Lunch today was at Irama Dining, a two-month-old Malay fine dining restaurant on the second-floor of the retro Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce building.
Lovely dining space, dominated by a striking mural of a traditionally-clad Malay dancer, painted by local artist, Mandy Maung:
Malays are Muslims, so a Malay restaurant, being halal, do not serve any alcoholic drinks. We started off with some chilled Sirap Selasi - rose syrup, scented with pandanus leaves, with basil seeds.
Cucur Jagung - corn fritters, containing shrimps, onions and chives. The fritters were delicious - crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside. The fritters were served with a dip which closely approximated Penang rojak sauce, wth a distinct fermented shrimp paste scent.
Otak-otak - this is the Malay adaptation of Thai hor mok, though the version here was very mild in flavour. We were to discover in the course of our meal that the chef here had a very light hand with the spicing, resulting in a much gentler take on normally robust, chili-spicy Malay cooking. The otak-otak here is very tasty, though - very much like a savoury, turmeric-tinged custard. It’s drizzled with thick coconut cream and served with little round prawn crackers.
Solok Lada - this is a dish from the Northeastern state of Kelantan: green peppers stuffed with gently-spiced filling of minced fish-meat and grated coconut, then steamed. It’s an utterly delicious dish, and the rendition here turned out to be one of the best I’d ever had.
4) Beef Rib Rendang - slow-cooked till nearly fall-off-the-bone-tender beef rib here had deep, soulful flavours.
Lamb Shank Kurma - also slow-cooked, but the kurma is a light-coloured curry, with strong hints of cardamom, and more gingery than chili-hot.
Udang Masak Lemak Tempoyak- my personal favourite for this meal: whole shell-on prawns cooked in a coconut-rich, turmeric-scented gravy, pepped up with fermented durian!
We ordered an additional side-dish: Ulam-ulaman, which is a very Malay accompaniment to any meat dish in a meal: a cornucopia of fresh herbs and local salad leaves, always served with a chili dip:
We had two types of rice: the Nasi bunga telang which is steamed rice, tinted blue using the ternatea flower:
And the Nasi beringin, which is rice cooked with lemongrass and pandanus leaves.
The two desserts we ordered to share were very traditional ones - one of which I’d heard about, but never even seen in Singapore, let alone taste it:
Bubur Sumsum is a smooth custard-like steamed rice flour pudding, served with palm sugar molasses. Absolutely delish.
The other dessert we ordered was more common: Serawa Pisang, which consisted of chunks of bananas, sweet potato and sago, cooked in coconut milk, and sweetened with palm sugar. Perfect ending to the meal.
2, Penang Street, Georgetown
Tel : +6012-914 0908
Operating hours : 11am-1am daily