Muo Satay Pagi

Quiz Question: Where in Johor do they eat satay for breakfast? Yes, satay – grilled skewers of meat dipped in spicy peanut sauce.

It was smoking and flaming at ZZ Satay Warisan
When I heard that in Muo (the way the locals pronounce Muar), they enjoy satay pagi, or morning satay, I was delighted. That was because satay is my all-time favourite!

On a recent road trip around Johor with a stay in Muar, I couldn’t wait for morning to come because I was eagerly anticipating the satay pagi breakfast.

Emily, whose family lived in Muar for several years, told me that it was the norm for locals to eat satay in the morning and that it was rarely served later in the day.

That morning, before leaving the hotel in search of satay pagi, we asked the friendly receptionist for her recommendations.

Our scribbled order on paper!
She gave us directions to a nearby restaurant and following her guide, we walked on with my nose sniffing for the aroma of freshly grilled satay but Emily smartly reminded me, “Look out for smoke!”

Once we rounded the corner, we not only saw billowing smoke but tongues of fire were licking up from charcoal grills at ZZ Satay Warisan!

We saw staff busy fanning the flames to grill the skewers of meat to serve throngs of waiting diners.

A crowd of customers was certainly a good sign of good food so we squeezed inside the busy restaurant to grab the last vacant table.

In spite of their busy-ness a staff member came over to ask for our drink orders and when we both said, “Kopi tarik kurang manis,” he scribbled on a small piece of paper and left it on our table.

Under the line for ‘Kopi Tarik’ the next line simply read: ‘S-1’ with the number 14 within a circle. My guess was the No. 14 was our table number.

Three varieties of satay served with a side of
spicy peanut sauce
I also guessed ‘S-1’ written on that piece of paper, was for one plate of satay for table No. 14.

I like how we didn’t have to place any order but a plate of three varieties of satay was just served to our table. Emily coolly identified them as chicken, beef and guts (perut).

As I munched the tender and tasty meat, I looked around and saw the restaurant jam-packed with diners – obviously from different cultures and walks of life – but seated together for a good satay breakfast.

I also saw how staff with plates of freshly-grilled satay, were going around the restaurant to top up the almost-empty plates. As diners ate, the satay was being topped up.

Diners from different cultures and walks of life
seated together for a good satay breakfast here
Then Emily spotted a notice advising diners to count the number of sticks they had eaten before going to the payment counter. So this was how it worked.

All we needed to do was to say the number of sticks and the bill would be tallied up at the counter. Wow! I just love this element of trust.

When we had our fill of satay (burp!) we counted the total number of sticks/skewers we finished between us (gasp!) and grabbed that grubby piece of paper the staff left on the table.

Emily gave it to the cashier at the counter and just told her the number of sticks.

Notice to Customers: Please count your own number of
sticks before making payment at the counter. Thank you.
The poster above the counter read: Sate 60 Sen Sebatang, Ayam, Daging, Perot.

I read the poster again and thought the measure word for ‘a stick of satay’ was ‘se-cocok’ but it was interesting that here, they say, ‘se-batang’.

The cashier did the calculation and replied with the sum that we should pay.

We then left the restaurant with our clothes and hair smelling of smoke but thoroughly satisfied with the Muo tradition of satay pagi – part one of our Muar breakfast.

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