At first glance, the quaint house with a charming garden where The Puntry operates, looks just like any other nestled along the quiet streets of Jalan Robson. But, to Tan San Eu (better known as Euwie), and Beh E Laine (Elaine), this little house holds their big passion for ice cream. The Puntry is the couple’s latest project, after the success of Pun’s Ice Cream at a preloved market at APW Bangsar.
Euwie, whose impressive résumé includes work experiences at Michelin-starred restaurant In Situ in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Amass in Copenhagen and Michelin 3-Star Le Cinq in Paris, had us wondering, why he decided to make ice-cream in Malaysia instead. And so, we sat down with him for an exclusive interview on his passion, the story behind ice cream flavors with names that tickle the funny bone, like Sakit Kelapa, Eh, Matcha and DBKL, and his future plans.
Q: How did the idea of running Pun’s Ice Cream and The Puntry come about? And why ice cream?
A: I love ice cream. Since I was 11 or 12, I’ve had an ice cream churner at home. I used to churn ice cream every day. It’s always an obsession for me. When I came back (to Malaysia) and wondering what I could do next, the one idea that kept recurring was making ice cream. Elaine told me then, “Everybody loves ice cream, you love making ice cream, and we love eating ice cream, so why don’t we try making an ice cream company?”
We want to do something that can be enjoyed by everyone. I love ice-cream because it’s one of the most refreshing things to eat on a sweltering afternoon in Malaysia. You may be full from a banana leaf rice lunch, but somehow, there is always room for ice cream!
Q: You’ve worked at several kitchens of top-notch restaurants around the world. Why didn’t you start a fine dining restaurant instead?
A: I’d say I’d kill for a chance to open a fine dining restaurant, but not here in Malaysia. We’re not ready for it, I think. Malaysians would rather eat in, or go to some hawker stall for a simple meal. I don’t see many Malaysians eating at fancy restaurants every other day, even if they’re rich. It’s almost like a cultural thing. So, if I were working in a fine dining kitchen, it would be very depressing to be serving only, say, five tables in a week.
Q: Eh Matcha and Sakit Kelapa — the ice cream names here are very interesting, funny even. What’s the story behind the pun in ice cream names?
A: When I’m working in the kitchen, I can get pretty stressed out. That’s when I make puns to relieve stress and make people around me laugh. Elaine likes puns too and she thinks she’s very good at it, but she’s actually not (laughs). I’d say I’m the punnier of us two. Actually, almost everyone at The Puntry is punny. Naturally, when we were brainstorming for ice cream names, we also thought of adding in puns to the names. We also looked for ideas on Google when we were stuck!
Q: What inspired you to make certain ice cream flavors — S’mores and Pina Coladas, for instance?
A: All of the flavors have some kind of story to them. When we make new ice cream flavours, we draw inspiration from people and the experiences they had, or memories that I had with someone or something.
For instance, S’mores ice cream was inspired by a fond memory during my time in Denmark. I was working for Matt Orlando and he had a bonfire outside his restaurant, surrounded by a garden. After a full day of service, everyone sat outside and he made s’mores for everyone, whipped from leftover marshmallows and other stuff. It was the first time I’d ever tasted a s’more. It was a defining moment for me at that time.
We especially created the Pina Coladas ice-cream, based on the lyrics of the song. We make it as such when you have it, you’ll have the words, “If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain” playing in your mind. We had customers asking: “Pina Coladas, as in the song?”, and when they tasted it, they knew what we meant.
Q: Any new flavors in the pipeline?
A: We’re planning to do a dessert with layers of ice-cream and jelly, similar to the kuih lapis. You know, KFC used to have this ice cream in a cup which had jelly at the bottom of each cup. We want to recreate it ‘coz it’s so nice, so nostalgic.
Q: Tell us about the DBKL ice cream and your future charity programme with it.
A: The DBKL is actually ice cream made from all our leftover stuff such as marshmallows or chocolate sauce! We didn’t want to waste our cooking ingredients. But we have since tied the flavor to a charity programme called Lunch Weekend, a collaboration with Daniel who creates the coffee menu for the cafés in Common Ground. We marked it (the price) lower, compared with other flavors, and all of the proceeds go to charity. I believe we’re already making enough for ourselves, so why not give some to the people in need? The programme is expected to take off after Raya.
The Puntry by Pun’s Ice Cream
Address: 5, Jalan Robson, Taman Persiaran Desa, 50460 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Wed – Friday, 11 am – 5 pm. Saturdays: 11.30 am – 10 pm. Sundays: 10.30 am – 4 pm.