Originating from Java, Indonesia, Satay has gained popularity throughout South-East Asia through the various hawkers, who attract customers through the aroma of cooking these satays on charcoal grills in open-air. Even though it is the National dish of Indonesia, no excursion to Malaysia can ever be complete without trying these little skewers of heaven. Satay are small pieces of meat marinated in turmeric and spices and grilled on a charcoal fire, served with peanut sauce. Hawkers across Malaysia and its capital Kuala Lumpur serve satay till late into the night, especially on Jalan Alor, KL’s famous food street. However, on their boards these satays are always advertised as Satay Kajang. Being an area about 30 minutes from Kuala Lumpur, it is where the special Malay version of satay originated. The difference is that the pieces of chicken are slightly bigger and chunkier and it is served with a sweet yet chili peanut sauce. Even though it was a trek, my food journey lured me into taking the trip to Kajang to try the original satay Kajang.
Just a stones throw away from the Kajang KTM station was Satay Kajang H.J. Samuri. A sprawling mansion made in ancient Malay style complete with wooden architecture and vast open spaces stood before us congested with hungry epicureans. The sheer size of the building left us awe-struck; two floors and a large dining area at the back as well. With the building being so large, one would assume finding a place would not be difficult, but we were so wrong. The entire ground floor was occupied and so was the first floor. After waiting for about 15 minutes, I saw a party vacating a table on the terrace and I raced to grab it while my husband stood in line to place the order. The menu was pasted on the walls and one has to stand in line to place the order and pay for it. Right next to the counter, the large windows looking into the kitchen, where the satays were being cooked led my appetite to somersault. The bright orange flames from the grill engulfed the skewers as the juices dripped, creating bright hues of orange. I could stand there for hours watching the process, but I was afraid someone would steal my table.
After placing the order, my husband returned with a plate of nasi impit and the peanut sauce. Nasi impit are glutinous squares of rice eaten with the satay, along with chopped cucumbers. The peanut sauce was accompanied by a chili paste for those who wanted to spice up the sauce. The combination was delicious, I began to dip the cucumbers in the chili peanut sauce even before our order arrived.
Recognizing our table by the large plastic number sign placed in the middle, the waiter carrying a large tray of satays made his way towards us. Checking the receipt he placed our order on the table and went on his way to distribute the rest among other hungry onlookers. There is a choice between ordering chicken, beef, beef tripe, mutton, chicken liver and fish sate. For the more refined taste buds, they also offer venison and rabbit satays. We stuck to the original recipe and ordered a mix of beef and chicken satay.
With each bite, you could taste a world of a difference. The meat was definitely chunkier than any I have had throughout Kuala Lumpur and the juices were still dripping with each bite. The smoky flavor of the charcoal enhanced the infusion of the turmeric and lemongrass marinade. Each piece was tender and succulent and combined with the chili peanut sauce it was impossible to stop eating. A quick piece of advice, it is best to order a large quantity in the beginning as the long lines will normally prevent you from going for a second round. Getting the beef right is normally tricky, but one cannot say anything to the people who have been in the business for 20 years. It was simply superb; not chewy at all rather tender and juicy. The trip here was well worth it.
Aside from their popular satay, they also serve the usual hawker style food with various rice and noodle dishes. Since we had come all the way, we also ordered the Nasi Ayam (fried rice with chicken) and Mee Goreng (fried vegetable noodles).
These two dishes were your typical hawker style fare, very similar to what you would get at any other stall in Kuala Lumpur. Hence, it is better to spend your appetite on the satay rather than on anything else on the menu, unless you are really famished. All the traditional Malaysian drinks are on offer from their tea tarik to sirap bandung and of course the mainstream canned liquids for others. Having started out on a very small scale 20 years ago, the mission of H.J.Samuri was to bring traditional Malay cuisine in front of the whole world and to taste the real flavors of Satay Kajang. As a result of their soaring popularity many vendors have sprouted up in the capital claiming to sell the original satay Kajang. But truth be told, the original flavors can only be found at H.J. Samuri in Kajang, and I know it is a bit of a trek to get there, but I can assure you the mouth-watering flavors will make it all worth it in the end.
Sate Kajang Hj. Samuri
Lot 1, 2 & 3, Ground Floor & 2nd Floor,
Building Dato ‘Nazir, Club Road,
43000 Kajang, Selangor Darul Ehsan.
GPS: N 02 ° 59,618 ‘E 101 ° 47,188’
Tel: 03-8737 1853