The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 22 February 2013

Malaysian favourites @ Madam Kwan's (KLCC), Kuala Lumpur

One of the things we always do whenever we are in Malaysia is to eat up on all our favourite Malaysian dishes, and there are many of them. Back home in Perth, there are many good Malaysian restaurants, so it was easy to satisfy our Malaysian food cravings when we were still living in Australia; however, since we moved overseas about seven years ago, we haven't had much opportunity to indulge in good Malaysian food both in Japan and Hong Kong. Although we are blessed with a good Singaporean restaurant conveniently located in the mall downstairs from our HK apartment, there are still some of our favourite dishes missing, and the flavour and spiciness are catered to Hongkongers' tastebuds. For this year's Chinese new year reunion, my Perthite parents and all three of my Sydneysider sisters and their families also flew to Malaysia for the occasion. While most of our family members were staying outside of the city centre, my shopping-loving younger sister chose to be located in the heart of the city near the KLCC. I couldn't resist spending a day in the city, so I dragged hubby and son along with me and we hopped on the LRT for KLCC. Shopping with my sis is so much more fun than with hubby or by myself, and there were a few things I needed to get (unlike most females, I only shop when I need to). Somehow my sis and I also managed to convince our parents, another sister and her family to come out to the city to have a family dinner, and we all enjoyed a delicious dinner at the very popular Madam Kwan's.

That's hubby and the boy seated outside, waiting for our table:

When my sis and I were scouting out for potential restaurants inside the Suria KLCC, it was at the neither-lunch-nor-dinner time of around 4pm, yet Madam Kwan's was buzzing and full with a fairly short queue of hungry diners waiting for a table. We asked if we could make dinner reservations, but we were told that the restaurant didn't accept bookings, that it operated on a first-come-first-served basis. When we came back a couple of hours later, we didn't have to wait very long because a large group had just finished their meal, which freed up two large tables for our group of 10.

Full house:

Madam Kwan's interior decor was fairly sleek and chic, making it a comfortable choice for foreigners and locals alike to try out a variety of hawker favourites. The service we received was attentive and we found it quite easy to get the attention of waitstaff (our table was near the front bar and the door to kitchen), but service slowed right down towards the end of the meal when we made our second orders. We were informed that the kitchen puts second orders on lower priority, so diners should take note to order enough in the first round, or be prepared to wait. The menu was quite extensive and full of Malaysian specialties, and we found almost all of our favourite dishes in it. All the dishes we ordered were delicious too - not a small feat for a restaurant offering a large menu. The food was more expensive than at any local hawker centre, but the setting was a whole lot more comfortable - an invaluable quality when dining out with young children. It's still far cheaper than the Malaysian food available overseas in Australia, US and HK. Due to a few of us having dietary restrictions - my son has a few allergies, my older sister is gluten-intolerant, and my younger sister's boyfriend is on paleo diet due to severe IBS issues - we decided to only share within our sub-family groups. The following dishes are what we ordered for us and my parents to share.

Nasi Lemak, one of hubby's favourite Malaysian food. The name literally means "fatty rice", and refers to the rice that had been soaked and steamed in coconut cream. Served with sambal ikan bilis (anchovies), cucumber, chicken curry, half of a boiled egg and dried shrimp floss, this was a hit with our 4-year-old boy:

Three servings of Madam Kwan's Fried Chicken Drumsticks were ordered - two went to my sister's boyfriend and one to our boy. Many thumbs ups for this dish:

Beef Rendang, the way it should be - utterly tender and rich in spices and coconut milk:

Claypot Tofu with Seafood - a tasty way to get our daily intake of vegetables. The silken tasty egg tofu type was used here, which was simply lovely:

Sambal Lady's Fingers - a good one for those who like spicy and okras:

Sambal Kangkung - my all-time favourite leafy green!:

Char Kuey Teow, stirfried flat rice noodles - another of hubby's all-time favourite. Delicious and not too greasy:

Cendol - an ice-based dessert made with coconut milk, green pandan jelly, and delicious gula melaka (palm sugar, aka jaggery) served on the side to add to taste. Nice and refreshing:

Bubur Cha Cha - a warm sweet coconut soup with sweet potatoes, yam and tapioca pearls (or perhaps it was sago?). This is a Nyonya dish, and I remember eating this dish often while I was growing up (my maternal grandmother is Nyonya, whose 88th birthday we also celebrated):

A perennial favourite: Ais Kacang, aka ABC (Air Batu Campur which literally means "mixed ice") - a shaved ice dessert with sweet red beans (this makes up the "kacang" part of the name which is Malay for beans), attap chee (palm seed), sweet corn, grass jelly and nuts under the shaved ice, with a generous drizzle of sweet syrup and condensed milk. Enjoyable, but it got much too sweet after a while:

Our family enjoyed a fantastic meal at Madam Kwan's. During our meal, I noticed that there was always a queue of people waiting outside for a table, and it is clear why this restaurant is so popular. Madam Kwan's is a good choice to try a wide variety of Malaysian dishes in air-conditioned comfort at affordable prices. There are several branches of Madam Kwan's around Kuala Lumpur, and I must take note for the next time we are in Malaysia.

Madam Kwan's
Lot.420/421, Level 4, Suria KLCC
Jalan Ampang
50088, Kuala Lumpur
Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel. +60 3 2026 2297

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