Former deejay starts Malay cuisine restaurant in Penang as an ode to traditional family recipes

Ayu Yusoff strikes a pose with her signature dish — Nasi Ranchak Ayam — at Quallys Nusantara Kitchen on Jalan Burmah, George Town on September 21, 2021. — Pictures by Sayuti Zainudin
Ayu Yusoff strikes a pose with her signature dish — Nasi Ranchak Ayam — at Quallys Nusantara Kitchen on Jalan Burmah, George Town on September 21, 2021. — Pictures by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, Oct 16 — While many businesses have had to shutter because of the Covid-19 pandemic, some people like Ayu Yusoff decided to take a chance to start their very own business at this time.

The former deejay started a home-based food business — featuring her family’s traditional Malay-style recipes — called Dapur Kak Ayu (DKA) during the first movement control order (MCO) last year.

“Business was brisk, I was offering only delivery service where my food is delivered hot from my kitchen directly to customers,” she told Malay Mail.

Yatt Abdul Hamid works the hot plate at Quallys Nusantara Kitchen on Jalan Burmah, George Town on September 21, 2021.
Yatt Abdul Hamid works the hot plate at Quallys Nusantara Kitchen on Jalan Burmah, George Town on September 21, 2021.

She eventually moved to her own premises in collaboration with Teels Cafe at Ghee Hiang along Burmah Road in November.

With the move, the business was renamed Quallys Nusantara Kitchen.

Ayu had wanted to open her own restaurant since 2019 and even asked about the space at Teels Cafe back then. 

She was working in a catering company at that time. Then the pandemic hit and the company was badly affected so she left to strike out on her own. 

Ayu Yusoff packs food to go for customers at Quallys Nusantara Kitchen on Jalan Burmah, George Town on September 21, 2021.
Ayu Yusoff packs food to go for customers at Quallys Nusantara Kitchen on Jalan Burmah, George Town on September 21, 2021.

The 46-year-old was a deejay for 14 years and had also worked in a semiconductor factory before trying her hand in the food and beverage industry. 

“I wanted to try running my own business and took this chance to do it by introducing authentic Malay food using my mother and aunt’s traditional recipes,” she said.

It has been more than 11 months since Quallys opened and Ayu’s food is gaining a reputation. 

Ayu Yusoff's signature Nasi Ranchak Ayam at the Quallys Nusantara Kitchen on Jalan Burmah, George Town on September 21, 2021.
Ayu Yusoff's signature Nasi Ranchak Ayam at the Quallys Nusantara Kitchen on Jalan Burmah, George Town on September 21, 2021.

For its set lunches called nasi rancak, there are four different sets priced between RM8 and RM12 each. 

Each set comes with turmeric rice, vegetables and different choices of mains that include ayam percik (grilled chicken), ayam berempah sambal (spicy marinated chicken), lamb grill and cencaru sumbat ikan (stuffed hard tail fish). 

Quallys also sells RM2 buns with four different fillings to choose from — ayam masak merah, beef rendang, ayam rendang and vegetarian curry.
Quallys also sells RM2 buns with four different fillings to choose from — ayam masak merah, beef rendang, ayam rendang and vegetarian curry.

Other than the set lunches, Quallys also sells RM2 buns with four different fillings to choose from. 

“I came up with these with the frontliners in mind, especially those who are too busy to sit down and eat rice, so these buns with fillings like ayam masak merah or beef rendang will be good for them to grab and go,” she said.

However, those who wish to buy the buns will need to pre-order at least two days in advance.

The four fillings are ayam masak merah, beef rendang, ayam rendang and vegetarian curry. 

Customers are seen placing their orders at Quallys Nusantara Kitchen.
Customers are seen placing their orders at Quallys Nusantara Kitchen.

Ayu said she has a different menu for dine-in service with different types of fish, chicken and beef dishes and specialties like roti jala and satay.

Quallys is open from 11am to 7pm daily. Call or send a WhatsApp message to 017-5296674 to order or go to their Facebook page here.

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