduce himself. Almost immediately, he launches into a speech about how much he loves cooking. It all started when he was a child. He recalls how he would volunteer to be in charge of the cooking whenever he went camping.

After a stint as a car salesman in the 1980s, he decided to pursue his passion full-time by taking up a job at Euro Deli in 1992. “I learned everything I know now from a Swiss master butcher, from cutting the meats to smoking and curing them. From manufacturing, I dived right into retail by opening my own company, Mr Ho’s Fine Foods, in 1997. We had a counter in Cold Storage in Bangsar Shopping Centre. Since it was a neighbourhood shopping mall, it was easy for us to get to know our clientele. Everyone was very friendly. The environment allowed us to extend a personal touch in our service,” says Ho.

From a counter, Ho went on to open a full-fledged store in Mid Valley Megamall. He also travelled extensively to Australia, Italy and Germany to gain more exposure about the products; the travels were also an opportunity for him to pick up new skills. Business was good and Mr Ho’s Fine Foods built quite a reputation in the fine meats department.

However, due to certain circumstances, he shut down the business in 2009. “I gave it up and moved to Kuching where I lived for four years. Then I moved to Miri for several months before heading to Kota Kinabalu. I was still in the F&B industry, but I was mainly consulting,” he elaborates.

One day, two friends paid him a visit and proposed the idea of opening a deli. They would provide the business smarts while he would only have to contribute his skills as a meat expert and chef. Ho found the idea appealing and returned to Kuala Lumpur. And so The Butcher’s Table was born in July this year. 

The Butcher’s Table has been attracting Ho’s previous regular customers

Familial ties

For this new venture, Ho has also enlisted the help of his family members. His only daughter Tiffany, 23, is a public relations and marketing graduate; naturally, she was tasked to manage PR for The Butcher’s Table. While working in Singapore with an agency, the plans for the deli were taking shape and Ho contacted her about a job opportunity.

Tiffany admitted that she wasn’t keen on the idea when she first got the call because it has always been a dream of hers to work in an agency. But then nostalgia hit – she remembered fondly the old days of helping out her dad in Bangsar throughout the holidays because those were their busiest period. 

“Dad wanted me to develop the social media as well, something which I have been wanting to get involved in. In the end, I said yes to his offer,” she says. “I also enjoy interacting with the customers and telling them all about our food and products. I think having that personal touch in this business is as important as the quality of the food.”

“She is the one to get all the compliments as well as the scolding first,” Ho laughs. “If anything goes wrong, she’s the one they aim their grievances at! Not the rest of us who are mostly in the kitchen.” Ho’s wife also helps out in the restaurant.

“I’m glad that we work together as it has brought us closer as a family,” he muses. “I’m very grateful for this opportunity as I’ve been away in East Malaysia for so many years. I would only return occasionally so we rarely saw one another. Now, we leave the house together in the morning and return home together as well.”

 

Sweet homecoming

Ho’s comeback has been welcomed by many of his former regular customers. In fact, he has already reacquainted with some familiar faces since opening The Butcher’s Table.

“When news of the opening first came out, we had a huge number of customers, mostly loyal friends from before. The response was so overwhelming that we actually ran out of stock after a few days,” reveals Ho. “We were simply not prepared for it. We have since increased our stock to ensure that we don’t have to turn anyone away.”

As for the menu, Ho has stuck mainly to the old menu with a few new additions. For instance, Ho has increased the types of sausages from five to 10. All the sausages are pork and they are all his own recipes. New flavours include the Deluxe Spicy Ring, Vienna Sausage (which is a pork-chicken combo), Italian Sausage, English Oxford Sausage and Cumberland Sausage.

Tender pork knuckles

Fans can relive the old days with Ho’s signature crispy roast pork, which is an absolute must-have, the tender and flavourful pork knuckle, as well as a fine selection of cured, smoked, boiled and grilled meats – all made fresh by Ho himself in the kitchen.

“For the smoked items, they are smoked using natural beechwood chips. We don’t use smoking liquid. There are also no machines involved. The rolling of the pancetta, the curing of the meats, they are all done by hand,” enthuses Tiffany.

They have already received offers from shopping malls to open counters, but for now, their focus is on The Butcher’s Table. Although Ho is pleased by all the attention, his priority is to make sure that the quality of the food is always the best.

“I’ve been in this industry for so many years and I’ve learned so much. It makes me happy when I see my old customers come in and get excited about my food again. It’s like a grand reunion. This is where I get my satisfaction from.”

The Butcher’s Table
26, Jalan SS 2/103
Petaling Jaya
Tel: +6037728 2843
www.facebook.com/MYButchersTable/



This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 254.