This being Malaysia, there are of course any number of Malay eateries about, and nowhere more so than in Kuala Lumpur. However, there are surprisingly few where you can eat authentic Malay food in elegant, comfortable, air-conditioned surroundings.
Enak KL, situated in the “Feast Village” floor of the Starhill Gallery, is definitely one where you can. It serves halal food but stocks a selection of house wines and beer for customers. There is a fresh and contemporary down-to-earth feel about the place, with some interesting works of art on display by local artists. Managed now for over a year by trendy and gorgeous Sherena Razaly, the UK-trained daughter of the owner, Dato’ Razaly Wahi, it is a place, to quote, “inspired by tradition, yet deliciously contemporary”.
“My family has got Johore, Indonesian (her great-grandfather came from Aceh) and Perak links,” she explained, “and the food we serve here is mainly kampong (village)-style family recipes handed down through the generations.” It’s no wonder then that the Malay word for delicious was chosen as the
name for the restaurant.
Her mother, Datin Fawzia Abd Ghani, is the executive chef who doesn’t just work in the background coming up with and testing new recipes, but also keeps a watchful dragon eye over the kitchen. She insists on personally preparing every spice used, drying and grinding them to powders and pastes with care and precision. Sherena was also keen to stress that they do not use MSG in any of the cooking, as their whole family has an allergic reaction to it.
We started with a rather interesting mocktail, made using neat papaya and mango, with no added sugar or water or even ice, and is so thick it’s almost like a puree– a great way of ensuring you get your daily ration of fibre. This went nicely with their house appetiser “Melincuk Buah-Buahan” from Aceh, a refreshing cocktail of diced local fruits like papaya, mango, star fruit and pineapple, all combined with a sweet and sour piquant sauce made with tamarind, chilli and palm sugar.
The main-course dishes to go with rice were varied and tasty. Kerabu Jantung Pisang (Banana Flower Salad) from Pahang uses finely-chopped banana flower mixed with coconut milk and lime; the Daging Hitam (Dark Beef) is made of cubed topside cooked with spices and chilli for two or three hours.
There was also a variation of the Indonesian dish Ayam Kalio (Kalio Chicken) which is a mild but tasty chicken curry, particularly popular with children and those who don’t like their food too spicy. Malays love fish, so it was apt that we tried their unusual Botok Botok from Johor – pieces of mackerel fillet are marinated in spices then steamed wrapped in no less than nine different types of edible leaves, some of which have medicinal properties. As no oil is used in the cooking, it is a healthy dish, but a difficult one to make, as all the ingredients have to be available fresh at the same time.
My favourite though was the Sambal Tumis Udang (Prawn Sambal), hot, spicy and full of flavour, with just the right amount of meaty crunch. For dessert, we had Seri Kaya Labu, a wonderful combination of steamed pumpkin served with melted gula Melaka (palm sugar) and roasted pumpkin seeds.
The menu is designed to show you how delicious Malay food can be, but if you’re not sure of what to order, then worry not – the staff are trained to ensure that every assistance is given if necessary. Sherena, meanwhile, does not rest on her laurels, and has come up with some innovative ideas to thank loyal customers, like a Privilege Card, and tying up with a beauty salon in Starhill where you can get a free facial if you spend over RM350 in a single receipt. They serve afternoon tea to tired shoppers who want to rejuvenate – get a savoury, a sweet and a cuppa for RM14++. You can’t beat that really.
Fact File :
Enak Malay & Indonesian Restaurant
LG2, Feast Floor
181 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel. No. 03.2141 8973
Opening Hours: Open 12 noon to 1am (11.45 last orders) every day except two days of Hari Raya.
Seating Capacity: 85-100
Credit Cards: Mastercard, Visa, Diners and Amex
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