Ashley Singh, The Young Lad That Advocates The Taste of Sarawak

Who doesn’t love comfort food right? It leaves you feeling all warm inside and puts a smile on your face. Just ask Ashley Singh since he’s all about bringing comfort food all the way from the land of the hornbills to our shores. With a newly opened cafe under his belt, this 21-year-old shares his journey with us.


DANIAL ISWADI: Hi Ashley! Thank you very much for spending your time with us. We really hope that everything is okay with you during these hard times. We are very excited to know more about you and your family’s cafe Bonio. To start, could you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

ASHLEY SINGH: Hi, I’m Ashley and well there’s not much to talk about me, I’m just a simple guy living life full of ups and downs just like everyone else. I was born in Petaling Jaya and I moved back to Sarawak for two years, and then I moved back here in Petaling Jaya and started working in a few F&B outlets from early 2018 till last year 2020. I’m the eldest son and also the breadwinner of my family.


DANIAL ISWADI: Your family’s business is still quite new. Out of curiosity, what made you and your family decide to open up a cafe especially during this pandemic?

ASHLEY SINGH: Honestly, some of us are struggling with our job situation, and as you know some places had to retrench workers or limit their working hours due to these unforeseen circumstances, and for us to live solely on minimum pay, it may become a burden in the long run. So we thought why not open a cafe where food isn’t scarce and support ourselves in the process? Plus making coffee and cooking is my favourite thing to do and my mum loves to cook as well, so it’s the perfect business for us.

DANIAL ISWADI: You and your family had a lot of preparations to make before starting up the business. Can you tell us how long it took for you to start the business?

ASHLEY SINGH: Yeah the preparation is a hard one considering it’s our first time; it took us at least a month and a half to find a spot and proceed with the renovations and another month to prepare everything from the menus to working gears, so on and so forth.


DANIAL ISWADI: Since your family business is still fresh and new, how do you foresee the business in the future and what are your plans to make your business better in the future?

ASHLEY SINGH: If I may be honest, at first I did not put too much expectations – all I wanted was to have enough to support my family every month, but one thing I have in mind, I want to to branch out and open more outlets, and maybe one day, if we have the chance, we will pursue into retail selling Sarawakian food items as there a lack of shops here that sells Sarawakian goods.

DANIAL ISWADI: I believed the word Bonio came from the word Borneo, therefore, most of the food served must’ve come from the land of the hornbill. Could you tell us what are the famous foods served on the menu?

ASHLEY SINGH: Our laksa Sarawak is our best seller; we’re trying to introduce it to more people here in peninsular Malaysia who have never been to Sarawak to try this awesome meal. We also have mee goreng basah, another form of comfort food for most of us in Sarawak. In the future we’re hoping to bring mee kolok into the menu soon – halal version of course.

DANIAL ISWADI: During this unprecedented time, unemployment is rampant, thus, many have decided to open up their own businesses. Do you have any advice for those who wish to open up their own businesses?

ASHLEY SINGH: If I may be so bold, what we’re doing is inadvisable because we’re putting everything on the line; opening up a business is always a big risk and always have a second option but then again, I am not so sure that I’m qualified to talk about how business should be handled since I myself am still new to this experience but all I can say is always have a plan B.


DANIAL ISWADI: Thank you so much Ashley! It was great to have you here with us today. For those who want to get in touch with you, is there any way to do so?

ASHLEY SINGH: You’re welcome! We just settled with our social media pages, so for more enquiries you can search us up on Google, Instagram and Facebook. Thank you so much for interviewing us <3.