Jotaro's Food Review
Creative Fusion @ Manja Old Malaya
Allow me to take you on a trip, a notstalgic trip down a memory lane that's called Old Malaya. Yes there is such a lane right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur that will evoke memories of old times from decades ago..... AND it comes with a bonus of very good food with a fantastic view.
OLD MALAYA is a short row of shop houses along Lorong Raja Chulan, a lane which although is within the centre of the city, is surprisingly quiet - no overly bright lights, no roar of traffic; which makes this place just perfect for some good classy dining. The houses here had previously been abandoned and derelict; but have now been tastefully restored and even painted a stern white to reflect the colonial era. But there was nothing stern about the place, it was in fact a cosy place to comfortably wine and dine away the hours.
We were at Manja, one of the outlets within the row, it's a place that offers very good food, one of East meets West fusion which had been very creatively prepared by the chefs. Indoors, the restaurant have been very comforatbly laid out, walls with strong colours and a couple of large posters hanging there to balance off the strong tones.
We opted to sit at the garden, with the KL Tower looming over us. Yes it really stood tall there, like a big friendly giant overhead and with it's bright dancing colours building up our appetites. It was a surrealistic experience - dining at a old colonial setting with the tech of modern day right atop us!
The food here is neo-fusion, with interesting names that gave hints of what is to come but never revealing all until one takes the first taste. Some give a startling oomph, while others have their flavours slowly settling in. Let's start with this Negombo Stir Fried Crab With Mantou. Negombo is a beach town in Sri Lanka and the crabs are Sri Lankan mud crabs. Mantou originated from China.
Hah! This is the first time I am having a Sino-Sinhalese fusion!
The Mantou is one of deep-fried style - here they looked handsomely brown with smooth curls. The outside is cripsy and gives a good slightly-crunchy bite. The curls swirl inward to become softly breadish, just nice to absorb the tastiness of the crab combo.
And in this large bowl is the crab, de-shelled with its stringy meat cooked the Sinhalese way : with spices, bean paste, pickled onions and chilli, infusing their mouth-watering flavours into the meat. It's not overly spicy, just enough to give that tiny sting to the palate. It's a good blend, the soft spicy crab balanced off by the cripsy-breadish Mantous.
Now this is another curious dish, Bayam & Escargot - this time its a fusion of French snails with Malaysian bayam (Spinach), and served with toasted Italian focaccia dotted with a sprinkling of garlic.
The escargots were cooked with the finely cut spinach in lobster oil that gave an underlying creamy flavour. The escargots had been de-shelled and were sitting comfortably on the spinach waiting to be scooped up and .....
... spread over the focaccia. And Wahlah! And another good blend hits our palate!
The Saffron Snapper & Scallop Ravioli looked a bit lost cutting it's way across this large white plate, AND Hey! Where's the fish? But don't let this "lost" dish fool you; one scoop of the fish (which was hiding inside the ravioli) with the yellowish saffron cream sauce, and all misgivings are replaced by respect.
The sauce slowly works its way in as I sank my teeth into the ravioli-fish. This is a triple-fusion with a local snapper, Itallian pasta, and large U10 scallops from the States. My only grouse was that the wonderful scallops were overcooked thus not that juicy.
Taking a break, I look skywards letting the shifting colours of the KL Tower clear my mind, getting ready for more flavours to come.
This Pommery Lamb & Hummus sat there comfortably, its rack like fingers called out to me seductively. This time it's a blend of New Zealand lamb with the Middle Eastern hummus.
This was our best dish of the evening, the lamb was nicely done with a good crusty layer leading to a soft juicy inside. We took small tasteful bites of it while enjoying the view.
This Taiping Duck & Garlic Fried Rice got me wondering. Does the Taiping meant that it originated from Taiping or reflected the Taiping Rebellion by it revolusionary combo? Those in the know will say that the duck came from the Malaysian town of Taiping.
For me I will take both meanings. The food here is quite revolutionary while Trong, nearby to Taiping, is renown for the many farms that breed good-tasting ducks.
The garlic fried rice was very good, with a generous amount of garlic to give a heady zest, and the roasted duck was equally good, well roasted with the right amount of duck fat below the crispy skin.
To round of the meal, we had this Mint-Lime Freeze, a simple but very refreshing quencher topped off with sugar at the glass rims.
Click here for their Menu & Prices. , which includes creative dishes for lunch, dinner (in large, medium and small plates) and a plethora of fusion local cocktails, wine and beer.
Hours: 11:30am to 2:00am (Everyday)
GPS: 3.1505, 101.70436
(Click here for Google Street View)
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