Satay Kajang was first introduced to Malaysia in 1917 by Haji Tasmin Sakiban, who hailed from Jawa, Indonesia.
Satay is a dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meat, served with a sauce. Satay may consist of diced or sliced chicken, goat, mutton, beef, fish, other meats or tofu. The more authentic version uses skewers from the mid-rib of the coconut palm frond, although bamboo skewers are often used. These are grilled or barbecued over a wood or charcoal fire, then served with various spicy seasonings.
TRADITIONAL SERVING: Satay Kajang comes with sticks of chicken or beef, cucumber and onion slices, rice cakes and a bowl of peanut gravy.
Haji Tasmin migrated to Kajang, Selangor, to join his extended family, who had left for the peninsula much earlier.
However, to his dismay, Haji Tasmin discovered that his relatives were toiling at the plantations to make a living. Seeing such a livelihood was not suitable to him, together with his brother Haji Rono, he ventured into selling the West Indonesian dish satay, instead.
Fast-forward to present day Satay Kajang franchise owner, Haji Samuri Haji Juraimi only came into the picture when he apprenticed with Haji Tasmin beginning in 1957.
At the time, Haji Samuri, aged 13, was studying at Kajang High School. Although he did not have any blood relation with Haji Tasmin, Haji Samuri boarded at the latter’s house during his schooling years to ease the cumbersome trip to school in Kajang from his family home in Sg Rinching, Semenyih.
As Haji Tasmin’s Satay Kajang venture became popular, Haji Samuri’s entrepreneurial streak enticed him to lend Haji Tasmin a helping hand after school-hours and over weekends, learning the ropes of the business hands-on.
After finishing high school in 1963, Haji Samuri went on to work for then-state-owned national telecommunications company, Jabatan Telekom. After serving for over 20 years, Haji Samuri resigned in 1987, and returned to his true calling to start his own satay business.
In the initial years, he had to do everything himself, like prepping the satay, marinating the meat and cooking the gravy. He had only one stall and running a business was new to him and a real challenge.
Back in the 1980s, satay restaurants in Kajang only opened for operation at noon and closed at about 10.30pm. To strike a difference, Haji Samuri opened his stall at 9.30am and only closed in the wee hours of two in the morning. He also began promoting takeaways.
As his satay business and popularity grew, Haji Samuri opened a second outlet in Kajang town and his third was a restaurant proper. The rest, as they say, is history. Haji Samuri business expanded exponentially.
Having endeared himself to Haji Tasmin’s family, Haji Samuri married his mentor’s granddaughter.
After Haji Tasmin passed away in 1986, he took over the latter’s business and in 1992, converted it into what has now become a household name, Sate Kajang Haji Samuri.
Ten years on, in 2002, there were 10 outlets in Selangor and to date, 20 across the central region of the country – in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Negeri Sembilan, to name a few.
After almost three decades in the business, and with prosperity, Haji Samuri has bought over the building which housed his first restaurant.
Sate Kajang Hj Samuri main outlet remains at Dato’ Nazir building in Kajang, a duplex restaurant with traditional wood decor. It is always packed with patrons, dining with family and friends. Like any fast-food franchise, dish orders are made at the counter, but delivered to the table when ready.