PETALING JAYA: For nine long years, Maliki Mustofa would work almost non-stop for 20 hours a day just to make ends meet.
The man from Kuala Krai, Kelantan, would leave his home in Petaling Jaya at 6am for his job as a despatch rider and by 6pm would be setting up his burger stall near Sunway Mentari.
In 2010, he made the decision to step out of his comfort zone and venture into the business of preparing one of Kelantan’s signature dishes — Nasi Kukus Ayam Berempah (steamed rice with fried chicken).
He started with a single roadside stall, but now also owns his own restaurant in Bandar Sunway, occupying not one, but two lots.
Maliki told FMT that he learned how to prepare the dish from a friend, but has since modified his recipe based on the feedback and criticisms from customers.
“When I first started, I would always ask my customers for their feedback, and if they had criticisms, I would not get mad.
“In fact, I’d be happy to hear their complaints if they had any as it helped me improve.
“Our trademark dish is the Nasi Kukus Ayam Berempah, but we also serve the dish with fried quail.
“We also have chicken rice, ayam penyet, satay and roti canai at the restaurant.”
Maliki’s signature dish comes with a generous portion of rice, a whole fried chicken leg, pineapple and cucumber acar and keropok. This is topped off with chicken curry sauce and sambal.
The chicken is marinated in herbs and spices sourced from Kelantan, including lemon grass, turmeric, onions and garlic.
The dish, priced at RM7, comes wrapped in brown paper and sells like hot cakes in the area, with over 1,200 packets sold daily.
“Thankfully, I have many loyal customers from all walks of life.
“I also have a number of foreign students who enjoy the dish, some of them even come almost every day,” he said, adding some of them were from Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Iran and Africa.
Maliki says his ultimate goal is to open five branches in the Klang Valley.
While he is now better off than nine years ago, Maliki still works from 6am to 3am every day, making runs between his stall and restaurant on his old kapchai (motorcycle).
“When you become the boss, you have to work the hardest. You have to work harder than your workers.”
When asked to share his recipe for success, Maliki said it was discipline, hard work and the willingness to accept opinions and criticisms from other people.