KAJANG, July 26 — Kajang is synonymous with satay. Like it or not, this little town will probably never escape that association in the years to come.
Not that it is a bad thing for what’s not to like about satay? Pieces of meat marinated in a mixture of spices and seasoning (lemongrass is a key ingredient), skewered and then grilled. It is every meat lover’s dream snack. Or meal. Depending on how many sticks of satay you devour.
Satay is always served with peanut sauce with a spoonful of spicy (or sweet) sambal, along with ketupat, raw onions and cucumbers.
Everybody has their favourite satay joint and these are mine. In the line-up, you will find an old favourite that many Kajang folks visit and two new places just outside the town.
Nyok Lan Kajang Satay (Restoran Malaysia), No. 31, Jalan Semenyih, 43000 Kajang. Open: 10am to 9pm, closed every Tuesday.
What makes the chicken satay in this restaurant different from that sold in other places in Kajang is that they serve 100 per cent lean meat. According to current owner Gwen, daughter of the co-founder Chai Nyok Lan, they only use breast meat due to high demand from their customers.
The basic marinade has not changed since 1971, according to Gwen. It is mostly lemongrass, turmeric, ginger as well as garlic and onions. After the meat is marinated for several hours, it is ready to be grilled on an open coal fire.
The result is a flavourful, slightly tender satay. But how do they make sure the satay is not dry when it is made out of 100 per cent lean meat? Gwen smiled slyly and refused to share the secret.
Their peanut sauce is, perhaps, the best of all the satay places I’ve been to in Kajang. Smooth with a few peanut chunks, the sauce is sweet but the sambal on top lends a spicy kick. They squeeze some lime on their sambal so there’s a slight tartness which cannot be found in many satay places in Kajang.
You can request for the sambal to be left out if you are not keen on a spicy sauce. Whichever way you like it, you have to dip your favourite satay (be it chicken, beef or mutton) into this delightful sauce!
The restaurant also serves Chinese staples such as fried rice and noodles and they are pork-free although they sell beer.
Most patrons are locals (and old friends) of the co-founders or Gwen although there’s always a handful of young students from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in nearby Bangi, another town near Kajang.
If you are looking for a tried-and-tested good satay place, Nyok Lan Kajang Satay is sure to satisfy your craving.
Satay Awe (at Restoran Choon Tien), No. 288 & 289, Jalan Berjaya 10, Taman Berjaya Sungai Chua, 43000 Kajang. Open: 7pm to 11.30pm.
I personally think Satay Awe serves the best satay in Kajang. Smoky, slightly sweet and extremely tender meat. The owners include some fat along with the lean meat on each skewer.
Marinated in ginger, lemongrass and turmeric along with other ingredients, you do not need peanut sauce when eating the satay here. But of course you can if you want to.
However, the only problem is the opening hours for this satay stall which is located in a Chinese food court. Since early last year, Awe who is the namesake for Satay Awe has been sick. His wife has been taking care of the business and this has led to unpredictable opening hours.
Sometimes they open at around 8pm and at other times, you may be waiting in vain throughout the night.
So, it can be a bit of a waiting game if you want to try Satay Awe but the wait is worth it. The peanut sauce has bigger chunks of peanuts and is not as smooth as the one at Nyok Lan’s. They are also not as generous with their sambal but you can request for more.
Willy Satay, Jalan Ramal 1, Taman Ramal Indah, 43000 Kajang. Open: 4pm to 11.30pm.
Willy Satay is extremely popular and they usually sell out fast so if you are craving for good satay and do not want to drive into town, you better get here early!
The meat is similar to Satay Awe’s with a mix of fat and lean meat. The variety of meat available is similar to most satay places in Kajang but they also serve grilled intestines which is surprisingly good.
Their satay has a more intense smoky, lemongrass flavour and has a bit more bite than the other two recommended places. Their peanut sauce is sweet with a few dollops of sambal.
The perks of eating here is that it is located inside a food court with stalls manned mostly by Malays, so there’s a variety of halal dishes to choose from.