[Kuala Lumpur] Hip Malay eats at Little Rimba, Taman Tun Dr Ismail

The hip, young designer team who owned Wondermilk in Damansara Uptown - Dzurina Dzulkhaini, Ena Hadzir, Haliza Halim, Ifzan Ibrahim, Nurul Hanis and Yati Dzulkhaini - are also behind Little Rimba, their first foray into the affluent neighbourhood of Taman Tun Dr Ismail, fondly known to KL-lites as TTDI.

Kuala Lumpur is a diverse multi-racial city which consists of roughly 45% Chinese-Malaysians, 43% Malay-Malaysians, 6% Indian-Malaysians, plus a sprinkling of other ethnic groups. The TTDI neighbourhood has always been a trendsetter for the Malay market, and businesses target the influential upper-middle class Malay society here - if it succeeds here, it will succeed anywhere else in KL. So, it’s a surprise that it took Wondermilk’s trendy all-Malay team that long to finally drop anchor at TTDI, 18 years after establishing itself in Damansara Uptown.

The new Little Rimba is actually a smaller version of their second outlet after Wondermilk - Rusa + Rimba at Sunway Ginza. It’s got its trademark floor-to-ceiling glass windows, bright breezy decor and traditional Malay foods, some given a small twist.

We opted for its traditional Malay options:

  1. Lontongku Sayang
    Lontong is a traditional Malay breakfast dish of compressed rice cubes, topped with a milky, coconut- and turmeric-rich vegetable curry. In Singapore, it will also be topped with serondeng (spiced meat floss) - but the version here in KL has kuah kacang, a peanutty concoction similar to dips served with Malaysian satays.

  1. Nasi Lemak Cinta with Ayam Goreng Berempah
    The classic nasi lemak combination with sambal chilli, crisp-fried ikan bilis (anchovies) and groundnuts, slivers of fresh cucumber and half a hard-boiled egg. A piece of spiced fried chicken (not traditional, but had gained traction in Malaysia in the past couple of decades) completed this pretty substantial breakfast plate.

  2. Roti Boom with Kari Daging
    Roti boom is a mini-sized, ultra-rich version of the Malaysian roti canai, and was purportedly introduced to Malaysia by Naan Corner in Ampang Jaya. Naan Corner owner, Parwiz Kausar, 45, is the self-proclaimed inventor of the roti boom (which, despite its spelling, is pronounced “roti bomb” by locals), and has been offering it for the past 25 years, together with a spread of Pakistani and a myriad of other Malaysian dishes. The version here at Little Rimba was pretty good, but it was the beef curry which was truly amazing - piquant, tasty and very addictive.

The dessert option we had here: the cendol nangka, fared less well - it came across as pretty bland and the shaved ice was not as fine as those from good eateries elsewhere.

The other dessert, Sago Gula Melaka, was fine. Pretty average-tasting, as the palm sugar used itself was not of very good quality.

But I liked the Milo Dinosaur, a chilled malted chocolate drink which I first had back in Singapore, at Katriyya (formerly Thohirah) on Jalan Kayu, many, many moons ago. A rather nostalgic drink concoction, and it more than made up for the disappointing cendol nangka.
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Overall, a rather pretty little place. The food is very much hit-and-miss really, whilst the prices are perhaps double what they should be. But then, they are targetting the very affluent upper-middle class Malay market here.

Address
Little Rimba
1, Lorong Datuk Sulaiman 7
Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-77336177
Opening hours: 7.30am-6.30pm, Tue-Sun. Closed on Mondays.

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The diversity of the country came home to me last night. We had dinner with my nephew who is briefly home from doing his Master’s degree in cinematograhy. There are sixteen on the course, of whom only six are Brits. And, of the foreigners, there is at least one from the three Malaysian communities.

(PS: dinner at a chain Italian - not worth reporting on to the UK board)

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I attended a week-long company conference in Reading a few years ago and, on the one night out, our departmental secretary organised a dinner for all of us (about 20) at … Pizza Express. :joy:

Turned out - it wasn’t too bad: I guess the company more than made up for it. But, like you, I won’t post that on the UK board. :joy::joy::joy:

I suppose it’s like most chains - food is reliably OK but nothing to write home about. I go back a long, long way with Pizza Express - back to when it only had a couple or so branches. The local branch, within walking distance of home, is still on our regular lunch list.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2