Mala Foods is a multi-generational business involving the women in Margarita Onevathana’s family including her mother Vieng Xay and her daughter, Kitana.
In Laos culture, food is about bringing people together and creating relationships in community. As Margarita says, “we cannot NOT feed you”. Margarita has always loved to cook and used to host large dinner parties. Her friends and family were always raving about her food and she started to understand that food was a true passion for her. Out of this love and passion, Mala Foods arose.
It all started with Laos spicy sausages. Vieng Xay began making traditional Laos sausage for Lucky supermarket on Edmonton’s north side. When the show home market Margarita was working in slowed down, she started making sausages with her mother for Lucky as well. The sausage they make is culturally a home cooked food: the kind of that that only mom makes. Infused with lemongrass, lime leaves and Thai chilli peppers, Margarita says “it’s like a bite of Laos!”
After 4 years, Margarita and Vieng Xay decided to scale up their businesses. They began to expand their line to include an “original” for those who don’t handle spice well, followed by sweet and savoury which is a nod to traditionally sweet Chinese sausage. Their menu at Bountiful Farmers’ Market includes a lot more than sausages and showcases their love of food. Inspired by Chinese, Laos, Thai, Indian, Mediterranean, Western and Vietnamese cuisine, you can find everything from coconut sticky rice wth mango to salad rolls to pho and shrimp lollypops. Experimenting with mixing flavours and traditions is what drives and excites Margarita but at the heart of it all, Mala Foods is about simple recipes that feed the soul and put flavour and freshness first.
They know that good food, really good food, takes a while to make. They have dishes that take a day or sometimes two, like their Laos chicken noodle soup. It’s made by slowly building flavours in the broth and then adding handmade tapioca noodles to finish it off. While their homemade spicy chilli oil and crispy garlic oil available for purchase at their booth, many of their marinades, sauces and broths are the kind of thing that must be made fresh for every dish because of their focus on FRESH herbs and vegetables.
One of their favourite things about having a storefront kitchen is getting to talk to their community. They love being able to explain to their customers about their process and products in detail so they understand how their dishes are made and why they’re special.
If you want to experience the flavours of Mala Foods’ full menu, you have to come to Bountiful Farmers’ Market, but you can find their Laos sausages at some of your favourite grocery stores including: Lucky Superstore and Mercado Bakery.
Did you know?
As an 18yr old, Vieng Xay fled her village when fighting from the Vietnam War spilled over into Laos. She crossed the Mekong River with her niece and nephew with the Viet Cong in pursuit. After spending two years in a Thai refugee camp where she gave birth to her first child, she immigrated to Canada in 1979 and eventually settled in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband, children and mother, Mala, for whom Mala Foods is named.
Products at Market
- Laos sausage: spicy, sweet & spicy & mild
- A rotating menu of Laos, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean and Western inspired food.