KariGuys @ Lucky Garden, Bangsar

For many people, ‘Kari Ayam Sempalit’ will certainly ring a bell or two as the famous curry chicken is fondly associated with a rich heritage that traces back to the idyllic town of Sempalit, Pahang. The humble family-run business that has started 60 years ago recently ushered a new beginning with ‘The Kari Guys’, a.k.a. Dinesh and Ramesh managing their newest outlet at Lucky Garden, Bangsar.

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The history of Kari Ayam Sempalit can be traced back to 1951 when Dinesh’s grandfather, Mr. Damodaran Nair was running a push-cart business selling simple home cooked Indian food at an outskirt area in Raub. During the Malayan “State of Emergency” at the same year, he was forced to relocate to a nearby village called ‘Sempalit’ with his wife and two sons. He decided to open a small wooden shack at the village called “Damodaran Coffee and Eating Shop” but soon realised that his spicy curry was not well received by the local population that was predominately Chinese people. After experimenting with various recipes, he developed a new curry flavour that delights the local. His new ‘Kari Ayam Sempalit’ was an instant success and news about its popularity started spreading around town.

In 1978, Dinesh’s father, Mr. Asokan Nair took over the business with the help of his family and relatives. The wooden shack was transformed into a double storey brick shop with an air-conditioned room, making it the most prominent landmark in Raub at that time. “We were so well-known among the locals that even a little boy can point out where our shop is located. There are two things that Sempalit is famous for. One is the Kacang Goreng Sempalit and the other is our curry chicken. We even had orders all the way from KL which have to be packed and transported via buses and taxis,” he explained.

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Just last month, the duo took their business to greater heights with the opening of their newest outlet at the affluent neighbourhood of Lucky Garden, Bangsar. “We moved our operation from the previous stall at Restoran Do Re Mi at Ara Damansara to the present location here,” he said. Recalling how the name ‘KariGuys’ came about, Dinesh explained that his family was affectionately known as ‘Kari Kai Family’ back in Sempalit town. ‘Kari Kai’ is in fact, a Cantonese term for ‘curry chicken’. “We wanted to pay homage to that and hence translated it to ‘KariGuys’ which has an almost similar pronunciation. The word ‘KariGuys’ also refers to Dinesh and Ramesh who are now the faces behind the new outlet.

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KariGuys’ signature Kari Ayam Sempalit is different from the regular curry that Indian restaurants offer. Texture wise, it is watered down but the flavour remains intense with a playful savoury taste that lingers on the palate followed by a gentle spicy aftertaste. The experience of eating the curry is inviting and addictive at the same time. According to Dinesh, the secret lies with the high quality dried chilli that they carefully pick to make the flavoursome curry. “We use a lot of ingredients for our curry but you won’t be able to taste the individual elements at all. This is because we have blended them so well that the flavours are all in there,” he explained.

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The Sempalit Mutton Peratal has a much thicker curry sauce complimented with a moderate spicy taste. The meat has a pleasant bite texture, infused thoroughly with the rich flavour of the curry sauce. “Most people tend to cook their curry mutton using high pressure cooker but the problem with that is that the meat will fall apart too easily. We use the conventional approach where our mutton is boiled for a long period of time before cooking it with the other ingredients. This way, the meat will become softer with the masala taste fully absorbed into the meat’, he said.

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KariGuys is also offering their Sempalit Mee Curry with Sotong (RM 7.00) which uses the same curry base sauce. However, the taste is distinctly different with a more punchy characteristic due to the extra condiments used. “The sengkuang, timun and taufu makes the different. We also added squid to make the portion really sumptuous,” he said.

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KariGuys is offering set lunch menu with a selection of main course (Sempalit Fried Ayam – RM 12.00, Sempalit Kari Ayam – RM 12.00, Sempalit Mutton Peratal – RM 13.50, Fish Curry – RM 11.50, Fried Fish – RM 11.50, Sotong Sambal – RM 13.50, Prawn Sambal – RM 13.50) served with rice, two choices of vegetables and one beverage.

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With such intense passion for great food, it is no surprise that Dinesh and his mother, Saras are seen toiling all day and night at the kitchen cooking up fares that customers will bound to catch a whiff of upon entering the premise. “My mum is still the main chef here. Although she has trained me and my brother to cook since our younger days, you can see her cooking tirelessly all day long,” he smiled.

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One will have a deep sense of appreciation knowing that this family-run business is still cooking with the same recipe that has been passed down for three generations. “No artificial flavouring and no pre-mixed sauces. Everything is being cooked from scratch. This way, our customers can still taste the same curry as it was cooked by my grandfather. Even our all-time favourite fried chicken are fried without using any flour. We want our customers to taste the actual meat,” he added.

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Preserving the family legacy, Dinesh is also quick to point out that it is all about hard work. Their perseverance is now bearing fruits with legion of loyal fans and newcomers flocking their shop during lunch hours. Will we be seeing more items in their menu in the near future? Dinesh is already tinkering with cooking his signature curry fish head with Salmon fish head and Ikan Merah. “Right now, we just have to find the right supplier,” he smiled.

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Kari Guys
No. 24 Lorong Ara Kiri 2
Lucky Garden, Bangsar
59100 Kuala Lumpur

Business Hours: 11:45 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Tel: 03-2201 9388
Email: catering@kariguys.com

 

 

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