A couple weeks ago we found ourselves at Empire Shopping Gallery in Subang during dinner time, the girls decided that we should dine at Serai. A decision I very much supported since Malay restaurants that serves made to order food aren’t exactly the most common type of eateries in the country, and it’s been a while since I went to one. (Alicafe TigaRasa at USJ)
Serai at Empire Shopping Gallery
According to Horng, the restaurant was pretty quiet the first time they tried a month or two ago, but steadily picked up returning customers over that period of time. By now, you often need to wait for a bit to get a seat during busy weekend dinner hours.
Interior decoration is pretty classy, menu easy to read, and the servers seemed to be quite well trained. It is quite similar in setting to some of the more successful modern restaurants in the country, ie: Madam Kwan, Ben’s, etc. Not a bad thing I must say.
deep fried brinjal with spices, our favorite of the day
The menu weren’t super extensive, but covers most of the popular local dishes you’d expect.
The first dish that was served to us was the deep fried brinjal with spices (RM 15). Thinly sliced brinjal deep fried with sugar, spices, and chili, the combination was superb and instantly became one of the very few culinary surprises that I experienced this year.
I highly recommend this dish.
steamed siakap with lime sauce, tomyam seafood, chicken with dried chili
Tomyam seafood (RM 22) here was not particularly spicy, but did come with plenty of seafood ingredients and carries a pretty good aroma with distinctive good tomyam sourness. This is very good for those who can’t have it too spicy and still want to enjoy tomyam closest to it’s pure form.
We were delighted by the steamed sea bass with lime sauce (RM 54.99), the fish was fresh and tasty, but the real winner here is the soup base – it was very flavorful and very sour, so much so that it actually overlapped the tomyam a little bit, not that we minded. The only problem with this dish is for the budget conscious, for over RM 50 a pop, it’s definitely not cheap.
Chicken with dried chili (RM 15) turned out to be just a kung pao chicken dish basically. It was decent, but lack the kick and spiciness that I usually expect from it.
deep fried salted egg with squid, berry pavlova
The deep fried salted egg with squid (RM 20), another classic Chinese tai chao dish that isn’t always available at Malay restaurants, is perhaps the only dish that disappointed me. It was a bit too wet, sweet, and too chewy for my liking. Your experience might vary.
For dessert lovers, the pavlova (14.8) is something to check out. It was sweet, crunchy, and simply delicious. The experience was like the best of macaroon, strawberry, and cake toppings all in one. I’m not a dessert lover, but this one I don’t mind at all, it was delicious!
While there are some creative and interesting drinks at Serai, they certainly don’t come cheap. Serai iced tea was RM 12 each, and milky bandung will cost you RM 8.5. Even though the iced tea comes with fresh lemongrass and a scoop of lime ice cream, I felt that it is still a bit too pricey for that sort of setting, if you don’t want to burst your budget, there’s always ice water.
Ultimately, while Serai at Empire is not the most budget friendly of restaurants, the quality of food and ambiance make it a place worth visiting, so if you are looking for some modern Malay cuisine, this is certainly a place to check out