Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Capitol Satay Celup In Malacca

A visit to Malacca will never be complete until you take a taste of the popular satay celup. To people out there, especially non-Malaccans, who are still in the dark what satay celup looks and tastes like, let me give a simple description of satay celup. "Satay" is an authentic Malay food of grilled marinated meats (common meat used are chicken and beef), served on bamboo skewers, usually come with spicy peanut sauce for dipping. On the other hand, "celup" means "dip" in Malay language.

Combine the two words together and that is how the name "satay celup" came about. Satay celup is served and eaten like lok lok and steamboat, except the main difference in sauce. Instead of dipping them in a pot of boiling soup, satay celup is cooked by dipping or dunking sticks of raw food into boiling pot of aromatically rich and spicy peanut sauce.

P1060965-1

The line of people queuing-up stretches along the row of shops leading to the restaurant; people standing by the roadside with cars speeding past them.
 
The first and only time I tried satay celup was more than three years ago in December 2007, when I went down to Malacca with Michelle. It was one of our first meal together and we were joined by a few classmates of hers. Our satay celup meal was at Ban Lee Siang at Jalan Ong Kim Wee, one of the two most popular satay celup places in Malacca.

More than three years later, we decided to try another place which is just as popular as Ban Lee Siang - Capitol Satay Celup, operated by Low Yong Cheng's family. They have been in the satay celup business since the mid-1950's. His grandfather used to use a kandar stick to carry his wares in two baskets, one for fresh food and the other for the stove and sauce. That is why Capitol Satay Celup is said to be the origin of satay celup in Malacca, before places like Ban Lee Siang existed.

One down side for dining here however, is the waiting time. Capitol Satay Celup is always full of crowds, especially during weekends and public holidays. Thus, you should always expect to queue, even at ten at night. We went there on a weekday but the line was still quite long. If you count by time, the line is about half an hour.

P1060974-1

They have also made sure that all imposters are known as that; imposters haha!

If you ask me which one I prefer more, I personally think that Capitol Satay Celup is better than Ban Lee Siang. Capitol Satay Celup, being the pioneer of satay celup in Malacca, still remains good until today. Even Michelle and her Mom, who has never come to Capitol Satay Celup agreed that Capitol Satay Celup has the edge over its rival.

Comparing Ban Lee Hiang and Capitol side by side:

Ban Lee Hiang 
  • RM0.50/RM0.60 per stick. 
  • No extra bonuses. 
  • Limited choices of food. 
  • Popular among the locals. 
  • Waiting time is comparatively short; no queue, or sometimes, shorter queue. 
  • Restaurant consists of two shop lots; spacious and comfortable. 
  • Peanut sauce tastes milder, but has the one bit of spiciness in it. 
  • No medium and big sized prawns, only small sized shrimps (one per stick)
Capitol Satay Celup 
  • RM0.80 per stick.
  • Extra bonuses like big-sized prawns, squids and etc.
  • Huge varieties of food; over 80 types of seafood and vegetables.
  • A favourite among Singaporeans and tourists.
  • Expect to queue; long queues are common and usually extremely long.
  • Restaurant has only one shop lot; there are approximately 12 tables.
  • Peanut sauce has stronger taste and a little sweetness; strong ginger and lemon grass taste.
  • Small-sized shrimps (two per stick) are fresher, juicer and tastier.
P1060975-1

Finally, we were about to get seated.

One interesting thing about dining at Capitol is how they seat you. Here, you will get your own table to sit on, no matter how big your group is, or even if you come alone. There is no sharing tables at all, unless you make a deal with the other patrons outside to share the space.

While waiting until a table is empty for you, the waitress, who are mostly foreigners but speak fluent local dialects like Hokkien and Cantonese, will come to you and ask you if you wanna have the Muar bread, which goes perfectly with the peanut sauce. The breads are exceptionally soft and fluffy, coming at eighty cents a plate. If you choose not to have the bread, you will have a plate of cut cucumber for free.

P1060976-1

With advantages as a pioneer, and flock of food lovers dedicating great testimonials (this entry being one of them), Capitol Satay Celup has gotten a comprehensive media coverage over tens of years. Part of these media exposures are featured on their wall of fame. By the way, price of each plate type is displayed on the wall.

Once you have been assigned to a table, the waitress will ask you to go pick and choose what you want from the refrigerated counter while they clean up the table and get the sauce ready. You place all your food on a tray that can be found next to the refrigerated counter. There will be a stainless-steel pot filled with boiling curry sauce in the middle of the table into the round hole by the time you're back from selecting your food.

Underneath the table is a gas cooker to continuously warm and boil the peanut sauce. As the sauce started to boil, the waitress will then come around with two huge scoops of freshly ground peanuts, brown sugar and various herbs and spices to mix it all right in front of you. She will also keep stirring till the bottom of the pot to avoid any sedimentation of the peanut chunks in the pot.

P1060979-1

This restaurant certainly takes some pride as the innovator of satay celup in Malacca. Third generation some more. Don't play-play arh!

The secret of satay celup lies in the peanut sauce served. It is a thick sauce and full of crunchy ground peanuts. Comprising of 22 ingredients and spices (as reported by The Star Street Food guide), including peanuts, dried chilli, onion, garlic, lemon grass, brown sugar, turmeric, galangal and sesame seeds, they are cooked together to perfection.

As the sauce started to boil, a waiter came and added in more freshly crunched peanuts and brown sugar. 

P1060977-1

With almost 80 types of skewered food to choose from, it is common to see large group of people going back for second helping.

P1060978-1

The food are neatly displayed and you take whatever you wanna eat. You will be charged for what you have ate, not what you have taken.

At Capitol Satay Celup, there are more than four and a half rows of food, consisting over 80 types of skewered seafood and vegetables, ranging from chicken, cockles, abalones, fish balls, cuttlefish, mushrooms, vegetables, quail's eggs, shrimps, bean curds, fried bean curds, tofu, fried dough flour or more commonly known as "yu-char-kuey". Besides the aromatic peanut sauce, the galore of food they offer here is one of the factors that makes this place attractive.

They make sure the freshness of the food are maintained by keeping them inside huge refrigerators at the back and open fridges with shelves at the dining hall. Another important factor is the peanut sauce because no matter how fresh the food are, if the peanut sauce is not nicely blended, everything will not taste nice.

P1090009-1

The bread with cubed cucumbers, to be dipped into the peanut sauce. 

The sauce is constantly on the boil, and the waitress will constantly go from one table to another to make sure that the sauce stays at the satisfying level of thickness throughout our meal, by blending the sauce with sufficient amount of savours and peanuts. The sauce is replaced for each new customer on table. However, I suspect that they recycle the sauce at the kitchen because after all, how many pots of sauce do you expect them to prepare in a day, right?

I digress. Everything is self-serviced here and it is a strictly no take-away place.

P1090008-1

Some of our chosen food stuff, taken for three people.

P1060994-1

The final countdown for the feast to begin.

P1060989-1

Mini-sized century eggs with slices of ginger served in plates. Food in plates are priced differently, according to the plate colour.

Here comes the interesting part of dining at Capitol Satay Celup. When you table has consumed a certain amount of food, the waitress will give you the bonuses or mystery gifts, whatever you call them. Most of the time, they are in the form of big prawns, squids, scallops and etc. The price of these varieties are definitely more than RM0.80 but you are charged RM0.80 still. For example, the big prawns are said to cost about RM8.00 per stick, but the price stays at RM0.80.

It is another form of discount and giving back to the customer after eating a lot. In another way, they are encouraging you to eat more so that you can earn the extra bonuses and indirectly increase their profit at the same time.

IMG_4289-1

Was halfway stirring the peanut sauce when Mich called me to turn over. 

P1090014-1

Yup, just dunk everything inside the peanut sauce, but not your fingers, of course. Never leave them too long inside the boiling sauce 
to maintain the juiciness of the seafood.

P1090015-1

These are the bonuses that I was talking about.

P1090029-1

The big prawn, which is longer than my palm and here, I am gonna let it swim inside the peanut sauce haha!

P1090022-1

The big prawn usually takes longer time to cook, maybe because it is more than six inches in length!

Once you are done, the waitress will come over to your table and count your bamboo sticks, and you pay. Try not to remain on your table and continue to chit chat after your meal because that will make others to wait unnecessarily.

So, whenever you are in Malacca and have never tried satay celup before, make sure you give it a try before leaving the place. This dish is considered a signature dish in Malacca, so complete your trip with this dining experience!

P1090001-1

The ang moh couple who were seated just behind our table kept drinking water throughout their meal lol! 
The spicy peanut sauce might be too much for them, I guess.


Address: Capitol Satay Celup Restaurant, 41, Lorong Bukit Cina, 75100 Melaka, Malaysia  
Tel: +60-6-283-5508, +60-12-229-5505  
Third generation owner: Low Yong Cheng  
Operating hours: Daily from 5:00 pm (Closed on Monday)  
Price: Each stick costs RM0.80 and various plate types indicate different charges.  
Map, courtesy of Amazing Melaka.

19 comments:

Tempus said...

eh can book arh? gonna be there the next time I hit my tsunami in Malacca!

calvin said...

@ tempus:
you mean to place an early reservation? i don't think that is possible >.<

Polycarp Ling said...

although i went to Malacca before, i haven't tried satay celup....will try it next time!

calvin said...

@ polycarp ling:
you should! make sure you don't miss this wonderful dish on your next trip to malacca! : )

kooks said...

was there 2 weeks ago, and the queue was super looooonggg.. some more, it was a rainy day. so end up eating saty celup at the middle shop next to it. personally, i think it's not what i like. may be next time i should try capitol, but have to queue lor..

calvin said...

@ kooks:
i guess luck was just not by your side on that day >.<
if you have the chance, i believe you should try out the satay celup at capitol. let me know what you think of it if you have tried it, aright? ; )

kooks said...

@calvin,
sure. will try to get there again soon. haha. hey, when r u flying back to Japan? my trip to tokyo will be on 12th april. not sure if tokyo will be badly contaminated by then. heard that now the condition is not so inviting bcos of the water contamination. and the worst is Airasia refuse to refund my ticket.:(
am i really so unlucky?? haiz

calvin said...

@ kooks:
i am supposed to fly back to japan today (24 march) but due to the uncertainties in japan, i have decided to defer my return date to 10 april.

to be honest, i am already tired and don't really feel like following the updates and news anymore, because different media is reporting different things. the situation can change in just a split of a second and i don't think anyone can give a certain assurance whether things will get better, or worse from now onwards.

sorry to hear about you not getting a chance to reschedule your ticket. did airasia give you any reason for that?

kooks said...

hi calvin,
airasia says that based ont he current development, they allow passanger travelling between march till 10th april to get a full refund. however, my flight is on the 12th, so i am not entitled. so their answer is "tengok la development akan datang". so i can only pray that the situation in japan improves and i can continue with my trip.

Anonymous said...

Oh no i was just there this evening and i couldnt find the place. I found one with a green signboard that says capitol satay celap. will try again tomorrow!!@#

calvin said...

@ kooks:
ahhh, you just missed out on the privilege to reschedule your flight or get a refund, just by two days. lets hope that everything will improve by a week or two.

my advice is for you to monitor the latest developments in japan every day and decide whether you are travelling there, only on the final minute. if it is not really safe to do so, i guess it's better not to fly to japan because it is just not worth it to risk your life >.<

good luck!

calvin said...

@ anonymous:
are you sure you got to the right restaurant? i don't remember seeing any green signboard >.<

anyway, good luck in locating the restaurant on your next visit *hehe* ; )

Sirius Tan said...

Yes, people who have lived life to the full and are ready to move on to the next life can try satay celup and its other-worldly hygiene. Will try to go in Dec.

calvin said...

@ sirius tan:
lol! your comment sounds very cheeky xD

Jack Witson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Online Hotels Booking said...

Finally the much awaited wait is over. Thanks for the updates



hotels booking Paris

calvin said...

@Jack Witson:
Hi Jack! Glad that my post has given you some useful information on satay celup :D

calvin said...

@ Online Hotels Booking:
You're welcome! Keep coming for more updates! :D

David John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.