I still remember the first time having a taste of buttermilk chicken in one of the most popular restaurants in Subang Jaya—Gold Chili.
Although the restaurant was packed with people, and my friends and I had to wait for a table, we all sensed that it would be worth the wait.
As a fan of salted egg yolk everything, I was skeptical about how good buttermilk could actually be, but the first bite totally changed my perception. The smooth butter coupled with the dash of spiciness and on top of the fried chicken was a combo only the gods of cooking could dream of.
At that time, I fell in love with buttermilk chicken and went back to Gold Chili almost every week for 6 months.
“All our food is inspired to attract Malaysians, and we call ourselves a Malaysian restaurant,” said Jason Tan, the marketing manager of Gold Chili.
Gold Chili was officially established in 2003 with their very first branch at USJ 21. A lot of people have a misconception that the popular SS15 branch is the “original” one, but it is in fact their second branch.
The USJ 21 branch was opened 16 years ago and only after 3 years of operations did the founders take a leap of faith and expand their business to SS15. Gold Chili currently has four branches, with the third one at USJ 19 City Mall and the fourth is a new one in SS15.
Founded by Chow Chet Pin and co-founded by Harry Huang—now both in their 50s—they manage almost everything in the business from HR and the day-to-day operations of the multiple branches.
One would think Gold Chili is famous because of their buttermilk dishes but, we were told that back then when they began, their best seller was their Portuguese Seafood Grill, which is still on their menu. Their buttermilk dishes introduced in a “new” menu after some time operating, and from then on, buttermilk became their signature dish.
Jason estimates that on a daily basis, Gold Chili sells around 400–500 plates of buttermilk dishes across all branches.
The founders take pride in making sure customers are happy with the food and are always on the lookout for ways to improve.
“Knowing what customers are looking for is very important, we constantly obtain feedback from customers and improve ourselves from their opinion,” explained Jason.
They take feedback from their customers so seriously that they will be opening another branch in SS15. The second SS15 branch will be located not far from the original one as it is a 5-minute walk away.
They’ve been receiving requests for more locations as customers are always waiting for a space in their SS15 branch and sometimes queues can take up to half an hour during peak hours.
“Some people want to eat but they can’t wait, so instead of trying other locations why not open another branch here?” Jason explained.
The business was purely funded by the founders themselves through their own savings and the profits that the business generates are reinvested back. Furthermore, Gold Chili doesn’t spend a lot on renovations and interior design of their outlets—they let their food do the talking.
“We don’t spend much on the renovation, people come for the food, not for your renovation. We just do it nice and simple,” said Jason.
Although their SS15 outlet is always filled with customers, they didn’t get the same response when they tried to expand outside of Subang Jaya. In 2006, Gold Chili opened an outlet in Kota Raya and had to shut it down after a few months as they didn’t get as much traffic as they expected.
It didn’t stop there as their second venture outside of Subang Jaya was also a flop when they opened in Times Square last year.
Jason told us that they have lost plenty of money with their previous failures. They’re still exploring the market and realised that Subang Jaya is still their target market. With the success of their current SS15 branch, why not open another one?
However the Gold Chili team do have concerns as Asia Café has closed down and Taylor’s College has moved out of SS15. They’re worried that there might be less of a crowd, so opening a second branch so near the first does have its own risks, despite being on their home ground of Subang.
The second SS15 branch was planned for opening in mid-January 2019 but there were some delays and they opened recently on February 9.
“We’ve also received a lot of requests to have more branches opened in Damansara, Shah Alam and other Klang Valley areas,” added Jason.
“We are doing our best to fulfill our customers demand in the near future and hopefully more branches will be opened soon!”
Editor’s Note: On their storefronts, Gold Chili’s name is spelled with a double “l”; however, we have clarified with the founders that their updated branding uses a single letter “l”.
If you would like to find out more about Gold Chili, you can visit their social media here.
Feature Image Credit: Gold Chili