This woman sells nasi lemak for $1 from her flat. Here's why

Azlinah Toming has promised to keep food prices low so that everyone can afford her food.
PHOTO: Screengrab/TikTok, Azlinah Toming

Amidst all the complaints these days about rising food prices and shrinking portions when eating out, this woman is selling nasi lemak from her four-room flat in Yishun for a mere $1.  

Yes, $1 which can't even get you a decent cup of kopi at many coffee shops these days. 

A TikTok video shared on Monday (Aug 1) showed Azlinah Toming is clearly not skimping on the ingredients – with each packet of nasi lemak consisting of a generous serving of sambal, half an egg, ikan billis (dried anchovies), as well as a bowl of rice. 

"We [are] opening orders for this coming Friday," the 39-year-old Azlinah said, adding that the minimum order is 10 packets.

https://www.tiktok.com/@lin_sayonara/video/7126536210599709954?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc&web_id=7078349245758473730

With the minute-long video garnering over 200,000 views, netizens were left drooling at the cheap nasi lemak.

PHOTO: Screengrab/TikTok

But several netizens wondered how Azlinah could be making a profit by selling her food for just a dollar.

"How to break even? It's too cheap," a netizen said, while others added that they did not mind paying a bit more to keep Azlinah in business.

PHOTO: Screengrab/TikTok

In an interview with AsiaOne on Wednesday (Aug 3), Azlinah shared that when she first started selling nasi lemak out of her flat with her husband some two weeks ago, it was never with the intention to make money.

After all, she is "earning enough" from a full-time job in the construction industry to provide for her family, the mother of three added. 

Describing the business as a "hobby" after being inspired by the affordable food in Johor Bahru, Azlinah said: "I love to cook and my relatives have been saying that my nasi lemak is nice. So why not let everyone try my nasi lemak at an affordable price?

"But when it got viral on TikTok, I was like 'oh my goodness'. So many people are asking about my nasi lemak."

Most of the 600 orders received to date are from mosques and nursing homes, Azlinah said, adding that "doing something for charity" has fuelled her desire to keep the price of her food as low as possible.

"I don't need the money," she added. "Selling it at $1 is enough [to cover the cost of overheads] since I'm still earning 30 cents per packet.

"Do you know how expensive food is everywhere? I want to sell at this price so that everybody can afford my nasi lemak."

For the sceptics who question the legality of her business, no license is required for home-based food businesses since they are prepared for a "very small number of people", according to information on the Singapore Food Agency's website. 

Over at Pasir Ris, another entrepreneur, a self-taught barista decided to sell coffee at the ground floor unit of his HDB flat.

Called Ground Floor Coffee, this home-based food business has since garnered a huge following on TikTok.

In another eatery that is bucking the trend by refusing to increase the price of their food, Goldhill Family Restaurant along Hougang Avenue 3 is still selling 'cai fan' at $2 for the past three years.

Speaking to AsiaOne on July 26, Guo Fu Cai, the eatery's boss shared that he would not be increasing food prices "anytime soon".

"When times are bad, we're doing it for their own benefit," he said, while admitting that he has not been making enough to cover his overheads in recent times.

chingshijie@asiaone.com