Thursday, 16 September 2010

The best satay in Kajang ?

For those of you who have been following kajangfood.blogspot regularly would be waiting in anticipation for the results of our "Best Satay in Kajang shoot-out" held on 30th August. The article was posted earlier, but for some unknown reason, seems to have been deleted. So here we go again.

Firstly, let's introduce the 4 shortlisted finalists who made it to the shoot-out:-

Frontage - Restoran Malaysia
The Satay Man
The Service Team
  1. Malaysia Restaurant a.k.a. Nyok Lan Satay
    This is one of the most popular satay shops in Kajang and the only one that is Chinese owned. They've been around since we were kids and our parents actually knew Nyok Lan herself!

    The landmark Haji Samuri outlet at Bangunan Dato Nazir
  2. Haji Samuri
    Arguably the most popular in Kajang, they have outlets at the 2 Medan Satay in Kajang (one along Jalan Sulaiman opposite the KFC and the other behind the Town Hall). They also operate at the landmark Bangunan Dato Nazir building and have become almost synonymous with Kajang satay.

  3. Restoran Yus
    This is a relative newcomer and does not operate in Kajang town anymore. Their 2 outlets are located in Sungai Ramal Luar (just after Country Heights after coming off the PLUS highway) and at Bandar Baru Bangi. They have a good local following.

    The Medan Satay complex behind the Kajang Town Hall
  4. Sate Emas
    Now the last finalist was supposed to be Haji Tasmin, one of the pioneers of satay in Kajang (established in 1917), who used to have a stall at the Medan Satay. Unfortunately we found their stall No 7 had now been taken over by Haji Samuri. So we had to proceed with our next choice, which was Sate Emas, which has it's own local following. They also have another outlet at the Cheras Highway rest area.
Serving from Satay A
Serving from Satay B
Serving from Satay C
Serving from Satay D
Next, the methodology of the shoot-out. We decided to restrict the comparison to only beef and chicken satay – arguably the most popular types of satay although mutton, rabbit, stomach (perut), fish and ostrich satay are found at many of the outlets. We packed the satay back home with just cucumber (and onion) and the kuah (sauce) packed and chilli sambal packed separately, if available. The 4 varieties of satay were then labeled A to D and the identities were known only to me and another helper (who did not participate in the judging). The kuah was served separately from the sambal so that the judges could add the sambal according to their personal preference. The satay was reheated on a grille (without fire) before serving. A form was also provided to the judges to jot down their observations on the appearance and taste of the satay and kuah. 
Judge in deep thought....
Judges in 'hot' discussion
'Junior Judge' gives a thumbs up!
A tickled judge.....
The satay was served in 3 batches – 1st batch was just to satisfy everyone's hunger and get a basic idea about the 4 varieties. The 2nd and 3rd batches were the more critical and comparative rounds and the judges were seen trying the satay from one outlet with the sauce from other outlets too. Here's what the judges thought:-

  1. Malaysia Restaurant a.k.a. Nyok Lan Satay
    This restaurant easily won the Best Beef Satay award. Their beef satay was lean and chunky, well marinated and most importantly, was juicy and tender. Their chicken satay too was chunky and lean, perhaps the largest in terms of size. But chicken meat needs some fat content for taste, so theirs was not too popular with the judges who felt it was rather flat and uninteresting. The judges found the sauce to be too thick and sweet. Starch or some thickening agent had been used and it made the sauce too thick, especially when cold. The sambal kuah was added to individual taste, but did not help to counter the overly sweet sauce. The kuah was rather a let-down for them. They did however get extra points for providing onions with the cucumber. None of the other places provided onions – maybe a sign of the times with high onion prices ?

  2. Haji Samuri
    Haji Samuri had possibly the Best Chicken Satay in the shoot-out. The meat-fat-meat combination added more taste to the well marinated chicken satay. The fat also added some moisture whilst creating crispy charred bits, essential for a good stick of satay. Their beef satay was perhaps runner-up with well marinated meat, which remained quite juicy inside although not as tender as Malaysia Restaurant's. Their sauce was thick with sufficient ground peanuts, not overly sweet and with a fiery sambal to be added according to taste.

  3. Restoran Yus
    This was the only place that did not provide the chilli sambal separately from the peanut sauce. That did not stop them from having perhaps the Best Kuah in the shoot-out. The thick peanut sauce was well balanced with chillies to provide a thick, tasty and flavorful sauce. Their chicken satay was a close second to Haji Samuri, being well marinated and well grilled. The beef too was evenly grilled but that could not help it from being too tough. One of the judges commented that the meat could possibly be buffalo meat (kerbau) and not beef ?

  4. Sate Emas
    This last minute inclusion did not fare well against the competition. The meat was not evenly grilled causing one side to be charred and the other side not properly grilled. The meat was well marinated but had a strong lemongrass (serai) smell. Both the chicken and beef were rather dry with the beef being particularly tough. Gd commented that it was as tough as the sole of his shoe ?

So after careful discussion and deliberation, our overall winner of the BEST SATAY IN KAJANG award would have to go to HAJI SAMURI ! They had the best chicken satay, a decent beef satay and a pretty good kuah. They pipped Malaysia Restaurant on the strength of their kuah and great chicken satay. The proliferation of Satay Kajang Haji Samuri restaurants not only in Kajang but to the all over the Klang Valley is testament to their popularity and consistent quality. They have also reportedly expanded operations to Seremban, Port Dickson, Ipoh and Kuching ? There's no doubt that they have carried the fame of Kajang satay all over Malaysia.

Malaysia Restaurant on the other hand get our vote for Best Beef Satay. Aside from the shoot-out, we also packed some Mutton Satay from here as they are undisputedly the best place for mutton satay in Kajang. No need for a shoot-out for this category – take our word for it. Like the beef, their mutton is well marinated, juicy and tender. There is also no gamey smell to their mutton.

Restoran Yus gets our recommendation as a good option on busy weekends when both Haji Samuri & Malaysia Restaurant tend to get very crowded. With their excellent kuah and well grilled satay, they are a serious contender for the crown in Kajang. If only they would upgrade from kerbau to lembu….

Don't take our word for it – try them yourselves. Feedback is most welcome.

1. Malaysia Restaurant – along Jalan Semenyih
2. Haji Samuri – their flagship restaurant is at Bangunan Dato Nazir, across the road from the Kajang Police Station and beside the Kajang Stadium
3. Restoran Yus – the Bandar Baru Bangi outlet is located along Persiaran Bangi connecting Jalan Reko with Banadar Baru Bangi
4. Sate Emas – their outlet is located at the Medan Satay behind the Kajang Town Hall

Odd Couple spotted on the garden swing!


  1. It was not easy to make that final decision, it depends on your preference and I can categorize it to:
    a) satay - chicken
    b) satay - beef
    c) gravy/kuah
    d) level of chillie for gravy/kuah
    d) others - onions with cucumbers

    I kinda like beef, so my choice would be for the better beef satay outlet. Then comes the kuah/gravy - the one that offers me good gravy + chillie to add that extra umphh gets my vote - I like it hot and spicy.

    Satay is not complete without cucumber and onions, that was how I was brought up in Kajang town. It is a sin to stinge on onions and a bigger sin not to offer them at all.

    Saying all that, let me further complicate this judging - Restoran Malaysia makes well marinated, tasty and tenderized beef satay, but they really sucks on the kuah - it is quite clear they add starch to make it thick. Sadly, they also have the best tasting mutton satay in town.

    Hj Samuri has very good tasting kuah and the chillie lets you add the umphh to you own level. That said, I have also encountered bad tasting satay on peak hours/days - they seems to drift on standards.

    Yus was my surprise - just tasted good and they are not at all crowded - you can easily find a place there. I need to try this place again just to make sure. I wonder if it was a one-off luck that we got a good serving from them?

    I shall keep you informed after my next outing at Yus. I intend to do this again! Yus Bangi, here I come!

  2. As a local Kajang boy (born and bred) I have given up hope on Haji Samuri. Service is bad, satay is cold, sometimes half cooked, sos is cold, timun is not dried up, onions "sudah habis", self service order and pay at counter. I thot I give them another chance. I ended up giving 6 chances, but they still fail all times. This made me start my blog on REAL KAJANG SATAY. To tell people that there is hope that Kajang do serve good satay and keep us proud and dignified. A title as such is hard-earned (being popular nationwide) and I really hate that Haji Samuri will not continue to tarnish the goodwill.

  3. Satay Kajang, I am sorry, but I beg to differ. I too was born and bred in Kajang and I am still in Kajang. I have traveled the length and breath of Malaysia looking for good food and occasionally, when I eat at food courts, quite certain, I order the 'local satay' as a side dish, just to taste the difference.

    From my years of experience, it is quite hard to beat the 'Kajang Satay' experience from the a) marination of the meat, especially beef b) the kuah satay flavour c) the atmosphere of Kajang, the smell of satay in the air.

    I will partly agree with you on some of your grouses about Hj. Samuri but lets face it, they have to manage huge outlets and high traffic and I must say, they have been doing a fairly good job and systematically. I don't think there is 'poor service', however, 'bawang habis' is a very bad excuse. Satay isn't complete without onions. Why don't they just serve it!?

    As for better satay out of Kajang? I have not had one, although the now defunct Satay Anika once did come close. Do share your top 5 with us and I'll take the trouble to go check it out, after all, I am a true blood Kajang dude who enjoys a good satay!

    I have a few more new places in Kajang to add, one of them is Satay Willy and the other is the satay served at Sup Ketin in Bangi Sek.7.

    Should we do another blind test again this year? Lets hear it from you guys.

  4. Try Sate King @ Taman Sri Kantan

  5. To be honest, there are a few new Satay Outlets that are fast gaining popularity. Tested and worth the mention are:-
    a) Willy Satay, near Country Heights
    b) Satay UK, Bandar Baru Bangi, Seksyen 7

    Will take the trouble to try Sate King in Taman Sri Kantan as recommended (from the name, it could be the same one that operated at Aked Mara near the TNB office in Kajang not too long ago. Those guys did make a name, even being the best in Kajang at one time, but also lost it quite quickly too - there were numerous complaints on quality and short-changing of large orders. Hope they have learnt their lesson.

    That said looks like we have to do another shoot-out this year. Volunteer to be a judge? If you are keen, do drop us your contact and we'll keep you updated for Best Kajang Satay, 2011! Also, recommend your ‘best’.

  6. Hi GD - sorry for the late late response. It is admirable for Hj Samuri to gain popularity and expansion of business, however to sacrifice the service and quality of food is not acceptable. They have many staff but under my numerous random observation (waiter, table clearer, etc) they just do nothing more unless asked or requested by more upfront customers. In the 21st century and being a corporate restaurant chain, this level of service ranks below average. Way low. Not expecting high end treatment like fine dining. I hope you get what I mean.

    As for the Satay Shootout, I admire your creative set up. However it does not compare to real serving at the stall/ restaurant. By which I mean, the hot steaming aromatic satay straight from the grill or 'fire'. Which in the Shootout do not take account for. As my main grouse for Hj Samuri is they served cold satay. Why? How could it be? Yes, it is true.

    Let me explain. I see only one possibility - they re-heat previously cooked OR pre-cooked satay that is bunched up from the fridge. These bunches are re-heated and if not properly un-bunched, the middle part is not gonna get heated properly. Because the way the cold (in the middle) satay looks cooked but at the same time is squashed stuck with the other sticks, the way some meat looks like taken out from the freezer.

    Encounter like this happened on 2 separate occasians. I often wonder how many other people get these cold satays and in 21st century with internet, it is not hard to find. search for Haji Samuri cold satay , and many will pop up. Like I jokes somewhere before - they should copyright it!

  7. Dear Satay Kajang, you don't have to agree with me - I do respect your opinion.

    While we note your displeasure, I hope you do respect my opinion that my numerous encounters at Hj. Samuri were pleasant and I am fairly happy with the food and services provided. Peace bro.

    As for our home-made-make-shift-shoot-out, we agree its not perfect, however if you have a better suggestion, do share - hope to improve our next shoot out. :-)

    BTW. Do try out Satay Willy (near Country Heights) and Satay UK (Bangi Sek. 7) - the two new shining stars on the outskirts of Kajang. Food and service very good!

  8. Looks like time for another satay shoot-out. Time to start planning.

  9. Dear gd, Satay Kajang, Jon and others. I must belanja u guys to try Satay Sri Melaka in AU5 Ulu Klang, near Taman Permata. I am convinced that they have long taken the crown of best satay from the Kajang varieties. If you got a Sat or Sunday evening free, do come over and be my guest. Their satay has been the gold standard for me, since I discovered them over 10 years ago. They are open everyday after 5pm. Dr Amir

    1. Dr Amir, I am just "called-upon" to comment on your thread.
      I am from Taman Permata and I do agree Satay Sri Melaka is worth the shout-out!
      It is pretty well-known amongst the "locals" (aka people of Keramat/Wangsa Maju/Setapak/Ulu Klang). The best option is to tapao since there's not that many seats to eat-in (and usually quite packed!). A lot of variety, the meat are well-marinated & smells heavenly after being grilled! Love the peanut-sauce (I do ask for extra so that I can eat lontong with the sauce as a next-day dish, hahaha) ==>Arry Amil

    2. Dr Amir and Arry Amil, I took a drive to Taman Permata and with much trouble found the place. I must admit the satay was good, however it can't beat the classic Kajang taste and ambiance of its satay. The problem today is most of these 'classic Satay Kajang' are becoming more and more inconsistent with the taste, especially in the choice of meat, marination and gravy taste. Is there a clear winner? At this point of time - NO!

  10. Dear Dr Amir, thank you for your feedback and offer. I will make an effort to give it a try, perhaps when I make a visit to our good friend, Stephen Nah's place in future. Cheers.

  11. I live in Kajang and satay is my favourite food.

    I have to mention this, I "hate" Nyok Lan Satay, the most expensive satay in Kajang and it taste so so only. The popularity of Nyok Lan Satay is due to all those kiasu chinese eaters. It is an overrated satay.

    My best satay listed accordingly:
    1. Satay Willy, the satay, not the sauce.
    2. Haji Samuri, the sauce and the satay above average.
    3. Satay in Saujana Medan Satay, forget the name.
    4. Satay UK

    Satay out Kajang worth mentioning listed in random.
    1. Both satay store near the SPCA and a distance from Ampang Point.
    2. Pacific Hotel, PJ New Town

    Satay that when bad.
    1. Jalan Peel Road, I used to dream about it, not anymore, it is terrible now.

  12. had dinner at Sate Haji Samuri main outlet in Kajang and it was horrible. the meat was likely mass-produced, frozen for days & never thawed properly before it was cooked. the meat was lumpy and not crispy as it should had been. the meat stucked hard on the stick and probably easier to eat a raw carrot. i regretted not going to the smaller outlets which had better reviews vs. this main outlet housed in a massive complex that can serve upwards of 1000 customers.

  13. Nat, you are not alone. Others too have complained about Hj. Samuri quality, I just hope they read this and take note of it. That said, Sate UK in Bangi is also suffering the same fate - quality dropped so much in recent time - the customers too.

    Sate Willy is ok but....I just hate the queue to order and pick up - they got to get their system organized. Same with Malaysia Restaurant - 20 mins wait for your sate is too long! What to recommend? I think we need another shootout - SOON! Enjoy you food and thanks for the feedback everyone.

  14. Horrible and terrible experience in Nyok Lan Kajang Satay.
    1) Nothing special on the satays (they serve chicken, beef, lamb and fish, and I was expecting something like pork satay)
    2) Arrogant attitude from the workers/owner, especially when taking orders (Take it, or leave it attitude).
    3) very smoky environment
    4) Overcharged by giving less satays. Only made the correction when we counted the sticks to the worker/owner.