In the battle for Brunei’s best curry puff, Old Klang Road is a strong contender.
At 70 grammes a piece, it is considerably larger than its opponents plated on the shelves of bakeries and cafes.Within its crusted puff lie moist chunks of chicken, tender potatoes and sliced eggs, mixed together in a sweetly curried gravy.
The packaging, for orders of 10 puffs, comes in a yellow box, with a distinctly cursive serif font in brown.
Although it comes as a bane to its founder Hj Abdul Khalid Hj Mohaimin (pictured main R), it is perhaps the ultimate compliment that of the 4,000 Old Klang puffs picked up from Kedai Kopi in Gadong everday, many are mistaken as part of a foreign brand imported into the Sultanate.
“We are in the process of rebranding as the Currypuff Factory,” says Hj Abd Khalid’s 28-year-old daughter Nabeelah (pictured main 2nd R), who leads operations. “And we plan to do it by launching our new branch in Kiulap in the next two weeks.”
The Old Klang curry puff – the name which Hj Abd Khalid appropriated off a street in Malaysia while on holiday several years ago – is ironically, not very old, although it does come at the tail end of numerous small retail businesses the 55-year-old has run.
“We (my family) developed the recipe in 2014 at the time we opened Kedai Kopi,” said Nabeelah. “We took tips from our grandmother, who had been selling cucur pisang (fried banana fritters) at the Gadong night market for many years. We researched online for recipes. Then we experimented, refined and developed the puff into what it is today.”
Kedai Kopi, an establishment steeped in tradition of the kopitiam, serves up the staples of nasi lemak, nasi katok, nasi penyet and tumpi. It is however, simply not large enough for a puff making enterprise, that has slowly but surely increased its ouput levels to that of a dedicated bakery.
A makeshift mini factory at Hj Abd Khalid’s home in Kg Burung Pingai has developed over the years to meet the growing demand, and the family are searching for a more industrial location to further hike production.
It would however be misleading to paint the Old Klang journey as an entirely rosy one. Not long after opening Kedai Kopi, Hj Abd Khalid made a bold move to open a branch in Kuala Lumpur. It didn’t pan out – labour and management became an issue. Within a few months, he made a decision to close.
Down but not out, Hj Abd Khalid and his family refocused their efforts back in Brunei. Nabeelah, whose qualifications lie in Sociology and Anthropology, put her Masters on hold to go full-time into the business.
Today, in the atrium of Suria Sabah Shopping Mall in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Old Klang is holding their own against more established competition at Sabah’s International Food & Beverage Fair.
Day two of three is almost complete, and Old Klang have sold 5,000 curry puffs at RM2 each from their small booth, received interest from KK cafes to supply and encouragement from the local populace and commercial property owners to open a branch in Sabah.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the response,” says Nabeelah of their first international expo. “We had initially brought just 1,500 pieces (for the three day event) just to test the response of the Sabah crowd. We sold all that in the first day, so we had to ask our staff to drive down (from Brunei) with another 3,500 plus pieces – which we’ve almost sold out as well.”
Kedai Kopi is located at Unit 109, Bangunan Kumbang Pasang (Gadong Properties) and will soon open at No. 12 and No. 13 of Bangunan Habza located within Simpang 150 in Kiulap. To learn more and stay updated, follow @kedaikopibn on Instagram, or contact +6738686466