HOME COOKING:The family-run restaurant’s extensive menu reflects its Johor-Javanese heritage
WITH five children, four of them boys, Masitah Mat Jan is used to cooking large portions to feed her family.
During their school-going years, her children often brought friends home for meals and Masitah had plenty of opportunities to exercise her passion for cooking.
Encouraged by the positive feedback on her food, Masitah then opened a stall to sell nasi Ambeng at the annual Ramadan bazaar.
Some 10 years ago, her husband Zailani Kasmuri started working on a business plan and when the Skudai substation of the Singapore Public Utilities Board he worked with ceased operations in August 2011, he opted for retirement to start a food business.
Zailani, who hailed from Pontian, called his family together for a meeting to discuss his plans.
With ideas contributed by each family member, they came up with a business concept that reflected their Johor-Javanese heritage and opened D'Ambang restaurant in Senai.
"I started the family business to bring the children closer together," said Zailani, pointing out that their daughter Fazliniza, 26, takes care of the administration while sons Mohd Ezrul, 24 and Mohd Fadzli, 21, help with restaurant operations and the beverage section.
One other son is working in Singapore while the youngest is still in school.
The chief cook, Masitah, is assisted by several kitchen helpers, to create an extensive menu of Malay specialties served for breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and supper.
Nasi Ambeng, a typical Javanese meal, is traditionally served on a large tray as a communal meal but here, this signature dish can also be enjoyed as a single portion on a plate. The meal is made up of steamed white rice, fried noodles and condiments.
The serving of nasi Ambeng here also comes with fried salted fish and a side of spicy sambal belacan.
Customers who discovered D'Ambang have become regulars because after they have tasted one meal, they had to return to savour the specialties served at different times of the day.
For instance, if you had roti canai, laksa Johor or lontong kuah lodeh (rice cubes in vegetable stew) for breakfast, you will be tempted to taste the lovely lunch spread of dishes like kupang masak sambal (mussel sambal), ikan asam pedas (hot and spicy fish) and ikan keli masak lemak cili padi (spicy catfish dish) with steamed white rice.
"Ayam Penyet paling top!" is Masitah's colloquial way to describe the popularity of the restaurant's deep-fried crushed chicken meal that comes with spicy sambal belacan on the side.
Some of the hot favourites in the dinner menu include spicy mutton bone "gear box" soup and rice porridge sets.
There is an a la carte menu of rice and noodles to order from at any time of day and a variety of drinks and desserts including ABC (air batu campur), a refreshing heap of flavoured shaved ice!
There is a special charm about the clean and cosy ambience in this family-run restaurant that keeps customers coming back again and again.
Maybe it is also because customers can appreciate the beauty of batik that covers each table-top or simply because Masitah does not use any artificial flavouring in her cooking.
D'Ambang is also fast gaining popularity among travellers from the north en route to Singapore's Changi Airport for their umrah departures.
During Ramadan month, D'Ambang will be serving daily specials for breaking fast and sahur meals before dawn.
D'Ambang restaurant is located at No. 1769, Jalan Senai Utama 1/2, Taman Senai Utama, 81400 Senai, Johor. For more information, call 07-5909 424 or 019-769 5640.