Meet Crystal Peanut King

Crystal Peanut King's peanut brittle in two packagings
IF you are travelling on the North-South Highway in Johor and wish to break your journey to stretch your legs, you can stop at any rest area along the highway or have a break in Yong Peng. 
This town between Air Hitam and Pagoh and renowned for its Foochow stuffed fish balls and mee sua noodles, is fast becoming the travellers' preferred stopover for another reason.  Travellers have discovered that it's also home to Crystal Peanut King's handmade quality snacks.

In August 2003, Tong Wai Wah started making and selling his own recipe of crunchy peanut brittle, a local snack known as fah sung thong (Cantonese) or tau th'ng (Teochew).  Made from superior quality peanuts imported from China and Vietnam, Tong's secret recipe created the finest quality toasted peanut brittle woven in a delicate web of wispy sugar crystals.

Freshly baked tray of almond crisp ready to be packed
He proudly claims that it's "the first and only one in Malaysia" and has successfully promoted his products in international trade shows.  With the early success of his peanut brittle, Tong established the Crystal Peanut King brand in 2004 and expanded his range of local products to include snacks, cookies and candy.

Tong, 42, was so dedicated to improving his peanut brittle recipe that he was popularly known as Mr Peanut.  When his first range of products gained a loyal following, he suddenly found a number of competitors in town.

While peanut brittle may not be his original product, the Crystal Peanut King brand of fah sung thong certainly has an edge over the others because of its distinct quality and not too sickly-sweet taste.
Tong Wai Wah [Right] and his wife, Siew Kee
His road to success was not an easy one. He's constantly innovating and creating new products with quality peanuts, and adding new items to his range of products.  Not only at festive seasons but all year round, connoisseurs of peanut snacks drop by the Crystal Peanut King showroom, conveniently located adjacent to the Yong Peng trunk road.

A section of the showroom has part of the production line revealed for customers to watch staff scrutinise trays of toasted peanuts to remove any burnt or imperfect nuts.  These are picked out by hand before the peanuts go on to be created into various products.

In another section, trays of sliced almonds are baked and allowed to cool before they are packed into air-tight containers to retain their freshness.  When the trays of freshly baked products emerge from the oven, you can watch how the toasted slabs are cut into pieces before being seal-packed.

At every stage of production, the neatly attired staff with masks, caps and aprons, emblazoned with the Crystal Peanut King emblem, adhere to strict standards of quality and hygiene.

Customers are welcomed into the
Crystal Peanut King showrom
Tong, who's a Hakka, naturally included bubble rice crackers, a sweet snack which is like a local version of rice pops.  This crispy traditional snack is called mi chang (Hakka) or bee phang (Teochew). They are made with bubble rice, roasted peanuts and sesame seeds.  It is interesting that the main ingredient, bubble rice, is made from cooked rice that's dried in the sun and deep-fried until they puff up into crispy bubbles.

Travellers who visit the showroom are encouraged to sample the products and Tong and his wife, Siew Kee, are often on hand to support the team of sales promoters.

Crystal Peanut recently introduced a VIP Card which entitles holders to enjoy 50 per cent discounts on purchases if they shopped on their birthday, and 25 per cent discounts when they shopped during their birthday month.  The Crystal Peanut King showroom is at 12 Jalan Cahaya Bahru, Taman BCB.
A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 21 February 2011

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