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: http://www.hata.com.my/h_product-manufacture.asp ). 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.
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 http://www.fimaco.com.my/], 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?