Saturday, March 17, 2012

THE CHANGING OF THE GUARDS ( Nasi Kandar Beratur)

The subject may of course direct you to think of the palace scene where soldiers performed the ceremonial attractions which pulled visitors and tourists by the hundreds.


      This was at Istana Negara Kuala Lumpur

   While this was at Athens


However this is a different 'changing of the guard' but I assure you it is a half an hour of pure commitment on the part of the participants. It takes place in Penang where of course there is no such royal performance like the one in the two pictures above. Instead as reported below.

We have been visiting Penang several times in March especially and an opportunity came our way late on Friday night. There we were a half hour before 10.00 pm at the corner of Kapitan Kling Mosque with other like minded souls. They too have gathered at the place. Of course many have heard of this place but being here and seeing things is another story of a kind.

                                                                       21.58 hrs

 It was a breezy night and the lights of the tall Kapitan Kling minaret twenty yards away caught the images of people lining up as if waiting and watching for something. The time marked it as being 21.58 hrs.But mind you we have been here much earlier expecting the unexpected.  




                                                               time 21.37 hrs

It has to be another half an hour at least before the actions begin yet as you see above there are already the die hard standing on line. You notice the aluminium shelves, for storing food and dishes. Well the trader is about to finish business and fold up for the day. It has been a long day for him and 10.00 pm is his dateline. So what are we entertained to for that half hour? If ever you want to see how a  food stall is folded up for the day then come to this place. You will never discover any other place in the world. Added to that just like the night changing into day, you will be enthralled by the opening of another business. All in pure actions by the number of 'actors' ( workers) taking part. All impervious to the crowd that has slowly grown as the minutes ticked by.


                                        21.39 hrs
Actually we were on the way home to Alor Setar, but the thoughts of stopping at this place put a halt to that plan for a while. Now what would you likely be doing at this time of the night? Well it could be supper time and realizing that we have not had our dinner then this was an opportune time. But why here? 

                                                                    21.54 hrs

Almost completed, the shelving has been washed and cleaned. It will be pushed aside for storage until tomorrow morning. Now how delighted we are to realize that they are stall keepers and hawkers that take pain to clean their equipments and place before closing time. Now who would not want to frequent this eating place again. Yes even the floor was washed to make way for the other partner to begin his business.

These were the actions that unfolded in front of our eyes. Surely more exciting than witnessing the changing of the guard in front of the istana. This then is the 'changing of the guard' for NASI KANDAR BERATUR to come into action.








Established in 1943, way back before the Malayan Union of 1946 and just after the 2nd World War, Penang residents have been accustomed to Nasi Kandar and this being NASI KANDAR BERATUR. Its extraordinary difference being that all customers must 'beratur' ( queue) to order their choices. Don't worry. It's done fast and there is orderliness when it comes to food. NOW WHERE HAVE YOU SEEN SUCH APPLICATIONS AND ADHERED TO .Now qualm and no complain especially in Malaysia.

The action continues to unfold since the hour is not there yet. Nevertheless the 'beratur' has seen more people in the line as the hour ticked by.




22.00 hrs the line has become longer and any minute now the customers will be served. Notice the two big umbrella, folded up; they are several around the courtyard. They have taken precaution in case of rain for the customers to take shelter. Below a helper is seen arranging the dinner plates on the counter.

 



 22.05 hr A few minutes behind time. Not to worry no noise forthcoming. They have awaited and what's there between minutes ? Already some of the dishes are on the triple decker counters. Notice that this is a new counter as the old one has been kept aside. This was part of the changing of the guard.The switch was done within a few minutes.

While the guests were standing on lines my wife had the opportunity to take a look at the array of dishes that would be on display soon and a big choice for expected customers. They were placed in the proper trays or containers before being displayed on the shelves. Mouth watering to say the least. Fresh , hot and appetizing. 










 Beef, mutton , chicken, fish, prawn,squids etc are ready for the waiting customers




Try these pieces of green chillies and you will feel the 'heat'




 
 Wow! 'udang' or prawns of various sizes


          Now what about a few pieces of sotong?  Sedap tu!




  'Ladies Fingers' liken by many.  

 Have a look and tell me if you are not tempted to call at NASI KANDAR BERATUR in the soonest future. Don't forget to give me a call and we can be there together. Here goes. I leave it to you to identify them.      






Having had a sneak preview of what would be offered, it was an easy choice to decide. However I believe the long stretch of customers would be hard to decide what they would put on their plates. Good though since the queue is long, people would try to be faster in their choices.

The half an hour of waiting was gainful because we picked up many pointers to running a food stall especially a Nasi Kandar. Extraordinarily we came to know a few new  friends, not only from Penang but also from other parts of the country who like us found the adventure an excitement  and rewarding. Of course I would not include a picture of ourselves consuming the delicious Nasi Kandar Beratur but suffice that we show members of our staff who were with us that evening. By the way a good plate of rice with the choices dishes would not cost you more than a cup of coffee and a piece of cake at Starbucks for example.


                                              by 22.20 hrs customers had their choices






 As we make our way to the parking bay, we noticed the lines have grown longer and possibly as the night crossed the midnight hour more would invade this eating hole, it being one of the famous locality in Penang at the moment with the flavor of its own.

Much as I enjoyed penning down this special experience of the 'change of guard' I do hope you will notice other strange and interesting happenings around your area, all helping to make our experiences lively and specific to our country endearing it to our hearts.  

p.s with good wishes esp to a friend in Toronto who I am sure will jump at the sights of the dishes . You have missed Penang..

24 comments:

MamaTim said...

Assalamu'alaikum Pakcik. I really enjoy reading this post, being of indian muslim origin myself ;)

Maybe not to the extreme extent of Penang's nasi kandar beratuq, in Aloq Staq we have pretty similar scenes - Nasi Lemak Ali and my fav : Nasi Royale (the one near Kompleks Sukan Hijau Kuning starts serving around 5pm and this is the time you can witness a queue of nasi Royale fans starting to form, with me in it sometimes). The queues are even longer during Ramadan...

kotastar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kotastar said...

Mama Tim,

Thank you. As the Red Indian says 'Holy Smoke! You too take the queue. Yes I know both of them. The original near the site of old Panggung Royal is still my favoured one but it opened in the morning only. Yes Alor Setar has four old establishment: Popia Mahkamah, Mee Abu,Cucur Udang Mydin dan Nasi Kandar Ali.All in their third generations now. We need to put them in the news too ,so people will flocked to Alor Setar. Salam

oceangirl said...

Assalamualaikum KotaStar, I've got to try this.

MamaTim said...

It'd be awesome if u could post abt these mamak establishmts. One thing that's always intrigued me how they can remain in biz gen to gen when melayu businesses seldom do. They must hv a recipe that works, by this I mean a business recipe bukan resipi nasi kandar hihi.. the sons who've inherited dad's good ol' business didnt pursue high edu (I can be wrong here of course) hence cd be the reason these apples don't fall far from the tree? Enlighten me....
:))

KotaStar said...

Ocean Girl,
MualaikumSalam. Thanks for halting. I stopped at yr place and saw the document re Kuala Lumpur. Great and will surely catch foreign tourists to stop in Malaysia. Re Nasi Kandar BERATOQ, do stop by when you are in Penang and be there before the afternoon owner closes shop. Been on the high seas?

KotaStar said...

MamaTim,

In fact I have a story about the 4 of them as I personally knew three of them except Hj Ali. All of them were trading way back to 1953's when we were in school.Then changed hands to the second gen and later the 3rd. But you have to wait till my 'biography' is published. Ha,Ha

Azizi Ahmad Termizi: said...

Original since 1943? Should be worth the trip up north...

kotastar said...

Sdr Azizi,

Welcome and just give me a call WE will meet you there.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi KotaStar, ha ha, I just now masuk the wrong blog, Aishah's lepas comment there too.

I love this posting, you really brought back memories to me. Of Penang's pasembur, nasi kndar, mee rebus, etc....and duduk at Espanade or Gurney drive malam....watching people....eating pickled mangos and papayas.

Yes, I miss Penang and all the beautiful memories I have.
Terima kaseh for the memories, my friend.
You keep well. Best regards.
Lee.

Al-Manar said...

I have not had a chance to taste a genuine nasi kandar since the 70's when I happened to be posted there. Is there a close-to-genuine one in KL?

kotastar said...

Sdr Al Manar,

Which of course call upon you to visit us in Kedah and we will take you on a culinary tour.

I believe there is one along Jalan Tunnku Abdul Rahman,past Jalan Sultan Ismail junction and somewhere near where Telesco Insurance used to be. How long will you be in KL?

Sorry that I wet yr appetite for Nasi Kandar.

MamaTim said...

Pakcik KotaStar, kalau masanya nnti Pakcik AlManar dtg ke Kedah to visit and u're planning a culinary jalan2 together, count me in :)))

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