'Not being clever' to Nasi Beriani boss: Amer cooks up success despite Dyslexia

Amer is living proof that people with dyslexia can achieve success in their lives too.

19 May 2024 01:00pm
Amer Adham - Photo by Bernama
Amer Adham - Photo by Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR - Amer Adham Kamaruddin constantly felt inferior and miserable when he was in primary school because he could not keep up with his classmates in learning.

At the age of eight, he still could not read and write fluently. By then, he was diagnosed with dyslexia but he continued to feel different from his peers and often tried to isolate himself out of embarrassment.

Timely intervention by his mother, who patiently taught him to read every day at home, enabled Amer to improve his reading skills little by little by the time he was in Year 3 of primary school.

As he grew older, he became determined not to let his "disability” negatively impact his life. Today, at 23, he is an entrepreneur running a thriving café in Batu Caves, Selangor.

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. According to the US-based International Dyslexia Association, with the right instruction, almost all individuals with dyslexia can learn to read. Research also indicates that dyslexia has no relationship to intelligence.


Amer is living proof that people with dyslexia can achieve success in their lives too.

As his reading and writing skills improved while schooling, his confidence level soared as well. When he was in secondary school, he tried to identify his strengths whilst mulling over career opportunities.

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He chose culinary arts, which was hardly surprising as his family members are good cooks and known for their nasi beriani gam Johor, a dish Amer referred to as "our family legacy”.

"I’ve been exposed to the culinary world since young... that’s how I became interested in cooking,” he told Bernama.

After completing his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination, Amer studied culinary arts at a private college in Subang Jaya.

Since culinary knowledge extended beyond theory to practical sessions, it was easy for Amer to master the preparation of various dishes.

Subsequently, he worked at a five-star hotel here but was laid off during the movement control order period (2020-2021).

For Amer, it was the springboard for bigger achievements.

"I decided to start a food delivery business from my home. I prepared a variety of rice-based and western dishes... with the help of my family and close friends, we delivered the food directly to our customers in the Klang Valley,” said the father-of-one, who promoted his business on Facebook.


Amer, who can now read and write well, said the response from his customers was overwhelmingly positive and far exceeded his expectations. His success inspired him to open a restaurant, which he named Café Dyslexia, in Bangi, Selangor, in 2022.

"Unfortunately, I had to close it down after a year as its location was not very strategic. It was also far from my home (in Batu Caves) which made it difficult for me and my family to manage the café properly,” he said.

Early this year, he returned to the restaurant business by opening one, also named Café Dyslexia, at Pusat Perdagangan Selaseh in Batu Caves.

"This location is more strategic (than the previous one) and there are a lot of people there. Our new menu is also more extensive, offering three types of cuisines - Malay, Chinese and Western. We also offer a variety of desserts,” said Amer, attributing the café’s establishment to the support of his family.

The café, open from 7 am to 11 pm daily except on Wednesday, is usually packed with customers during breakfast, lunch and dinner, a clear testament to its good food.

Most of the items in the menu as well as their recipes were Amer’s own ideas and creations. He is assisted in the kitchen by four chefs, each specialising in various areas including pastry making.

His signature offerings are Middle East braised shank, ribeye steak, sirloin steak and teriyaki salmon with soba noodles while customer favourites include sirloin steak, dim sum and daging salai masak lemak cili padi.


Curious customers often ask Amer why his restaurant is named Cafe Dyslexia and he tells them openly that he has dyslexia.

He said his café, indirectly, helps him to share information about dyslexia with the community, adding it is also a good platform to encourage society to accept people having this condition.

"People without knowledge of dyslexia may simply dismiss it as ‘not being clever’ if their child has the condition. We want parents to come forward and not be ashamed of their child’s condition.

"People like me need the support of our families and the community so that we can become independent and succeed like other individuals,” he said. - BERNAMA