|Songket Restaurant and Bar|
Songket Restaurant and Bar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
“True Malay Flavours”
We’ve all been in the situation of entertaining out of town guests and not quite knowing what to do with them to make the most of their stay. The more experienced travellers are easy to cater for as they’ve generally researched the area beforehand, know what they want and, maybe just want your company in finding it. The other, perhaps less worldly kind, (more than likely family members!) often give the most annoying answer of, “I’m happy with anything. I leave it up to you.” Blah. That’s sooo not true and, makes the job of guessing what they want (reading their minds) so not fun. Then… in comes Songket Restaurant and Bar to the rescue.
Songket Restaurant and Bar provides a solid solution with a few good hours worth of both culinary and cultural entertainment right in the heart of the city. Meaning hand woven fabric with an intricate pattern of metallic colours, Songket mirrors the image by way of a service that provides a shimmering richness in the form of authentic Malay cuisine and traditional music and dance (and passes just enough time to keep visitors engaged for a few hours giving you a break from the unpaid role of tour guide.)
Located in an old style bungalow, there’s lots of wood and traditional architecture. Both an open indoor area with central bar and covered patio make for a breezy, semi al fresco ambience. Gardens, lawn and a running water feature add to the nature inspired feel.
The menu claims to offer traditional Malay flavours with a modern twist. Not too spicy for unaccustomed taste buds, but not swaying too far from original recipes, guests can be guaranteed an authentic taste of local fare, without overwhelming heat masking all other intricate seasonings.
We tried a range of popular dishes from the menu. Appetizers vary in price from RM10 for simple bean curd and veges to RM30 for a sampling platter. Pegedil (RM12) was a new dish for me. Fried potato patties mixed with minced chicken are served with a homemade chili sauce. For some reason this reminded me of a Spanish tortilla and I could see them going well with a glass of sparkling Spanish cava or a medium to light bodied Tempranillo. I’m not usually a fan of Otak Otak (RM15) but quite enjoyed this version of steamed seafood mousse with kaduk leaf wrapped in banana leaf. Rojak Buah (RM10) is another dish I’ve had mixed experiences with, mainly because of unfamiliar tastes in the sauce. This one though, with fresh local fruits, rojak paste, peanuts and sesame seeds suffered repeat tastings. J
Mains are filling and mostly heavy with large quantities of rice served as you call. Vegetables dishes start from around RM12 and meat and seafood dishes head upwards to RM75 for king prawns. Ketam Bercili Gajus (RM55) was a popular dish at our table, for those who don’t mind getting dirty and using a bit of elbow grease to uncover the shelled flesh. This flower crab was smothered with chili, onion, curry leaves, spring onions and cashews and the sauce was worthy of a spoonful all on its own. Stir Fried Kailan Goreng Sus Tiram Bawang Putih (RM12), kalian with oyster sauce and fried garlic, provided the necessary greens to balance the protein heavy mains. Rendang Daging (RM28) is a must try for those new to Malaysian cuisine. This local favourite features spicy dried beef curry infused with an aromatic fusion of spices cooked over a slow fire. Beatis Kambing Masak Korma (RM45) is another popular plate. Braised lamb shank in a mildly spiced gravy with lots of potatoes makes a hearty meal. Chicken, fish, seafood, red meats and vegetable dishes are aplenty.
|Ketam Bercili Gajus|
|Stir Fried Kailan Goreng Sus Tiram Bawang Putih|
|Beatis Kambing Masak Korma|
|Chicken with Cashews|
|Fish in tangy sauce|
Personally I’m not a huge fan of Malaysian sweets. Just as most Malaysians are probably not fans of my well-loved Vegemite, I believe the mix of textures and combinations of sweet, with what I have grown up on as traditionally savoury ingredients, is something you develop a custom for overtime beginning way back in your childhood. Hubby, on the other hand, is easily won over with all things sweet and creamy. He scraped the bowl of the Brulee Janung Kristal (RM12) – corn crème brulee topped with caramelized sugar and left no remains of the Sago Gula Melaka (RM10) – chilled sago served with coconut milk and palm sugar syrup. Possibly the most interesting twist on the menu is the Durian Tiramisu (RM18). It won’t ever be on my bill, but for some of you more adventuresome out there, my local buddies highly recommend it.
One of the bonuses here is that alcoholic beverages can be ordered. There are but a few restaurants in Kuala Lumpur where this is possible with Malay cuisine, so beer, wine and cocktails are much appreciated. A small selection of house pouring wines, local beers and a few cocktails are not worth raving about, but satisfactory accompaniments to a meal.
Now here is the clincher for making Songket a fitting spot to bring guests. Live entertainment in the form of dances from across Malaysia runs nightly from 8:30pm – 9:15pm. Covering Chinese, Indian and a range of Malay choreography from various states, diners can enjoy a sampling of the country’s diversity and even a chance to learn a couple of steps all in one location.
A cultural dance show, a good selection of local dishes and a rare opportunity to enjoy alcohol with traditional Malay food, make Songket an apt destination for those visitors that love to say, “I’ll leave it up to you.”
Reason to visit: A spot to take visitors who want to see and experience a bit of Malaysian culture in a short time, especially those interested in local music and dance.
Songket Restaurant and Bar
29 Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
50450 Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 2161 3331