Tenom – Land Pui Vun: How I Came To Be A Tofu And Cunken Seller
“This tofu and cunken business was originally my uncle’s. My father took it over from my uncle, but after two to three years, he lost interest in the business. Jeff and I were newly-weds then. We were working in Brunei. When my father asked if we were interested in taking over the business, we gave it some thought and figured it’s better to have our own business than to be wage earners. So we returned to Tenom to take ownership of this stall.
During my father’s time, he would purchase tofu from the factory. But the high tofu price gave him a very low profit margin. So we decided to learn how to make tofu ourselves. Now, we buy the soy beans from the local supplier and process the tofu at home. We begin the preparation of our homemade tofu and cunken each afternoon to be sold the next morning at Pasar Baru Tenom.
Each stall at the market sells the same food – tofu and cunken. So the competition is great. We need to have that personal touch to attract customers to our stall. We also set up pop-up stalls whenever there are community activities in town so that more people get to know us. When they come to the market, they will look for our stall.
My children say that when they grow up, they want to sell tofu and cunken too. I say, ‘Don’t. This work is back-breaking. Don’t you do it. Just get an office job.’ We are up before the break of dawn at 3 a.m. to prepare the tofu for sale every single day. We only close once or twice a month, usually in the middle of the month when people have yet to receive their pay and eat out less. This is our life.” – Land Pui Vun, tofu and cunken seller
Thank you so much, Land & Jeff, for sharing your stories with us and letting us spend a day with you to learn about cunken and tofu production. We are inspired by your passion and determination. You guys rock!