Sabar Menanti is a well-loved Malay restaurant serving authentic Minangkabau (from West Sumatra, Indonesia) dishes. The restaurant is aptly named Sabar Menanti, for in English it means “wait patiently”, which one has to do as the queue to get to the food in this restaurant is known to be very long. Sabar Menanti was opened in the nasi padang belt of the famous Kandahar Street in Kampong Glam over 57 years ago. Since then, the running of the restaurant has been passed on from its original owner from Sumatra, Haji Marlian, to his children.1 Branches of the restaurant sprang up around Kandahar Street.2
Sabar Menanti is the name of a well-known nasi padang restaurant serving dishes that are specialties of the Sumatran Minangkabau people. The cuisine is named after the provincial capital, Padang.3 Sabar Menanti is a simple restaurant that occupied a pre-World War II colonial shophouse on Kandahar Street, in the vicinity of Sultan Mosque. Together with Warong Nasi Pariaman, it is one of the two most popular nasi padang restaurants in Singapore serving authentic Padang food. Most of their food would be sold out by lunchtime.4
Sabar Menanti Restaurant was founded by the late Haji Marlian Athar.5 Also known as Bagindo Marlian, Haji Marlian came to Singapore more than 57 years ago, rented a room in Palembang Road and set up a small food stall. The business grew into a modest restaurant that became very popular. Haji Marlian died in 1978 and the restaurant business was passed on to his children and wife, Hajah Rosmah Mailu. The family-run business has not changed hands ever since and has expanded to several branches, all managed by Haji Marlian's family, particularly his children.6
In 1998, it was reported that there were altogether six nasi padang restaurants owned by the family. Three of the six stalls called Sabar Menanti Siang dan Malam were located at Kandahar Street and North Bridge Road. These were managed by four of Haji Marlian’s children: Yusmal, Rizal, Tarmizi, and Maryulis. His youngest daughter, Zubaidah, owned Rumah Makan Minang at the corner of Kandahar Street and Muscat Street.7 Hajah Ratnah, another daughter, ran two stalls called Hajah Ratnah Nasi Padang on Beach Road and Sultan Gate.8 Due to increased rent, Tarmizi moved his restaurant from Kandahar Street to Palmer Road near Masjid Haji Muhammad Salleh.9 However, it closed in 2017 for government redevelopment. In 2019, it was reported that the sole remaining Sabar Menanti is located at North Bridge Road.10
Sabar Menanti's signature breakfast items include mee siam, lontong, nasi lemak and mee rebus.11 Other dishes that have been highlighted as popular items are ikan bakar (barbequed fish), dendeng Balado (smoked meat Balado style), ayam goreng (fried chicken), rendang (spicy beef dish), and opor nangka (young jackfruit and beef tripe cooked in a thick gravy).12
It was reported that 50 kg of rice was cooked every day at the main stall.13
1. “Warung Sumber Rezeki Keluarga,” Berita Minggu, 8 November 1998, 14. (From NewspaperSG)
2. “Warung Sumber Rezeki Keluarga”; National Heritage Board, Kampong Glam Heritage Trail, 21, accessed 13 May 2019.
3. “Warung Sumber Rezeki Keluarga.”
4. Alijah Batcha, “Tak Sabar Menanti...,” Berita Harian, 11 July 2004, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Karim Iskandar, “Nasi Padang,” Berita Minggu, 8 November 1998, 14. (From NewspaperSG)
6. “Warung Sumber Rezeki Keluarga.”
7. “Warung Sumber Rezeki Keluarga.”
8. Iskandar, “Nasi Padang.”
9. Ervina Mohd Jamil, “Ini Nasi Padang Yang Kusuap,” Berita Harian, 13 April 2014, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
10. Ow Kim Kit, Delicious Heirlooms: Stories behind Singapore’s Oldest Family-Run Restaurants (Singapore: Straits Times Press, 2019), 122 (Call no. RSING 647.955957 OW); Eunice Quek, “Get a Taste of Heritage at Asian Masters,” Straits Times, 17 February 2019.
11. Batcha, “Tak Sabar Menanti....”
12. Iskandar, “Nasi Padang.”
13. Batcha, “Tak Sabar Menanti....”
Melody Zaccheus, “New Book Captures Stories of 10 of Singapore’s Well-Known Family Restaurants,” Straits Times, 16 February 2019. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
The information in this article is valid as at May 2019 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
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