We’d spotted this relatively new opening a few days before when we’d come to Rusholme to do some food shopping. It’s an interesting addition to the “Curry Mile” or I suppose that with the opening of so many Middle Eastern places, we should start calling it the “Kebab Kilometre”. It looked a bit of an odd place – no menu outside and posters all across the window so you can’t see in. But, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained – so we came back for dinner.
We’ve eaten Malaysian food a few times before – once at the very underwhelming Nings in the city centre (now closed) and dishes crop up on the menu of the pan-asian mini-chain, Tampopo. But this felt as though the cooking might be traditional – but, hey, who knows, we’re not East Asian, let alone Malaysian.
Service was generally good – the waiter was very helpful in explaining some of the menu items and making suggestions. Yes, I know that when waiters suggest anything it’s usually because the kitchen has got loads it needs to get rid of but this was a place to start for us. Kitchen was a bit slow and probably a bit disorganised. Dishes for both of us didn’t come together and that’s always a bit of a problem – do you wait for your companion’s food to arrive and risk your own food getting cold, or do you get stuck in. We got stuck in.
Roti canai was the best thing we ate all evening. We’ve seen the light flaky bread being made in a Cape Malay home in South Africa and even had a go at making it. This was lovely and perfect for dipping in the light vegetable curry, that carried a good chilli kick. We took the waiter’s suggestion for the second starter – karipap. Looking for all the world like a Spanish empanada or mini Cornish pasty, this was shortcrust pastry enclosing a mainly potato filling. It was OK but, generally, a bit underflavoured.
Beef rendang is a dish we have eaten a couple of times before. Even with our limited experience, this did not feel like a stellar version. In previous versions, the meat has been in chunks but here it was slices and that did not feel like an improvement, not least to the texture of the dish. The sauce was fine although there had been a bit too heavy a hand with whatever was supposed to give it the background sweetness. Not really sweet like you might have with, say, a Chinese sweet & sour, but the flavours not quite balanced. It came with a mountain of very nice plain rice.
The other main was nasi lemak, also centred around the rice (in this case, flavoured with coconut milk). There was fried chicken leg which I suppose I’d expected to be a bit spicy, but wasn’t. But there was lots of spice in the little dish of sambal that came with it. It’s one of those dishes where there’s a disparate range of ingredients on the plate which you hope will work together and, in this case, they generally do. There was fried tofu, slices of cucumber, shreds of deep fried anchovy and peanuts. It makes for interesting texture combinations. Glad I’ve eaten what is often called Malaysia’s national dish but I’m not sure it’s a dish to rush back to.
In keeping with Muslim traditions, there’s no alcohol (not an issue for me, as I don’t drink) but we did try “limau ais” – a quite sweet lime cordial which went well with the food.
So, an interesting midweek dinner. We had a wander down the Curry Mile to see if there was anywhere else of interest – probably not, except for a rather seedy looking Yemeni café that we might just pass on. But we did stop at the Sanam Sweet Centre for a half kilo box of their mixed sweets – I’ll not be telling my diabetes nurse about that !.
(With thanks to my East Asian mentor, klyeoh, for his ordering advice. Cheers, mate)