A Toronto man looking to connect with his mother started a small business with her over the summer offering Malaysian food. Now, he leaves her job to pursue a culinary career and help her mother pursue a dream she has had for a long time.
Karthy Subramaniam had already launched a food brand a few years ago in 2018 with lost in the saucebut in the summer of 2022 he decided to team up on a new project with a partner close to his heart: his mother Siva (short for Sevagamy Suntheresan).
they call him Bungkus (pronounced “boong-koos”) after the Malay term for takeout or wrap basically indicates that you want to take your food to go.
“I started this to connect with my Malay culture (my mom and I are originally from there), connect and learn from my mom, and provide an authentic Malaysian food experience in the city. Malaysian food options in GTA are few and far between. distant from each other,” Subramaniam tells blogTO.
“The flavors are influenced by the different main ethnicities that live in Malaysia: Chinese, Tamil, Indian, Indonesian. You really get the best of everything in a true fusion experience. Since I love to cook and really miss Malaysian food, I wanted to introduce you to as many don’t know much about Malaysia or what the food scene is like.”
Bungkus debuted in Smorgasburg in Toronto during the summer.
“Almost every weekend, we sold out of our items by 3pm, which was a learning experience in also bringing enough to last us the day,” says Subramaniam.
“Some of our most popular items were curry puffs (pastries filled with a spicy potato curry), cendol (a Malaysian coconut milk drink with palm sugar syrup and pandan jellies), mee goreng fried) and nasi goreng (fried rice).”
Subramaniam’s mother owned and operated her own hair salon in Parkdale for 15 years called Salon Latchia, but she’s always wanted to own her own restaurant or food business since she came to Toronto nearly 35 years ago.
“She didn’t have much of a support system to begin with,” says Subramaniam. “She has always been a phenomenal home cook and luckily she knew a lot of different Malay dishes. Our mutual love of Malay food and culture is what brought us together to start this. I felt I could learn a lot from her.”
By day, Subramaniam has been working for Freedom Mobile for about a decade, most recently as a channel systems specialist, but is now looking forward to his last day on September 30.
“The market events and daily activities that I need to do typically occur during the weekdays, which have been increasingly difficult to attend and balance as I gain more traction. I don’t have a full-time team, so if I can’t attend, on commercial breaks. I’ve always had a passion for entrepreneurship growing up watching my mother be her own boss,” says Subramaniam.
“After a long time trying to divide my attention between my full-time job and my business, I decided it was the right move for me to unlock growth opportunities that I couldn’t achieve without having my time available for it. I think doing this is more satisfying in the long run.
Subramaniam is in the process of finalizing a kitchen space, hopefully by the fall, at which point it will open for online pickup and delivery.
“I want to eventually have my own space or a shared space with other vendors that align with our kitchen to provide an authentic Southeast Asian street market experience,” says Subramaniam.