Restoran HSBC in Lorong Maarof, Bangsar has become a household name for the past 17 years not because it is owned by a bank.
After all I am not a fan of the banking group, but the acronym which stands for “Hot & Spicy Bangsar Cuisine” has its uniqueness that is not often found in other Chinese restaurants. The two entities are a world apart.
It was set up a family restaurant in 2000 by Jeevan Simon, with the help of his wife, Uma Revathy and brother-in-law, Ravinder Nadarajah. At that juncture, Jeevan had decided to give up his banana leaf rice to concentrate on his passion for Chinese food. But, for an Indian to run a Chinese restaurant?
Why not? Malaysians operate Japanese, Italian and Western, Thai, and even Korean restaurants, so why can’t a Malaysian Indian operate a Chinese restaurant. After all, Jeevan comes across as an Indian who understands what understands what the Chinese tick.
In fact, I was wondering whether Jeevan is a lost descendant of Admiral Cheng Ho or Justice Pao. Both were well-known Chinese heroes but they looked more Indian than the average Chinese.
Hailing from Penang, Jeevan’s success in the food business is largely due to his passion for anything that satisfy his taste buds.
So besides the Chinese dishes, he has also introduced a wide variety of cuisine such as Nasi Ayam Dulang (RM12.50) which he claims to be from Bali. His HSBC Special Tom Yam Soup (RM10 per pax) and HSBC Special Pineapple Fried Rice RM12.50 also received positive feedback from the foodies invited to the food tasting session.
Every year, he travels to other countries where he would try out different kinds of gastronomic.
“When I find something interesting, I would come back to try to reproduce it,” he said. “Sometimes, I have to improvise it to suit the local tastes.”
For those who love crabs, they can also try Jeevan’s curry leaf crabs (RM45 a kilo). He uses the smaller blue crabs which I understand are more acceptable to Muslims.
Because Jeevan wanted enough foodies to help finish up the dishes that he wanted to introduce, it turned up that I received a lot of thumbs-up for his other dishes, too. I particularly like his Special HSBC Kailan (RM20 for a medium serving) and his Kung Po fish fillet (RM15 Small).
Others picked the HSBC Special Chicken ((Medium) RM20) and Cheong Cheng Style Deep Fried Siakap.
In fact, since they do have a wide variety of gastronomical delights, I can understand why some older couples in the neighbourhood prefer to have their dinner there almost every night.
By the time we finished our meals at 6pm, other customers already started streaming in. They included expatriates, Eurasians and even Malay customers.