Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Friday, 25 April 2008

The Lost Heritage...Muhibbah..Kopitiam

Well a recent article in a Malay newspaper wrote about local show business stars are moving into the restaurant industry in droves. One such star is Kid of the rock group Search who now own what seems to be a chain of kopitiams within the Klang Valley. I had the opportunity to dine in the original outlet in Bangi, the namesake, with the missus since I had some business in Putrajaya. With a concept of nostalgia for the yesteryears as featured in their wallposter used in the title, it featured some Search memorabilia ala HRC and antique bric and bracs that also include kitsch like “power’ cards where the stats determined the winner, precursor to RPG and Pokemon type cards. In fact I used to own a similar deck featuring naval ships on display. With typical kopitiam furniture, the ambiance was simply simple but as regular readers might know, I don’t really give a hoot about such things so let’s look at the menu. A simple three pages of food and two pages of beverages, mostly coffees and teas, the selection is eclectic in the sense there is no central theme of the type of food offered. So you can find nasi dagang, nasi lemak, tomyam rice vermicelli in both soup and fried version, Chinese chicken rice and Malay nasi ayam merah (chicken in red gravy) sharing the savoury pages. Meanwhile under the roti bakar section you not only find the normal kaya toast, both sliced and buns, but also with ice-cream on top and for dipping into curry chicken. And tucked away are two appetisers, keropok lekor and tauhu bakar with cendol in two ways featured as dessert drinks.

Well we ordered tauhu bakar as appetisers but this came actually later than the main meals so it was eaten as an after meal salad instead. I had the nasi dagang and this was prepared Kelantanese style with a sweetish gulai ikan tongkol and piquant achar and with a generous amount of keropok. This was served with really nice nasi dagang, not so spiced as it is usually with the more common Terengganu style in the Klang Valley. Although the piece of ikan tongkol (albacore tuna) was served on the side, the gravy in the bowl actually contained more broken pieces and even bits of fried fish roe sacs, yummy!, so they are really generous with the gravy. Meanwhile the wife ordered the meehoon (rice vermicelli) tomyam in soup and although the tomyam flavour tasted like it came out of a bottle, it may actually be home bottled in bulk as overall the soup stilll tasted excellent. My informed me that this may be due to the fact that the cook took great care to cook the generous condiments in the tomyam paste as individual portions instead out of a pot so the flavour does come out. Deceptively light looking, it actually sat heavy in the stomach as was quite a surprisingly satisfying dish. As for the tauhu bakar, it was another surprise as when it came, we found it was actually pecal but without the normal blanched tapioca leaves yet it was alright with me as I don’t actually like blanched tapioca leaves. So instead of the normal prawn paste based rojak sauce usually associated with tauhu bakar, they used pecal sauce as a topping that was very acceptable to me especially when I crushed the leftover keropok into it. Now if only they can get the nomenclature right I think this would appeal to more light eaters as the photo in the menu was not that descriptive.

Lastly for my dessert drink the cendol with kidney beans. This was another dish where the photo in the menu does not do it justice as you actually get a mountain of shaved ice instead of the sorry portion depicted. And instead of the customary gula melaka, another surprise sprang up where you actually bite into a treacle of caramelised brown sugar in coconut that brought forth memories of eating nyonya style caramel rock candies. I don’t know what other people think of this but I like this cendol served with difference, at the same time nostalgic but with a cutting edge. If anybody knows where else actually serves cendol this way, do drop me a line. As to whether I would eat there again, the answer is yes as I want to try the other dishes but then I will not make an effort to do this.

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