At the Maya Brasserie, Abdul Kachi Mydin continues to fuss over his Penang nasi kandar specialties, writes Tan Bee Hong
AGE is just a number for Abdul Kachi Mydin. At 74, he’s not yet thinking about retirement. Instead, he continues to dish up hot nasi kandar dishes with an energetic zeal and, when he sees customers finishing what they have taken, his face creases up with happy lines of delight.
For the past few years, chef Abdul has been cooking his specialties for the Buka Puasa buffet line up at Maya Brasserie and even before the month of Ramadan, customers are already asking for his nasi kandar curries. So, yes, you will find fish head curry. And only jenahak (red snapper) will do for chef Abdul who says the jenahak fish head tastes so much better than others.
And then there are beef curry, chicken curry and a new surprise from him this year — a tender lamb shank curry, an absolutely aromatic treat that’s a fine balance of herbs and spices that tells of a chef’s skill. The spices are heady but do not attempt to dominate the strong taste of lamb.
And then there are the usual suspects of sambal udang galah, crab curry, chicken biryani, chicken curry accompanied by side dishes of lady fingers, fried turmeric cabbage, sotong masak lemak, acar and hard boiled egg sambal.
His mamak-style mutton soup is amazingly aromatic and is creamy without being jelak.
If you want something sweet to start with, head straight for the dessert spread. There are many types of kuih muih but highly recommended is Kelantanese specialty puteri mandi (bathing princess) comprising colourful oblong shaped dough soaked in thick syrup and grated coconut. Badak berendam (hippo soaking in the lake) is a mouthful. Each piece is filled with grated coconut and palm sugar and then served with thick coconut cream.
Or cool down with ice kacang. It’s the best ice kacang I’ve had in a hotel coffee-house, with shaved ice so fine it’s like snow. The choice of condiments include, surprisingly, segments of peeled and skinned mandarin orange (yummy) and soft, cooked sago.
Adore sambal? Maya Brasserie is sambal heaven. Not only do you get the regular sambal belacan, cincaluk and budu dip with your selection of ulam but you will fall in love with the variety of fruity sambal. Think mango, pineapple and starfruit. And instead of plain tempoyak (fermented durian), there is sambal ikan bilis tempoyak though I find the flavour of the ikan bilis drowns that of the durian.
Then there are the various types of kerabu and other appetisers. Drizzle rojak sauce into triangular pockets of fried tofu stuffed with shredded carrot and jicama and tuck into kerabu cockles and fish with pegaga and grated coconut.
The Buka Puasa buffet at Maya Brasserie is always a busy set-up, with action stalls inside and spilling out of the restaurant into the foyer. You will hear the sizzling sound from the goreng pisang (banana fritters) stall, smell the aroma of fried noodles and grilling satay and more. Menus are served on a rotation basis.
There are cold cuts, sushi and sashimi, spring rolls and seafood on ice. Jars of keropok — from tempeyek to fish and emping — sit alongside pickled fruit and vegetables. The noodles stall is a crowd favourite, whether it’s mee mamak or nyonya curry mee. Don’t miss out on the mamak rojak either. The gravy dressing is scrumptious. Malay chef Hasbullah Sabani (better known as Pak Lah) always has surprises in store. His rice dishes are to look forward to, with bubur lambuk, nasi bukhari and nasi dhall to nasi kebuli, nasi minyak, nasi tomato and nasi hujan panas. The latter, he says, is named such because of its many colours, just like a rainbow after a hot, rainy day. And then there are nasi goreng gabai, nasi tumis, nasi beringin, nasi dagang and nasi impit. Spicy Malay dishes demand helpings of rice. Beef and chicken rendang, salted fish bone curry, siput sedut as well as the deep fried action stall offering chicken, fish, prawn, squid, crab and the ever popular fish eggs.
Pak Lah is proud of his lemang. He offers not one but two types of the glutinous rice rolls cooked in hollow bamboo - white and red — as well as triangular shaped ketupat pulut daun palas. Goes well with chicken and beef serunding or sambal ikan bilis.
Fritters are fun. Banana, yam, sweet potato, breadfruit and cempedak make interesting nibbles. Personally, I like something sweet and hot. So I load up with serawa nangka and serawa durian, the latter best eaten with steamed glutinous rice balls.
Hotel Maya, Jalan Ampang, KL
Tel: 03-2711 8866
Buka Puasa buffet: July 19-Aug 18, 6.45pm to 10.30pm.
Along Jalan Ampang
Chef Abdul’s nasi kandar specials
Fish head curry and ice kacang
RM95++ (adult) and RM60++ (kids 5-12).
Sizzling with action stalls.
Go give it a try