Right To Your Doorstep
Grace Lim 
Meraki's rice bowls offer a good mix of meat, greens and grains.

In the last couple of years, lunch delivery services have been on a steady rise. Adequately priced, delicious and healthier than eating out, there are plenty of options to choose from these days.

One of them is The Naked Lunchbox (TNL), founded by Cheryl Ho in 2014.  “At that time, there weren’t many healthy lunchbox deliveries around. I worked from my home kitchen, making food that my family and I enjoy such as salads and vegetarian dishes. When I was overseas, there were more healthy options available as it was more common to eat fresh salads and fruits. Here, it’s always nasi lemak and laksa.”

With TNL, she also focuses on healthy food. “There’s no distinct type of healthy food as we work on creating different flavours. We have Western and Asian flavours combined together be it with our meats, sides or salads,” she adds.

In terms of what it defines as healthy, TNL sticks to five main criteria – no preservatives or additives, no refined sugars, no MSG, no gluten and no dairy.

“In lieu of sugar, we use local honey as a natural sweetener. Avoiding gluten is good as well as we do stay away with highly processed flour with no nutrition – all it does is make you full! We also don’t use dairy completely, so you won’t find any cheese in our lunchboxes,” she stresses.

Salads, gluten-free sandwiches and rice boxes are always popular. TNL delivers to Petaling Jaya, central Kuala Lumpur as well as selected areas in Puchong, Glenmarie and Desa Park City. 

Ho has moved out of her humble kitchen to a central kitchen in Ara Damansara, which also doubles as its in-house dining outlet. Customers can pick up their orders here or eat in.

“We opened this outlet early last year. We have a lunch plate set that is not available online, and the food changes on a daily basis. We make the effort to count the calories in each meal for you to help you better manage your diet,” she smiles.

The Fortune Salad from The Naked Lunchbox

Soul food

High school friends Colin Lim and Ronald Tee initially planned to operate a food truck but shelved it.

“Colin was always delivering healthy meals to his girlfriend for lunch. After a while, we realised that starting a food delivery service would make better financial sense than a food truck. A big part of the inspiration for healthy food came from Colin himself since he’s always making healthy meals for his family,” Tee says. 

Meraki Kitchen was founded last year on the concept that it only serves meals the partners would serve to their own loved ones. “Meraki is Greek for ‘the soul’, ‘creativity’ or ‘love put into something’,” Lim explains. “We want to build a community who believes in real food and making right choices.”

Like TNL, the rice boxes are bestsellers. “Coming from an Asian heritage, we believe that rice is one of the greatest sources of energy. Our rice bowls have a good balance of meat, greens and grains to make a well-rounded meal for lunch,” says Tee.

“We create our bowls based on five elements – texture, heat, colour, richness and acidity. We usually create our bowls with around five to six ingredients to provide a good balance of protein, fibre, fat, carbs and essential vitamins.”

In the eight months of its operation, the partners realise that there is still room for Malaysians to learn more about healthy eating – one of which is dispelling the notion that food delivery services are only about fast food.

“We use only quality ingredients so you do get what you normally would at a good restaurant. Therefore, this notion that food delivery services should be cheap is definitely a hurdle that we would like to overcome,” Lim notes.

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 278.