Wuan and I had dinner yesterday at a restaurant called the Otak-Otak Place that just opened at the Lower Ground Floor in the New Wing of 1 Utama. This restaurant took up one of the lots where Giant Supermarket used to be. The menu has an extensive offerings of the delicious otak-otak prepared and served in many different ways.
Roti Jala with Curry Chicken.
There were the usual steamed otak-otak and grilled otak-otak. Otak-otak steamed in banana leaf is from Penang. Otak-otak wrapped in coconut leaf and grilled comes from Muar in Johor. Apart from the that, the menu proferred a mind-boggling list of otak-otak served as dumplings, fish cakes and even used as patty for burgers.
We were indeed spoilt for choice and had a difficult time deciding what we wanted to eat. After browsing the menu for a while and salivating in the process, we decided to tread on the well-beaten path and try out food that we were more familiar with.
Nasi Lemak Special.
Wuan was not very hungry and had Roti Jala with Curry Chicken (RM5.90). I stole a piece of the roti jala. The curry was fragrant. The aroma and taste was just what I like in chicken curry. There are not many places in the Klang Valley that offer this dish in the menu. This is one place that I will go back again whenever I have cravings for roti jala.
The fried chicken for the Nasi Lemak Special (RM9.90) that I ordered looked delicious in the menu. It was served in a two-tier stainless steel tiffin carrier that is common in many kitchens. One was filled with rice, two slices of cucumber and half a hard-boiled egg. The other had one piece of fried rempah chicken, one piece of grilled otak-otak and one portion of sambal ikan bilis. The chicken was well marinated and did not disappoint but the nasi lemak was a little bland for my liking.
For the month of December, patrons who have the 1 Utama One Card will be presented with a complimentary piece of steamed otak-otak (RM3.00) with their orders. While we liked the otak-otak, we both agreed that it would have tasted better with daun kaduk. There was not a hint of this pungent leaf or its aroma. Somehow, steamed otak-otak without daun kaduk is just incomplete for the Northern Peranakan cuisine lovers in us.
The bill plus two glasses of iced honey lemon inclusive of 5% service charge totaled RM24.99. We will definitely return to try out more from the menu. Wuan wants to have a taste of the Nasi Briyani Dam. As for me, there are several other otak-otak dishes that I would love to sink my teeth into.
Little Penang Kafe Acar Fish Set – (from top clockwise) Acar fish, jiu hoo char, sambal belacan, sliced cucumber, lor bak and white rice.
Whenever I have a pining for home-cooked food Penang style, there are only a few eateries in the Klang Valley that can satiate my appetite. Little Penang Kafé, which has several outlets here, is the one Wuan and I usually head to. The outlet we frequent often is at Mid Valley Megamall as we hang out there a lot on weekends. Each time we ate there, I resolved to try something different but invariably settled for the Acar Fish Set consisting of white rice, acar fish, jiu hoo char and lor bak. The other two outlets we pop in whenever we are in the vicinity are at Suria KLCC and The Curve.
Acar fish is fish slices that are deep-fried and then pickled in rice vinegar, turmeric, julienned ginger, sliced garlic and red chilli. Jiu hoo char is dried cuttle fish yam bean (sengkuang) and carrots that are julienned and stir fried together with belly pork, sliced shiitake mushrooms, onions and chopped garlic. Lor bak is chopped belly pork marinated with five spice powder, soya sauce, sugar, salt, pepper and shallots and made into rolls with bean curd sheets.
Little Penang Kafe serves halal food. The belly pork in jiu hoo char and lor bak are replaced with chicken. Both dishes without belly pork just do not feel as authentic as they should be in the mouth. The lor bak still maintains the aroma and flavour and is delicious nonetheless. The jiu hoo char has prawns added and is garnished with spring onions and deep fried shallots. The jiu hoo char that I like neither comes with prawns nor have garnishing. Perhaps it was added more for presentation purposes than anything else. I would have loved it more had it been stir fried longer to bring out its flavour. I usually eat the jiu hoo char with sambal belacan.
I grew up eating a hodgepodge of Peranakan (Nyonya) cuisine. These are usually served on weekends when the family got together for more scrumptious meals. It included nasi lemak, laksa, popiah, lam mee, lor bak, jiu hoo char, otak-otak and perut ikan, among others. Different cooks would use different amount of ingredients or even use slightly different ingredients that may make the taste varied and unique. The tastes that I like are more mainstreamed. That is what one would get from hawkers and eateries proffering such cuisines.
A low-salt, low-fat, low-purine and low-everything diet is one that is as tasteless as chewing on a piece of tree bark. After one month on such diet, I am beginning to crave for all the sinfully mouth-watering hawker food. Give me my hokkien mee and char koay teow, and nasi kandar with lots of greasy gravy and mutton kurma, fried fish roe and curried cuttlefish. How can such delicious grub be so unhealthy to the body?
Am I losing it? If I am not now, I am on my way, especially when I look at this photo of acar ikan (pickled fish) that Wuan made. The fish was fried and then pickled in turmeric oil, sugar, red chilli, rice vinegar, shredded ginger and sliced garlic, both which were browned in hot oil earlier. Sometimes, sliced cucumber is added for pickling too. Wuan made it just the right taste. It was piquant, slightly sweet and very nice. The recipe usually calls for ikan belanak to be used, which is also one of Wuan’s favourite. It is pickled whole. I prefer sliced fish as there are fewer bones. I am a lazy eater.