When we speak of satay, one word comes to mind.....Kajang! Kajang town is synonymous with satay and many families (even those from out of town) would stopover in this little town to feast on its famous satay. Sticks of marinated skewered meats, grilled on an open charcoal flame, with smoke billowing up (to the skies and onto your clothes and hair also) and the smell of aromatic charred meat....what's not to like about that (other than the smell on your clothes and hair, of course)!
My son's friends recommended this place to us and since I read about it in the newspapers, I knew I wanted to try Nyok Lan Satay (Restoran Malaysia) @ Kajang. This satay shop, which has been around since 1971, is operated by a Chinese family and is one of the few halal satay stalls in town.
We arrived before 7pm and I was surprised to see the restaurant filled to the brim with customers so early on and already seated and waiting for their satay. We were lucky to find the last unoccupied table.
We quickly sat down and placed our orders with one of the workers there....and then waited for a good 30 mins (at least) before our orders arrived. While waiting for our satay to arrive, there was a stall (manned by a Chinese as well) selling grilled chicken wings and "otak-otak" (direct translation: Malay word for 'brains'), and so I ordered some (and it turned out to be a good decision).
The grilled chicken wings @ RM5 (for a pair) were a real treat. They were succulent and tender with a good grilled flavour....absolutely yummy! The grilled chicken wings were good on its own as I did not care for the chilli sauce that came with it (as it was not the tangy, garlicky type that I liked).
We were still there (in the midst of our meal) when the chicken wings sold out (and it was barely 8pm)!
The otak-otak @ RM4 (for 5 sticks) were equally amazing. Otak-otak is typically a mixture which contains fish paste, spices and coconut milk. It is then wrapped in (softened) banana leaves and grilled. Why they call it otak-otak, I've no clue...maybe because it resembles 'brain matter' which is soft and squishy but this one is 'oh-so-delicious'.....more 'brains' please!
It was so good, we immediately ordered another 5 sticks! We could have eaten more, we just had to restrain ourselves from over-eating.
Finally, our orders of satay arrived. This is the chicken satay @ RM0.90 a stick and fish satay @ RM1.50 a stick (not cheap). The chicken satay (right of pic), marinated in a distinct blend of turmeric, lemongrass and local spices, was delicately flavoured just right (as opposed to the heavily spiced lemongrass of some that I've tasted). What's different about Nyok Lan's satay is that they use lean breast meat and you won't find bits of chicken skin in between their satay skewers (unlike others). Also, their satay has only very slightly burned edges compared to others that I've eaten in the past. You would think that the use of breast meat without any fatty bits would render the satay dry and not as flavourful but that's where you're wrong! I was amazed at how the satay manages to retain its tenderness and juiciness although it does lose a bit of its tenderness once it's cold....so, eat it hot off the grill!
I've never eaten fish satay (left of pic) until I tried the ones at Nyok Lan Satay. The fish was unbelievably soft! How they managed to grill it intact without it crumbling to pieces is beyond me. Needless to say, we had to re-order more of the chicken and fish satay (and surprisingly we didn't have to wait another 30 mins as the re-order came very quickly....maybe, it's because they don't want to hold us up from vacating our table).
The beef satay also @ RM0.90/stick was just as tender, even more tender than the chicken. I really liked this a lot.
They also serve traditional "ketupat" (rice cakes wrapped in woven palm leaves) @ RM1/pc that has been grilled (after they have been boiled, I presume) as it came with a brownish tinge.
Other usual condiments are cucumbers @ RM0.50 and onions @ RM1.50.
But the highlight of a good satay is the accompaniment of an equally good peanut sauce and Nyok Lan's signature peanut sauce is excellent. I especially liked their peanut sauce with a dollop of "sambal" (chilli paste) and wished that I had asked for more sambal as it was not all that spicy. Their peanut sauce is distinctively smoother (and not as chunky as some that I've eaten) and also paler in colour (in comparison to those I'm accustomed to) but I love, love, love this one!! You can ask for more sauce (which I did) at no extra charge.
My Personal Opinion
So, "which is the best" satay in town? Well, I don't know really as I've not eaten all of them. Anyway, this question will forever be a hot debate as everyone have their preferences.
For me, Nyok Lan's satay wins my vote (hands down) with extra 'brownie' points for the 3 reasons below:
1. It's more healthy (they don't use any fatty bits of skin).
2. It's so tender (even with breast meat).
3. It tastes so good still (even if the meat is not overly charred).
And.......the peanut sauce is just incredible!
What I loved: Everything....satay, grilled chicken wings, otak-otak.
What I didn't like: Very far from where I stay, waiting for table, waiting for satay.
No 31 Jalan Semenyih
Tel: 03-8733 1160