"Tender ribs. Fiery sambal. YES PLEASE."
It’s easy to see the appeal of ayam penyet restaurants. Spiced chicken (and beef, and fish, etc.) is fried to a golden crisp on the outside with still fork tender meat within. Served with rice and usually fiery hot sambals, it’s no wonder these restaurants won over the hearts and tummies of Malaysians. More »
"Hissing spicy sambal pecel to get those juices going..."
The actual name of this restaurant is Syasya Syaheera – but nobody really calls it that. To most of its regular customers (hundreds of ‘em) the place is simply known as Pecel Lele. It’s famous for, you guessed it – the pecel. Pecel Lele started out as a small, one man stall in a busy corner of Padang Jawa 15 years ago. Haji Basri was just looking for an extra way to give back to the community while earning an extra income, and years later – it’s become a full blown three lot restaurant with its own parking space. The place is so famous that it doesn’t even have a signboard. It’s the quintessential word of mouth success story, and at any time of the day, the place will be at least half full. Most of the customers are students from universities around the area, but there’s also a healthy mix of the family and office crowd. There’s more than 7 workers going around with platters of food at any one time, and they’re all more than happy to assist and get your order, provided that you grab their attention quickly.
There’s two major things that blast the popularity model here. The first is the restaurant’s namesake – the sambal pecel. It’s a smooth, nutty paste with a kick of spice that’s just enough to get you hissing. As you devour the thick sambal, you taste the fusion of salty peanuts, ginger and garlic rolling in a cili blend. Dip it with some crunchy vegetables and you’re sold. The recipe is one that has been in Haji Basri’s family for generations, all the way from Indonesia. So it’s a safe bet you’ll get the good stuff here.
The pecel can be ordered with a choice of fried chicken, bakso (beef meatballs) or fried ikan keli. The fried chicken is very popular as it always arrives hot and steaming with a lot of flesh. If you’re up for something lighter and sweeter, have it with the fried ikan keli. While it may come slightly dry and small, the meat is tasty enough to satisfy your cravings. More »
"Authentic Padang food at reasonable prices"
Masakan Padang was a big part of my childhood. I remember afternoons spent sitting in a plain restaurant where décor came second to the food. Plates would magically appear at the table with all sorts of delicacies. The way you do it is to choose the dishes you want and eat only those, because you are charged for any plate you touch, even if you only tasted the kuah. As a kid I didn’t understand that and sometimes my fork would go into the other dishes and we’d end up with a bill for food that was barely consumed. I know better now, and the Padang restaurants in KL make it easier. Here, you choose the dishes at the counter and they are heated up for you.
Bagindo’s offerings are authentic. Many of these are family recipes that have been passed down and the menu serves strictly Padang food instead of diversifying and adding other popular Indonesian specialties. This is how the quality is maintained and I certainly can’t complain.
When you’re at the counter it’s easy to get carried away with the 30+ dishes and more often than not you will over order. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The rendang here is one of my favourites as the meat is tender without turning to a textureless mush. A gentle heat washes over your tongue and the rich flavour will have you coming back for more. A comforting dish perfect on its own with rice if you must choose just one.
Another great beefy dish is the dendeng balado. This meat is pounded thin and fried till extra crisp and topped with sambal. The texture of the meat may seem odd at first if you’re not used to crispy crumbly meat, but after a while it grows on you and the sambal is perfect with it. Another balado dish to try is the terong. Slices of eggplant are cooked then topped with more of the delicious sambal. The smoky sweetness of the eggplant is balanced well with the heat of the sambal. More »
"Walk away with a smile..."
You know a place is really good when food reviewers eat at a place thrice before getting around to writing a review - because they’re too busy eating to bother with taking photos and notes. It was still a bit of a struggle to get the camera out the last time, but as it is our job to spread the gospel of awesome food, we present Dapoer Bandoeng to you at last!
From our first visit, we always over-ordered. There would usually be only 4 of us, but with main and side dishes so numerous, we had to take over 2 tables to comfortably house our appetites. Since we ate so much in terms of variety (and quantity!), we’ll lay them out to you in categories. First up, the rice dishes. We had the set iga bakar pedas and another set semur ayam. Iga is basically ribs and their version has the perfect balance of chewy meat and melty fat. The semur ayam was done very well as the chicken was still moist as we dug into it. The tempe tumis that they serve with this set is really good: little chunks of tempe fried with green sambal that had all of us sneaking bites in between our own main courses. Their star rice dish by far, however, is nasi bakar. It’s a bit like nasi goreng with strong ikan bilis, shallot and garlic flavors, but it’s wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled over a flame. So good you can eat it on its own! More »
"We happily slurped it up"
When I invited an Indonesian classmate to come with me, she agreed so fast you would think she hadn't had any Indonesian food for a year. As we escape college grounds during lunch hour, she declares, “It's alright, it's only class. This is Resto Surabaya!”
We make our way to the restaurant, which reminds me of so many other Indonesian restos not just in KL, but in, well, Surabaya. Sparse with the occasional handicraft, smells of sambal and bacem in the air – my lunch date's enthusiasm is so contagious that I cannot help but tap my foot impatiently for our food.
Drinks arrive first. The soda gembira is served a little differently than other places; they pour in the milk and syrup first, and give you a can of ice cream soda separately so you can mix it to your desired sweetness. We also have teh kotak, which I cannot go without ordering at an Indonesian restaurant.
Soto ayam lamongan arrives first. Similar to soto madura, it's filled with soun and chicken strips in a clear yellowish broth. We dive into it with our hands, happily slurping up flailing strands of noodles noisily. The chicken is chewy yet soaked through with the broth, while just a touch of sourness hits the back of my throat. More »
"Tender, peppery chunks of beef"
I am perpetually in search of good guramie. I remembered a short-lived Warung Guramie on Jalan P.Ramlee nestled between Beach Club and some other club. Didn't really make it. Fungsiwaty, the lovely lady who runs Anggrek Kuring shakes her head, "you can't find guramie here at all, restaurants either use ikan nila or tilapia."
You need guramie to make it curl up in those lovely wings because it's "tipis". At Anggrek Kuring they have a standing fish. A fish that is curled open and then made to stand as though it's breaking through water and rising to the surface. They use kerapu but because it's "buncit", they have to fry it with a bit of flour or else it won't stand.
Still with hot, white rice and sambal terasi a well fried fish, is a well fried fish
. The stunners of our dinner today however, is the sapi lada hitam. This is NOT an Indonesian daging masak kicap as I mistakenly called it to slaps from my Indonesian designer. This is a dish of it's own, tender beef chunks that melts in your mouth with a fragrant peppery sauce riddled with onions and chillies. This dish is a come back factor for this restaurant. We kept ordering extras.
Earlier as we were entering, I saw a sign for Ayam Pressto. It looks a little like ayam penyet. I thought maybe it's 'hey pressto! Here's your chicken' or it's in someway 'pressed' so that it's tender.
Goes to show how little I know Bahasa Indonesia. And that's what I like about the language. It has all this cute, almost literal words that rolls off the edge of your tongue- similar but different. Just when you think you know it, it surprises you with twists in meanings and flavours. Not unlike their food. Take for instance Pressto (Malay? English-inspired? Or something entirely different?)- a word you think you should know and yet means something completely different. To 'pressto' in Indonesian means to steam a chicken until the bones are tender.
"The gravy makes it addictive"
I used to frequent the pasar malam in Taman Melawati when I was younger, always getting fascinated by the cacophony of sounds and myriad of colours. I made my way through the fruits and veg section, the butchers and the dried goods and arrived at my favorite section of any night market: the food stalls. Apam balik, putu piring, nasi lemak… name it, you’ll find it here. But it was the alluring smell of meat grilled on charcoal that sort of pulled me to a particular stall. Yes, it was satay. But not the more famous ‘Kajang’ sort. This stall is serving Sate Minang. If you’re a satay fan and you haven’t tried this version, then give yourself a punch in the stomach.
Now, the beef and chicken used tastes pretty much similar to your run-of-the-mill sate, but the key difference is that, after grilling, the sate is soaked in a spicy, thick and viscous gravy which also serves as the ‘kuah’. No kuah kacang here, mind you. More »