IMAGINE having to wake up at 4am every day with only four hours of sleep … just to cook for hundreds of people. Sounds exhausting? Well, that is exactly what nasi dagang seller Katipah Sulong, fondly known as Kak Pah by locals in Kuala Terengganu, does every day.
Seventeen years ago, Kak Pah and her husband, Harun Salleh, started a humble nasi dagang stall along a small row of shops on Pantai Batu Burok in Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu. Even though business has bloomed since then, Kak Pah’s approach towards managing her business remains unchanged. She and her husband still do everything on their own.
Their mornings usually start with the preparation of ingredients. As Pak Harun cuts the vegetables, Kak Pah works on the curry fish paste; and after that she does all the cooking. As tiring as it sounds, the powercouple does this every single day.
In fact, Kak Pah Nasi Dagang opens seven days a week and the duo has never taken a day off in nearly two decades.
“I would only take a break for when there areemeanyrgency situations,” said Kak Pah.
Evidently, her hard work has paid off.
Her stall has developed a loyal following among locals as well as a regular crowd of tourists through word-of-mouth.
Even Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor tried the delicious nasi dagang with gulai ikan tongkol during their recent trip to the East Coast.
One of the regular customers, Mazizah Madzain, is a huge fan and visits the stall twice a week.
“I don’t liveactually nearby but I make the effort to get here,” said the 49-year-old secretary.
Mazizah admits that she has tried her hand at preparing the delicacy herself, but found the process incredibly time-consuming.
Yet, Kak Pah manages to do it daily, and copes even with the increasingly overwhelming demand during peak seasons.
“My three children used to help out when they were younger, so the burden was much lighter.”
Presently, her children are pursuing their own careers with Kak Pah and Pak Harun’s blessings.
When asked if she was disappointed that her children opted not to follow in their footsteps, she said: “There is no point in forcing them to do something that they have no passion for.”