After being retrenched, married couple, Hana Batrisya Zainol and her husband, Muhammad Nur Azizee Roslan are not losing hope as their nasi lemak business in George Town, Penang is slowly taking off.
The couple both lost their jobs in the airline industry last November due to the travelling curbs caused by the pandemic.
Hana, a former flight attendant and Muhammad, former flight caterer made the decision to put a twist on their parents nasi lemak recipe, especially their sambal, to cater to their customers.
Speaking to The Star, Hana said, “We got the sambal recipe from both our parents and improvised it to suit our tastebuds. We had the idea to start a business in January and not just sit at home.”
“Luckily, our parents are supportive and they helped us with the cooking and packing,” she added.
The couple and their parents usually start their day as early as 5.30am to begin preparing their nasi lemak.
“Our nasi lemak is prepared fresh every day. Initially, business was slow but things picked up through word of mouth,” Hana said.
They sell about 1,000 packets of freshly cooked nasi lemak daily which costs around RM1.50 to RM4.50 depending on the add-ons like chicken, prawn or fish.
Their nasi lemak consists of all the essentials to make the classic national dish (no skimming here!) including half a hard-boiled egg, deep-fried anchovies and groundnuts, and of course, the sambal.
Since Hana is multilingual, fluent in Malay, English, Mandarin, Hokkien and Bahasa Indonesia, customers of all kinds have found her very friendly and easy-going.
“My father is Chinese. Hokkien is actually my mother tongue.
“Since my mother’s family is from Indonesia, I picked up Bahasa Indonesia from her,” she added.
Located at Macalister Road, the stall opens at 8am and closes when the nasi lemak is sold out which is usually around 1pm.
They have many return-customers who say the nasi lemak has become their favourite.
44 year-old aqua-culturist Bryan Teh, came back for their nasi lemak for the second time after trying it a few days ago.
“The nasi lemak is delicious and they are very generous with the sambal. For a person who likes spicy food, the sambal is the ‘bomb’.
“I’ve tried all of their specialties and decided to come back as the taste is good and the price is reasonable,” he said.
66-year-old retired teacher, Majemin Shafie said her friend sent pictures of the nasi lemak to her which spark her curiosity to try it.
“After seeing the photos, I wanted to try it instead of my usual breakfast of noodles. I ordered nasi lemak with fish and the price was reasonable,” she said.
Watch Hana and her husband talking about their nasi lemak business below: