SaladStop! caters to the demand for quality healthy food tuned to the local palate, writes Aznim Ruhana Md Yusup
SALADSTOP! is an international healthy food chain that was started in Singapore 10 years ago by a Swiss expat family. It has more than 60 outlets worldwide, mostly in Southeast Asia, and it is still a family business, says managing director Adrien Desbaillets, speaking at the brand’s Malaysian launch in Nu Sentral.
The brand understands that salads are not staple food for people in this region and so it does not set out to build a Western salad bar. Instead, it focuses on fresh ingredients and punchy, familiar flavours for its dressing to attract customers.
Currently there are two SaladStop! outlets in the country, one in Pavilion KL and the other in Nu Sentral. They offer fresh salads, wraps and warm grain bowls. Customers can choose from more than 60 ingredients and 20 dressings, or they can opt for the brand’s signature salad dishes.
Also available are soups, fresh fruit smoothies and hot drinks. In the grab-and-go fridge are a selection of chia seed puddings, muesli and yogurt.
Apart from offering healthier meals, SaladStop! says it is keen to ensure a supply of good ingredients right from the source. It plans to work closely with the local community and surrounding farms for the best and freshest produce, similar to what has been done for its stores in Singapore.
“We found that 85 per cent of chicken sold in Singapore comes from Brazil because it’s cheaper compared to Malaysia,” says Desbaillets. “Then we went to a farm in Malaysia and got them to supply us antibiotics-free chicken. We’re able to do this because we can make a large order.”
He shares this story to highlight how an eatery can use its scale to effect change. This is in line with its Eat Wide Awake motto, which calls for the public to be aware of how their food is produced and processed. It’s also important to respect the dedication of farmers who make this possible, he adds.
While customers can make their own salads at SaladStop!, they can also choose from about a dozen pre-selected mixes. These come with fun names such as Oh Crab Lah!, Habibi and Ariba Ariba, which hint at its flavour origins.
At a Press tasting session, we are given five signature dishes to try. As the name implies, my favourite Tuna San has a Japanese influence with a punchy wasabi dressing. Its ingredients include lightly-seared tuna, edamame and avocado, along with cherry tomatoes and orange segments for some contrast in flavour.
Meanwhile, Mamma Mia! is a pasta salad with a creamy basil pesto dressing. It has fusili pasta, fresh curly kale, cubed roast chicken and olives, which gives a great salty bite. It has twice the calories of Tuna San at about 654 kcals, but is great option if you’re looking to fill up with carbohydrate.
With strong flavours of lemongrass and turmeric, Sabai Sabai is inspired by Thai cuisine. It has a mix of quinoa and brown rice, which soaks up the spicy turmeric dressing. It also has roast chicken, pickled cucumber, grilled tofu and oddly, grapes.
SaladStop! has several vegan dishes and one of them is Go Geisha. It has shredded cabbage, carrots, soba noodles, grilled tofu and edamame. It’s dressed with a light miso dressing, and the dish is fresh and crunchy.
Earth Bowl is also vegan and comes with protein patties made of lentils that are herby and spicy. Other ingredients include avocado, mushrooms, broccoli and cabbage and the dish is dressed in the turmeric dressing used in Sabai Sabai.
I find the salads tasty and enjoyable, largely due to the punchy and familiar Asian flavours. There are no dominant sour notes of citrus or vinegar that’s common in typical Western salads, which puts many locals off from eating salads. The dishes are light yet filling, which makes for a good lunch option.
Lot 1.09 Pavilion KL,
168, Jalan Bukit Bintang 55100 Kuala Lumpur
TEL: 603-2110 0713
HOURS: 10am to 10pm daily.
SALADSTOP! NU SENTRAL
Lot LG 20, Lower Ground floor, NU Sentral Shopping Centre
No. 201, Jalan Tun Sambathan, 50470 Kuala Lumpur.
TEL: 603-2276 3293
HOURS: 10am to 9.30pm daily.
FOOD: Fresh salads, wraps and warm grain bowls.
PICK: Tuna San and Mamma Mia! salads.
PAY: RM17.90 to RM25.90 for menu items.
MOOD: Casual and fresh.
I SAY: Go for it