ALOR GAJAH: Being open only on Fridays and Sundays has not stopped the Ayam Percik Hutan Percha from becoming a big hit among food enthusiasts in and outside Melaka.

Business owner Hassan Saad, 65, who has been running the operation for the past 15 years, said he could sell up to 300 pieces of his ayam percik, or spicy roast chicken, a day whenever he opens from 11am to 7pm.

He admits his business is lucrative, even though he started it to supplement his income as a rubber tapper.

“It’s as if I’m doing it as a hobby – two times a week. But, alhamdulillah, I’m still open today. We have regulars, including dignitaries, who stop by every time they are in Melaka, including the former prime minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

“Previously, I would sell at the night market here, but I can’t rely on just villagers as my customers. I used to take orders from Melaka and other places but now I can’t manage it anymore,” he told reporters after a state event with Melaka unity, information, human resource and consumer affairs committee chairman Ngwe Hee Sem here.

Hassan said he runs his business from his home in Jalan Bunga Raya in Hutan Percha with the help of his wife Rosnani Ali, 55, and two assistants, who still grill the chicken using charcoal.

He revealed that the unique taste of his chicken came from its sauce, for which he bought the recipe from an acquaintance from Kelantan before adapting it to his taste, especially the spiciness.

The challenge he currently faces is the rise in the prices of items, including the ingredients used to make the sauce and fresh chicken.

“I am still trying not to raise my price, which is currently set at RM3.50 a piece. The prices of raw materials have increased, especially for the sauce, but I don’t intend to profit so much, and honestly, you can’t make a fortune through this business,” he said, adding that he welcomed anyone who wished to learn and buy his recipe for the chicken, especially those who want to start their own business or generate an income.

Regular customer Farah Huda Sahiran, 26, from Batu Berendam here, said she was not a fan of ayam percik but the unique taste of the sauce and chicken converted her.

Farah said she had just come across the shop around two months ago, but she has been back more than twice to get her regular fix.

“The ayam percik sauce is delicious. There’s a great flavour to it. It’s spicy and, most importantly, not sweet.

“The chicken isn’t dry, and the price is value for your money,” she added.

Meanwhile, Ngwe, who is also Machap Jaya assemblyman, said Ayam Percik Hutan Percha would be marketed as an iconic village product and promoted with the assistance of the Melaka Tourism Promotion Division. — Bernama