Ok, here’s a great recipe, one made from a special family.
Let's take a handful of fresh, youngish professionals, say a manager, a gynaecologist, an art director, a dentist, a helicopter pilot, an engineer and a few others and mix them all up.
Blend them all together under some old school experience of Opah and her husband Abu, throw in some sprinkles of family passion, chuck in a lotta love and dedication and what do you get?
The answer is the delicious and delectable Hayyan Huda Opah’s kitchen, and The Bakeshop pastribella, semi-hidden away in Kampung Bukit Temiang in Seremban.
It really is special and for so many reasons.The cafe itself is named after the children of two of the co-founders Azni and Raslan: Hayyan, 7yo, and Huda, who is 5yo, and they are both autistic.
“We had a health issue with one of our family members, which was overcome successfully, that totally changed everyones lives,” said Azni. “It was one of those moments where we all feel so grateful and think about the purpose of life because every moment is precious - don’t waste time.”
So the family started thinking of lifestyle alternatives and as they owned a plot of land next to the family home in Bukit Temiang, it was decided to develop it into a restaurant.
There were some anxious moments convincing her parents Opah, a retired nurse, and Abu, a retired teacher, who were both sceptical about why customers would come to the far-off kampung to eat and as none of them had any self-business experience, it was a big gamble, but eventually everyone committed to the task ahead.
“We wanted to introduce a cafe restaurant that is a special needs friendly place, that’s one of the reasons why we decided to do the shoes off concept, cause lots of autistic kids will lie on the floor so we have to keep it clean,” said Raslan.
As you enter the cafe you can really feel the open space around you with wide areas between tables that helps cater for the autistic needs of children.
So today, months after the gala opening, full with invited celebrities and some with autistic children, the whole extended family, sisters, brothers, mother and father, and brother and sister in-laws are full steam ahead operating and expanding the new venture. Already some outdoor patios and a surau are being constructed.
Surrounded by forest, banana trees and kampung homes, the kitchen offers ample car parking amidst the bananas, laden with fruit ready too be made into a sponge or icing for a cake or mufffin.
Open only on weekends at the moment, from 11am 3pm and 6pm-11pm, everyone chips in to wash dishes, prepare ingredients, stir a pot, peel some vegetables, cook, clean tables, take orders to customers, and generally make you feel right at home.
With a great cook of local Negeri Sembilan cuisine at the helm, Opah, plus a wonderful baker and winner of Malaysia’s first Masterchef Dr Ezani making exquisite cakes, biscuits and all things baked, Hayyan Huda currently serves 400-500 customers per weekend, the majority of which come from outside of Seremban.
“Most of our customers now are from KL, Shah Alam and Selangor.….a lot of people drop by on their way to Johore for their lunch as the highway exit is close, “ says Raslan, “some come from as far as Kuantan.”
The ‘daging salai’ is a big meal favourite as well as all the array of bakery items beautifully presented on a table at the entrance to Hayyan Huda Opah's kitchen - try and walk past that table without ordering a piece!
Publicity wise Hayyan Huda are doing well on social media platforms like Instagram, currently having around 4500 followers and a big surprise for them "was the response from non-Malays who come and enjoy our food,” says Ruslan and Azni.
And the food, and cakes, muffins, biscuits, tarts etc. Wow. Just go and try.
If traditional dishes are not on your appetite list then head down for a tea or coffee and try a big slice of cake, some tart or crunch on some yummy biscuits. The prices are slightly higher than what you’d pay for Malay style cakes at a shop in town but these cake slices are so huge and so mouth-watering delicious - you need to treat yourself once in a while right?
This very chic place is comforting and engaging, with the walls adorned by paintings and drawings done by Hayyan and Huda, it feels like you are visiting family friends and are in their living room, chitter chattering.
It is a place you will return to again and again and don’t worry as the menu alternates favourites and new additions.
The future is the future so no-one really knows but will Hayyan Huda Opah's kitchen maybe open six, seven days a week?
“It could happen, says Azni, ‘but we would have to have someone from the family manage the place. My sister Adibah, the helicopter pilot, will retire from the airforce next year, so……maybe,” she says with a smile.
Watch this space.