MALAYSIA IS OF COURSE A LAND DOMINATED BY THE MALAY RACE, SO MALAY COOKING IS PRETTY DOMINANT HERE. The Malay cuisine itself varies from region to region, with the Kelantanese cuisine emphasizing on sweetish taste due to the liberal use of coconut milk and sugar, while Kedah food is spicier owing to the Indian influence since centuries ago. Nasi Lemak, a hearty meal comprising coconut rice, a slice of omelette, anchovies, a slice of cucumber and some chilli paste, and packed up in brown paper or banana leaf, is a popular Malay food. On the east coast, people dig nasi dagang, fragrant unpolished glutinous rice steamed with coconut milk and served with tuna fish curry. Nasi kerabu, another rice-based dish native to Kelantan, is served with local herbs and salted fish.
The most famous among tourists, however, is the satay -- skewed meat marinated in spices and grilled over charcoal fire. It is served with peanut gravy, rice cubes, cucumber and onions. If you spend enough time in the Malay restaurants of Kuala Lumpur, you are bound to hit upon this delicious dish.
Nyonya or Peanakan cuisine evolved out of a unique blend of Malay and Chinese cooking styles. It is characterized by sweet, sour, spicy and pungent flavors. Typical dishes include otak-otak (fish meat marinated in spices, wrapped in banana leaves and grilled) and itik tim (duck with salted vegetables. The cuisine is best tried in Nyonya restaurants which have become popular in recent years.
On the drinks and deserts side of things, chendol is a coconut milk beverage mixed with brown sugar (gula melaka), green starch strips and red beans. If you are more adventurous, try the "king of all fruits" -- that's right I am talking about the infamous durian. Love it or hate it this fruit cannot be ignored, and epitomises the "stranger than life" quality which is the East. Durians come creamy and fleshy with a big seed contained in several segments of one big, thorny fruit. It is said to be very healthy but the controversy of the durian lies in its toilet-like smell. "It smells like hell but tastes like heaven!" is a common assessment given by durian lovers. If you want to try durian remember that they are banned in many upmarket hotels due to that aforementioned obnoxious smell!
Istimewa D'Emas: Kelab Sultan Sulaiman, Jalan Dewan Sultan Sulaiman, Kampung Baru. Phone: 03/2698 3058.
Jiak Guan: 27 Tengkat Tong Shin. Phone: 03/2143 2287.
The most recent edition (March 22 2006) of Good Bites has a good story by Eu Hooi Khaw about this Penang style eatery in KL, Jiak Guan. Khaw writes: "Stand outside Jiak Guan and its moody blue facade with pink trimmings, its name written in bold Chinese calligraphy and the collapsible gate, takes you back to the Fifties. Step inside and you will meet the three surprisingly young owners of the restaurant that serves some Penang delicacies in this 70-year-old "townhouse" in Tengkat Tong Shin, Kuala Lumpur.
"It's the place to have a great Salted Fish Bone Curry, a to-die-for Mee Jawa, Coconut Curry Prawns, Sotong Kangkung, Sambal Fried Rice, Asam Laksa and all those Penang dishes you have been yearning for...
"Brian Chew, Yeoh Ooi Sim and Ooi Eng Hooi are all in their early 30s. Chew is married to Yeoh and they both look after the front of the house while Ooi is the chef."
Some of the other meals which Ooi dishes up here includes mango kerabu, rojak, dragonfruit softshell crab, seafood lam mee, inche kabin (chunks of chicken marinated with lemongrass, lengkuas, turmeric powder, deepfried and then served with Worcestershire sauce dip) and Sioh Chicken.
Khaw writes: "The Sioh Chicken reminded me of something my mum, who was Nyonya, used to cook for the family. It's chicken marinated with taucheo and coriander seeds or ketumbar. You would get the aromatic bursts of ketumbar in this chicken in a thick sauce that is hot, sour and sweet. The "sour" element is never far away in Ooi's food, which makes it all the more appealing."
Go check out that Good Bites story for more information -- better yet head out to Jiak Guan and sample the goodness first hand, from the very source.
Kelab Sultan Sulaiman: Jalan Dewan Sultan Sulaiman, Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur. Phone: 03/2697 3870.
The Harian Metro Online reports: "Ini kerana tempat itu menjadi kawasan berkumpul orang Melayu daripada pelbagai pertubuhan dan aliran untuk menentang pembentukan Malayan Union yang bertujuan menghapuskan keistimewaan bangsa dan raja Melayu pada 1946.
"Di tengah gelora dan semangat membara itu, mulai 1 Mac 1946, pemimpin masyarakat Melayu mengadakan kongres sehingga tercetusnya idea penubuhan Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu (Umno) sebelum ia dilancarkan pada 11 Mei tahun sama.
"Bukan saja pemimpin seperti Datuk Onn Jaafar (Allahyarham) dan Tun Ghafar Baba berhimpun di situ, malah raja Melayu turut tidak ketinggalan.
"Hari ini, selepas 59 tahun berlalu, kelab yang meninggalkan banyak kenangan itu masih ada daya tarikan. Selain pelbagai kemudahan disediakan untuk orang ramai beriadah dan rekreasi, sebuah restoran iaitu Restoran Al�E�E�E�fAmo menjadi tumpuan terbaru.
"Restoran itu, yang dibuka pada 11 Ogos lalu, menawarkan 50 menu tempatan dan Barat yang lazat. Sambil menjamu selera, pengunjung dapat menyaksikan pemandangan menarik Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) dan kawasan sekitar.
"Pemiliknya, Zaharin Hussin, berkata kewujudan restoran itu menjadi tarikan terbaru pengunjung ke KSS yang menyimpan 1,001 kenangan.
"Katanya, selain menjamu selera, pengunjung boleh melihat sejarah dan perancangan kelab itu hingga ke hari ini.
"Mengenai menu istimewa, pengunjung mesti mencuba nasi brylamo yang sungguh lazat.
"Ia mengandungi ayam, udang atau daging (dendeng) yang dicampur dengan rempah-ratus seperti bunga lawang, kulit kayu manis, bunga cengkih dan jintan.
Nasi brylamo adalah hasil idea Chef Khairuddin Kamarudin, iaitu campuran menu Brunei, Indonesia dan Malaysia. Selain dicampur dengan enam jenis rempah, ia dimasak menggunakan air ketumbar bagi menaikkan bau dan rasa yang sedap,�E�E�E�h katanya.
"Restoran itu yang dibuka dari jam 12 tengah hari hingga 10.30 malam bermula dengan bufet, minum petang dan ala carte.
"Untuk memeriahkan suasana, setiap malam bermula jam 9 pengunjung disajikan dengan persembahan kumpulan muzik serta pelawak, Yusof Chong.
"Sajian bufet berharga RM20 untuk ahli dan RM22 bukan ahli kelab, dengan pelbagai hidangan menyelerakan seperti kari kepala ikan, rendang daging, sambal udang dan sotong, soto, puding serta buah-buahan.
"Pengunjung yang tidak mahu menjamu selera dengan bufet boleh memilih ala carte yang bermula dari RM5 hingga RM22.
"Antara menunya ialah asam pedas cili (RM18), ayam masak lemak cili api (RM7), ikan masak stim (RM18), kari kepala ikan tenggiri/merah (RM18), kangkung belacan (RM4), nasi goreng kampung (RM5), nasi goreng kerabu (RM5), mi goreng mamak (RM5), mi hailam (RM5), sayur campur (RM5.50), kari kepala ikan (RM20) dan nasi brylamo (RM20).
"Mereka yang ingin mencuba menu Barat atau selain di atas boleh mencuba menu seperti lamb chop (RM18), sirlion steak (RM18), T Bone steak (RM20), spaghetti bolognaise (RM8), chef�E�E�E�fs salad (RM4), soto Madura (RM4), sup cendawan (RM4), golden chicken wing (RM12) dan garlic bread (RM3.50).
"Zaharin berkata, walaupun baru dibuka, harga ditawarkan sederhana dan semua golongan mampu merasai makanan di restoran itu.
"Selain makanan, tidak lengkap jika tiada minuman dan pengunjung boleh memilih pelbagai minuman sama ada panas atau sejuk seperti teh ais (RM2), jus buah-buahan (RM3.50), air batu campur (RM3.50) teh tarik, Nescafe, Milo dan Horlick (RM1.50).
Kelantan Delights: Shop 418-419, Suria KLCC 4th Floor. Phone: 03/2163 4166. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is said to be one of the great Malay restaurants of Kuala Lumpur, situated inside one of the coolest buildings in the world -- the Twin Towers! As Malaysian residents will remember, Kelantan Delights used to have a stall in the food court where their legendary nasi dagang was the talk of the town (source: Fried Chillies.Com. Business must have been so good, they moved up to the classy restaurant section of KLCC on the fourth floor. Now as well as fine Malay food you get fine Malay ambience, such as only a self-contained restaurant can provide.
On the menu include such treats as kerabu pucuk paku ((Malay salad with fresh kampung vegetables, lime juice. onion slices and grated coconut), daging bakar (wood-fired roast beef with sambal), kerutuk and patin Assam pedas (spicy fish with high grade rice, cucumber and fresh vegetables).
Nonetheless, the nasi dagang remains the most popular dish at Kelantan Delights.
So far this review has been glowing, but not all diners have been delighted by Kelantan Delights. I found this opinion on Makansakan: "Prices are around the area of RM40+ (I can't recall the exact price, sorry), and I only went there because I was desperate, had luggage in tow and a bus to catch.
"There aren't that many Kelantanese dishes on offer (many a Kelantanese have told me that they'd never set foot in the place), it was more nasi campur on steroids. The most memorable part of that meal was the kuih raya, but in hindsight, it was more the novelty than anything else.
"Major downside: I expected that a local cuisine buffet would have teh tarik on tap. They didn't and they actually charge if you ask for it."
That's the good, the bad, and the ugly about Kelantan Delights.
Lee Nasi Lemak Ayam Panas: next to the "Jolly Green Giant", Bangsar Baru. Phone: 012/313 0796.
Open all night to feed all the hungry clubbers returning from their adventures in KL. As the name suggests, the speciality in this house is nasi lemak ayam panas (coconut-fragrant rice served with freshly-fried chicken, sambal ikan bilis, sliced cucumber, peanuts and fried eggs). Situated near the pondok polis.
Madam Kwan's: Suria KLCC 4th Floor, shop #420. Phone: 03/2026 2297.
A Malay favorite and one of the most popular restaurants in KL, pretty close to the similarly excellent Kelantan Delights. This is a little on the expensive side, with dishes costing between US$10 and US$20 -- you could safely eat on the street for a quarter of this price but if you want excellence and air-conditioned comfort, come to Madam Kwan's! Must-try's include their fried chicken, beef rendang and hokkien noodles, while the sweet dessert sago melaka is just the thing to finish a great meal. Dragontml wrote: "This is the kind of place that you'll probably meet friends with, come with the family once in a while or just when you have that plain craving for good Nyonya Chinese fusion cuisine.
"Nasi Bojari is a type of Indonesian coloured rice that comes with Assam prawns, beef rendang and deep fried chicken drumsticks. Or give the Nasi Lemak a try! It's rice cooked with coconut milk. Usually eaten with hard-boiled egg, cucumber, fried anchovies and sambal. For desserts, there's the typical ice campur, cendol, bubur cha-cha or sago gula Melaka to complete your Nyonya Melaka dinner experience."
More recently (April 24, 2007), the Travelling Hungryboy wrote: "They do serve a full spread of various noodle dishes and the like, but what these guys are really known for is the nasi lemak. It's not quite your standard serving with the usual fried chicken and ikan bilis: these guys provide some tender chicken stewed in a rich coconut gravy that pairs well with the delicate yet tasty rice. I didn't even bother with those pickles on the side.
"I'm not too sure how the rest of the food fares here though; I usually just get this. Admittedly, the luster has faded a bit for me after having eaten it a number of times now, but it is a unique thing that I really liked the first time I had it..."
Nasi Lemak Tanglin: Lake Gardens, near the Bukit Aman police headquarters and also near the KL Bird Park and Islamic Museum.
I believe I stopped here in May 2005 because after a long walk across the heart of KL, I was exhausted -- I needed to replenish on a can of Cola or soy milk, I can't quite remember! Next time I am in the area I will definitely dine here as well because this place is meant to be slamming in the food department! Shiewie writes: "The texture of the rice at Nasi Lemak Tanglin is excellent -- I haven't been in a while but a phone call to a friend who just went there for breakfast yesterday confirmed that it's still as good -- wonderfully al-dente rice -- the grains of rice are separate and do not stick together. Nasi Lemak Tanglin used to be the highlight of my Saturday mornings on the way to work - some offices here are open on Saturdays."
Pinang Masak: Langkat Tunku in the complex apartment near Jalan Duta. Phone: 03/6201 1964.
Recently opened (2006), Pinang Masak is a cafe which aims to serve food crafted from "traditional kampung recipes". Some of the dishes said to be good here include laksa Penang and lontong Singapore. Other dishes on the menu are mee kari, laksa Johor, mee rebus, roti jala, bubur, pulut kuning with rendang or sambal and, of course, that great Malay classic, satay! The desserts are pretty cool too!
This place is open from 7am to 7pm, closed Sundays and public holidays.
Senja Restaurant: Level 4, Suria KLCC. Phone: 03/382 0780.
Some of the types of delicious Malay food here include: sambal udang berserai, daging goreng berlada, kerabu sotong, jelatah jantung pisang, ayam masak opor, daging goreng berlada, sambal goreng ikan bilis dan kacang, and many more. You have been informed!
Soo Kee Restaurant: Jalan Imbi.
Do not let the simple wooden tables and chairs fool you: this place serves the best Malaysian Hakka dishes in Kuala Lumpur! Especially well known are the lobster noodles.
Songkhla Hawker: Jalan Sultan Sulaiman, in front of the post office, Chow Kit. (Turn a half-block east at the Pizza Hut on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.)
This review written by John Krich in The Asian WSJ (15 Nov 2002):
"I'm relieved that much of this amazing stall, claiming a whole corner of a broad side street in the Chow Kit neighborhood, is more or less in the dark. Because much of the food here is as indescribable as it is unfamiliar. I could see that I was served a plate of lemongrass-charged rice, nasi kerabu, topped with grated coconut. But I had to be told that the rice was blue, a north-eastern specialty achieved with natural coloring.
"The many cloaked and shy Malay ladies who ply their trade here hail from Malaysia's northernmost states of Kelantan and Kedah. Hence, loyal regulars have named the business after the Thai border town of Songkhla, and many dishes show a Thai influence-such as the beef curries and a fiery green mango salad, pounded to order with chilies and dried shrimps in a mortar a la Bangkok.
"While there are only a few stunted plastic tables for diners, there are three sections to this ambitious sidewalk enterprise. One wing consists of numerous, spice-charged stews, including a coconut-tinged tuna curry. Another wing holds fresh roasted cockles that promise an intense burst of mollusk flavor. Sewing up Songkhla Hawker's selection is a central section displaying an astounding assortment of sweets. The main materials at hand are tapioca and sago, banana and the nicely bitter molasses-like cane syrup Malaysians call gula melaka. But you don't need names here, just point and try, unless you like the sound of ordering bubur chacha -- a porridge featuring sweet colored nubs that resemble green beans turned to candy..."
n a s i + l e m a k
MORE THAN A FEW PEOPLE HAVE CONSIDERED NASI LEMAK TO BE MALAYSIA'S NATIONAL DISH. But given that in other parts of this Uncloned World site I have given that distinction to both fish head curry and char kuey teow, it would be absurd for me to start claiming here that Malaysia's signature dish was nasi lemak. Rather I will say that this is one of the most popular meals in Malaysia, a simple yet delicious speciality found on menus in restaurants across Kuala Lumpur. You can't visit Malaysia without trying it at least once! On the other hand, if you are Malaysian or if you live in Malaysia, you will be wanting to know the best places to find nasi lemak in KL. This site is for both of you. Or rather all three of you! But first, a basic intro into what nasi lemak is all about!
Dwayne A. Rules writes: "Simply rice cooked in coconut milk (knotted pandanus leaves and even ginger or a stalk of lemon grass may be tossed into the pot to add fragrance), imparting a creamy texture to the grains, nasi lemak is available on almost every street corner and in almost every local-themed restaurant, served with everything from chicken to beef to cuttlefish.
"It can be eaten at any time -- breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses (eds note: the second breakfast from Lords of the Rings fame), lunch, tea, dinner, supper, post-boozeup -- and the mingling of flavours and textures (creamy, hot & spicy, crunchy, nutty, etc) makes it simply -- sheer ambrosia. "
For those folks interested in studying Bahasa Malaysia, it should be noted that nasi lemak literally means "rice rich" or "rich rice". There is certainly a rich variety of ingredients which can be bundled into your basic nasi lemak dish. The aforequoted Dwayne goes on to list some of the essential and optional ingredients which go into the manufacture of slamming nasi lemak: fried ikan bilis (anchovies), fried peanuts, cucumber slices, wedges of hardboiled egg, sambal (a kind of cooked chili paste, plain with onions or with ikan bilis thrown into the mix), chicken/beef/mutton curry or rendang (we are moving from the essential to the optional side of the equation now!), cuttlefish sambal, chicken liver and gizzard curry, fried chicken, fried cow lung (paru), begedil (potato cutlets sometimes mixed with minced meat), dried prawns sambal (some non-halal outlets cook this with minced pork), cockles in sambal, stewed kangkong (water spinach), and so on, and on...
Some of the best places you can find nasi lemak in Kuala Lumpur are:
City Garden Cafe: Kg. Baru.Kelab Sultan Sulaiman.
Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa: Kg. Baru.
Nasi Lemak Cikgu: Map: Click here.
This seems to be a popular place for Malaysia's most beloved dish.
Nasi Lemak Tanjung Puteri: 173A Jalan Sri Hartamas 2, Sri Hartamas.
This recommendation comes from the ever reliable Fried Chillies. The Foodster reports: "Sometimes, when I feel like winding down at a nice place, I go to Tanjung Puteri. First things first, they have a very nice night ambience. Although Nasi Lemak Tanjung Puteri is just a stall, they managed to have this old traditional look. The tables were lit with carbait candle glass. The chef and waiters wear aprons, chef hats and stuff. Looks nice. Even had Nat King Cole playing on the background. You can take a number of lauks with your nasi lemak. They have sambal udang, rendang ayam, paru and others. Actually, it's the sambal petai (which they generously serve on my plate) which makes it different. The other factor is the slow music and passing night....
Nasi Lemak Tanglin: Jalan Tanglin, (behind the Butterfly Farm), Lake Gardens.
Here is another recommendation from Fried Chillies (especially praised are the beef and liver sambal): "These people have been serving nasi lemak for about thirty years. If you're unlucky, you'll be waiting in a long morning queue. You should try their beef liver sambal. Packs quite a punch. Amazingly, try the nasi lemak with some smooth tea served in a kopitiam teacup. It will surprise you!.
Rempah Ratus: Bandar Puchong Jaya. Puchongspider writes: "Anyway, there's one new restaurant in Bandar Puchong Jaya claiming to serve the best nasi lemak in town called Rempah Ratus. Their rice is a bit special, not the normal one u get everywhere. A lot of add ons to choose from. I really like their nasi dagang with the gulai ikan tongkol, best! They also serve pulut kuning, mee rebus johor etc. Open daily from 8am till 10 or 11 pm. Harga - very reasonable.
i k a n + t e n g i r i
IN QUITE A FEW RESTAURANTS AND MALAY/NYONYA EATERIES IN KUALA LUMPUR YOU WILL FIND THE DISH IKAN TENGGIRI ON THE MENU. So what is up with this -- what is ikan tenggiri, what does it taste like it, should I scoff it when I am in Malaysia, and where can I get it? This website is an attempt to answer these questions.
Ikan tengirri is basically Spanish Mackerel (otherwise known as Chub Mackerel in the United States.) This dish is popular in the Malay world, which according to my definitions, includes Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. Possibly The Philippines exhibits Malay qualities, but I am not sure if they eat ikan tenggiri over there on those fertile shores. Perhaps they do, and perhaps they don't.