[Kuala Lumpur] Malay lunch at Restoran Puteri, Brickfields

Restoran Puteri is one of KL’s most well-established restaurants specialising in ethnic Malay cuisine. It was set-up back in 1984 by then one of the Malay television’s top actresses, Rubiah Suparman, together with Habsah Hassan, the Singapore-born Malay song lyricist.

Restoran Puteri stood out as the only Malay eatery along the stretch of the Indian restaurants along Jalan Tun Sambanthan in Brickfields, KL’s de facto Little India district. It only operates on weekdays and caters mainly to the office crowd, these days coming from the busy KL Sentral area across the road from it. It can get very busy at lunch-time, so try getting there by 11.45am to avoid the lunch crowd.

Service here is typical Malay “nasi campur” (plate lunch)-style like in hundreds of similar places around the city, i.e. you queue up in front of a server who dishes up some steamed white rice on a large dinner plate and passes it over to you.
You then select whatever side-dishes you fancy from the food counters filled with pre-cooked trays of various curries, fried chicken, BBQ seafood, raw salads, etc. You can either pile the side-dishes onto your plate, or you can ask for small plates for each of the side-dish. Then, bring your plate(s) to the cashier and pay for your food before proceeding to your table. This method is similar to that at Singapore’s Malay restaurants like Hajah Maimunah or Warong Nasi Pariaman.

There are about 30 different savoury dishes to choose from:

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I met up with an old schoolmate (who’s visiting Kuala Lumpur from Saudi Arabia where he works) for lunch. What we had:
Rendang daging Slow-cooked beef rendang - quite a good version here, though I’d never found one in Malaysia which tasted as good as the ones in Indonesia, where the dish originates from.

Ayam percik This is Kelantanese-style barbecued chicken, basted with a thick coconut milk-enriched spicy-sweet dressing, is a dish that, if well-made, is to-die for. But the version here is pretty ‘meh’. Good ayam percik has its aroma from galangal, ginger and fenugreek, sweetness from onions (and sugar, for the Kelantanese, among all Malays, have a sweet-tooth). All those are toned down here in KL.

Ikan sumbat Grilled cencaru (hard-tail scad) stuffed with chilied spices.

Sambal goreng This is one of my favourite Malay dishes: stir-fried long beans with tofu puffs, tempe and spices. The version here is pretty average, but satisfied me nevertheless.

Braised tofu This is one of the dishes which the Malays adopted from the Chinese-Malaysians: soft egg tofu braised with minced beef, peas & egg. Not my choice, but my Malay friend especially loved it.

Sambal goreng terung A spiced eggplant dish with eggs, long beans and lots of chilis and tamarind. Very tasty - would have been better if served hot but, like all Malay food here, is generally served cold.

Bergedil & telur masin Potato croquettes and salted duck’s egg. These are Malay staples but adopted from other cultures - potato croquettes from the Dutch who introduced those to Indonesia during its colonial era, whilst salted duck eggs were introduced by the Chinese.

Otak-otak Spiced fish mousse (about the consistency of fish quenelles) wrapped in banana leaves and barbecued. The rendition here is pretty good, though not exceptional. The best renditions I had are in Singapore’s Nyonya restaurants like Guan Hoe Soon or Dulukala.

Otak-otak, unwrapped

Malay kuehs These are Malay sweetmeats. The versions here are also pretty average. Better Malay kuehs can be otained from La Cucur. Nyonya kuehs are also pretty similar (although richer in taste) to Malay kuehs, and one can obtain these from Nyonya Colours. Both La Cucur and Nyonya Colours are bakery chains with outlets in Nu Sentral, right across the road from Restoran Puteri.
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Restoran Puteri, as a typical Malay restaurant, is fine these days, although I’m a bit disappointed to find that none of its dishes rise above average. Maybe standards have stagnated, or even slid, since its hey-days 3 decades ago.

Address
Restoran Puteri
146, Jalan Tun Sambanthan
Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-2274 7831
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am-9pm. Closed on Sat & Sun

There is also a larger branch, but located at the edge of the city in Sungai Pencala:
Restoran Puteri Penchala
Lot 3074, Jalan Datuk Sulaiman
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
60000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 7728 4886

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When I was in KL a couple months ago, I actually wanted to try this place while we were shopping at Brickfields. My cousin, who works in KL Sentral, discouraged me because she said the food was just so-so and we were better off eating elsewhere. Sounds like she was right!

Yup, your cousin is totally right: this place was probably a ground-breaker back in the 1980s when it first opened - very popular also because of the celebrity status of its co-owners then: actress Rubiah Suparman and song lyricist Habsah Hassan were household names in Malaysia during that decade.

Today, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a reason why you should still go back there. I’m probably biased (or at least my palate is), I’ve been in Malaysia 7 years now - 6 years in KL and 1 year in Penang, but I’ve yet to find a Malay restaurant which I really liked, compared to Malay/Indon eateries which I enjoyed back in Singapore, e.g. Hajah Maimunah, Kampung Glam Cafe, Restoran Minang, Mamanda, etc. The only explanation I can come up with is because I’m used to the sweeter, more pronounced flavours of Singapore-Malay cooking, with its Johore-Riau influences, whereas KL’s Malay food is heavily influenced by Negeri Sembilan (extra hot) and Perak which I found to be more “one-dimensional”.

That said, my favourite regional Malay food is from Kelantan, which can also be sweet-savoury at the same time, much less spicy but with a heady aroma from the extensive use of fenugreek, galangal and ginger in its cooking.

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@klyeoh have you tried this place in Pantai Dalam? Kelantanese style nasi campur
Dani’s Puteri Corner
No.4, Jalan Pantai Dalam
59200 Kuala Lumpur,

You read my mind - I’m off to KL next week to attend a Baba-Nyonya function, and was actually planning to lunch at a Kelantanese spot at Jalan Pantai Dalam. But the one I had in mind is called Anis Puteri.

I think it’s the same place…:roll_eyes: Do report back.

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Sure will! :blush::+1:

Here it is:

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

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2