I’ve always been somewhat sceptical about Malay food served in nice restaurants. Oh you know what I mean, that is if you were born and bred in Malaysia. If you don’t get it at home (like me), you probably get them from the roadside warung and gerai makan aplenty.
An invitation to a food tasting at Songket Restaurant came through and I took Horng with me. On the way to pick up Hornyman, I passed by the big drain next to Bank Negara. Saw a slight commotion, then an overturned MPV in the drain. And several body bags too, OMG! Must be a really terrible accident! I got chills because I felt so bad at that time. But then… there were lights… and cameras. Turns out it was a movie scene for the Jay Chou and Nicholas Tse flick partly shot in KL -__-” . Bloody hell, made me kancheong only!!! So yes, I thought it was interesting enough to be noted, heh.
Getting there was a breeze. Songket Restaurant is located behind Tony Roma’s along Jalan Yap Kwan Seng. Turn off from the main road and you’ll see it – a traditional-looking single level wooden building surrounded by KL’s high rise. Quite a contrast, I thought. Parking was ample and free.
Pegedil (RM10). Fried potato patties with minced chicken, served with homemade chilli sauce. You may know it as begedil. It’s a well-loved Malay snack. Songket does it rather well with the meat still moist and juicy, and the outer fried layer crunchy. Rather addictive.
Cucur Udang (RM10). Deep fried prawn and vegetable strips in light batter, served with homemade chilli sauce. Another local favourite. They were generous with the prawns. However I thought this one was just OK, compared to the pegedil. I prefer my cucur udang smaller for a more balanced ratio of the soft inside and crispy outside.
I thought that the chilli sauce would have been top-notch if it was spicier. Understandably they can’t make it very spicy to cater to non-locals who may not be used to what we are familiar with.
Satay (RM18). Eight pieces of skewered chicken and beef fillet marinated in spiced honey & grilled over a charcoal fire. The photo looks nice, right? The satay was very nice also. Meat was tender, the marinate authentic and grilling done perfectly. The peanut sauce was thick and has that kick.
Pandan Nasi Lemak (RM6). Special light green coconut rice with aromatic pandan leaf served with deep fried anchovies, peanut and sambal. Green colour nasi lemak. Never see before leh… The colouring is all natural, obtained from (a lot of) pandan leaves. Someone complimented this rice dish, saying that it’s very ‘lemak-ky’.
Nasi Minyak (RM6). Spiced fragrant rice served with fruit relish (acar). Traditionally served at Malay weddings, one of my ‘motivation’ to attend them when I was younger, heh. Spices for this rice dish include cinnamon, star anise and cardamom. Very fragrant, very nice, best served with really excellent curry or ayam masak merah.
Nasi Kerabu (RM8). White rice tossed with finely chopped raw vegetables and herbs. My favourite! A good balance between the rice and vegetables, I could eat this all day. The greens were all very fresh and gave a nice crunch with every bite, so yum! A must-try at Songket.
Pucuk Paku Goreng (RM15). Wild fern shoots stir fried with chilli, shallot and garlic. I couldn’t get enough of this, it was very good! I couldn’t tell what sauce was in the stir fry but it was very aromatic. Maybe it was a bit of belacan but I can’t be sure. Whiff of coconut also. Crunchy vegetables done right is always good in my books.
Kerabu Mangga (RM12). Young mango salad tossed in a spicy homemade dressing. This is a dish for all senses – sweet, spicy and sourish mixed with crushed peanuts. I only started eating this a few short years ago. What to do, not familiar with this dish as it’s origins are Northern and I’m from the South. I grew to love it and would order it whenever I can. One thing I like about Songket’s version is that it is not drowning in sauce; it makes the mango slices go limp.
Korma Kambing (RM55). Braised lamb shank in a mildly spiced gravy with potatoes. Flavourful gravy and tender meat, breakable at a slight pull of the fork. Goes down well with the nasi minyak.
Masak Lemak Ayam Nangka (RM23). Chicken pieces & young jackfruit simmered in a rich and spicy turmeric curry. I’ve never understood this dish but I took a small taste of the chicken. It was good, tender. The curry was rather creamy and spicy, smelled wonderful.
Ikan Bakar Kuah Percik (RM36). Red snapper fillet marinated with turmeric and ginger, chargrilled and drizzled with a spiced coconut gravy. I thought this was good. The fresh fish was grilled just nice and the slightly spicy gravy complements it rather well. I ate this with the nasi kerabu, fantastico!
Masak Lemak Udang Nanas (RM45). Prawn and pineapple chunks cooked in a lightly spiced coconut milk. Like the ayam masak lemak before, but this time prawns with pineapples instead of jackfruit. Fresh huge prawns in a slightly diluted gravy. Next time I’d like to try the grilled prawns, Malay-style.
Rusuk Panggang (RM60). Chargrilled marinated short ribs served with pegedil, spicy sweet soy sauce and sambal belacan. Ribs served with sambal belacan?!? Never heard before leh! The combination was explosive in a marvellous manner. In fact, Horng said that he’d go back and just order this for himself as dinner. The marinade was a bit sweet, the meat mouthwatering and fork tender. The flavours are strong, in fact this is a dish with personality. Win at life: ask for more sambal belacan.
Durian Tiramisu (RM15). Traditional tiramisu flavoured with creamy durian. Something new, a Songket signature dessert. I tried some, it was quite good. The sponge was light and the durian flesh plentiful. Apparently whenever they get their hands on fresh durian, they’d freeze them so they’d not run out for this dessert. I say give this one a try!
Coconut Cream Caramel (RM10). Cream pudding of coconut milk with caramel syrup. Thicker creamy pudding, only if you like sweeter stuff. I don’t really.
Pandan Pudding (RM10). Cream pudding infused with fragrant pandan leaves and palm sugar syrup. As you can see, I had this one on a large scale because it’s so good, it deserves the attention. The green colour is all from the pandan leaves. The pudding is creamy yet light, it was a joy to roll it around in my mouth. Excellent dessert, I wouldn’t mind popping by whenever I’m in KL just for this!
I googled a bit, turns out that the people behind Songket are the same for Bijan along Jalan Ceylon. Slightly different menu but the signature dishes are all there.
If you dine at Songket, you must stay a little longer. On Mon – Sat at 9pm, they have a Malay cultural performance. When we were there, the rotation was a 1Malaysia dance which showcased some Malay, Chinese, Indian and either Iban or Kadazan (sorry I forgot). If you want, you can join them and try your hands (more like butts) at jogeting. I thought it was a nice touch. Excellent if you have friends or business partners from overseas and you’d like to them to experience local food and heritage, squeezed in during dinner time.
Thanks for having us, I very much enjoyed the ambiance, food and the dance show.