Wednesday, May 26, 2010

To Hob or Not to Hob

Malaysia, like other Asian countries, is very fond of cooking on high heat hobs. When I first looked at the hobs here which sit on the countertop, I wasn’t opposed to the idea of having this type of cooking surface with a separate oven on the wall (I had had seen this set up of wall ovens become more popular in recent years in the US and for some time before that in Europe). The problem here in Malaysia is that the wall ovens are very small.... most with a cooking capacity of only 51 litres (and let me tell you that is small!). Then why not get two of these small ovens? My answer is two are no better than one because you still can’t fit a turkey in there or regular size cookie sheets (and I do plan to do some baking!). Photos of new kitchens constructed in the US show nice wall ovens which look like standard size ovens built right into the wall, not these miniature ovens that look smaller than my worse oven I ever used when I lived in New York City years ago. Looking for bigger ovens in Malaysia I found some models at 61 litres, not much of a difference and at a higher price tag. Also on the market are wider ovens (just not full height) which could solve my cookie sheet problem, Fagor 5H-936 X model has a 74 litre capacity, which might be OK. But the price tag of 6,999myr is way over my budget for the stove alone!!!

So I started to look at what they call “Standalone Cookers” which are like the traditional stoves with the cooktops I am used to. Well, the selection here is extremely bleak. The lower end models are made by Zanussi (distributor here: ). I think I remember seeing a new Zanussi model in Seremban selling for around 1,800myr.

This standalone cooker is really really cheap. How do I know? Because my rental condo has an old one. Every time we use it, we think the place is going to blow up. What we found out about Malaysia in terms of gas is that most places (excluding some high-end condos in KL) don’t have gas piped into the walls. Therefore, you need a gas tank for any type of gas cooking surface you use. If you are using a simple two burner hob out in a Wet Kitchen, the hob attaches to a gas tank next to it. The gas runs out every couple months on average and you call a gas company to come and replace your tank with another for about 25myr. Likewise, if you are using a hob in your dry kitchen or even a standalone cooker, you must connect to one of these gas tanks to fuel your cooktop surface (the ovens are all electric, from what I have seen). So if you look at the photo of a Zanussi oven, to the right of the oven, is another door, this door opens up and the tank slots in there. It is not only dangerous; it’s just space wasting because it makes the oven too small.

Image above and directly below found on

See the orange/yellow gas tank in the photo? It doesn't belong next to the cooker, it belongs in the open hole to the right of the oven above.

Next models up are better in that they don’t have the tank built into the model, hence producing bigger ovens. A gas line can run from the standalone cooker to outside of the house or in a condo as far away from the cooktop as possible to eliminate the danger of the whole thing blowing up. We plan to run the gas line to the outside of the house and keep the gas tank in the Wet Kitchen as far away from the house/kitchen as possible (I heard that keeping a tank outside isn’t always great though because pests gnaw on the line which could cause a leak or because gas tanks are sometimes stolen if they are left outside.... regardless of these issues our gas tank will be outside). Anyway, the mid range models are: Rubine and Tuscani.

Rubine (photo above), assembled in Malaysia (I think) seems ok with five burners on top and a good size oven. But looking inside the oven, the electric coil seems like the oven’s not going to be too great. Promotion Price for the Rubine Stove MRC-GAROFANO-90SS and a matching stainless steel hood is 5,185myr.

Tuscani (above) [distributor website], gives you the impression that it is made in Italy. And there is even the word “Italy” printed on the front of the oven. But a little searching has shown that the model may have been designed in Italy but manufactured where, you guessed it, Malaysia. The Tuscani FSC TSC 905 Jet (SS) model with a hood has a promotional price of 5,499myr. While not evident in the photos, this model seems like a slightly better quality unit than Rubine (slightly). It is our first choice if it is available when we get the keys to the house. Otherwise we will go with Rubine. Our built-in Microwave which we already bought is Rubine (it was on sale for 699myr a price we couldn’t pass up).

By the way neither Rubine nor Tuscani are very popular here in Malaysia which is a bit concerning regarding the future repair of the products. Especially since we live in Seremban a smaller town opposed to KL where it is harder to get service. More popular brands are Fagor (but they only have commercial grade standalone cookers which are too expensive) and Rinnai (which don’t make a standalone cooker that I know of).

For those of you who can pay more, some stores import SMEG from Italy (price starts at 8,080myr for the low end model SUK91MFX and goes up to 27,800 for the A3). And then there’s Delonghi a brand I’m familiar with, but their low end model DSX-9600 L for 6,990myr just seemed way too cheap on the cooktop surface and their other models go as high as 46,000myr for their Masterpiece Series (also, this brand is even less popular than Rubine and Tusani and when we were looking at it no one could confirm that a unit was in Malaysia for us to buy). I’m sure you could even import a Viking if you had the time and energy, although with the shipping, import tax and product cost I bet it would cost more than a car! And then who would service it?


  1. Hi K,

    Could I get your advice about running the gas line outside - Did you use copper pipe? Any problem with 'pest' eating the pipe?


  2. Hi Chuletz,

    There was a pipe (not copper but silverish) already in the wall between the kitchen and the outside of the house. So what B did, I think, is run blue flexible piping from the stove then behind the cabinets and through the metal pipe (the blue piping is slightly smaller then the metal pipe in the wall so it fit through nicely). Then the blue piping is attached to the gas tank out in the wet kitchen. I asked B about this flexible pipe. Personally, I think a copper pipe or hard pipe would be better safetywise but he assured me this is how they do it in malaysia and so I went along with it.

    We haven't had any problems with pests biting the blue pipe to date. It is off the ground by about a foot so maybe that helps. Then again, I have never seen a pest in the wet kitchen except a montior lizard near the property wall, some geckos and a snail :) oh and a bat that liked to hang under the roof at night for awhile.

    Are you getting your stove installed?

  3. Hi K,

    My house is still under construction. Developer is suppose to hand over key by August. ;p
    I know it is still some time away...But I can't help it. I love checking things around, thinking of how things need to be done properly, planning and getting quotations now... hahahaa.

    According to my hubby - i am just overly excited with the reno process and might lose interest when i do actually get the key. ;p

  4. The reason they are expensive is that NOBODY uses ovens. Seriously - I have been to plenty of my (Malay) relatives houses, and never seen anything except gas burners and a large frying wok. The dual-burners can be bought for something like RM30! My house has at least an integral 4-way burner in the work surface, with the gas canister safely underneath the surface. Since most people don't have air-con except in the bedrooms an oven makes the kitchen area too hot. And there's no culture of baked food.

    The gas is so cheap, by the way, because it is subsidized so people can cook cheaply. I've love to get a gas-powered water heater, like they have in rural Malaysian hotels, but I can't find where to buy them.

  5. Dear K,

    I am searching around any infor for buying a standalone cooking range in Malaysia. I lived in New Zealand for a long while and i get used to standalone cooking range.

    I am looking to get a small unit but cant' seem to find any. And also, my apartment (soon complete end of this year) has central gas supply. Wondering if i should use the central gas or the tank? apparently the gas tank comes in cheaper? What is your experience with your central pipe gas supply? Do you need a converter or modulator (i understand one is high pressure and the gas tank is low pressure, hence you need a converter)?


  6. Hi K,
    Nice blog. I am holding with bated breath - - how was the Rubine oven? I was thinking about getting it this weekend.

  7. I think i am going with the Elba standalone cooker, seems like it is the only 'small' size one available in malaysia (and look pretty too)

  8. I know this is an old thread but I can confirm that you can buy both Viking and Wolf from specialist dealers in Kuala Lumpur. I have a Viking at home in KLCC for 10 years now and after a few initial issues with the igniters it has settled down OK. But the importer I used seems to have gone out of business. The new one is in Taman Tun I think. For Wolf/Sub Zero you can find them at Kitchen Culture, Bangsaria Mall on Jalan Maaroff. But be prepared for service issues with either brand as they are not as robust as they used to be. Remember that they are designed for 110v working so you will need an autotransformer to power the igniters.