Lovely Malaysia. How can I almost forget it. It’s been a while since I have this feeling. The feeling of peace, relax and of no rush whatsoever, in a nondescript roadside Indian stall, eating my favourite tosai for breakfast and having an exceptionally Malaysian kind of warmth service. How else can we start a day in Malaysia better? Maybe with a new generation touch which is having my netbook with me along with Internet connection.
Thanks to the burgeoning so called upper class kopitiams around Malaysia, many of us youths had start to forget how nice it is actually to go back to basics. The old times. The sitting near the roadside, having other locals buzzing around you, some chit-chatting, some flipping their newspapers and some just plainly stare around (like me but without the netbook ha-ha). The stall people walking around taking orders, serving, laughing, sometimes kacau (a Malay term for disturbs) and treating everyone as if they are long time friends.
So yeah, sometimes we forgot what makes something tick, something that stand the test of time. Sometimes we forgot how wonderful it is to be Malaysian. Now I would hope to relive more of these simple joys in life. Like good ol’ Malaysian warmth and good ol’ healthy tosai to start the day.
Indian roadside stall Between Jalan 33/70A and 19/70A,
50480 Kuala Lumpur,
It is amazing that how sometimes when one opens up to new people, they found new friends. Once when I finally got myself out of behind this anonymous blog and joined a food event by theQguides.com, I met several fun people, including Babe, Ruth and most recently Bangsar-babe. Wow, sounds like girl-power to me, but no we have a guy, his name is Jek and most recent as well, he introduced us to his new colleague, Frat, the Marketing Head of theqguides.com. Don’t ask me who he is and where he comes from, you can find it out here, and no, the one you see at the site is not who you think it is. So one fine day, Frat asked me to go for tasting on SOULed OUT’s new refreshed menu and boy, was I excited!
Our Malaysia’s homegrown SOULed OUT had always been a place which I associated with fun and happy times. This is because I had loads of memories with this place which I held dearly. I remember the first time that I ever been to SOULed OUT was years ago, with my aunty and cousins, plus my roommate, Y. Y and I had actually traveled really far, in last minute notice from my cousin, just to get there because before this, one of my cousin had actually sung praises to the Carbonara at this place as if it is the one, so with all the heart of ‘tham jiak-ness’, Y and I flew there just in time to join them and ordered the Carbonara of course! I must say our craving indeed have been answered, it was creamy and utterly satisfying! At that time we also get to enjoy a dance show, I am not sure if they still have it now, but when I said years ago, I seriously meant years ago. Then the next few times I went was actually for few of my good friends’ birthdays, many of them really memorable as SOULed OUT has always make sure that every birthday is celebrated with style, whereby the crews will come and sing a song for the birthday girl/boy, which they made to be stand out in some ways, and then after that they would take a picture for us and then print out directly with inclusion into a card for us to bring home, which I find as a really thoughtful gesture. Come to think of it, I had actually celebrated four! 1984s birthdays there as well as for a university friend. Besides that I actually went there twice for two separate companies’ team outing, oh my, so it seems SOULed OUT is the place for celebration, chilling and connecting after all!
Anyway, back to the topic, what is this Refreshed Menu all about then? It is some way like this, as I understand of it, that people like me, who had been an old patron of SOULed OUT, found that some of their ol’ favourite dishes had been taken out from the menu as time goes by and as the restaurant evolves, so they had been giving feedback to have their dishes back!
“We always do our best to live up to our customers’ expectations, and after 13 years the expectations get even higher. We want our customers to feel like they are family at SOULed OUT when they come here. We encourage them to be able to share their suggestions openly with us. Which is why we have decided to bring back the Good Old Favourites by popular demand of our loyal customers!” said Fred Choo, Founder of SOULed OUT.
Well, without further ado, let’s proceed to the food, those favourites of many that now had been brought back for all to enjoy, which I, the lucky tham jiak girl, along with the other epicureans, get to enjoy in order to bring you our views and perspectives.
The first ol’ favourite dish that was served to us was the Sizzling Lamb Cutlet, which as its named was burning with goodness, hot tender meat which was marinated in Indian herbs and spices, served with a choice of naan (Indian flat bread)/rice/chips, special spinach dip and papadum. These were actually few of those lambs that I have which was not cooked to the point of the need to exercise your jaws to exhaustion. We also had the naan and it was as usual nicely soft and chewy; SOULed OUT has always been famous for its Indian fare, and naan had always been its strength from my previous experiences.
Then next on the line was another favourite brought back to the scene which is the Hokkien Mee (Chinese stir fried thick yellow noodles). When I first heard from Fanny, the propaganda pixie (yes, this is her role as stated in the card and as affirmed by her) of SOULed OUT that there would be Hokkien Mee, I raised my eyebrows in surprise and sceptism! There I was imagining Hokkien Mee best to be made in a wok over charcoal fire beside the road in a rundown Chinese restaurant, with loads of lard, pork and prawn thrown in! But let’s take this image and give it a twist, substituting with chicken slices, but still with loads of prawn, this Hokkien Mee was indeed tasty in its own way, full of the wok hei goodness. Give it a try whenever you have a hankering for some hawker fare yet still want to dine in style with your fellow companions.
From the stir fry department, we also have another ol’ favourite, which was the Singapore Fried Meehoon. Though I must honestly say this was not one of the best that I have, it was quite alright though.
Another noodle came up with the tag of ol’ favourites, it seemed that we Malaysians do love our noodles, and this one is the infamous Claypot Lou Shi Fun. This dish, which was the rice noodle in form of rat tailed, totally submerge in dark sauce with chickens slices and mushroom, was actually fine by its own right It may not beat some of the hawkers well known for it, but it was good enough to satisfy one’s craving for it.
The family of SOULed OUT had also demanded the return of the Chicken Ala Vietnam, which was my first time trying and I found it simply delicious. The chicken was chockfull of exotic Vietnamese spices and cooked to the right juiciness. This would be one dish that I would recommend to try.
One of the dishes that I do not agree with the faithful patrons was the Roast Beef Baguette, though not too bad, I did not find it anything spectacular. The chips though was crunchily addictive, which I happily helped myself to finish it.
Besides having the chance to taste all their comebacks dishes, we were also introduced with their spanking new ones. One of them is Koay Teow Beef Tausi, which was flat rice noodles cooked in tausi (fermented black beans) gravy with beef slices. It was a unique dish, which I find quite palatable, worth a try if you have the chance.
The second new dish was Pan Seared Grouper, which was grilled grouper fish fillet with Cajun spice, served over pasta, which I find a bit bland, not one that I thoroughly enjoy, as compared to the rest.
One more new dish that I had the pleasure to try was the new BBQ Chicken pizza! I have always loved the pizza at SOULed OUT, when it was first introduced and I tried it, I fell in love instantly as it was totally authentic with wood fire oven and the crust was how I always imagine it should be, thin, chewy yet crunchy at the right places. This new toppings was enjoyable, especially if you love BBQ sauce.
But this new pizza definitely could not beat the all time favourite Sake San pizza (salmon slivers, roe, cherry tomatoes, lolorosso with Japanese mayo and wasabi), which had coincidently been my all time favourite as well, where I had ordered in numerous occasions. Totally messy and finger-licking good, we even joked that it should be one dish you not have on your first date, but definitely one you should have many dates after that!
Then finally, we end the night with a sweet note, with the Praline Chocolate Mousse, Lava Cake and Pannacotta. I totally fell for the Lava Cake (too bad no picture though), which was an all time favourite, which would be one of mine now, warm gooey chocolate cake with the creamy vanilla ice cream, it was heavenly. One bite into it and I told Ruth that I shall not be returning it with an evil smile, but of course I did, good things are meant to be shared! As for the praline, it was new to the menu, albeit over-chilled, it was certainly spoon-licking good!
That’s it for the refreshed menu; I had sincerely thoroughly enjoyed some of the dishes, so it seems that the loyal patrons do know what they are demanding for! Whether you are the family of SOULed OUT or you have yet to be, you should head there now to satisfy your cravings for the former or to pique your taste buds for the latter, they would certainly welcome you to the family if you want to be in.
SOULed OUT No.20 Jalan 30/70A,
Desa Sri Hartamas, 50480 KL.
03 2300 1955 (Reservations); 03 2300 1929 (General) Fax: 03 23001989
Monday – Friday: 12noon- 3pm
Everyday & Public Holidays: 6pm – 1am
Happy Hours: 12noon-3pm and 6pm-9pm
Note: All pictures are courtesy of Jek Tan of theQguides.com (Yes, thistham jiak had rushed there after work and did not bring a camera!)
If one’s life can be determine by food preferences, I believe that I might be an Indian in my past life. As much as I love Chinese cuisines, I am strangely drawn towards Indian food, my five senses transfix on the myriad of spices, smells, tastes and textures. Indian cuisines are complex. Even the simplest cooking involves clever blends of various spices. But of course, there are some simplicities, such as its roti (bread), which ranges from easy to long preparation and the choice itself is numerous! Every roti is different from one another; some made with rice flour, some gram flour and many more that I have yet to learn and discover.
After bouts of exercise early one morning, the first thing that hit my mind for breakfast is some Indian fare. So I walk all the way through The Curve (shopping mall in Malaysia) to Restaurant Penang Nasi Kandar, right outside Tesco, for my Indian breakfast fix. On the way there I had already picture tosai in my mind. Why, I love the taste of tosai, slightly tangy and its texture soft to bite, crunchy on the outer layer certainly plays one palate.
I like my tosai with the coconut chutney (on the left) and the middle chutney, I can’t make out what it is but it is tangy, from tamarind I believe, and some spices, hope someone can enlighten me here. It pairs real well with the tosai, adding more to the tanginess and sourness. Of course I would also eat it with dhal (on the right); then again, I eat my dhal with every other roti.
Then its time for lunch, my hunger pang starts playing with my head again. I crave for more Indian fare. Then I thought of banana leave, from a shop I once was recommended to by a friend, which I found the branch right here in my neighbourhood. Banana leave is actually a kind of meal where your food is serve on a clean banana leave, and the perks are, you can ask to refill as many times as you want with no extra charges. It consists of only vegetarians fares but you can separately order other meats. When one eats banana leave, one tends to indulge a little bit, as it is addictive and the thought of able to fill to one’s content is extremely inviting. Therefore, as I am set on getting fit before work, I think twice bout this choice of lunch.
I drove aimlessly there, park the car, still deciding on whether to enter a Chinese hawker restaurant, but somehow my feet got me over to Sri Paandi, a restaurant serving Andhra cuisine. I sat down, I asked for banana leave, I take a quick snap of picture, devour, ask for refill, and then proceed to clean it off. Then I was really full, but just enough place left in my tummy to clean my palate with the really tangy fresh yoghurt. The thought of fitness somehow just got suck into the black hole in my mind, he-he. Then the pictures did not turn out well, due to my gluttony thus the impatient take of picture. So on another day, this time, I drag both my good friends there again (vowing not to refill), in aim to once again answer my cravings and of course to take more pictures! Ah, all in the name of this blog, and my tham jiak-ness.
The meal was great. I absolutely love the vegetable curries. The usual fare are the lightly spicy long beans, tangy and superbly spicy brinjal with black-eyed peas, one mild veggie (on the right, which I’m not sure what it is) and the light yoghurt cucumber (I forgot the proper name for this) which is really refreshing. Then there comes the condiments, coconut chutney (again), and one really salty and sour chutney where I accidentally bite into the sour fruit (not sure what fruit, now I sound like an Indian food enthusiast who knows nuts). Then there are the keropok (chips), where there is the ever famous papadum (though I have tasted better ones out there) and also the potato chips, which tasted like heaven, sliced thinly, heavily spiced and deep-fried. Ah, such indulgence. Then you can opt to drown your rice in dhal or chicken/fish curry. Lastly, there is rasam and one light tangy milk (in the picture, which I don’t know what it is, if someone can tell me I’ll be so grateful, never mind if its just a guess) and also yoghurt to soothe off all the spice, which are now madly meld on your tongue and in your tummy. Take note that, they will charge an extra dollar for the yoghurt as we had asked to clarify when we saw it on our bill. In addition, my friend ordered a mutton curry, which is reasonably priced with good portion and which of course, tasted good.
Maybe I was an Indian in my past life, but indeed much of my knowledge on the food must have been loss during my transition to this new life. I cannot really name most of the food yet or even to cook them, but one thing for sure, I absolutely love to eat them. One day I might just be able to learn the secrets of Indian cooking, but of course not to forget my own origins. I always think the spices and condiments have some kind of drug in them that makes one keep going back for more, but to me, that’s a good thing. Oh no, I am addicted.
Restaurant Nasi Kandar Penang Tesco
Restaurant Sri Paandi (TTDI) 36, Jalan Tun Mohd Faud 1,
Taman Tun Dr Ismail,
60000 Kuala Lumpur
P/S: I went to Sri Paandi again last two night, and found the selection less than lunch time, condiments must be requested, no yoghurt or rasam, and the chips were already ‘lau fong’ (soft). So go only during busy lunch time where the service would be even faster and better!
L is a good friend of mine. We have known each other since we were 11. This is how it happened; we sat together in class because at that time, the teachers arranged us according to our position in class and we so happen to have the same results. From there, our adventures are endless. We clicked and we bond until now, she still remained a very good friend, a confidante and a joy to be with.
She shares one common passion with me, that is the love of writing. We both also have passion in sharing knowledge with the world, our thoughts and dreans and of course we also have the same passion for food. Therefore, once she read this food blog of mine, she complimented me (she was always very supportive) and then was excited to join in the fun. Thus, she became my guest blogger and wrote about her dining experience, which was in Penang. She is currently pursuing her degree in Mass Communication in USM, Penang. Here goes her entry:
Passions of Kerala
If banana leaf cuisine is your weakness, be sure not to miss out Passions of Kerala for the ultimate south Indian food experience. Opened in year 2000 by joint owners, Mr. Gary Nair and Mr. Achuthan Nair, the place is run by Mr. Murly Nair. It is actually a branch from Restaurant Innira’s (name had also been changed to Passions of Kerala) situated in Gelugor, Penang. Passions of Kerala got its name from a type of seasonal flower called Passions that blooms right outside the restaurant and if you observe, the structure and interior of the place is made to look like a typical house in Kerala, situated in Southern India.
Once seated and orders taken, a banana leaf will be spread in front of you. Service is fast where the staff will first serve 4 types of vegetables together with a generous amount of white rice on the banana leaf. There are 16 different types of vegetables served in the restaurant and the order changes on a daily basis. Customers are given 3 choices of curries to choose from, the exquisitely rich dhal, thick chicken curry and fish curry, the spiciest of the lot. The dhal is laden with different types of vegetables namely potatoes, legumes, tomatoes and its rich creamy sauce is definitely not to be missed. Unlike other restaurants all the dishes here are not precook. The restaurant’s policy is making sure every food is served hot and fresh from the stove. Customer’s satisfaction is highly regarded by Mr. Murly Nair for he knows that it is the only thing that will keep them coming back in the future.
Diners have a variety of dishes to choose from, like the chicken and lamb masala, squids, crabs and fish and not forgetting the McNair’s fried chicken, their very own original fried chicken recipe. Every dishes found on the menu are cooked according to the Nairs grandmother’s recipe who originated from Kerala. Also, the restaurant makes and blends all of their spices. After your meal, there’s nothing better than to wash it down with a sweet lassi fruit drink, a blend of home-made yogurt and real fruit. The result is a deliciously thick and creamy drink enough to satisfy the gastronomical challenge pose by the rich herbs and spices found in the Keralite dishes.
While dining, you will be soothed with light and entertaining music played in the restaurant. It is really the perfect place to enjoy a good meal and then unwind with your friends. Staffs are friendly and the food here will definitely keep you coming back for more. I also took the opportunity to ask Mr. Murly Nair about banana leaf etiquette. He said that in every gesture and things that we do lay a meaning behind it. The Indians have a way of folding their banana leaf after eating it according to occasions. During funerals, after the meal, it is a custom to fold the banana leaf upwards, away from our own body. This indicates that they do not wish to attend another funeral as it is an unhappy event. While on happier events like weddings, Indians will fold their banana leaf inwards, towards our own body which signify that they hope that they will have another happy event to graze again.
TC, a British living in Penang frequents the restaurant for the ambience, quality food and the good money value of it. TC who had been eating curries since he was 17 actually had his first banana leaf cuisine in this restaurant, commented that it was love at first taste for him. So, the next time you crave for an Indian meal, be it lunch or dinner, Passions of Kerala will be the ultimate place to dine.
40, Service Road,
Tel – 04-229 2570
12 noon – 3.00pm / 6.30pm – 10.00pm