PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A few years ago, Nazri Jameson was at a loose end. The culinary arts graduate had worked in a couple of restaurants, but was not sure what to do next. His brother-in-law suggested he look into pulled meats. Nazri turned to the Internet and quickly became fascinated by what he saw. Soon, he had developed a full-blown obsession with churning out perfectly barbecued briskets.
Brisket is a notoriously tough piece of meat to work with, as it has to be cooked right to yield tender, gelatinous meat. Nazri took this task to heart, spending close to five months honing his barbecued brisket and using up nearly 120kg of meat in an attempt to achieve his vision of perfection.
"Those were very dark times. But again, it was an obsession, so I worked and worked on it day and night and tried to perfect it, and it took about five to six months before I could say, 'Okay, I think we can sell this'," he says.
So with his brother-in-law and a German friend, he started Beard Brothers' BBQ, working out of his wife's grandmother's house and taking orders from interested customers.
Fast forward four years and Beard Brothers' has moved to a proper commercial lot in Tropicana Avenue in Petaling Jaya. Nazri also has new partners (all have beards, in case you are wondering), in the form of another brother-in-law, Sayf Taufik, and good friend Afif Ter.
Business at Beard Brothers' has been pretty brisk. On an average day, they sell about 95kg to 100kg of meat, and this volume increases to about 130kg over the weekends. Queues are fairly common and often, they sell out by 8pm.
To begin with, he invested in a custom-made 1.2-tonne smoker. His meats are cooked using the smoker and wood - in this case, local rubber and mangrove wood.
"There was a time when we were using hickory and maple wood. And I thought to myself, 'Malaysia is a land full of trees - why are we not using local wood?' So we tested out 10 to 12 kinds of wood and the end result was quite good, actually," he says.
The meat goes into the smoker at 8pm, which is when Nazri's graveyard shift team comes in. Nazri is so particular about the quality of the meat that he stays overnight too. From then on, it is all about tending to the meat - checking it constantly to ensure the temperature is right.
At 8am the next morning, the meat is taken out of the smoker and left to rest for three to four hours before the eatery opens at noon.
"When people start streaming in, all we have to do is cut the meat - so it looks simple, but there's hours and hours of work behind it. People still don't know that. They think it's just slapping meat on a barbecue," says Nazri.
Nazri recommends 100g portions for singletons and more if there are more than two people eating. The beef short ribs, however, generally weigh in at about 300g a piece, so you will probably have to order that much to get a single portion.
You can also get a set meal for an extra RM7, which bags you mashed potatoes, coleslaw, baked beans, a potato bun and a drink from local outfit Pop, My Soda.
If you are feeling particularly ravenous, you can order the Triple Threat Platter (RM125), which comprises 100g brisket, 100g pulled lamb, a beef short rib as well as four side dishes.