Food Hero

Nasi Lemak BK4 makes 5000 packs of nasi lemak per day and it’s increasing!

by Honey Ahmad Photography FriedChillies on Thu, April 26, 2018

Starting from just 30 packs of nasi lemak to over 5,000 daily, BK4 is one of those inspiring entrepreneur stories you need to know about...

Meet the BK4 crew!

It started off as a happy accident… this litte nasi lemak bungkus company called BK4, which stands for Bandar Kinrara 4 where Hajar is based. “I made nasi lemak originally for my kids to take to school to save some money,” said Kak Hajar, the gregarious owner.

….and then her kids came back with orders from their friends. Then the day after that came orders from the class next door, then the staff room. It was then she realised that there might be a potential business here.

Soon after she opened an umbrella by the side of road. “At first people thought I was selling ketam (crabs!)” Laughs Kak Hajar because they kept their nasi lemak in Styrofoam containers to keep it warm. “Our sambal is not spicy so it's suitable for everyone,” she adds.

How do you make 5,000 packs of nasi lemak in a day? By having a good process.

Slowly from an initial 30 packs, they opened a few more umbrellas and started taking orders from a nearby mamak. At that time she was still teaching and eventually she had to choose whether to keep working or to expand her nasi lemak business. “I chose nasi lemak,” she grins. And so in 2014 she resigned to do it full time. Now, Kak Hajar oversees an operation that makes over 5,000 packs a day.

“Making a few thousand packs of nasi lemak is very different from making 30 packs. We had to figure a way to run it like a small factory with proper divisions and processes in place,” she said. On the wall are timings for the rice, boiled and then steamed so that it will stay fresh longer.

Semi-cooked rice is put in steamers to infuse coconut flavour and keep it fresh

Everyday, sambal in huge huge pots is stirred up releasing a briny aroma from the udang kering used. “We simmer the sambal over 6 hours and this acts as a natural preservative. Also it’s not too watery and won’t stain the rice too much”. Everything about BK4’s nasi lemak is to ensure optimum freshness even after several hours on top of tables.

Yup, they stir the sambal with a small paddle

When asked what is her biggest business challenge she answered, “collecting payments. When I first started I was too nice, I had a good product and consistent customers but I took a lot of consignments. And here is the danger for businesses with a low margin. You can have the best nasi lemak in the world but if you are not firm in your payment terms or leave it to word of honour, kirim salamlah. People will just end up owing you thousands. Then how are you going to roll your expenses?”

It became so bad at one point, she literally had no cash to buy next day’s ingredients. So she wised up fast, figured out a better payment system and fought hard to build her business to where it is today.

Although Kak Hajar started BK4 with her ex-husband she has always been the more active partner. “Going it on my own doesn’t scare me, I’ve grown as an entrepreneur and work smarter now. There will always be challenges for instance ikan bilis now costs RM24 a kilo as opposed to RM7 when I first started. My price remains the same so I had to find a way to keep cost low and maintain quality. You make it work.”

At about 11pm, the shoplot becomes a hive of activity as people arrive to cook rice, slice and pack. Right now BK4 employs about 17 people from production to delivery. One of them slices egg, another cucumbers. There are containers full of nuts and crisp ikan bilis fried earlier. Brown paper is laid out and packing begins.

“Here, the table doesn’t move, it’s the people,” Kak Hajar smiles. Her crew moves in rhythm dishing out rice and the components of nasi lemak right up to packing. Open a pack of BK4 nasi lemak and it’s a perfect portion of rice, the briny and mild sambal, crisp ikan bilis, nuts, egg and cucumber (laid out on a square of banana leaf so you still get the aroma).

McDonald’s introduces Nasi Lemak Burger in celebration of Malaysian’s love for nasi lemak. A great nasi lemak bungkus like BK4 should be enjoyed together so that all the flavours from the rice, sambal, egg, cucumber and ikan bilis balance each other in a perfect mouthful. That’s how Nasi Lemak Burger is to be enjoyed too, in a big bite so you get all the glorious flavours together.

Available for a limited time only from 26 April while stocks last, don’t miss the chance to try out The Nasi Lemak Burger inspired by Malaysian’s love for nasi lemak. McDonald’s Nasi Lemak Burger is available at RM14.95 for an ala carte and RM16.95 for a medium set meal, that includes French Fries & a 100PLUS.