A Malaysian Blog about Food, Family and Friends – by Lyrical Lemongrass
Do not say, “It is morning,” and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a new-born child that has no name.
We are all nomads, but I find myself gravitating to a time when we used to quote from Tagore and smile at the discovery of a new truth. The aphorisms in Stray Birds are so simple and so clear that I sometimes think that our minds are clouded with complexities that blind us. I seek joy in things of beauty, sometimes in Prada, sometimes in a newly bloomed flower in my garden of weeds, and sometimes in a friendship with a red-haired friend. All very different representations of beauty, but which serve to open my eyes and heart like a newly acquired pair of spectacles presented to me by a heart surgeon. And while I always whip off my glasses when I’m being photographed, they’re placed back on my snub nose in a jiffy so that I may see again.
The whitewashed tables and chairs were the first items to catch my fancy at IR1968, an Indonesian restaurant which was established in Hong Kong in 1968 (an excellent vintage year, if I may add) and which only just opened its doors in our fair land. It was refreshing to see the vibrant coloured cushions against the white background and curtains with repetitive prints of tree trunks, a far cry from the stereotype frequently associated with Indonesian restaurants.
The food is not typically Indonesian; some of the dishes have Chinese influences and some of the flavours have been dumbed down to suit certain palates, but nevertheless, I was still impressed with the offerings on the menu when I visited the restaurant last week. Among the dishes, the Gado-Gado, a quintessential Indonesian salad containing tofu, bean sprouts, cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, potato, egg and keropok, stood out. It was served with a thick and sweet peanut sauce. The Tauhu Goreng Telur – fried beancurd mashed into large chunks and fried with egg like an omelette -was fragrant and crisp and I thought it was lovely enough when eaten on its own without the peanut sauce or fried shallots.
The Rendang was tender and creamy, more like a thick curry and thus quite different from our Malay style rendang, but putting expectations aside, it was still very enjoyable. It was our first time trying Kari Buntut, an ox tail curry which was spicier but more watery compared to the Rendang. It was cooked, curiously enough, with a host of vegetables, taufu pok and beancurd sheets. Looking beyond the authenticity of this dish, it was excellent when eaten with a serving of rice.
The Sate Ayam came with succulent morsels of chicken but it lacked the requisite charred quality, and so I found myself more attracted to the chopped chilli and kechap manis sauce which was served on the side (meant to be eaten with the sliced cucumbers). Not a bad thing, especially when eaten with rice and the above two curries. The Chicken Wings, fried with shrimp paste, was highly addictive with its moderately spicy and pungent flavour.
I loved the noodle dishes. The Bakmi Goreng with Seafood in IR1968 is essentially Sang Mee (crispy noodles) topped with a delicious seafood sauce consisting of fresh, crunchy prawns and squid, and while the purists may dispute the label, I thought it was a very tasty Sang Mee dish. The Meehoon Goreng, a simple dish, was fragrant with the flavour of seafood and fried egg and sambal. An absolute must-order.
For desserts, skip the fried pineapple (which seemed to have come from a can) and try the pulut, a rich creamy concoction that will leave you quite satisfied.
Prices are a bit random. I thought the Taufu Goreng Telur expensive at RM18 considering that it contained only tofu and eggs, but the other dishes seemed more consistent in pricing. Be prepared to fork out between RM50 to RM80 per person for food, but rest assured that the ambience is warm and cozy enough that you won’t feel like you have given your pound of flesh.
For a cheaper fix, try the executive set lunches (presumably on weekdays only) priced from RM18.
Terrace at Hock Choon
241-B, Lorong Nibong, Off Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 017-209 8477
Acknowledgements: To my BFF, A Lil Fat Monkey, for loaning me his camera for three shots used in this post, to my dear friend, Hairyberry, for sharing many moments of Tagore with me, to my red-haired friend, Msiagirl, who brought so much love and beauty into my life….thank you.
The best does not come alone. It comes with the company of the all.
Food, for me, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Food, for me, represents the love of family, the fellowship of friends, and the community and communality it brings.