"You know they use good stock for the rice"
It's hard to find halal nasi ayam hawkers that has been serving 'kai fan' for a long time, and it is even harder to find one that is Halal. This one is. Laily's customers are old timers and even kids whom has grown up eating her chicken rice. Nasi Ayam Laily is located at the SS15 Subang Jaya Food Court called the Square. A typical chicken rice here will consist of a plate of roasted chicken, a bowl of chicken broth, a plate of rice with cucumber slices and of course, garlic chili paste for that extra kick. No steamed version but just as good.
They don't make chicken rice like Kak Laily's anywhere else. The rice is delicious and flavourful. You can taste the chicken stock in the rice, not too overpoweringl, just right. The tender chicken is glazed slightly with honey and roasted crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. We suspect that the chicken is semi-boiled, semi-roasted and then fried in a huge wok to give it the nice distinctive Laily flavour. On top of the chicken, light soya sauce is poured.
"You sweat like a horse and come out smelling like fish"
It's noon and you are craving for some really good ikan bakar. What are you going to do? You can either drive down to Umbai, Port Dickson or opt to stay in the state and drive behind Istana Negara at Jalan Bellamy. People from all over town congregate here to eat ikan bakar from three stalls that specialises on ikan bakar . At noon, this place gets really packed. The only place to park your car is on top of a tree. By two o'clock, most of the ikan bakar would have probably sold out.
The stall on the left is Ikan Bakar Jaafar and on the right Ikan Bakar Ramli (rightmost corner where the Air Batu Campur is). Lets talk about ikan bakar Ramli. New to the ikan bakar business, Ramli started selling ikan bakar here only a couple of years ago although their family has been in the food business for years. Now, there are two things that make ikan bakar stalls distinctive. One is the kuah/sauce thay they prepare and the other how well you grill the fish. Ramli's stall serve you two different types of kuah whereas the others have only one. The sour hot chili sauce is a mixture of soya sauce and their secret ingredients whereas their other sauce is a mixture of sour tomato sauce, limau kasturi, belacan and their 'other' secret ingredients. To those of you with a butter tongue or cannot take chili, this is good news because you can opt for the tomato sauce. Ikan bakar goes great with sour sauces. Either way, both sauces are very delicious and distinctive.
"We haven't even gotten to the banana leaf yet"
This is a humble little place in Bangsar that consistently serves good Indian food from breakfast to lunch. The sign on the restaurant used to say "Banana Leaf Cuisine" but no longer. You see, if you come in the morning for the thosai, roti telur, appams and a round of teh tarik, you will not be disappointed either. If you come late, be prepared to wait. So not only is their banana leaf good, their morning dishes are delish as well.
Word has it that the owner used to work with an automobile company and one fine day, he gave that up to open a restaurant. His first shot at running a restaurant was in Rawang, with recipes and the cooking skills of his wife and mother-in-law. Great cooks, especially those who cook homemade recipes are always a foodies' dream, and naturally Nirwana's Rawang outlet was a success. In 2001, Nirwana Maju was set up in Bangsar and from the day it opened, it has been pulling in Indian food lovers around town! Kachiiinnggg!!!!.... They deserved it. Read up to see whats good at Nirwana....
Breakfast time.... there are a few must haves here. The roti canai, roti telur, appam, thosai, vadai are all good selections. What makes their roti canai different from the rest of the Indian restaurants is that the roti is softer, fluffier and tastier than the rest. Perhaps they knead the dough longer, use better flour, put stuff in... we don't know but it is good. Try the roti telur with some additional ingredients. Tell the waiter 'cili bawang'. "Cili Bawang!" ....they know what you mean. This one is dee-li-cious with some fish curry and fried chicken. One of our morning favourites.
"There's always something new at Williams"
I was eating excellent seafood pasta. In fact, I was totally ignoring the pasta and instead am stuck in the fish. The large chunk in the middle of the plate is so good I am moving the plate away from my fellow diners afraid that they might want more of it. Some nights it’s just lightly cooked in the thick sauce and incredibly fresh. On this night there is a light crust on top of the fish which adds ridiculous, delicious dimensions to this dish.
Oh… there’s more my friends, the mussels with it are huge and fresh and then there’s the squid, called sotong bang bang stuffed with delicious things. It’s soft when you cut it and as you chew the stuffing will ooze into your mouth creating quite a tongue thrill. All this tossed with fettucini cooked in a thick mama mia tomato sauce and cilli padi. I’m moving the plate further away. Someone tries to take a piece of the squid. I smack them back.
We were not in some five-star restaurant. We were in true Malaysian fashion by the side of the road, in a make-shift stall seated on all manner of stools and benches. Williams, as the nameless place is called after its cheerful, rosy cheeked owner does Italian and Western and Malaysian food- boldly, fast and scrumptious in a mad fusion way.
Try the spaghetti meatballs with the biggest meatballs I’ve ever seen stuffed with cheese in the middle. Try too the garlic-butter-cheese naan made with mozzarella.
"Nestum prawns are flaky and delicious"
Fear not, we’re not eating everything that is under age or still an infant in terms of its natural lifespan. Baby happens to be the owner of this eaterie. This shop is famous for its unique way of cooking the fish which is with a charcoal fire. The style of cooking and ingredients are somewhat similar to Teow Chew Style of cooking. Among the delicious things they use are assam, salted vegetables and an extra special ingredient. We found out that this was pickled shallots which added a whole new level to the taste of the fish.
All bow to the mightiness of the pickled shallots. It has a natural sweetness that is not cloying like sugar-sweet but with the added dimension of sourness. The fish cooked in this delightful concoction is called ‘Ma Yau’ fish and to order this dish you have to say ‘meng lo’ in Cantonese. The fish is slightly spicy due to the addition of chilli padi in the dish. You also get a bowl of soup with the fish which is not for slurping on its own. Rather you pour this steaming goodness on top of the fish. The soup was reminiscent of tomyam, savoury, sour and spicy at a first try. However as the meal progressed the soup became sweeter when thoroughly mixed with the fish.
"Choose your wriggly meal from deep tanks"
If you are too tired to venture out of town for seafood but still, the tastebuds are tingling for freshwater prawns or steamed patin cooked with superior soya sauce, we've got just the place for you. We're at Unique Seafood in PJ, staring at about one hundred fish tanks filled with all sorts of live fish from abalone, crabs to garoupa. If you like fresh seafood, I guess it ain't gonna get any fresher than this.
Unique Seafood sits quietly (and brightly at night) at Section 13, PJ. If you don't already know, the restaurant is divided into two separate 'operations'. The live seafood section and the kitchen. That's why you will be getting two bills at the end. One for the seafood and the other for the cooking. Now, in the live seafood section, depending on how thick your wallet is and how much thinner you want it to be at the end, choose from from the selection of fresh fish, shellfish, prawns, crabs, lobsters and yes! snails too.
The house specialties are the freshwater patin, steamed prawns, Japanese snails and crabs baked with salted duck eggs. So if this is your first visit, best to start with these and then adventure elsewhere. Yes, abalone can be a good option too. At 20 bucks a pop, sure why not...
"The fishballs retain fishy sweetness"
The thought of a good bowl of fishball handmade to perfection makes me tremble with delight, most of the trembling originates from the tummy, of course! Song Wan is one of those places. Uncle Lim spends a greater part of the afternoon expertly mashing the fish meat together to form hundreds of his magical balls. His fishballs I mean. And I was assured that it is the real thing. When I visited him in the afternoon as he was turning the fish meat into a gluey paste .
They use Ikan Panjang or Sai Toh ( Cantonese) fish to make the fish balls,and a lot of work goes into making the balls as Sai Toh can be very bony. But his efforts pay off in spades. His fishballs are springy, but not like the artificial bounciness you get from supermarket brands. Uncle Lim's fishballs retain the sweetness of the fish with an ever-present fish flavours, fishball lovers crave. Sooooo delicious...The soup Uncle Lim uses with the noodles does not have MSG. His trick is to supplement the soup with soy bean (soup boiled with soy bean). I don't know how he does it, but Uncle Lim is definitely an old hand at this game.