Biryani @ House of Pakeeza Restaurant

House of Pakeeza

House of Pakeeza is a rather strange restaurant. It looks like it had gotten lost in the 1970’s and popped up almost 50 years later. This eating establishment is located at a block of shops called The Right Angle in Section 14, Petaling Jaya. It’s a stone’s throw away from Jaya Shopping Centre. If you work around here, you’ll know that this area is horrifically congested. The narrow streets are often double, sometimes triple parked.

Pakeeza Restaurant

I was craving for some nasi biryani and decided to pop over for lunch. The dimly lit interior is manned by waiters in white starched uniforms. The dated chequered tablecloth is topped with old school wine glasses and adorned with a plastic rose in a glass bottle. It doesn’t look nostalgic as much as lost in time, with the disco era wall panelling reinforcing the illusion. It was also empty. I was the only customer there and it sounded like I was the only one who’s come in for a while.

Beef Biryani

House of Pakeeza used to serve good nasi biryani, or at least that’s how old timers remember it. This might be true decades ago, but it certainly isn’t now. I ordered a Beef Biryani (RM 15) and was disappointed to see that the sad biryani rice is barely spiced and the beef isn’t cooked together ala Hyderabadi style. It’s just a very plain mound of biryani rice with chopped spring onions scattered on top (something I’ve never seen before) and a few slices of beef on the side. The beef was tough and barely edible.

Salted Lassi

However, the eggplant curry served on the side was quite delicious. It had tons of flavor and was actually hot, compared to the room temperature rice and meat. I also ordered a Salted Lassi (RM 5.40) which also turned out to be good. The salty and acidic yoghurt drink was excellent.

Kulfi

Pakeeza specializes in Moghul cuisine and they also carry a Northern Indian ice cream called Kulfi (RM 5.20). I had kulfi when I was in Sri Lanka and I loved the saffron flavored creamy frozen dairy treat. Kulfi is technically not “ice cream” per se but a type of frozen dessert from the Indian subcontinent. I was served a grainy cardamom and pistachio flavored scoop full of ice crystals. It tasted sandy and gritty, like it’s been melted and refrozen many times and way past its use by date. It’s the antithesis of a smooth kulfi.

Pakeeza

I would give House of Pakeeza a pass if you’re also tempted to try them out. The bill for lunch cost me RM 28.16 which is slightly below average for a similar Indian themed meal at the nearby Anjappar. However, it doesn’t taste very good and left my craving for good biryani unfulfilled. There is a good reason this place is deserted while another Indian restaurant down the street is doing a roaring business. I should have gone around the corner to Anjappar instead coz they have really delicious biryani but I wanted to try Pakeeza. Oh well, I know where to go next time.

MAHBUB Restaurant, Bangsar: The Best Nasi Briyani Ayam Madu

Nasi Briyani MAHBUB

I’ve loved nasi briyani ever since my late mom took me for my first taste of it when I was around 7 or 8 years old. Unfortunately, my better half does not share the same love for nasi briyani so I often go to eat it alone. I was talking about Fierce Curry House (which has really good Hyderabadi style nasi briyani) with Samantha and Michelle the other day when Sam told me about this awesome briyani place in Bangsar.

Restaurant Mahbub

I’ve actually eaten at Mahbub Restaurant before but didn’t think much of it at the time. It serves briyani with ayam madu (honey chicken) – a distinctively Malaysian-Indian take on the dish. I do like the sweet taste of the honey chicken but I prefer my protein to be cooked *together* with the briyani ala Hyderabadi. However, I decided to pop over again after my Invisalign appointment to reacquaint my taste buds…after all, my last trip was over a decade ago.

MAHBUB Bangsar

No kidding, MAHBUB Restaurant has been around since 1974! They also have an air conditioned space where you have to pay a small premium to sit in. It’s attached to the main restaurant and has a different menu with slightly higher prices but I thought it was a small price to pay for the comfort. It’s so hot lately with the heat wave that I almost lost my appetite from heat stress so air conditioned dining is a must.

Ayam Madu

The main draw here is as mentioned the Nasi Briyani Ayam Madu (RM 13.50). The honey chicken is really quite good and the portions are generous too. I was quite surprised to get more than a regular portion. I was given 1/2 a wing in addition to the huge chicken breast. I usually don’t like chicken breast coz it can be dry if not cooked properly but there are no such issues here. The honey soaked chicken breast was tender and full of white meat. It was very satisfying to eat.

Nasi Briyani Ayam Madu

The honey cooked chicken is perfectly balanced too. It’s slightly on the sweet side but the nasi briyani is served with achar pickles on the side so the acidity cuts through the richness of the chicken. They give you curry dal on the side too and everything is nice and hot instead of the lukewarm stuff other places tend to have. The nasi briyani is decent too – lots of spices and herbs inside to give it that distinctive flavor.

MAHBUB Restaurant

I thought MAHBUB Restaurant is a satisfactory stop if you’re craving for nasi briyani. The meat portion is huge! They definitely don’t skimp on the protein here. The entire meal set me back just RM 16.65 with a drink. They also have Bukhara style nasi briyani on Fridays which adds more spice to the rice so that’s something to consider. I’ll definitely be back for more, especially when I’m hankering for a good ol’ chunk of white meat to go with my spiced rice!

Hyderabadi dum biryani @ Fierce Curry House, Bangsar

Hyderabadi Biryani

Fierce Curry House has consistently won awards for best Indian in the past few years. They have seriously good (and authentic) Hyderabadi dum biryani and I’ve been craving for a proper biryani meal so I popped over after my Invisalign appointment at Imperial Dental Bangsar. Fierce Curry House is just a 5-minute drive from the Telawi area.

Fierce Curry House

I’ve been here a couple of times, usually by myself, since my better half doesn’t like Indian food. I suggested eating biryani over the weekend and she wasn’t keen on it at all so this is something that I enjoy alone. I normally get my “biryani” fix at random mamaks around my place but I wanted something genuine this time. The “biryani” served at nasi kandar places is just pilaf – a completely different dish.

Fierce Bangsar

My first exposure to Hyderabadi dum biryani is (surprisingly) in Sibu. We have a place that serves up good chicken dum biryani and I often went when I was in primary school. My late mom liked it too so that’s probably where I picked up eating biryani from. Hyderabadi dum biryani is kinda like nasi briyani gam Johor – the protein (chicken, mutton, etc) is cooked together with the rice. There’s also an insanely good Hyderabadi dum biryani in Kuching made with camel meat!

Specialty Hyderabadi Dum Biryani

Fierce Curry House has a wide selection of Hyderabadi dum biryani. You can have Lobster Dum Biryani (RM 240), Crab Dum Biryani (RM 140) and Scallop Dum Biryani (RM 80). Vegetarians can also opt for Mock Meat Dum Biryani (RM 25), cheese fans would be at home with the Paneer Dum Biryani (RM 25) and fish lovers would be happy to hear about the Cod Dum Biryani (RM 80).

HB

However, all those meals need a 24-hour turnaround. Fierce Curry House only makes two types of biryani which is available every day – Chicken Dum Biryani (RM 17) and Mutton Dum Biryani (RM 19). It’s their flagship and you’ll see waiters carrying stacks of the dough-wrapped biryani metal containers out of the kitchen. I’ve tried both and the mutton version is a lot better. Their chicken is boneless thigh so it can be dry at times. I have a higher standard since the biryani place I go to when I was young served whole bone-in thighs. smirk

Papadum

You’ll be presented with complimentary papadum when you’re seated.

Papadum Dip

It’s paired with a deceptively spicy dip. The bright and pleasant green looks like mint but it’s actually chillies. Very hot ones. I also enjoyed the tiny shot of soup called rasam which they provide as an amuse-bouche – it’s mouth-wateringly sour, with lots of vegetables and tamarind inside. Perfect to whet your appetite.

Watermelon Lassi

I ordered a Watermelon Lassi (RM 7). It’s the lesser known cousin of the Mango Lassi and it’s fresh – the lassis here are made with freshly squeezed juice. Fierce Curry House has a wide range of lassis, I can recommend the Salted Lassi and the Masala Lassi if you want to try something different.

Dough Sealed Biryani

The biryani container comes sealed with dough around the metal lid. This locks the moisture in during the cooking process.

Dough Seal

You have to peel off the dough before you can dig into the biryani.

Biryani Rice

I went for the Mutton Dum Biryani (RM 19) which is served with Mixed Raita, Vegetable Achar and Gravy. There are pieces of mutton inside the wonderfully spiced biryani rice. The long grained Basmati rice is cooked to perfection – it’s fluffy and you can see the individual grains. It’s delicious! I liked the raita too, the cool yoghurt goes very well with the rich and salty biryani rice.

Mutton Biryani

I highly recommend Fierce Curry House if you’re craving for an authentic Hyderabadi dum biryani. The entire meal just cost RM 26. It’s a very reasonable lunch meal for the quality of food. It’s always packed though so you might have to come at off-peak hours and parking can be a pain in this area. There is a sister outlet in Publika called Fiercer by Fierce Curry House but I feel like the original outlet is still the best. Service is outstanding too, which is a rarity except in high-end Indian restaurants.

Cafe Ind – Indonesian and Indian food

cafe ind

I’ve wanted to come here for ages but it was always closed when I was out. I heard the food is good and they serve both Indonesian and Indian cuisine – thus Cafe Ind. My good friend Arthur came over and dropped off some of his muesli cookies…

(which I’ve almost finished, eating them as a midnight snack)

cookies

…and we headed out to check out the curiously named Cafe Ind(dehouse).

Nasi Pecel (RM 14)

Nasi pecel is one of the unique Javanese rice served with pecel (cooked vegetables with the classic Javanese spicy peanut sauce) and warm plain rice (nasi putih). It tastes best when eaten with fried tempeh and the traditional cracker called peyek. In reality pecel has a lot of versions and ours has it’s own uniqueness. It’s served with chicken satay on a lemongrass stick and herbal boiled egg.

nasi pecel

I got that from the menu liner notes and it doesn’t leave much to the imagination. It’s a really good dish where every single one of the sides tastes good. Arthur ordered this one and I tasted the tempeh, which I didn’t think was tempeh at first.

It’s not deep fried but cooked so flavourful that it made a convert out of me. I like the way they skew the chicken stay onto lemongrass stalks too!

Nasi Tumpeng (RM 15)

Nasi Tumpeng is traditional Indonesian rice platter served during special events such as birthdays, weddings, or any other occasions. It’s somewhat a Nasi Lemak for big occasions. Our aromatic rice, served on a bed of banana leaf, is complemented by several different which varies daily. You have the honor to have the Tumpeng as the mark of an achievement!

nasi tumpeng

That semi-garbled bit of liner note in the menu describes my dish perfectly. It’s santan (coconut milk) rice with with a nice hat made of banana leaf on top – cute! :)

There’s a side of kangkung, which goes very well with the peanut sauce from Arthur’s Nasi Pecel. The chicken kurma is superb too! Choice, tender cuts in a flavorful and creamy curry. I also like their spicy beef and the otak otak that’s made in-house.

Indian Ginger Tea (RM 6)

indian ginger tea

This is an iced ginger tea which is rather diluted from the vast amount of ice they put inside. It would have been much better if it had been thicker.

Butter Curry Chicken (RM 14)

butter curry chicken

This is something we ordered from the Indian menu. They have three menus – one for Indonesian food (which is what we had for mains), one for Indian food, and one for beverages. There are three (3) pieces of chicken inside, including a drum. I thought it was delicious!

mulu ice cream

We also went to the new Payung Mahkota and had the Mulu Ice Cream. It’s the best ice cream I’ve had in Sibu! Very complex textures with the cake, ice cream and muesli sprinkled on top. I said this would be national level ice cream – it’ll be great even in KL! One of the best ice creams I’ve ever had. It’s hands down the best dessert on their menu.

kahlua ice cream

The liqueur ice cream is pretty good too. There’s Kahlua and Blue Curacao. The former needs to introduction, being the most popular coffee liqueur around but if you’re not familiar with the latter, it’s used in cocktails for it’s blue color. The refinishing citrus taste from Blue Curacao comes from the laraha fruit, which is a predecessor to Valencia oranges.

blue curacao ice cream

The orange juice I drink back when I was studying in Melbourne uses Valencia orange concentrate around winter if they have a severe shortage of Australian oranges – it’s 100% orange juice squeezed daily otherwise and they’ll tell you when it’s not by stating it on the label – a very transparent move I love in Australian products.

payung mahkota

Dinner at The Cafe Ind is great! I had a lot of fun talking to Arthur about everything. Thanks for getting the desserts! :)

waitress

I like the service there – the waitresses are knowledgeable, speaks English and will take the initiative to ask if there’s something they don’t know (which a lot of Sibu and KL restaurants don’t do).

I asked her about the tempeh, which doesn’t seem like the usual deep fried ones I’ve had. This is much better.

peeping tom

The Cafe Ind charges for water though – RM 2 for a glass of RO water and RM 4.50 for mineral water. However, the meals are very reasonably priced and dinner came up to a little over RM 55 for the both of us. I love the ambiance too, Cafe Ind would be perfect if they turned off the flashing lights and pop music.

cafe ind sibu

You have the honor to have the Tumpeng as the mark of an achievement! smirk

A wonderful array of Indian sweets

sss

I’ve been a huge fan of these absurdly sweet concoctions since I first encountered a variant of the diabetic-inducing delicacies in Sri Lanka. The first time I had it, I had a look of pure shock in my face from the insulin response. It delighted the Sri Lankan shopkeepers.

The SHEER amount of sugar inside will astound you.

indian sweet vendor

I recently found one a place in town called Bakti Woodlands that offer similar sweets. It called mithai and touted as South Indian in origin, but most are from the continental Indian area (most of the sweets are similar throughout the region, with just different names).

sample box

They had a sample box of 10 different types of sweets for RM 10. I bought that and spent the night savoring the sweets and went back for more a few days ago.

They didn’t have the boxes anymore – I was told that the sample boxes are only sold during festive seasons. I knew what I liked and what I didn’t so I bought it a la carte at RM 1 each.

mithai

What I like about these sweets is that you can taste the different types of milk (goat, cow etc) inside. Here’s a sample of the sugar laden, ghee-infused concoctions that will delight (and challenge) everyone with a sugar tooth:

Jangiri

jangiri

This is the most common sweet you’ll find around here. It tastes like a very light and fluffy doughnut and is made with urad flour and sugar before being deep fried in ghee (clarified butter).

indian sweet stall

There’s a stall just beside Bakti Woodlands selling it for RM 0.70 instead of RM 1 but I find the former to taste slightly better.

Mysore pak

indian confection

This wonderful slice of sweet heaven is made with a truckload of ghee, sugar and gram flour/dhall flour. The interesting thing about dhall flour is that it’s gluten-free, which means my niece can probably eat it. This is my second favorite mithai (Indian confection / sweet).

The dude who was behind the counter didn’t recognize me at first until I brought up the topic of the sample box. He was intrigued and asked me if I was doing research. I wasn’t. Heh. I bought RM 30 worth the second time, and here’s the second video of him introducing the sweets – first one didn’t turn out right.

Laddu

laddu

There’s a type of laddu that costs RM 2.50 (as opposed to RM 1 for the others, like the one above). It’s a huge, fist-sized round ball made with brown sugar, cashew nuts and dried fruits.

There’s also a smaller type of laddu, generically named Ghee Ladhu here:

coconut laddu

The word laddu means “small ball” and can contain almost anything. There are some with ground coconut (the red one) but I prefer the plain ones with raisins inside.

Halwa

indian sweets

This has gotta be my favorite mithai ever!

Halwa is a very generic term that describes a lot of sweets across the Indian subcontinent and even to the Middle East. The name itself is Arabic for “sweet”. I first encountered it in Sri Lanka. I’ve also heard it referred to as barfi.

almond halwa

I like the white almond slices that contains an obscene amount of condensed milk. Halwa tends to be crumbly and insanely sweet. I imagine the recipe for it looks a little like this:

  • 2 tons of sugar
  • 40 kgs of ghee

for a tray of sweets. Heh.

apple halwa

I’m particularly fond of the apple shaped halwas. I highly recommend this if you’re willing to test the limits of your insulin tolerance. It’s sweet, crumbly and has a distinctive milky taste that you can smell as well as taste. The “stem” of the “apple” is made from a clove stick! :)

apple sweet with cinnamon stick

You might need a shot of insulin to stabalize but its worth it! Melt-in-your-mouth buttery goodness! :D

Jothy's Fish Head Curry Banana Leaf Restaurant

a.k.a. The Worst Fish Head Curry and Banana Leaf Restaurant in the Known Universe

jothys fish head curry banana leaf rice

Jothy’s Fish Head Curry Banana Leaf Restaurant is located in Api Api Center in KK, Sabah and has a lot of impressive stickers on its front window facade, including one that says “as seen in Lonely Planet”, which was the reason we headed there to eat in the first place. I place a certain amount of trust in the Lonely Planet brand.

jothys interior

The first clue that it might not exactly be the best place to eat when we walked in is the underwhelming crowd in the restaurant. We were the only ones there. I swear I could hear crickets chirping.

jothys banana leaf

Their banana leaf rice seems authentic enough…

jothys banana leaf rice

…but the taste did not live up to expectations. I tried every single one of the side serves and found them severely wanting.

jothys curry fish head

Their flagship signature dish – the curry fish head – was tough, overcooked and dry. It’s certainly not “the freshest fish head from the market”.

jothys curry fish head meat

I don’t know what kind of fish this head came from but finding meat is like looking for a needle in a haystack (or insert other cliched analogy here since there are a lot of fish bones in there).

jothys prawn

The fried prawns were not “succulent” as the menu claimed, but tough. I’m also highly doubtful about the “choice fish eggs fried to perfection” description as our fish roe had the same taste and texture of cardboard (not that I’ve ever eaten cardboard – it’s what I imagine cardboard would taste like).

jothys lonely planet

I find this unforgivable in a place known for it’s abundance of seafood. The bill was exorbitant too – the fish head curry alone was RM 50.

jothys herpes

It’s a tourist trap. Avoid it like a bad case of herpes.

Sri Shan Curry & Such review

sri shan curry and such

Sri Shan Curry & Such is an eating
establishment offering “authentic rich aromatic Southern Indian
cuisine” that opened its doors recently. There aren’t a lot of
authentic South Indian food in Kuching so I went with *x to check out
the place. She was buying lunch.

sri shan decor

Sri Shan Curry & Such is located at Jalan Ban Hock and has
interesting décor at the open entrance which looks like a cross between
an elephant and Bigfoot. Sri Shan Curry & Such is a large
establishment that spans two shop lots and there are ample seating
arrangements.

sri shan vegetarian

There are vegetarian options for the ones who practice vegetarianism…

sri shan meat

…and meat for the rest of us normal people. ;)

sri shan chicken

This is ayam kurma (chicken cooked South Indian style) which goes for RM 5.

sri shan lamb

This is kambing paratal (lamb cooked in a sweet and spicy sauce) which goes for RM 6.

sri shan veggies

She also ordered deep fried vegetables at RM 1.50.

sri shan saffron rice

The food comes with saffron rice (RM 6) and a cracker.

sri shan dhal

We also ordered some dhal (free) to go with the saffron rice.

sri shan meal

It was a great meal, and I really liked the lamb. The total damage
came up to RM 22 inclusive of drinks which *x says is overpriced
compared to another authentic Indian cuisine outlet.

Tandoori Chicken @ Ali Maju

tandoori_chicken.jpg

Tandoori Chicken at Ali Maju, Pusat Bandar Damansara. It goes well
with garlic naan and I always ask for the drumstick – it comes with the
upper part of the thigh too at Ali Maju. A tasty and filling dinner
would be one tandoori chicken (shared between two people), garlic naan
(a must have, one serving each) and maggi mee goreng (one serve each).
I don’t know why but that combination tastes really good. The best way
to enjoy it is to alternate between naan + tandoori and maggi +
tandoori i.e. one bite of the first, then one of the second, repeat
till plate==empty or person==full. One ABC special with ice cream (they
make huge ones here) after that and you’ll be sorted. :)

On a more serious (well, perhaps personal would be a better word)
note, I’m about to decide on a very, very big issue which may have long
lasting and severe consequences that will affect me on a personal
level. Of course, I can’t talk about it here due to my readership, and
if you know about it (yeah, both of you), you shouldn’t comment here
coz it’ll jeopardize me. I’ll think it through, discuss it with several
people and then we’ll see how it goes okay? I’ll post about that when
it’s set.

Oh yeah, would someone please come over and run a needle and thread through my lips? I just did a very stupid thing today. I’m famous for that, you know…

Guess the price of my nasi campur (photo included)

guess_nasi_campur.jpg

Guess how much this combination of nasi campur costs? There’s more
sotong pieces than meets the eye, some of it is obscured by the chicken
drumstick. No, I didn’t play “Hide the sotong” intentionally, it was
due to the real estate on the styrofoam packs. By the way, “Hide the
(most expensive item)” is a technique where you cover up a more
expensive item with a less expensive one – like covering a drumstick
with cabbages. This is an extreme example, it’s just to illustrate the
point. I’ve never done that intentionally though, not for any moral or
personal reasons, it’s just coz I don’t bother.

The way things work over here is like this – you get handed a plate
or take away pack filled with rice and you choose whatever you want
from the array of dishes displayed. You can opt to have as many items
as you want and the portions you choose is up to you. The price (which
can vary depending on time of the day, whether you’re a regular, as
well as many other factors) is tallied up when you’re done, based on
your choices. However, “Hide the xxx” doesn’t work all that well
nowadays, because the proprietors usually check underneath due to the
popularity of this method.

Back to the post, my lunch has a drumstick, sotong and chili covered
brinjals. You don’t eat for a couple of days and then you feel hungry
enough to eat a horse. ;) Anyway, guess how much this nasi campur pack
costs?

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