The Quest For That Perfectly Grilled Stick

It’s terrible to be disappointed. And it’s worse to disappoint your friends, especially when they’ve built up this humongous anticipation of what you told them.
A few nights ago, Nic and I took a friend for a meal of satay. We’d brought other friends to this place and they had all loved it.
Granted, it was at its original ‘birthplace’ – this little quaint kampung house smack dab in the midst of a bustling suburb. Sure, the satay was on the pricey side – but the good taste quite made up for it and made us quite forget the price. But the satay was freshly grilled over a charcoal fire. The original way satay is supposed to be made, right?
I’ve never tasted Haji Samuri’s satay kajang so I cannot compare.
But my ideal stick of satay is one that’s a bit burnt or ‘hangus’ with slivers of fat interspersed with lean meat dipped into a gritty kuah kacang with lots of kacang bits. I don’t quite care for Batu Maung satay which is a very Penang style satay where the sauce is on the satay and the satay is grilled with the sauce so you don’t get a dipping sauce. Not very exciting, I must say! It’s like eating a dry stick of grilled meat!
And so when we drove to this place a few nights ago, we were surprised that the satay people had moved to a more hip and urban area.
Fine, I thought. Moving is always happening for businesses anyway. They must be expanding since the old place could not accommodate so many people who’d heard of this expensive satay.
We finally landed at the new place. It looked more like a fastfood joint than a satay place. You walked up to the counter, ordered and paid first. Then you take your seat and the satay will be served.
I didn’t see anyone fanning or grilling satay. I did smell the satay though.
When the satay arrived, we dug in hungrily but unfortunately, the satay was cold. Not piping hot, not warm. Just cold. Like it had been sitting around for a while.
Out of curiosity, we hailed one of the young waitresses over and asked if the satay was grilled in an oven or done by hand. She said it’d been grilled in an oven but the oven used charcoal. She looked a bit worried so we didn’t want to intimidate her any more.
I don’t know about you but authentic satay is truly hard to find. Especially satay that’s grilled to perfection with little burnt bits and a taste that is all about being homemade. I don’t know if the mcdonalisation of satay will be the way of the future. The other problem I had is that the cordial drinks were expensive. Cordial drinks (and one that’s extremely sweet) for three people cost us almost RM15. Imagine that. Our satay outing came to RM70 for 3 people for 25 sticks of satay, 2 plates of rice cubes, 3 cordial drinks and a plate of tomato rice.
Right about now, I just want to try Haji Samuri’s satay kajang and see if that’s a winner. I also heard there’s an Indonesian man selling satay kambing at Chowrasta market in the evenings. Hopefully these two won’t disappoint!

9 thoughts on “The Quest For That Perfectly Grilled Stick”

  1. i stayed in kajang for about 2 years when i did college so i tried some varieties of satay kajang.
    haji samuri’s version is tasty but greasy. i hate ordering chicken here as sometimes it comes with more skin than meat. their beef tripe… told you 2 before. fantastic! anyway, this is my impression from my last visit few years back.
    nowadays, for satay kajang, i would only visit restoran malaya in kajang, just across from the kajang police station. the meats are lean but still moist and there’s variety! chicken, mutton, beef, rabbit, ostrich, duck, fish… duck tastes funny. fish is pricey but ok lah… you could order hokkien mee too among other things. it’s chinese owned but halal. best thing about this place, you could have your beer/stout to go with your satay!

    • Hi BG: Now I really must try the Haji Samuri satay since it came with your recommendation! Will drag you along if we are in KL and we can go hunt for really tasty satay. Hmmmm…. beer with satay. Good combination. The place we brought you to? This is what happened to the satay. It became not-so-sedap. So sad huh. I was thinking I had found that perfectly grilled stick of satay. Man, it makes me want to cry!

  2. no no no. i don’t recommend haji samuri these days.
    the one i recommend is restoran malaya in kajang, chinese owned, hence sells liquor.
    there’s no way haji samuri will sell liquor.
    of course, if both of you come down here, will bring you there in benito!

    • Ya. That is why for that price, it has to be GOOD right? Come to think of it, Banting has pretty decent satay at 40 sen each. I miss Banting satay!

  3. Hi Maya! ๐Ÿ™‚ How are you?
    The satay huh, I thought the authentic ones that are painstakingly fanned over charcoal are still sold at pasar malams? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • You are right. That is why satay needs to be an authentic experience. It needs to be fanned over charcoal just like a BBQ needs to be a real BBQ. I’m good!

  4. Hi Maya,
    Recently I have been indulging myself in the same quest. Originally I am from Penang but I live very near Kajang. It is hard nowadays to find the authentic Satay Kajang as they use to make it more than 20 years ago. Samuri was excellent before but now not any more due to over commercialization. I have stopped going to any of their branches for the past 3 years. If you happen to be here, go to the Satay Emas stall at the Medan Sate Kajang beside the Langat river in the center of Kajang Town. There, at least it taste better than the other.
    For me, I would go to a more traditional place, an unassuming stay stall by the side of the road along Batu 14 Jalan Cheras. Here you can get the old style satay like the one you’ve just describe. They still make the satays according to old traditions following the Haji Rono style (Hj. Rono was the brother of Tasmin who was the Kajang Satay. founder). Come between 5pm to 8pm daily for by 8pm the satay will be all gone.

    • Hi Raz: Thanks for your tips on finding authentic satay. It’s true that in this day and age, good satay is getting much more tough to find. If I am in Kajang, I will look up Satay Emas. Problem is, I hardly go to KL. But this year I hope to travel a lot more as I get more people to help out with our business (which frees me up for more food hunting!). If you go to Banting (my pseudo-hometown as I grew up there), look for the satay at the medan makan near the market. In the morning, this row of shops sell kickass nasi lemak. At night, one of the shops sell really good satay with all the chicken fat interspersed with lean chicken meat. It is deeply satisfying to bite into a juicy satay that’s grilled well, with burnt bits (I know, it’s so NOT good to eat those things but the worst stuff are often the most delicious!).


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