Aboo Backer Restaurant (GPS: 5.41215, 100.33425) is an Indian Muslim nasi kandar restaurant on Beach Street in George Town. Although the name Aboo Backer might not right a bell, it is the name of one of the founders of Hameediyah Restaurant, the oldest nasi kandar restaurant in the country. The Aboo Backer Restaurant is owned by Hameediyah, and is being managed by Mr Abdul Sukkoor, the 7th generation descendant of Aboo Backer. The young man, whose family runs Hameediyah, is striking out on his own in a whole new direction, to preserve and celebrate the proud nasi kandar tradition of his family.
What you get at Aboo Backer Restaurant is a picture of simplicity. You could almost call it the Hameediyah Museum, for it faithfully preserves the family legacy, and reintroduces what nasi kandar was like in the old days. At Aboo Backer, the staff wear white round-neck t-shirts, checked sarongs and songkok. I have to put it to you, the whole team and Mr Sukkoor too, are such darlings.
For my visit, Mr Sukkoor kept the restaurant opened specially to serve me. And what he served me kind of blew me away. Not that it is something complicated. On the contrary, it was a simple meal of nasi kandar and two types of toast, washed down with teh tarik and iced chai tea. For the nasi kandar, it was just white rice with beef rendang, fried chicken and dalcha. That was it. And yet, it was so tasty.
As I partook of this meal, I could see in my mind's eye how it was like in Sukkoor's great-great-great-great grandfather's time. The Hameediyah Restaurant began in 1907, but even before that time, the Aboo Backer family had been selling nasi kandar the traditional way as itinerant hawkers, carting the food around on a long wooden pole. And it was a simple meal of white rice taken with dalcha, and perhaps a meat dish or two. The majority would have orders just white rice and dalcha, having meat only on special occasions.
Over the decades, nasi kandar has morphed into a complicated rice meal. But if you ever want to experience nasi kandar as it once was, in all its simplicity, make a pilgrimage to Aboo Backer Restaurant.
Aboo Backer Restaurant
516, Beach Street,
10300 George Town, Penang.
Aboo Backer Restaurant is open daily from 8:00am to 4:00pm. Closed on Sunday.
Abdul Sukkoor (second from left) and his men, comprising one worker and two relatives from the extensive Aboo Backer clan. (24 January, 2017)
Simple, unpretentious - a nasi kandar meal that lives up to its name. (24 January, 2017)
Roti Goyang - half-boiled eggs over toast. (24 January, 2017)
My wife and I at Aboo Backer Restaurant. (24 January, 2017)
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