The Strand in Kota Damansara has now emerged as a buzzing lunchtime location due to the variety of eateries opening up in this area. Although parking spots are hard to come by, there are a few gems here that is worth the trouble. One of them is D'Teratak Bonda, a restaurant serving delicious Malay 'kampung' dishes.
Started by 2 mothers, the aptly named D'Teratak Bonda ( it means Mums' Little Hut - have no idea why there's a 'D' in front of it though ) is a busy lunch spot in Kota Damansara. I spoke to Ina who manages the restaurant and she told me that the restaurant is a collaboration between her mum who hails from Pahang and her aunt who comes from Terengganu so the menu is a mixed affair because they serve dishes from both states.
The standout star of the menu is of course, their ayam masak lemak. This is Ina's mum's recipe. Rich, creamy with a nice heaty kick, this dish should come with a warning. As soon as you try it, you can't help but pile up more rice on your plate. So good you kinda forget about the mountain of rice you're consuming. The chicken is stir-fried with fresh turmeric, chillies and shallots before coconut milk is added and then cooked further until the gravy thickens.This allows the gravy to cling to the chicken flavouring it in every mouthful.
The difference between the Pahang-styled masak lemak and the Negeri Sembilan-styled ones come down to the chillies. Here, they serve the Pahang version so they mix fresh red chillies with bird's eye chillies to help tame the heat level. So, if you like the tongue-burning masak lemak of Negeri Sembilan, you might find this one a bit milder than what you're used to. They also serve masak lemak patin here, another popular dish from Pahang. I had to do a rain-check with this dish because there is a limit to what my tummy can handle during lunch and too much of a good thing can result in a lethargic reviewer.
It seems that coconut milk is used in most of the dishes served at D'Teratak Bonda, even in their Terengganu dishes. Case in point is the crowd-favourite, which is the ayam percik.
Chicken is marinated in aromatics and spices, then barbecued with a coconut milk glaze. The sugar in the coconut milk caramelises resulting in a sweet charred coating on the chicken. Chillies, lemongrass, galangal and turmeric mingle with the coconut milk perfectly and they serve it with plenty of gravy that you can mix with your rice.
We were hungry so we also ordered masak lemak labu ( pumpkin cooked in coconut gravy ), gulai pucuk ubi ( tapioca leaves in a simple broth ), ikan keli masak sambal ( catfish in sambal ) and sambal kentang ( fried potatoes in sambal ).
Masak lemak labu and ikan keli masak sambal are my usual lunch fare. Whenever I see these two lauks, I can't resist myself from ordering them. The pumpkins are cooked just right leaving it with enough firmness so you can break it with a spoon instead of falling apart as soon as you scoop it out. Sweet and rich, this absolutely yummy.
The catfish is just how I like it. Soft flesh peppered with chilli sambal. The fish and tail crisp up after frying and I pick away until nothing is left on my plate. D'Teratak Bonda provides every-day dishes that you can find in most Malay households across Malaysia. Familiar and comforting dishes, like what your Mum makes at home.
It's the familiarity of these dishes that keeps me coming back to D'Teratak Bonda. No-frills recipes. Uncomplicated. And sometimes that's just what your tummy wants. Simple 'kampung' food at its best.
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