Have you ever eaten an ingredient as a part of a full meal and thought: “Damn, I could really eat this alone as a snack”?
If you’ve ever had zai er (or vegetarian mock goose), a popular dish often served in vegetarian bee hoon made by frying sheets of soy skin — it’s exactly like that.
We’re not the only ones who thought of that too — a group of three friends have come together to start a little project called Krak.
Here’s the thing: The gratuitous crackle on the soy skin chips is so shiok that it’s just as good as any fish skin or potato chips, but somehow hasn’t caught on in popularity as a snack.
Krak aims to change that by producing a line of unique snacks using crispy zai er as the base, but putting a modern twist on it — including adding flavours such as salted egg and mala to appeal to the younger generation.
Created during a drinking sesh
Some might ask: “Why zai er?”
The reason is rather heartwarming. For co-founder Joel Low, It’s because soy skin chips were a yearly feature for Chinese New Year — his aunt regularly fries up batches for reunions.
But it’s not just a sentimental snack for Joel. He also saw the potential for it in the competitive snack market.
In a stroke of serendipity, he mentioned the idea to two of his close friends while they were having a mini drinking sesh at his house, sometime around Christmas in 2021.
His friends — and later co-founders — Dei Cakrajaya and Jared Lau, were immediately enthusiastic about the idea and wanted to team up with Joel. Just four months into 2022, Krak was born.
It was a leap of faith, as all three were aged just 21 then and it was a daunting and — perhaps crazy, their words — venture. Dei recalls: “We weren’t really business people and we weren’t sure how to run a business.”
But everything worked out as the trio eventually figured out the specialised roles and responsibilities that best suited each of them.
As a business undergraduate in SMU, Joel takes on the role of handling business development while the communications-trained Dei finetunes the brand image and marketing.
Finally, chemical engineering graduate Jared manages and streamlines logistics and other administrative matters.
“Ultimately, we are grateful for the opportunity and exposure of running a business. It’s also rewarding when we see customers show their enjoyment or return for more,” the three said, beaming.
Krak is like crack
When asked what sets Krak apart from others, the trio say that it’s the preparation.
It seems that many of their customers enjoy Krak’s offerings since it’s baked and less oily than regular zai er.
All three co-founders have an active hand in the production and come into the kitchen every Friday, like clockwork, to cook up the next batch of Krak.
Each cook takes around eight hours from start to finish. The process starts from cutting the materials into bite-sized pieces before they are put in the oven to bake.
Once baked, they are sorted for quality control and seasoned with one of Krak’s three flavours: Seaweed, salted egg and mala. It’s also available in the form of an unflavoured original flavour.
How did they land on these? The R&D process ran the gamut of flavours — ranging from truffle to barbecue — before they narrowed it down to the three.
On the reception of the newfangled flavours, Jared added: “They have been quite well-received by youngsters but older customers tend to be more resistant, since it’s normally viewed as a more traditional food item.”
In particular, the salted egg flavour has been the most popular Krak product.
That’s not surprising, since these are made with a house-made salted egg seasoning to ensure it has the right amount of richness and fragrance.
On the other hand, the mala flavour has seen praise from spice lovers — described as a satisfying zhong la (medium spice) level — and even has Dei herself citing it as her favourite.
Huat box for a huat CNY
If you sat through this thinking that Krak would make a good snack for Chinese New Year (CNY), we agree — and it’s even more fitting now with their CNY exclusive, auspiciously named the Huat box.
The limited-edition Huat box (S$38.88) is available now on their website and can be purchased throughout the CNY period until Feb 24, with only 120 boxes available in total.
Inspired by mahjong, the stylish packaging bears a single “发” character on the cover, a word that can be vaguely translated as “to prosper” and commonly used as a CNY greeting.
Best of all, all four flavours — seaweed, mala, salted egg and original — are included, each with four mini packs (18g) for variety. If you’re looking for a unique addition to your living room that also doubles as a stylish piece of decor, this might be it.
For more ideas on what to eat, read our stories on last-minute delivery and takeaway options as well as flash deals from just S$2.88 to make your CNY sweeter.
Do explore the new GrabFood Dine-in service for awesome deals.