PETALING JAYA, Jan 28 ― For Petaling Jaya (PJ) folks, Raju's in Section 5 is practically an institution. It's been part of many lives for over 50 years.
They know a visit here guarantees them excellent fluffy yet crispy roti canai, a glass of aromatic smooth teh halia or banana leaf rice with a range of fried items and curries, all MSG-free.
Today, it expands its half-a-century old business to a second outlet: a brand new space housed in a three-storey building in Section 5, a few kilometres away from the original place.
The expansion arose out of neccesity. Since last January, the original outlet's outdoor sitting area was torn down by the authorities. With the shrinkage of the dining space, during peak times, there will be long queues just to grab a seat here.
All this was told to us by Kawsalya Nagandran, 24, the third-generation of the family that has run Raju's for around 54 years. Her grand-uncle started the eatery and it's now run by her parents, Nagandran @ Kannan and Selvi.
Since she returned from overseas about seven months ago, she has been helping her parents manage the place. With the opening of this new outlet, she will manage this place while her parents run the original outlet.
The new premises, housed in a three-storey corner building, belongs to the family and was bought about 12 years ago. The ground floor is the dining area ― a large airy space with many ceiling fans to keep the heat away.
Upstairs is the kitchen. Sadly, according to Kawsalya, there's also a possibilty that one day their original outlet may close down. At the moment, the family plans to still continue running both outlets.
Each outlet will run its own kitchen separately. The computer science graduate hopes to modernise some processes like the counting of monies, or even some management decisions.
Regulars will be happy to hear it's the same food served here, like roti canai and thosai throughout the day. From 11am onwards, they serve banana leaf rice.
During breakfast and lunch time, there's also vadai. From lunch time onwards, you will see all kinds of tea-time snacks including vadai and goreng pisang. According to Kawsalya, most patrons usually pack these items to enjoy later for their tea break.
Even though there are a number of Indian restaurants around the area, they are not worried about the competition having built their own customer base. “We have our own customers.”
To Kawsalya, the regulars are more like family. She even remembers them from her one-year-old birthday party celebrated at the restaurant.
Look up at the signboard and you will see something new ― their company logo made by Kawsalya. “We never had one before.” It shows a prawn with the Raju's name, which pays tribute to their signature dish, the fried tiger prawn.
“It's not commonly found in Indian restaurants as it's fragile to handle.”
In the future, Kawsalya hopes to expand their business beyond PJ. However, at this moment, they prefer their second outlet to be in the PJ vicinity to manage the operations.
“We live in PJ so we want something close to monitor as quality control is important.” It's definitely not the end for Raju's but a beginning of a new era.
Restoran Daun Pisang Raju's, 383, Jalan 5/59, Section 5, Petaling Jaya. Open: 8am to 7pm (Note these are temporary opening hours and may change depending on the crowd and manpower available.)