Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Satay House - Almarhum Pak Jaffar Shawal

ole...Satay House.
My thought came rambling again after a retro visit to Jogja and Bandung last week.Have a personel survillence after the much publish cold shoulder given by some of our distant cousin dari seberang.
No issue in matter of fact.Traders welcome their distant cousins with open arms.
Pak Beca make a living with the guest volume.Tipping generously out of sympathy.Generous,yes we are to our much needed cousins.
Jogjakarta as hippish as ever and Bandung as trendiest as ever.
Its Paris Van Java and it sure does.

Adooooo !!!Sunda beauty dong !!!

I try to stay out of Jakarta.Indonesia is not Jakarta.
My network in Indo is good.
Good opportunities too.On that score,its the other side of the coin.

Again,I'm barking at the wrong tree,its not about Bandung or Bromo or Jogjakarta I wish to write about but about a man,a petit in size man,moustacho and very focus.
The quite Gentleman,I may say,a positive altitude with full vision on buisness.Aided or I would rather say together with his beloved wife,brave the storm and thunder on the battle field of Sussex Garden,Paddington,London W 1 till his last breath.

Pak Jaffar Shawal,arrive on shore of good ole England during the post 60's era.
Alone only on one mission,that is how could a Malay from Penang excel in buisness in the United Kingdom?
Rolling and tumbling leaving his beloved wife Aunty Zaharah,an I.O with our Police Force at home then.He succesed to open the very first Malay Restaurant in the middle of metropolis London,battling his buisness anchorman with guts and sheer determination.

The birth of Satay House serving the local dishes was an instant hit among the hungry student and Malaysian community population then.It serve as a joint,for us student far away from mother land and mother's cooking.For those who have,its the place to water down their tummy with The Nasi Kandar Uncle's Special and to those whom do not have like me serve as a place where extra pocket money comes in handy serving as a waiter or kitchen helper,helping Uncle,the main Chef and Mummy Zaharah in the kitchen either in summer or me all year round as a part time waiter.

It was winter 1980,I first work part time as a waiter at the Satay House.
Pak Jaffar and mummy (as I call Aunty Zaharah,together with the young one,Onn and Harun and Liza and Ikram the present Satay House chef was still in their infant.
The three Onn,Harun and Lisa was well train by both Bapak(as I call Arwah Pak Jaffar)and Mummy Zaharah,especially Liza the only daughter was taught from the very tender age of table arrangement and where folk,knife and spoon and napkins suppose to be set.Liza is the most focus as far as I could recall.
I remembered well,at her tender age,she taught me to knot the paper napkins,neatly folded shape like a fan.A serious little gal then.

The restaurant open its doors at 12noon for lunch time and last order at 2.30pm,opens its door again at 6pm till the last order at 10.30.
I work in the evening.I have to catch the last train at 11pm to Balham via Bakerloo line at Edgware Road tube station changing for Northern Line at Elephant & Castle.
Missing the last train means I have to take the Red Arrow Nite bus at Trafalga Square.

Kitchen staff then was Uncle Jalil,as I call him 'Unkelek',for what reason I dont know,an Indian Muslim origin.A long service staff and the first chef of Satay House.His curry mutton and rendang a class of his own.You find your hands licking after his curry,especially in winter.The sambal belacan and his curry goes together well to keep the hungry tummy and body warm especially in winter.

Asisting him then was an Indonesian immigrant but left after a few months and a few of my buddies whom work part-time during the long summer break earning jes to save up for a new set of Hi-Fi.
Kitchen staff keep changing.Kitchen staff pinching was normal then as between 1982 onward after the success of Satay House being the pioneer Malay Restaurant in the middle of west end,strings of so call Malaysian Restaurant sprang up through out the Soho up till Swiss Cottage/Hempstead Heath area,with various variation of curry and rendang.
Suddenly,the Malaysian population and Mat Salleh's has lots of Malaysian Restaurant as a choise.
It was Pak Jaffar anchorman and vision that make the Malaysian cuisine be known in the West End.He steps in at the right time with sheer hard work and determination.

Together with mummy Zaharah,the combination works well.
Mummy Zaharah , she's a hardworking,persistent strong lady.It must be tHe regimentation grooming in the force which make her one.
Working round the clock non stop.
I remember,the Malaysian economic boom in 1984-85 well.
Her porcelain rose buisness was blooming.There was porceline roses everywhere in her petit flat above the Satay House,where the family retire after closing time.
Small and charm but beautiful.I reckon that was the order of the day then.

I was waitering Satay House table before Satay House was renovated.
The cellar downstairs was converted into sitting of 10 extra table.
Up stairs,orginally it could only accomodate 10 tables only.
A sardine pack on buzy week-end,serving regulars mainly from the rich Brunei scholars then.
Harun and Onn was still at primary schooling age,not much aid they could give to their persisten,determine loving parents then.
Mummy Zaharah was heavy pregneant with Ikhram.
The operation of the restaurant was a team work effort.
The team at times was crumbbling due to staff pinching or untrain staff.

Uncle Jalil,the head Chef was having visa problem with the immigration authority.
At a stage,I could feel mummy Zaharah and Pak Jaffar was having tremendous pressure from the operation of the restaurant then.
High number of staff leaving in short notice was normal.
Mummy was force to be in the kitchen after delivery of Ikhram to see the operation goes through,no matter how,the doors remains open to the regulars 7 days a week to see the OD they have taken on the Restaurant renovation goes through without a pinch.

Allah with the persistent and the determination.
Allah the all hearing and are with the strong,the brave such as the one Almarhum Pak Jaffar and Mummy Zaharah.
The Satay House still stands tall among the listing of Malaysian Restaurant in the West End today.

To Liza and Ikhram,the present caretaker and the operator of the Satay House,this is what I have to say:

'Mana-mana organisasi yang dapat bertahan melebihi 30 tahun,ianya layak memerima anugerah Kahzanah Bangsa dan Negara,kerana Restaurant Tuan telah dapat meyakinkan kepada dunia bahawa "Tak Akan Melayu Hilang Didunia"


Tuan Jaffar Shawal
Pengasas Restaurant Melayu Pertama Di United Kindgom "The Satay House"


Trisha said...

A fascinating read,old memories!

All the best wishes to you and yours.

Pak Tuo said...

my oh my..Thanks for the vist Trish.Its a long and winding road.yes.No regret is a process of learning how to learn.
Do a retro to Satay House at Sale Place of Edware Rd.it sure change internally and externally.

Is that you Miss Dunn?**chuckle**
I wonder.



Trisha said...


Peace to you too.

A blast from the past indeed.

Pak Tuo said...


...such do a mill surprise pet.

Nice knowing you're fine and kicking still.Peace and love to everybody back home.Jonathan and Zizi.Hope all find at Broughton In Furness.Really fond memories
that lill' place.
Email me.


Al-Manar said...

Pak Tuo

I have not been around for a long time - since my ealier laptop crashed. I lost most of my contact, including your e-mail.
I am making a belated comment here because Satay House brings me a lot of memory. Were you working part time there in the eighties? I often visited that place for dinner with my wife and often with friends. I remember the porcelain roses well. It was a kind of craze then.
Would you please contact me again via almanar@pd.jaring.my.

Pak Tuo said...

Salam Pak Chik,I might have serve you at the table.Was on part time basis betw.80-84.Mostly evening,except in summer.Yes,the poceline was a boom.Ibu still have it at home and stack somewhere in the store room.Thanks for the visit hope you managed to recoved the lost data.Keep track.