Two friends' crazy 'burger sotong' idea a runaway success

KUALA TERENGGANU: Two friends’ refusal to give up on their ‘crazy idea’ to create ‘burger sotong’ (squid burger) has paid off handsomely, as their dish is now a runaway success.

From almost going out of business, the two now run what is arguably Kuala Terengganu’s hottest ‘Ramly burger’ stall now, with people lining up half an hour before opening time to get their hands on the burgers.

As of last year, Mohd Izham Fahmi Mohamad, 25, from Kampung Bukit Payong and Mohd Sharif Ngah, 22, from Kampung Bukit Sawa, were running a regular burger stall Jalan Padang Midin, and were at a loss as to how they could make an impact on the market.

Izham said he and Sharif were at their wits end and were about to throw in the towel as business was tough, given the abundance of competition. The two, like most burger stalls, had the traditional offerings of run-of-the-mill beef and chicken burgers.

For a long time, the friends had harboured a dream of creating a burger sotong, which was unheard of in the market.

“We figured we should give our burger sotong idea a shot. So on August 31 last year, after taking some time to create the recipe, we began selling it,” he said.

To their surprise, they sold more than 40 burger sotong on the first night. Their unique burger grew in popularity thanks to social media.

“People shared photos of our burgers and that helped propel its popularity. We even sold more than 60 burgers in one night the following month,” he said.

Each burger retails for between RM12 to RM17, depending on size.

Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. And soon, other burger sellers began copying their burger sotong.

However, Izham said none of their competitors lasted long, as people kept flocking back to their original product.

Izham attributed their success to their special black pepper sauce.

“Making the burger isn’t difficult, as we only need to grill the squid. It’s our black pepper sauce which makes the difference,” he said.

Their humble stall operates from 8.30pm to midnight. However, it’s not unusual for queues to begin forming 30 minutes before the stall opens for business.

He said regulars also phone ahead to pre-order as they are reluctant to queue.

“We’ve also had to increase our squid supply as we don’t want to let our customers down,” he said.

The friends, fresh off their burger sotong success, have since rolled out a new menu item - nasi lemak sotong panggang (nasi lemak with grilled squid) - which they are banking on to also become a runaway success. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd