A relative of mine mentioned that another distant relative had opened up a banana leaf restaurant. Well it made sense that since I work in the food line I just had to go give it a try. I went with an open mind trying not to be biased. I even looked up some reviews online to get a good feel of the place before setting off for lunch. Every single review recommended the fried tenggiri (which didn't matter to me as I don't even like fried tenggiri).
Moorthy Mathai's sits right on the busy Tun Sambanthan stretch of Brickfields. As you drive past you'll notice that it is one of the newer spots along the row of makan joints and fabric stores. It is both clean and air-conditioned, which is lovely in our hot and humid weather.
We immediately place our orders to appease our ravenous rumbling tummies. Along with the usual vegetarian set, my friends each ordered the fried tenggiri (none for me, thanks!), and we got a fried chicken, and two fish cutlets to share.
Now I suppose I should explain my aversion to fried tenggiri. I have never had an enjoyable experience with it; it's either very fishy tasting, overcooked and stringy, or it has soaked up so much grease that you're basically chomping on a fishy grease sponge. When the fish arrived at our table however, I decided to give it a nibble just to be able to write about it. I was not prepared to like it or even enjoy it, and I sure as heck was not expecting to be frantically waving down a waiter to place one more order for it. The fried tenggiri here is extremely fresh, the flesh is soft and flaky with a hint of sweetness, and the spice coating is packed with flavour. To ensure that it is freshly-cooked, the tenggiri is prepared in small batches throughout the day. Moorthy's Mathai has completely changed my view of the humble tenggiri.
The veggies that are given with the set are absolutely delicious. There was the usual cooling cucumber, spicy eggplant, a bitter gourd curry, and a stir-fried cabbage. A vegetarian set here could definitely be more than enough, but of course banana leaf meals are an excuse to be greedy and order a few more delights.
While the tenggiri won my heart over, I was not impressed with the fish cutlets, they were a tad too salty and when eaten cold even less appetizing. The fried chicken is good; although chicken like this can be found almost anywhere and so there isn’t anything particularly special about it.
It finish off the meal we ordered a hot masala tea, something to soothe the tummy after such a heavy meal. The tea here has a strong ginger bite to it that I find especially good. It warms the back of the throat and you can feel it warming it’s way down. The heady spices leave a delicious tingle in the mouth and it is both invigorating and comforting.
Prices here are quite reasonable if you take into account the rising prices at the popular banana leaf haunts. Our bill amounted to RM60 for 4 of us and this was for a vegetarian set with a tenggiri each, one fried chicken, two fish cutlets, and two drinks apiece. Not too bad for a delicious meal.
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