Dining with Caesar at Umi Restaurant Komtar

Dining with Caesar at Umi Restaurant Komtar

Caesar took time out from maintaining law and order among his fellow apes in San Francisco to dine with this band of human survivors, all the way here in Komtar, Penang.

Turns out, the star of Planet of the Apes is a fan of authentic Malay cuisine, which is how we found him at Umi Restaurant!

Either he was scouting locations for a sequel, or just enjoyed the good food and wonderful guests surrounding him.

When we asked him to recommend some of his favourite Malay dishes, Caesar, without hesitating not only recommended what we could have for lunch, but also introduced to us to Umi’s outlet assistant manager, Ayu Yusoff, and the chef who works behind the scenes, known to his guests as only Chef Nasir.

Signature dishes

Caesar and I appear to share the same taste buds. When I tried the chicken soup, I immediately gave my thumbs-up to him over at the next table. Although simple, it was tasty enough to renew our energy levels after an exhausting day exploring all the interesting places at Komtar, especially the Jurassic Research Centre and the Rainbow Skywalk.

“This is great, Caesar! Thank you for recommending it,” I called out.Caesar responded with a wink, and asked to try the masak lemak pedas.

Before I could reach out for the prawn, my son had already harpooned it with his fork. “Wow, this is really yummy!” he exclaimed. Was he able to take something as spicy as that? Anyway, another thumbs-up to Caesar for his recommendation.

According to Ayu, this is the authentic Negeri Sembilan style of cooking curry prawns.

“What I like my guests to know is that not all Malay cuisine is spicy. We can tailor it to the guests’ requirements. They can ask our chef to cook something less spicy and it tastes just as good.”

Ayu tells us that there’s another style we have to try, and showed us the asam pedas Melaka, which comes adorned with a bunga kantan (or red ginger lily).

For children who cannot take the heat, Ayu recommends the nasi goreng bunga kantan.

“Our fried rice is slightly colourful. The reason is because when I was growing up, I did not like to eat rice, but my mother would add some colours to it so that I enjoyed eating it.”

In fact, the name Umi is Arabic for “mother.”

“This is why we are trying to introduce our traditional home-cooked food for more Malaysian families to enjoy. Food taste is very subjective, some is acquired; others, you will naturally like it because you have never tasted it before.

“This is also something that our Malay foodie fans can share with their friends. It is nothing like tasting the real thing than just reading or talking about it.”

Most of the dishes here at Umi Restaurant are Ayu’s own recipes, which she picked up over the years from her mother, sister and aunt.

“Over the years, I have learnt to cook food that we have always enjoyed, and we like to share it with those who know how to appreciate home-cooked Malay cuisine from different parts of the country.”

Besides the dishes we tried, Umi also serves ayam percik Kelantan on their set lunch menu. It is served with steamed rice, keropok Kelantan and local sambal belacan, air asam and kerabu.

They also have asam pedas siakap, sambal tumis petai, gulai kambing kawah and udang galah bakar. But for the special beef rendang, guests will need to pre-order the dish in advance.

Besides the lifesize Caesar mannequin at Umi, guests can also dine and take photographs with Mr Bean, the original Ronaldo and the Captain of KTX from Train to Busan.

Umi Restaurant is located at Level 5, The [email protected], just opposite the Jurassic Research Centre.
Tel: 04-2623800
Business hours: 10am – 10 pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UmiTheTopPenang/
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/T7QnXqv4LDn
Waze: https://www.waze.com/livemap?zoom=17&lat=5.41478&lon=100.32977

On-Demand Delivery, a new trend to be watched

On-Demand Delivery, a new trend to be watched

With both parents working these days, online food deliveries are gaining traction fast especially when the food is delicious and appetising to both parents and their children.

The cost of delivery is also reasonable (RM4 per delivery anywhere in the Klang Valley) and the deliveries are made within 90 minutes after the online order is placed. The food come in disposable microwaveable boxes.

Considering that parking is a hassle in most places and petrol prices have gone up, RM4 is affordable for most families and office colleagues who jointly order their lunch boxes.

It is also a great idea for Christmas get-together or Pot Bless (some call it ‘Potluck’) dinners where each family is expected to bring a dish each to share and do carolling together.

Recently, I was offered to do a review of online food by Mammam Deliveries, which has a central kitchen in Petaling Jaya Commercial City (PJCC). I particularly like the idea of their online orders for “dish only” local cuisine which is halal, and the beautiful thing was that it also caters to small group gatherings. Food is delivered straight to the home where the gathering is held.

At a public speaking skills for a group of young children whom I am coaching, parents come together. The initial plan was to meet at 8pm after dinner, but when the offer came from Mammam Deliveries, I thought it was a great idea to have the food reviewed by the mothers and children themselves.

After all, being a working Blue Monday for most parents, Mammam’s signature meals came in real handy. If they had delivered to my home, I would have the hassle of inviting family and friends to come and help finish up all the food.  

The response? Generally the feedback from parents and children was positive especially for certain dishes. I particularly like Mammam’s Butter Chicken with white rice (RM15.00), the Chicken Rendang Nasi Lemak (RM16.90) and the Tom Yum Fried Rice (Spicy) (RM13.11).

I would give Mamman Deliveries the thumbs-up for all three meals, especially their Chicken Rendang Nasi Lemak, being a fan of chicken rendang myself.

A pleasant surprise was when a mother, Elaine Xie who hails from Shanghai said that she likes the sambal.

“Although it is spicy, I really like it,” she said,

adding that she would prefer having acar (pickled vegetables) instead of normal vegetables.

Unfortunately, I did not get to taste the Chicken Chettinad (Varul) (RM15.90), the Indian Fish Curry with White Rice (RM17.90), Nasi Lemak Goreng (RM15.90) and Mee Hoon Goreng Tom Yam (RM15.90), but others tried them and their comments are on a simple video that I produced.

Besides over 30 dishes (Vegetarian, Indian, Thai, Malay, Chinese and all-time Malaysian favourite) to choose from, Mammam also has a wide variety of other cuisine and cookies.

Mammam Deliveries can be accessed online at https://www.mammam.com.my/.

Toll Free: 1800-88-6266

Ordering Time: 9.30am to 10.00pm (7 days a week)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mammamdeliveries/

Mobile Phone Apps: Mammam

Honey Chicken popular since 1974

Honey Chicken popular since 1974

With the number of food reviews that I have done, sometimes, it is a real tough decision just thinking what to eat for a simple dinner.

Malaysians are truly blessed with a wide variety of choices. Being the melting pot between East and West, for the foodie fan have some of the widest variety of food choices to satisfy the taste buds.

Craving for a good plate of Nasi Briyani, I noticed one particular Indian Muslim (Mamak) restaurant which was listed on top ten Nasi Briyani by TripAdvisors.

Honestly, I have always seen lots of people there, but never attempted to try out the food until I started reading the reviews by others.

Lesson learnt from here: Never underestimate what appears to be just an ordinary cornershop Mamak restaurant like Restoran Mahbub is capable of producing.

Here, although I can find better nasi briyani elsewhere, it is their signature dish, the honey chicken (ayam madu) which gets my thumbs-up all the way. A plate of nasi briyani and honey chicken is RM15.

Although being health conscious, I try to cut down on sugar, here they use honey and perhaps a little bit of chilli to prepare the chicken drumstick.

The moment I took the first bite, my eyes brightened up and a smile spread across. It was indeed delightful and so “refreshing” to have a delicious piece of chicken after a stressful day.

This is one which I think has a lot of potential to satisfy many taste buds. Let’s put it this way – when you walk into Restoran Mahbub, you have not really enjoyed the food here until you try their honey chicken.

According to 32-year-old owner, Omar Farook Ali the Nasi Briyani Ayam Madu (Honey Chicken Briyani) has become the best signature dish since 1974, the year when his grandfather, Mohammed Yusuff first set up the restaurant in Bangsar.

It was known back then as Restaurant Sharifa, but it became officially known as Restoran Mahbub in 1995.
No wonder the Honey Chicken was so good as Omar explains further:

“The restaurant has gained popularity as having the best Nasi Briyani Ayam Madu in town since 1974. This is my grandfather’s secret recipe.”

It was followed up by their Nasi Briyani Ayam Bukhara (RM15.50), which made its first debut in 2000, something that we will try later. By the time were there, they had run out of the Nasi Briyani Ayam Buhara.

However, my 9-year-old boy whom I encourage to develop his own opinion, likes his nasi briyani differently. He prefers it with his favourite fried chicken (RM15 a plate of nasi briyani and fried chicken). See his blog.

For those who cannot travel that far to try their nasi briyani, it is possible to buy their Briyani Box, which can be ordered and delivered to the home.

Or, those living in and around Damansara Damai will find Restoran Mahbub’s second outlet within their reach, and better still, it is open 24 hours seven days a week. Using waze, this is accessible for outstation guests who are using the New Klang Valley Expressway (exit at Sungai Buloh). Even this restaurant has been operating since 2004 after Omar’s father Datuk Seeni Abdul Kadhar and his sibling Mohamed Sidek further developed the family business.

With Omar as the third generation helming Restoran Mahbub, there are currently attempts to modernise it.

“We received the SME Entrepreneurs 2017 award recently,” he said. “Another feather added was the SME MIMCOIN (Successful Family Business) 2017 award.”

 

Apart from their nasi briyani, I would also recommend their Roti Canai Special. Although I would usually take thosai, their Roti Canai Special (RM4) is great way to give the roti canai an innovative touch but what is important is that the taste, too, was good.

Damansara Damai

The Damansara outlet is located at L-013A, Jalan PJU 10/2A, Vista Shop Damansara Damai, Sungai Buloh.
Tel: 03-6157 2587 (For Delivery, Take Away & Reservation)
Business hours: 24 hours / 7 days a week (Damansara Damai)

Bangsar

Bangsar outlet is located at No. 15-17, Lorong Ara Kiri Satu, Lucky Garden, Bangsar.
Tel: 012-6231 786 (For Catering Service).
Tel: 03-2095 5382 (For Delivery, Take Away & Reservation)
Business hours: 7am – 1am / 7 days a week (Bangsar)

Fancy being served by two medical doctors

Fancy being served by two medical doctors

I was expecting to be introduced to a bearded retiree by the name of Dr. Adnan Abdat, but the bespectacled young gentleman in his apron, looking more like a waiter, was none other than a 30-year-old Dr. Adnan himself.

Despite being fully qualified as a medical doctor himself, my first question to him was:

“Why, are you serious? You are now operating a restaurant instead of attending to your patients.”

But Adnan chooses to be humble about it.

“My focus is on the quality of the food and service that, as a professional, I can provide,” he explains.

After all, he is right. If medical doctors can become politicians, why not Dr. Adnan who chooses to be in the food and beverage business?

He has made up his mind that owning his own restaurant business is more fulfilling in life than being a medical doctor. That has been his first love since he was young.

For that reason, he quitted his medical profession to start Simply Ribs at Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) about three months ago. Despite a short stint, walk-in customers are increasing by the day as word of mouth gets out.

While doing a search, I found Simply Ribs to be interesting. Dr. Adnan’s invitation to do food review comes across as sincere as he is a person. His smile also appears genuine. For that reason, I decided to check it out – and indeed, I am mesmerised by what they have to offer in terms of quality of service and their signature dishes.

Although as a restaurant owner, he wants me to focus more on the food, I think the fact that the restaurant is run by a medical doctor, is already a big story in itself.

There are restaurants with good food, but either the chefs, owners or waiters are aloof, these places do not attract me but to begin with, Adnan is already a winner.

Occasionally assisted by his wife, Dr Ameerah Abdul Razak, the young couple not only invested money into their new venture, but Simply Ribs has become Adnan’s second home. He is passionate about the quality of food and service.

From my first half-an-hour of observations after the formal introductions, the young couple are down-to-earth people. Owning a restaurant means having to work very hard to serve their customers.

I was mesmerised not only by the food but their great humility and willingness to take on the role as waiter and waitress. Secretly, I recorded both of them in action.

If indeed there is anyone to be awarded waiter or waitress of the year, it’s Adnan and Ameerah. They have indeed raised the status of the service industry. Looking at their enthusiasm, I believe most people would be forgiving even if there are indeed shortcomings in the restaurant or its food.

Simply Ribs is well-known for its halal signature slow-cooked beef ribs. Since this is their signature dish, “Oh Yeah!” Smokey Beef Ribs (RM79) is worth trying for the entire family. Its preparation is indeed very tedious and time consuming; therefore, a little waiting would be necessary during their peak hours.

According to Adnan, the ribs are first marinated and then boiled until the meat is tender, before being grilled to perfection. Somehow, the kitchen staff have been taught exactly how long to grill the beef ribs so that they are not overcooked. “This is what we are specialised in,” he quipped.

As a fan of lamb shanks, I find the way they braised their Australian Lamb Shank (RM45) is just nice to give it a tender and succulent “thrill” to the tastebuds. An entire family of four can share the lamb shank. The dish is served on a bed of mash fottoes with focaccia garlic toast.

In fact, I found a fellow lamb enthusiast in eight-year-old, Ng Jeen How who said that he likes the lamb shank the best from all the dishes she tried.

“Besides lamb shank, I think I also like the pasta, if not for the the Chili padi that they use,” he said.

His six-year-old sister, Jean Huay likes their classic mushroom soup (RM12) which comes with fresh portobello, white button mushrooms with dried Parcini mushrooms in chicken broth, beef broth and cream. “I also like their lasagna,” she added.

Indeed, their rolled beef lasagna (RM28) which is hand rolled De Cecco pasta, filled with minced beef, egg and ricosta cheese, topped with classic marina and above. In a last article I wrote about searching for a good lasagne, and I think I have found it here.

Now, for their appetizers, you should try their Mushroom Bruschetta (RM16) and crispy baked Potato skins (RM14), while for drinks, go for the honey passion fruit (RM9). They also serve Seafood Gratin (RM16) here.

Music background: Songbird by Kenny Rogers (by Colin Ng Soon Beng).
Read comments by 9-year-old boy about Simply Ribs here.

Simply Ribs is located at 36 Lorong Rahim Kajai 14, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur.
Business hours: 12 noon – 11 pm (Tuesday – Sunday) Closed on Mondays

Tel: 03-77315566 / 017-6688652
Whatsapp: 017-6688652
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://www.simplyribs.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SimplyRibs/
Waze location: https://www.waze.com/livemapzoom=17&lat=3.15571&lon=101.623

Just the Chettinad Dining Experience

Just the Chettinad Dining Experience

For the uninitiated, the Chettiars are famous not only as money lenders; they do have their well-known cuisines that give a truly Chettinad dining experience.

Most of us may think that Indian restaurants are all the same, but like the Chinese, we our Cantonese-style, Hakka-style, Hailam-style, Foo-Chow style, and Malay restaurants, we have cuisines ala Minangkabau, ala Kelantan, ala Terengganu and so on. The Indian cuisines are also varied based on their geographical origins.

There is the Kerala-style, Hyderabad-style, and in Malaysia, to taste the Chettinad cuisines, Anjappar Restaurant is the right place to visit.

The first Anjappar restaurant was started by its patriarch, Anjappar in Chennai in 1964.

Today, with over 70 outlets around the world, Anjappar prides itself as a pioneer in popularising the Chettinad cuisines. In fact, for most Chettiars in Chennai, the name Anjappar is synonymous with the Chettinad cuisines.

I must admit that although I have been a fan of Indian and Mamak food, I have not really been able to differentiate the different style of cooking until I did the food tasting at Anjappar.

Here, one should start with the somewhat spicy Crab or Nandu Rasam (RM9.00), which is a great appetizer to begin the meal with.

According to one of the invited guests, Dr Tapash Rudra from Calcutta, the rasam is good for

“any kind of mental stress as it is able to relieve oxidative stress.”

For starters, they have both Gobi 65 and Onion Pakoda. Onion Pakoda (RM9.50) or some call it Onion Bhaje is also an Indian snack used as a starter for most Indian meals. Gobi 65 is basically cauliflower (or ‘sayur kobis’) deep fried using the same ingredients used for Prawn 65 (RM24) which is one of their signature dishes.

I asked the restaurant founder’s son, Kandawamy Anjapparwhy the reason why the number 65. “It’s a secret recipe that my father came up with,” he said.

“He did not know what to call it, so he just called it 65 as it was also the number 65 dish that he had created. Since then, he has used the secret recipe not only for the prawns, but for other dishes as well.”

Since I am a fan of Kebab from the moment I tasted my first Souvlaki as a student in Melbourne thirty years ago, Anjappar’s Chicken Garlic Kebab (RM20) definitely attracted me. Although it is done differently, the kebab tastes good.

Their chicken dishes can come in different cooking styles as Ginger Chicken Dry (RM17.00), Chicken Manchurian Dry (RM17.00) and Special Chicken Dish (RM19.00).

For those who love Masala, their Fish Masala (RM18.00) is best eaten along with white rice, but I find that it also goes well with the naan. Individual guests who visit the restaurant can also do with just their briyani rice served with either chicken or mutton. On its own, the briyani rice can be really a heavy lunch.

As this has been a family restaurant for over half a century, Anjappar also has dishes that cater to the taste buds of children. For the children, I would recommend their Chicken Lollipop (RM17.00) and Fish fingers (RM22.00).

Overall, it is a good dining experience for those who have never tasted the Chettinad cuisines.

Anjappar Restaurants in Malaysia are located at three different places:

Address: G56, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +6(0)3 2288 1508/+6(0)3 2288 1509
Business hours: 8AM-11PM

 
Address: No.35, Jalan 14/20, Seksyen 14, 46100 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Tel: +603 7932 1508
Business hours: 9AM – 11:30PM

 
Address: 136, Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +603 2273 3812
Business hours: 9AM – 11PM

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in all sorts of gastronomical delights – Western, Middle Eastern and Asian.

Der Backmeister simply means The Master Baker

Der Backmeister simply means The Master Baker

When Oliver Rollar decided to call it a day in the corporate world, his passion in the bakery business took off to where he is today.

With the help of a baker friend of his from Cologne, Germany, Klaus and his wife Monika, Oliver and three other partners managed to set up the bakery in July, 2015.

“The Adolphs were kind enough to spend three months with us to set up the kitchen and help out with the Front of House,” he said.

“In Germany, Klaus and Monika have a lot of experience operating four bakeries, a hotel and a restaurant. Monika herself, for example, has 45 years of experience in total!”

Soon, Der Backmeister was up and running and both Malaysians and expatriates can now be proud of having a German bakery right here at Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

Whenever they crave for a hearty German meal – especially Monika’s delicious goulash soup, a stew of meat and vegetables – they can waze their way to Der Backmeister.

Der Backmeister is now pretty busy during weekends and public holidays with four bakers working hard to produce fresh bread for a never ending string of customers who know how to appreciate what a real solid loaf bread is – the way it is done traditionally.

Once they love and crave for Der Backmeister’s wide range of bread, they would no longer touch the factory-produced soft and fluffy ones. From the strudels, pretzels, brezel, buns and Currywurst to the different kinds of bread made from sourdough, Der Backmeister does have a wide range to choose from.

Name it, they have it – the Whole Grain Honey Spelt (RM23), Walnut Bread (RM18), Farmer’s Housewife (RM15), Pain De Campagne (RM15), Bavarian Spelt (RM23), Pumpkin Bread (RM15), Cranberry Loaf (RM15), Opa Klaus Bread (named after Oliver’s friend Klaus, RM20), Tea Bread (RM15) and almost anything including Oliver’s own “innovation” of Roti Curry Rendang (a sandwich).

There is also a story behind the Curry Rendang sandwich. “One of my customers had to rush back home one day when she suddenly realised that she had put her rendang on slow fire,” he said. “Because I told her that I love rendang, she later gave me some of her rendang. It was delicious but I could not eat it without the bread. So, that’s how the Roti Curry Rendang came about.”

When Oliver offered us to try his Roti Curry Rendang, I immediately responded, “Yes, why not?” I have not regretted and I would strongly recommend everyone stepping into Der Backmeister to at least try it. To me, it is a great combination.

Being a lover of all kinds of seeds and nuts, I could not resist to try every kind of bread that was served on the table. The Big Backmeister, which is a mixed platter of salami, meatloaf, ham, cheese, butter, jam and eggs, is for those have a big appetite. The platter comes with different kinds of bread and buns.

In fact, my 9-year- old son managed to capture each type of bread on the shelf using his phone-camera and has since posted them on his new blog on food. I am encouraging him to start writing and taking his own photographs.

There were four of us for the food review and we thought there was too much to finish initially, but everything was so good that we had nearly nothing left by the time the session was over. The most important thing was everyone was happy with the food served.

My primary schoolmate who then went to the same secondary school and later to the same university in Melbourne, K.K. Yaw happened to fly in from Perth and he was able to join in the food tasting session.

This, in fact, is more than a food tasting session for him. It is an experience that I know he would bring back to Perth, and when he comes back in December, I trust he has already put Der Backmeister on his diary.

To be honest, a sumptuous meal here cannot go without a cup of either cappuccino, latte or as Oliver himself puts it, his favourite expresso. You need some room for that!

Der Backmeister Is located At:

Address: 40, Persiaran Zaaba, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-2856 0613

Business hours: 8am – 7pm, Closed on Mondays

 

They have another outlet at:

Address: KPJ Ampang Puteri Hospital, 1, Jalan Mamanda 9, Ampang, Selangor

Tel: 03-4265 0222

Business hours: 7:30am – 9:30pm, daily

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/derbackmeister/

Website: https://www.derbackmeister.com/

Waze location: https://www.waze.com/location?h=w283befwn

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in all sorts of gastronomical delights – Western, Middle Eastern and Asian.

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