Romantic ambience aside, Samira also offers a fine side of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, writes Tan Bee Hong
WE’RE all set for dinner and show. And we don’t have to rush through town from restaurant to the theatre. After all, Samira is right across the car park from KLPaC and we can just saunter over after we lick our spoons clean.
Samira specialises in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine and its decor is as exotic as its name suggests. With a touch of the dramatic too. Customers walk through a bleached gravel path lined with clumps of bamboo and tea lights. Then they pick their way along a wooden deck over a small pond to reach the restaurant proper.
All around, the ambience is serene and romantic. It would be the perfect venue for a wedding. Almost as soon as you sit down, you forget the dust and relentless Jalan Ipoh traffic of just a couple of minutes ago. These seem rather distant already.
The restaurant is an open-air affair but even with the 6pm sunlight streaming in, we don’t sweat a bead, even if we find the temporary golden glare slightly disconcerting.
The restaurant is open all day, so customers can come in between meal times for Thai snacks and dessert or simply to escape city traffic with a drink while enjoying the lush ambience.
We’ve decided to make it an evening with a difference, so none of the usual dishes would do. For appetisers, Samira’s marketing and operations director Joanna Tan suggests freshly-made prawn crystal rolls (RM19). There’s a choice of beef and vegetarian too. The Vietnamese rolls are refreshing, with a happy crunch in the finely julienned cucumber and carrots while poached prawn adds a delicate sweetness. Eat with a dip of sweet chilli sauce.
We are enamoured of steamed mussels (RM25), scented with lemongrass sauce. These come in half shells and are topped with chopped chilli, basil and deep fried lemongrass. They’re so good I’m licking the shells clean of the sauce.
Samira’s traditional banana flower salad (RM22) is a delightful combination of chopped banana flower with shredded chicken and squid in a zesty lime sauce with onions and chilli.
For the unadventurous, there are more mundane choices of mieng kam, spring rolls and Thai fish cake.
Tom yam and tom kha (with coconut cream) are popular choices, but not for us this evening. We are torn between Thai tom sum with fish fillet (RM21) and sour chicken with coconut flesh (RM17).
Tom sum wins. The tamarind-based soup does not have kaffir lime leaves but is equally perky and piquant. The fish fillets are lightly battered and deep fried before they are added to the soup. Cherry tomato, onions and scallions add to the flavour.
Unlike tom yam, the soup is made with dried chilli instead of chilli padi. It’s not fiery hot and is mild enough for even young children to try.
Our quest for something different is not fully satiated. Instead of roast duck red curry, we order roast duck in Thai chilli sauce (RM25) but I find it a tad too sweet though the duck is tender and robust in flavour.
And instead of hor mok (Thai otak-otak), we salivate over river prawns topped with Thai spicy mousse (RM35). The crustaceans are impressively big and taste even better, with a tell-tale crunch of freshness. The mousse, however, is more of a thick sauce that clings to the prawn, which the chef has considerately halved down the centre to make picking the flesh an easy job.
Steamed squid with lime and chilli (RM28) is another appetising dish dominated by the fragrance of citrus and flavoured with fish sauce.
Another dish worth exploring is pineapple lamb in coconut sauce (RM30). Not a dish I would have ordered if not in an adventurous mood, the three ingredients turn out to be pleasantly mellow bedfellows. Sadly, a few pieces of the sliced lamb are a bit stringy in texture.
Tan says there are new items in the menu, including grilled Norwegian salmon with basil leaves but I do feel this misses the mark as the fish is overcooked and dry.
For individual diners, Samira offers a variety of fried rice and noodles (from RM14) including lychee fried rice.
We are so not ordering tako or tab tim krob (my otherwise usual pick of dessert to round up a Thai meal) but I give in to a craving for mango with sticky rice (RM16). This evening, we are indulging in chunks of soft, sweet pumpkin (RM8) floating in creamy coconut milk. Then there is pan-fried banana with vanilla ice cream (RM12). Delicately satisfying.
SAMIRA BY ASIAN TERRACE
Lot 268 Sentul Park Jalan Strachan
Off Jalan Ipoh, KL
Tel: 012-9213 880
Daily, noon to 11.45pm
Head for KLPaC. It’s right next to the theatre
Thai and Vietnamese cuisine
About RM50 per person
Clean. Ethnic chic with candles and scent of lemongrass
Go give it a try