B Cafe’s new festival offers Nyonya cuisine and Kuala Lumpur’s classic street eats
If YOU take a walk along Jalan Alor (Street Alor) in central Kuala Lumpur you’d be hard-pressed to pass through without grabbing a bite or several, from the street side hawkers, cramped Chinese eateries and fruit sellers that line both sides of the road. It’s this experience along with a healthy dose of Nyonya-style curries (the cuisine of early Chinese immigrants, with Malay influences) that Malaysian Chef Liew How Wai hopes to bring to Bengaluru at Shangri-La Hotel’s B Cafe with the Malaysian Food Festival.
Chef Liew started us off with some Sambal Prawns, which was pretty straightforward and classic. The sambal (a dressing made with ingredients like tomatoes, onions, chillies, tamarind and shrimp paste) is everything you’d expect it to be. The inclusion of shrimp paste gives it an extra kick. The Hainanese Chicken, typically served with steamed rice, has influences from the Hainan province of China. The dish is also adopted by various South East Asian cuisines including Thai and Singaporean.
The Malaysian version is also known by the moniker Nasi Ayam. Chef Liew serves it up with a topping of zingy ginger and garlic sauce. Tender and soft, the chicken meat is poached in simmering chicken broth for about 90 minutes to arrive at a texture that is just right. While delicious, the ginger and garlic flavours tend to sit rather strongly on your palate, so ask for a palate cleanser before moving on to the rest of the buffet spread. We opted for a freshly squeezed orange juice, that was the perfect antidote to an unusually sunny afternoon. Chef Liew’s version of the Nyonya Laksa, a dish that is synonymous with Malay-sian food, is a lot more mild and uses rice noodles. So if you’re used to the more punchy flavours and the thicker variety of noodles, we suggest you give this one a miss.
Roti Jala, a popular street snack in Malaysia, translates to net bread, which refers to the way it is made. Batter is poured through a special container with holes at the bottom to create a roti that looks like a net. Served with a spicy coconut-based sauce, our roti was light fluffy and a touch sweet. Paired with the salty and spicy sauce, this was a memorable starter.
For mains one can choose from dishes such as Kari Ikan (fish curry with Malaysian spices), Ayam Masak Merah (chicken in thick coconut milk), Kambing Masak Kurma (Lamb stew made with Malay spices and chopped potatoes) and Beef Rendang (spiced coconut beef). Our pick is the Ayam Masak Merah which was tangy and a little bit spicy, though the beef and fish curry tick all the boxes. The lamb stew was the second best — aromatic and mild, the meat was cooked perfectly. A recently installed Australian grill means you can also choose to have your meat barbecued. We sampled the Tiger prawns. Served with a fiery red sauce the ocean does come alive with every bite of the fresh prawns.
While you could say the menu is slightly tweaked to cater to milder palates, the Malaysian Food Festival at B Cafe does do justice to the cuisine of Malaysia.
Rs.1,250++ upwards. At Vasanth Nagar. Details: 45126420