Live in the Klang Valley but yearning for authentic Kelantanese fare? Why not order it online and have it flown straight from Kelantan? Tengku Nor Azah’s budding business offers just that, writes MEK ZHIN.
MANY businesses that are successful became so because they offered something that people wanted or needed that was not yet available. Kelate Flying Breakfast is one such business.
Started in the middle of last year by the enterprising Tengku Nor Azah Tengku Mahmood, fondly called Cik Jah, it offers city dwellers authentic Kelantanese food.
“Like many Kelantanese living and working here in Kuala Lumpur, I really missed the food back there. I just could not find good Kelantanese food here,” she says.
So what does one do in such a situation?
Well, the answer is to order it and get it flown 500km down here, still warm from the pot, of course.
Nor Azah’s system is simple – find something you want on their menu on Facebook, order from the crew member whose location is where you want to pick up your order from, make the payment and collect your order at the pre-arranged collection point and time.
Everything you can order from KFB is a personal favourite of Tengku Nor Azah’s. In other words, it has been vetted and approved by a true Kelantanese, and she says she still enjoys the food that is flown in every week.
“It’s authentic, and I would not change or ask to change anything about it. Kelantanese people are kiasu, and nothing but the original will do,” she stresses.
Every week, KFB gets anything from 500 to 1,000 orders for a combination of items, including the best-selling nasi berlauk air dingin which, when she first started the business, was the only item on offer.
Other items that are usually available throughout the year include nasi tumpang, nasi dagang, nasi kerabu, ayam percik and buah tanjung. During the Ramadan month, all rice items were taken off the menu and replaced with murtabak, daging bistik, serunding as well as ikan percik.
Nor Azah says she had to go through a steep learning curve with the business, as in the first couple of months it felt like there was always some kind of crisis or other that she had to overcome every week.
“There were all kinds of teething problems in the beginning, including supplier and crew members not waking up! I tried to have contingency plans and had to put all my working experience into getting things done. I have learnt since then that I thrive in crisis,” she grins.
The majority of her customers are Kelantanese, although there has been an increase in the number of curious non-Kelantanese Chinese customers of late, thanks to media attention.
“One thing we do ask from our customers is to be patient. Sometimes the flight is not on time or something else comes up, but luckily most of our customers have been understanding about it,” says Nor Azah, adding that she and her crew are all full-time working professionals.
The business has earned her a little pocket money: in the beginning it was just enough for a pair of shoes, but now there’s enough for a bit of travelling.
“If I was discouraged by the numbers, I wouldn’t even have started this. The crew gets a commission cut as well as some petrol subsidy,” she explains.
Looking into the future, however, Nor Azah is trying to get more F&B establishments to order with her on a regular basis, and to expand her business from there.
“We tried it before but the establishments wanted fresh deliveries every day, but the volume wasn’t enough to make it viable. People also asked why not bring the cook here instead, but our unique selling point is that people get to enjoy the exact same thing Kelantanese in Kelantan are eating,” she stresses.
For now, Nor Azah plans to maintain things as they are but she is certainly open to opportunities as her business rolls along.