Thursday, 12th May 2022. 8.15 pm. The day was stuffed with planning for our marketing campaigns in the next half of 2022. As usual, my dinner spread consisted of office pantry staples: an apple, a bowl of ramen and two bottles of probiotic drinks. At this rate, a drive-through snack would be a blessing to break the monotonous flavour of dinner in the office.
When The Cravings Creep In
A realisation dawned on me when I left the office and slid into my car seat, obviously exhausted from the long day. I hadn’t treated myself to snacks after office for as long as I could remember!
Nor had I given in to my cravings for comfort food, like keropok lekor (fish crackers), karipap (pastry with curry fillings) and satay (grilled skewered meat). These are the snacks that gave flavour to my childhood memories. How I miss those days!
Mum is one who’s never content with cooking the main dishes for dinner. She always raises the bar by preparing traditional keropok lekor, pisang goreng (banana fritters), sotong goreng tepung (tempura squid) and karipap for late evening snacks after dinner.
All the reminiscent and cravings were too much to bear. I had to do something about it!
But how could I find a place that offers keropok lekor and sotong goreng tepung at 8.30pm when most of them have closed before dusk?
Plus, I wasn’t in the mood to dine in. If only I could get something to munch on the go!
A Delightful And Delicious Happenstance
Fortunately, I stumbled upon a saviour to my cravings that evening when I was driving back to my rented place at Subang, which is about a 20-minute drive away from my office in Shah Alam. Usually, I don’t make pit stops in my daily commuting.
But on that evening, I decided to stop at Petron Batu 3 to grab some snacks from the petrol station’s convenience store. If you’re heading to Kuala Lumpur from Shah Alam on the Federal Highway, you can find the station approximately 300m before the exit to Section 13 Shah Alam.
It was my maiden trip to this particular petrol station. Little did I know that my pit stop was going to get better…
Here’s what I saw when I pulled in next to the pump at Petron.
Kejap Food? I’d never heard of them!
I could tell it was a drive-through establishment in a repurposed shipping container from a first glance. Its red façade adds a unique charm to the brand.
I decided to take a closer look and give it a shot. Who needs a chocolate bar from a convenience store when you can have more from a drive-through?
Which One Should I Pick At The Drive-Through?
Once I pulled into their drive-through lane, I saw their menu plastered on the window. A feeling of joy overwhelmed my hunger. It was a modern drive-through offering traditional Malay food, and possibly the first of its kind!
Any Malaysians can tell you that Western fast-food drive-through is a dime a dozen here. But to find a drive-through with local delicacies? It was like hitting a jackpot!
Oh, boy! How do you decide which one you’re taking home when you have this range of food? Plus, there were three cars behind me in the queue. I had to make up my mind fast!
For this round, I elected to start small. I just ordered the snacks that I had been looking forward to – keropok lekor and popcorn sotong (tempura squid).
But who can pass on the opportunity for a nice meal of nasi bungkus (packed rice with side dishes)? Kejap Food also offers a range of packed rice for a hearty meal. I ordered a packet of Nasi Ayam Sambal Pedas (rice with fried chicken and chilli paste) for good measure.
How Much Did I Spend?
Here were my orders and their price:
- Popcorn Sotong Combo @ MYR11.90
- 16 pieces of Keropok Lekor @ MYR8.90
- Nasi Ayam Sambal Pedas @ MYR10.90
In all, I spent MYR31.70 on a single order.
It could be argued that you could have the same orders from a neighbourhood nasi campur or kuih-muih stall in a range of MYR20 – MYR25, but where could you find them at these hours?
Even without sampling their snacks, in my book, Kejap Food’s foray into the drive-through niche is an F&B venture that we Malaysians didn’t realise we needed!
Next came the fun part!
The First Bite After The Drive-Through
After picking up my orders, I pulled into a vacant parking spot next to Petron’s air pump. Time was of the essence. I needed to serve my appetite!
1. Popcorn Sotong
The Popcorn Sotong features bite-sized squid bits with seasoned, slightly crispy breading. The coating was flavourful, but not to the point that it eclipsed the signature sotong goreng flavour.
My only gripe with this snack is the intense aroma of the squid. If Kejap Food could mask the tanginess with spices and herbs in the coating, this snack could’ve been better. Even though the Popcorn Sotong wasn’t on par with mum’s version, it did a decent job of filling in my craving for sotong goreng tepung.
2. Next Candidate, Keropok Lekor!
You would need to chew the keropok for a few seconds before the sweetness of the fish sinks into your taste buds. Personally, I don’t have a preference for the crispiness of keropok lekor. I can go both ways; crispy or soft.
Kejap Food’s Keropok Lekor tended to lean to the softer side. Another plus point with Kejap Food’s version is its juiciness without being greasy. I had come across glossy keropok lekor (yes, really!) due to excess oil that clung to the snack.
For Kejap Food’s Keropok Lekor, they hit the sweet spots of both fish flavour and juiciness. I was glad this one tasted pretty much like a traditional keropok lekor that you’d expect from a neighbourhood kuih-muih stall!
3. The Last One On My List – Nasi Ayam Sambal Pedas
This was the only meal that I sampled once I reached home. I would love to dig in the rice set in my car right there and then at Petron. But I might spill the meal all over myself and the car seat!
The set came with sambal belacan (chilli paste with fermented prawn paste), soy sauce, cutlets of chicken breast, and vegetables.
So, what are my thoughts on this set?
It did a great job of making me full and content, even after bouts of snacks with the Popcorn Sotong and Keropok Lekor. The portion of the rice was meant for one person, but Kejap Food was quite generous with the serving size of deep-fried chicken cutlets.
In fact, it was a meal that I could indulge with the protein alone!
But that’s not all…
If you’re a fan of sambal belacan, you wouldn’t be disappointed with Kejap Food’s sambal.
The burst of the sambal‘s spiciness was instant the moment it touched the tip of my tongue. And when you combine it with the signature aroma of sambal belacan, you couldn’t tell the difference from a sambal belacan that you’d get from a Kelantanese restaurant. Now that’s an authentic touch!
Hungry For More Of Kejap Food’s Drive-Through
I browsed Kejap Food’s website after savouring the last grain of rice and chicken bits of the Nasi Ayam Sambal Pedas in my room. They have 25 items on their menu, ranging from snacks, breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and kids’ meals.
In other words?
Looks like I have another 22 Malaysian favourites to try for my follow-up trips to Kejap Food! And I have all the time I need since the drive-through is right smack in the middle of my daily commute home after work.
As I made mental notes on what I should order for my next trip to Kejap Food, I also learnt that they have another establishment at Setiawangsa.
But for now, I’m thankful for the convenience of Kejap Food near my office and my place. Evening snacks after working hours are going to be more tantalising this year!
Why Not Make A Stop At Kejap Food’s Drive-Through?
So if you find yourself in the same dilemma that I was in and you’re around Shah Alam or Setiawangsa…
Before I sign off, let’s have a show of hands. What are your thoughts on this first drive-through venture of Malaysian snacks? Vote for your stand in the poll below!
Stay hungry for our follow-up episode, where I’ll explore Kejap Food’s other offerings on its menu. Who knows, I may even pay a visit to their other outlet? If that comes to pass, that will be another appetite-whetting experience with Kejap Food’s drive-through at Setiawangsa!