When I am looking for local fast food in West Malaysia, it’s a toss-up between roti or satay. Both are delicious, and both provide a fun spectacle. Watching the Mamak chef deftly twirling his roti is exciting, but there’s something hypnotic about watching a satay maestro basting and fanning sizzling skewered meats over hot charcoal.
Satay is dinner fare at the hawker centres, but if you crave satay for lunch, head to one of the many outlets of Sate Kajang Haji Samuri. Kajang, a town 21km west of Kuala Lumpur, is famous for satay. History has it that satay was brought to Kajang from Java where it was given a local flavour and became very popular. Haji Samuri started in Kajang in 1960 and has become synonymous with satay in the state of Selangor and beyond. Their tagline translates to ‘For the real taste of satay kajang’.
Malaysian satay is traditionally chicken or beef which has been marinated in turmeric, lemongrass and aromatics. Haji Samuri’s menu also includes perut (beef tripe), hati and pedal (chicken liver and gizzards), ikan (fish), kambing (mutton) and arnab (rabbit). The meat at Haji Samuri is chunkier and leaner compared to most satay vendors. The marinade flavour is excellent which is impressive for a large commercial satay chain. Haji Samuri’s peanut sauce comes with sambal on the side, so you can adjust the heat level of your little bowl of peanut sauce. There are free sauce top-ups which is great for a liberal dunker like me.
The chicken was my favourite, right amount of bite with the luscious grilled flavours. The fish, however, was too soft, and broke apart when I dipped it into the peanut sauce. I found the beef on the chewy side. The tripe is delicious, and so was the rabbit. Actually, apart from being a bit chewier than the chicken, I couldn’t discern a difference. We also had the nasi impit (compressed rice) and ketupat (rice cake cooked in palm leaves), the rice squares are a must to complement the meat.
Haji Samuri is always packed, and there are queues of people waiting on takeaways. It’s a slick operation, but go early as some of the specials and ketupat sells out. We also had their ais kacang (shaved ice dessert), which surprisingly comes with a scoop of ice-cream.
Our favourite satay though, comes from the stall outside Taj Curry House Restaurant in Subang Jaya. This brilliant setup means you can also order from the massive restaurant menu from rotis to tandoor meats, mee goreng and the extensive nasi kandar range. You can choose to sit outside under the stars or inside the air-conditioned restaurant. The first evening we sat outside, right in front of the satay vendor. The smoke of the satay sizzling on the charcoal grill wafted over us and it was heavenly.
The satay vendor starts late, around 7pm and is very popular. There is only choice of chicken or beef. The meat pieces are smaller than Haji Samuri (read typical size), but there is a small piece of chicken skin in the middle of the skewer. This is genius; the fat seasons the meat as it melts and the skin goes a great charred goodness. The beef satay is tender and just as delicious. This place is so good, BL and I ate here five nights in a row. I know, I know, just insanity.
It’s no wonder that we Malaysians love our satay. Satay is a mainstay on my Top 10 list of foods to eat when I travel home. These succulent morsels of grilled marinated meat is simply perfection. Cost wise, satay sticks are 80 sen (~NZ$0.30) each, peanut sauce, cucumber and onion wedges are complimentary and the rice cakes will range from 60 sen to 1 ringgit each depending on size.
Sate Kajang Haji Samuri
See website for branches
No 79, SS21/37 Damansara Utama
Ph: +60 3 7710 5310
Sat – Thu: 11am – 12:15am
Fri : 3pm – 12:15am
Satay stall outside Restoran Taj Curry House
11, Jalan SS12/1B, Subang Jaya
Ph: +60 16 3573825
Opening hours: ~7pm until sold out