Anyone who's been to a Malaysian restaurant anywhere in the world would have probably tasted the Malaysian "sate" (sometimes spelt "satay", and pronounced "SAH-tay") - skewers of marinated, barbecued chicken, beef or mutton, served with a spicy, peanutty dip.
In Malaysia itself, the best sates supposedly come from the small town of Kajang, about 15 miles from Kuala Lumpur. So how did the famous Kajang sate originate? According to local food chroniclers, sate (which is a Javanese dish) was first popularised in Kajang by a Javanese immigrant, Tasmin bin Sakiban, in 1917. He was assisted by his younger brother, Rono bin Sakiban.
There were others who explained that another Javanese immigrant, Wak Jono Darmon (who later took on the Malay name, Haji Mohamad Noor) was the earliest sate seller in Kajang. Haji Mohamad Noor was the father-in-law of Rono bin Sakiban. But it was the Sakiban brothers who were instrumental in making Kajang sate famous.
The Sakiban brothers sold their sates at a Chinese-owned coffeeshop, Kedai Kopi Ban Seng since the 1940s, usually in the evenings and into the late-night, barbecuing and serving their sates under gas-lamps.
Tasmin bin Sakiban passed his business down to his son, Haji Amir whose business, upon the latter's death many years later, was inherited by his son-in-law, Haji Samuri. It was under Haji Samuri's watch that Kajang sate came unto its own - attracting sate connoisseurs from all over Malaysia to Kajang, for a taste of the legendary Kajang Sate.
I first tasted Haji Samuri's sate in the early-80s. It was the *best* sate I'd ever had then. Even today, after having travelled all over Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia - I still thought that Haji Samuri's Kajang sate remained up there amongst the best. But it's grown into a chain these days, and some Malaysians have claimed that Haji Samuri's sates have declined in quality and taste.
Well, I didn't go all the way to Kajang, but decided to try one of its better-known and more accessible outlets in Damansara Uptown in Kuala Lumpur today. Tried the chicken sate, the beef stomach sate, and "ketupat" (compressed, steamed rice cake). They were delicious, and the famous spiced peanut dip (topped with ground chillies cooked in oil) was as rich and tasty as I'd remembered it to be.
Sate Kajang Haji Samuri
79 Jalan SS21/37, Damansara Uptown
47400 Petaling Jaya
Tel: +603 7710 5318