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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / malay-food

After passing Jalan Semarak en route to work for the past 6 months or so, I finally decided to check out the wet market/medan selera look alike building at the intersection of Jalan Semarak and Jalan Padang Tembak in the morning.

It turned out to be another good food find.

Nasi Kerabu at Medan Selera Semarak
Nasi Kerabu at Medan Selera Semarak

Selera Semarak is one of the older type of food court serving mostly Malay and Mamak food. After scouting the place for a little bit, I decided to order nasi kerabu from the second stall on the right of the entrance.

the blue colored rice is the result of butterfly-pea flower (kembang telang)
the blue colored rice is the result of butterfly-pea flower (kembang telang)

For those who aren’t familiar with nasi kerabu, it is a traditional Kelantanese dish with the signature blue rice. The color is obtained from the buds of butterfly-pea flower (kembang telang), which also gives it a distinct aroma.

Chopped long bean, cabbage, coconut sambal, and keropok (prawn crackers) makes up the rest of the dish. I added a fried chicken drumstick for good measure.

a cacophony of flavors, perfect for breakfast
a cacophony of flavors, perfect for breakfast 

I really liked the coconut sambal though it proved to be quite spicy, the aroma of blue rice and freshness of those vegetable made this a pretty awesome dish. For about RM 5 including the chicken, this was definitely one of the better breakfasts I’ve had in recent time.

map to Selera Semarak

Address:
Selera Semarak
Jalan Semarak
Kementah, Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.175878,101.720737
Hours: Breakfast and Lunch

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
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
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
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
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!

serai drinks

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

Empire Mall map

Address:
Serai
LG  37, Empire Shopping Gallery
47500 Subang Jaya
GPS: 3.082109, 101.582716
URL:: http://www.seraiempire.com.my>
Tel: 03-5611 3200

Serai Empire

Most of us know Alicafe as the tongkat ali infused canned coffee drinks. In fact, it is my favorite driving companion to keep me awake whenever I’m on one of those balik kampung drives on the highway.

There’s more than just drinks when it comes to this brand, now there’s an Alicafe TigaRasa restaurant. I was one of the lucky few who was invited to get a taste of what they have to offer just a few days ago.

Alicafe Tiga Rasa restaurant, at USJ Taipan
Alicafe Tiga Rasa restaurant, at USJ Taipan

Located at USJ Taipan, Alicafe TigaRasa restaurant offers Malay cuisine in a contemporary setting and pretty good range of menu. The restaurant is tastefully decorated, giving it a bit of a kampung feel, but of course, dining area’s air conditioned.

The kitchen area is separated by glass, you can actually see your food being cooked (side effect: they always have to keep the place spotlessly clean).

here's the tiga rasa secret - sambal lemak, gulai lemak, and hebi-hiam
here’s the TigaRasa secret – sambal lemak, gulai lemak, and hebi-hiam

Now here’s how this restaurant got it’s name, tiga sara (three flavors) – from the three different traditional Malay sauces:

  • Gulai Lemak – the creamy coconut based sauce with kunyit, sambal, and lemongrass. Rich and flavorful
  • Sambal Lemak – a classic with plenty of chili, garlic, some coconut milk, and other spices
  • Sambal Hebi-Hiam – now this one is interesting, hebi means dried shrimp and hiam translate to spicy in Hokkien. So yah, this is  inspired by Nyonya cuisine and prepared with dried shrimps, curry leaves, onions, garlic, and more.

ikan pari, grilled lamb, and grilled chicken in different sambal, vegetable too
ikan pari, grilled lamb, and grilled chicken in different sambal, vegetable

You can then mix and match the three sauces with ikan pari (stingray) or ikan selar (yellowtail scad), grilled lamb chop, grilled chicken, mixed grill, or mixed vegetables. For those who like it even hotter, you can always customize the order with added chili padi too.

I tried the three sauces with pari, mixed vegetable, and lamb, and it is pretty difficult to pick a favorite. Each one offers a different experience, but they share the same characteristic of being rich and flavorful. I like the fact that terung (brinjal) and other vegetable is added onto the meat/seafood dish too. Goes well with steamed rice.

siakap tomyam, curry fish head, and fried chicken
siakap tomyam, curry fish head, and fried chicken

Other than dishes prepared from those three sauces, Alicafe TigaRasa offers dishes such as siakap tomyam, curry fish head, fried chicken and more.

Saikap tomyam (barramundi) is deep fried but served with spicy tomyam sauce, and the curry fish head reminds me of my mom’s style of cooking, the Nyonya version of curry that is slightly milder (unlike some Indian style would) yet plenty delicious.

The fried chicken has a hint of belacan to it, a very different style from some of those “KFC copycats”, and definitely a taste that I’m familiar of from the mixture of Nyonya-Chinese style of food we get in Penang.

this whole set for 4 can be had for RM 69.90
this whole set for 4 can be had for RM 69.90

To be honest, I’m quite impressed with the food at Alicafe TigaRasa, they do fill a niche by offering mostly traditional Malay cuisine with some mixture of other tastes that is still very close to home.

For the puasa month, there’s special promotional set that starts from RM 10.90 that includes a drink, kurma dates, a main course, and Hokkaido cake as dessert. For family of four (or 5), a RM 69.90 set gets you siakap fish, fried chicken, scrambled egg, TigaRasa mix grilled vegetable, Hokkaido cakes, kurma dates, and Alicafe’s homemade Pati Kurma Madu drinks.

the desserts, and the leng lui is of course, Hanis
the desserts, and the leng lui is of course, Hanis

I can’t wait for  them to have more branches!

map to Alicafe tiga rasa restaurant

Address:
Alicafe TigaRasa Restaurant
No.8, Jalan USJ 10/1H,
Subang Business Centre,
47620 Selangor
GPS: 3.04817, 101.68677
Tel: 03-8011 9412

Alicafe TigaRasa

For tourists, Bukit Bintang area is all glitz and glamour, with many shopping malls and world class hotels.

In those malls and hotels there are secret walkways to transport goods and workers hidden from customers. On a bigger scale, Bukit Bintang itself too have hidden back roads and walk ways that are not readily visible to tourists. This post is sourced from one such places.

stall Adik Tomyam at medan selera behind Fahrenheit 88
stall Adik Tomyam at medan selera behind Fahrenheit 88

Sandwiched between Jalan Imbi and Jalan Bukit Bintang just behind Fahrenheit 88 (previously known as KL Plaza), there is an old, beat up medan selera that have definitely seen better days. Most tables and chairs are in the state of disrepair, the place is not properly lit, and half the stalls aren’t even in operation. Nevertheless, there are usually groups of mostly Malay working class people lunching there.

I wandered into the food court on one hot afternoon. Most of the stalls offer nasi kandar, which I wasn’t particularly interested at the time, until I walked to the last stall – Adik Tomyam. The only stall that prepares food on order.

nasi paprik ayam - check out the ingredients
nasi paprik ayam – check out the ingredients

The menu are quite standard, there’s Malay style tomyam, beef, chicken, or seafood cook in paprik (spicy), merah (red sauce), halia (ginger), kunyit (turmeric) etc, and several types of fried rice and noodle too.

My first try was sotong halia (ginger squid) and a telur dadar (omelet with onion) to go with rice, and then I return a couple days later for ayam paprik (chicken with spicy sauce).

sotong halia and telur dadar
sotong halia and telur dadar

It was out of my expectation, and easily the best looking made-to-order Malay food from any medan selera I’ve had. There’s a host of ingredients in each dish. The sotong halia had squid, chili padi, cauliflower, fried onion, ginger, garlic, parsley, and more. Paprid ayam came with chicken, ginger, spring onion, onion, long bean, lime leaf, carrot, cauliflower, garlic, and more…

So you can imagine that even though they are a single dish, there’s a lot of variety in them, and the sauce tastes damn good too! Oh, best of all, with the telur dadar and rice, the meal was still only RM 5.50.

I’m gonna order their tomyam next time.

map to Medan Selera behind Fahrenheit 88

Address
Adik Tomyam,
Medan Selera at Jalan Padang, Bukit Bintang
GPS: 3.145101, 101.713108
Tel: 012-3538 440

This blog is often criticized by many of my Muslim colleagues and friends for its lack of halal/pork free food content, well, here’s an entry that will perhaps right things a little. (wait, I do have a little less than 30% of my posts in this category, oh well..)

A couple weeks ago I was invited to a classy Malay restaurant hidden in the midst of the city for a food review - Songket restaurant.

Songkek restaurant at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
Songket restaurant at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng

Songket is actually a type of traditional Malay and Indonesian fabric that is hand woven in silk or cotton, and often with intricate gold or silver threads in them. In short, the restaurant, like the fabric, is one of class and quality.

Anyway, lets get on with the dishes!

satey & cucur udang, otak-otak, begedil
satey & cucur udang, otak-otak, begedil

We started out with appetizers, naturally.

There were satey ayam & daging (beef and chicken satey, RM 18) that is served with peanut sauce and some raw onion, cucumber, and ketupat, just like how they’re supposed to be. The meat were marinated properly, succulent and void of impurities like hard tendon or chicken skin, tasty.

Then there’s cucur udang (prawn fritters, RM 10) in light batter and home made chili sauce with a kick. I was happy that they also serve Northern style otak-otak (steamed fish cake, RM 12) with generous amount of seafood in it.

My favorite appetizer of the night though, has gotta be the begedil (deep fried potato cutlet RM 10) – it is basically deep fried mashed up potato with chicken (or meat). A little sweet, a little savory, and positively brilliant!

kerabu mangga, ayam sambal petai, ayam lemak asam gelugur
kerabu mangga, ayam sambal petai, ayam lemak asam gelugur

Kerabu mangga (raw mango salad, RM 12) is another Northern dish that is very similar to those found in Thailand, certainly appetizing.

I like the way they prepare the petai by splitting them into half and taking away the centre stem for the ayam sambal petai (chicken with bitter beans, RM 28) dish. Personally though, I still think that petai goes better with seafood instead of chicken, but this dish was actually not bad.

Ayam lemak asam gelugur (chicken with tumeric, coconut milk, curry gravy, RM 23) is a light curry dish that I thought could use a little more kick, I suppose this has to do with catering tourists, you should be able to ask for hotter version if only you ask.

nasi minyak, pandan nasi lemak, nasi kerabu
nasi minyak, pandan nasi lemak, nasi kerabu

We sampled 3 types of rice at Songket, the nasi minyak (oily rice, RM 6) goes well with curry dishes, pandan nasi lemak (RM 6) is aromatic with a light pandan taste, and nasi kerabu (rice with herbs and vegetables, RM 8 ) can almost be eaten just by its own. I would recommend any of these over the normal steamed rice.

ikan siakap masak manis, pucuk paku goreng, kari udang raja
ikan siakap masak manis, pucuk paku goreng, kari udang raja

Ikan siakap masak manis (sweet style barramundi, RM 60) definitely tastes like a traditional Malay dish, the fish was fresh, and tomato, chili, onion, and other ingredients complimented the seafood perfectly, I like it.

My favorite dish of the day though, has gotta be pucuk paku goreng (stir fry wild fern, RM 12), the texture of fern and its taste are something that can’t be substituted by another vegetable. Chili, garlic, shallots, and a few shrimps made up the rest of this fabulous dish. This is a must-order.

For those who wants the ultra luxurious dish, there’s the kari udang raja (king prawn in curry, RM 75). The prawns were definitely huge, and there were some eggplants to go with in the rich, thick, curry.

rusuk panggang (chargrilled marinated short ribs)
rusuk panggang (chargrilled marinated short ribs)

Rusuk Panggang (chargrilled marinated short ribs, RM 60) is dish not to be missed by any meat lovers. The marinate as well as the grilling were perfect. As a result, the ribs were really tender to the point where you can cut it just by using the spoon. The flavor too were absolutely marvelous. Best of all, this is served with the same begedil that I really like.

durian tiramisu, sago gula melaka, pandan pudding
durian tiramisu, sago gula melaka, pandan pudding

Then it was time for desserts.

For the durian lovers, you must not miss the durian tiramisu (RM 15), rich, creamy, and full with that unmistakable durian aroma that will probably prevent you from taking this to your hotel room.

The sago gula melaka (RM 10) is a classic, with plenty of sago swimming in coconut milk and palm sugar beneath it, another rich dessert. Pandan pudding (RM 10) is well, a pandan infused pudding with palm sugar. After the other two desserts, this one came across without much excitement for me.

traditional dance, KY & Haze at Songkek restaurant
traditional dance, KY & Haze at Songket restaurant

Songket is not just about food, if you stay a little longer on Mon-Sat, by 9pm there are traditional dance performances of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and native origins. A pretty cool show especially if you happen to have foreigner friends.

The prices at Songket is definitely a little on the high side, but the food quality, ambiance, and all the extras that were thrown in definitely make this a place worthy of a visit especially if you’re looking for fine Malay cuisine.

map to songkek restaurant

Address:Songket Restaurant & Bar
29 Jalan Yap Kwan Seng,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.162557, 101.714998
Tel: 03 2161 3331