Whether or not you want to spell it satay, sate, şiş kebap, or шашлы́к, at the end of the day it’s a few pieces of something, often meat, with a skewer poking through the center.
Naturally though, when in Southeast Asia, there’s a timeless argument over who “created” this convenient snack. Could it have been the Thais? Sure, according to them. Malaysia? If you ask a Malay. Indonesia? They’ve got my vote…
On one extended layover in Kuala Lumpur, I decided to negotiate a deal with one of the airport touts to check out Kajang, a city relatively near KL that is best known for being Malaysia’s sate (the spelling used in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei) hub. Shucks, I could’ve just splurged at the airport, seeing as there’s good sate throughout the country.
But then what type of food traveler would I be?
There’s not much going on in Kajang for visitors beyond its recognition as a sate town, so my driver recommend that after eating at Sate Kajang HJ. Samuri, I might as well take the train back to KL. I explored the downtown anyway, but the most happening place was a 7-11.
Anyway, onto the show…
According to the waiter’s shorthand, I ordered 4 chicken (A= ayam), 2 lamb (K=kambing) and 1 beef (D=daging), along with extra bumbu kacang (peanut sauce). Cucumbers (ketimun) are a common accompaniment, and since I was in Malaysia, I also ordered a teh tarik.
It was good, and they get more credit for only giving me meat, as opposed to adding gristle and fat. This is in contrast to the lamb kebab vendors in China that really know how to season the skewer itself, as opposed to offering any real meat.
Nevertheless, unless you’re truly into food pilgrimages, you might as well stick to your neighborhood penjaja (hawker).