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.
Of course no padang meal would be complete without the sambal ijo. This sambal with green chillies is both mild yet spicy in a way that is hard to describe. You can have spoonfuls of the stuff with your rice and be tearing up yet somehow your tongue doesn’t burn as much and you can keep eating it. This delightful sensation is actually one I look forward to.
For a milder but equally delicious dish go for the gulai ayam. The chicken is wonderfully tender and the gulai makes for a delicious kuah with the rice. Here they also serve tempeh cooked in a few different ways. Try the tempeh goreng, which is sweet and crisp. Lovely! For a veggie dish, have the daun singkong that has an interesting chewy texture and flavour.
I suggest washing down your entire meal with an ice-cold timun selasih (cucumber juice with basil seed). This cooling drink is the perfect thing when your mouth and tummy are burning from the spice overload. It’s also a lot of fun to chew on each seed and feel a satisfying pop between your teeth.
The best thing about a meal here is that the prices are reasonable. We had 6 dishes and 2 drinks and it only came up to RM40. Much cheaper than other Padang places around.
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