Dexter Lim and Natalie Chiang of D’Artisan Cheese craft both classic and Malaysia-inspired cheese


One would have never guessed that a full fledged factory lay within the unassuming shop that houses D’Artisan Cheese. Visible from the outside is only the retail section, which proves to be a squeeze for more than five people. So when Dexter Lim bursts open the metal doors separating the shop from the inner kitchen, my eyes dart around in surprise.

Members of staff are engaged in different steps in the cheesemaking process, from heating water and pouring milk to vacuum-packing irregularly shaped blocks of cheese. Large fridges display unusual varieties of cheese, many of which have names I do not recognise.




Lim’s voice brings me back to the present, snapping me out of a trance. “I had been making yoghurt at home for years when I realised the easiest type of cheese to make is labneh, a strained and salted yoghurt.” Since then, Lim has crafted over 140 bewildering and wonderful varieties of cheese, many of which are his own creations.

I follow Lim to the cheese room at the back of the factory. With effort, Lim pulls open a heavy metal door and we’re greeted by a rush of cold air, followed by the sharp, pungent smell of cheese. My senses are overwhelmed and I find myself surrounded by large wheels of cheese, some stacked on shelves, some tied and suspended.


A wheel with vibrant patches of blue catches my eye—while blue cheese is not uncommon, I am certain the cobalt shade that looks hand-painted is not mould. “That’s kerabu cheese, made by infusing Asiago, an Italian cheese, with blue pea flower, citronelle and torch ginger flower,” Lim explains, noticing my fixated gaze.


Outside the cheese room, I meet Natalie Chiang, Lim’s wife, who over the years has learnt the art of pasta filata, a technique used to make stretched curd cheese. Heated water is poured over curds and Chiang expertly weaves and pulls the material, slowly taming the plastic-like substance into flexibility, achieving the ideal texture through touch.

Skilfully, she guides me through the steps of pulling bocconcini (baby mozzarella), braiding cheese into treccia (braided string cheese), and tying nodini (knot-shaped mozzarella). Finally, shreds of mozzarella are combined with fresh cream to make stracciatella, before it is poured into a casing to form a sphere of burrata.

Back outside in the retail section of D’Artisan Cheese, Lim lays out the plump burrata, passing me a knife to slice through the casing which I more than obligingly accept. Delicate and creamy, the silky stracciatella bursts through the supple skin of mozzarella with a slight push of the knife. Chiang also highlights the difference in textures between the bocconcini and nodini—the latter is chewier.

While Lim has experience crafting a plethora of cheese, his proudest creations remain his collection infused with local ingredients. Speckled with Malaysian herbs and enriched with the nostalgic and rich flavours of rendang, sambal and chilli padi, to name a few, the cheese Lim produces is truly a labour of love.

When I ask what happens when a flavour just doesn’t work, Lim cheekily replies, “Then there’s more for me to enjoy!”

Article by tatler asia :