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Original Oxtail Asam Pedas is here
Published on: Friday, April 23, 2021
By: Lorena Binisol
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Chef Sapieye with his Oxtail Asam Pedas.
Kota Kinabalu: Ask anyone who frequented Hyatt Kinabalu – or Hyatt Regency Kinabalu as it is known today – in 70s, 80s and 90s and they are bound to associate Sabah’s first international hotel with a dish whose fame spread far and wide – Oxtail Asam Pedas.

So popular was it that late former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Ghafar Baba was known to “ta pau” (take back) ample amounts of the dish to the national capital whenever he visited the State.

Perhaps this may explain why word about this irresistible exotic sounding delicacy spread to other members of the Federal Cabinet as well with Ministers also making a stopover at the hotel’s café.

Chef Sapieye (4th left), his son Zulhelmie (on his right) and their assistants.


Not to mention, two former Prime Ministers – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad and Datuk Seri Najib Razak. 

“I read about it in the internet and it was confirmed by the Chef himself. The two former Premiers were so fond of the Oxtail dish. I was astonished by the approval coming from two Prime Ministers,” said Dato Stanley Tee, a stakeholder of Ori Kitchen, where the dish as it should be, can now be tried by a whole new generation, besides nostalgic foodies.

It made business sense for Stanley to divert attention from his hardware business to team up with the most sought-after Oxtail Asam Padas chef in the state, Sapieye Ahmad Abdullah.

Stanley reckoned that despite the dampened business climate due to the year-long Covid-19 pandemic, a legendary recipe surely cannot go wrong.

The result of their collaboration is Ori Kitchen located in historic Gaya Street in the heart of the city since March. Stanley, an electrical and electronic engineer, said it didn’t take him long to decide to venture into the food business.

Stanley with two instant dishes by Chef Sapieye.

He also thinks luck was with him that he was fated to meet Chef Sapieye who was equally thrilled at the prospect of showcasing his authentic recipes.

“It was somewhere in June or July 2020 that I decided to divert my attention to the food business, after looking at the devastating state of our existing businesses due to the pandemic. We were all affected tremendously.  Some even had to close shop for not being able to pay rent. 

“How to sustain in that kind of situation? We can’t but to continue thinking what we should do next.  So I made up my mind to go into food,” said Stanley.

Hence, despite many businesses collapsing around him, Stanley saw a silver lining in food and made made a bold decision to convert a 5-storey building in Gaya Street into a food paradise of sorts. 

The ground floor became an open eatery where Ori Kitchen is located. The top floor was converted into VIP rooms and a special room for prayer (Surau) and other floors into quarters for his staff and an office.

As for Sapieye, 65, who spent some 20 years whipping up the dish in the Hyatt kitchen since in the 70s, it was going back to doing what only he knew how to do best. 

Having resigned from the hotel in 1993 to focus on his family catering business which he operated from home, it was a chance to share his original recipe with the masses once more, especially the younger generation. 

This time, he imparted his skill to his son, Zulhelmi, who heads the kitchen in the new restaurant.

Stanley sees Sapieye not only as a business partner but as a national asset as never has there been an occasion where a recipe that grew out of a hotel kitchen entered the menus of many eating establishments in Sabah and even in the peninsula.

“Dishes that he introduced apart from his popular oxtail Asam Pedas are really outstanding.

“I am glad he transferred his knowledge and skill to his son. I am happy that being the second generation, he will take over his father’s legacy,” said Stanley.

Zulhelmi, 37, said his father is humble despite the fame for his signature dish.

“While with Hyatt, he won the hearts of many.  I know this from the response we received over the years. 

He resigned in 1993 so that he could focus on the family’s catering business. We will be even busier now that we are operating this new restaurant,” he said.

Sapieye’s knack for being creative has also rubbed off on Zulhelmi who created an equally “ori” recipe called Nasi Arab Mandy.

“I was so inspired by my father that I did my own creation.  It is an Arab dish which I saw in Youtube. I first tasted the dish when I was in Mecca some years ago. 

“I tried to make my own Nasi Arab.  Unfortunately, many of the herbs were not available here. I had to import.  

“In the end, I got the right flavour and taste, almost similar to when I did my Umrah a few years ago,” said Zulhelmi.

Other dishes available at the outlet are Ayam Penyet, Kari Nyonya, Mee Laksa Kari and Ikan Tiga Rasa, among others.

Due to the popular demand, Sapieye  has also come up with instant packet versions of Oxtail Asam Pedas and Oxrib Asam Pedas for those who want to try them at home. Zulhelmi has nine staff under him to ensure that every customer leaves satisfied. 

He is determined to continue his father’s legacy. “All I can say is fate brought us all together to serve our community for as long as our services are needed,” he said.

Stanley is optimistic about Ori Kitchen providing a good dining environment with menus you would want to keep on trying.



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