Fatimah Selera Kampung
They say Malaysia’s best Malay food is found in private kitchens. Consider Fatimah Selera Kampung your entrée to ‘mom-style’ Malay cuisine. Every dish on offer comes out of a home kitchen; the very casual, open-air restaurant is, after all, built onto the side of a private Kampung Baru home. Pakcik Nordin, Fatimah’s amiable proprietor, is happy to explain what’s on offer, but a point-and-shoot approach at the buffet-like display works well too.
It’s all good, but the fish dishes are Fatimah Selera’s brightest stars. Ikan kembung, a smallish fish with oily flesh that takes wonderfully to the grill, might on one day be served plain and crispy-skinned, with a dipping sauce of kecap Nikkomanis and chopped chilies on the side, or stuffed with a fragrant combination of grated coconut, turmeric, chilies, and lemongrass the next. For assam fish meaty chunks of a firm, white-fleshed variety stew in a sweet-and-sour, not too spicy chili gravy. Ikan bilis show up in a wonderful house ‘relish’ that changes daily; on our last visit it consisted of a mixture of fresh mild chilies, caramelised onions, and chopped fresh and pickled mustard greens.
The restaurant’s homey chicken curry sells out quickly for a reason, and the classic beef rendang is extravagantly spiced and wonderfully savoury, if a bit tough. Pecel jawa (blanched leafy greens, long beans, bean sprouts, cabbage, and nubs of deep-fried tofu topped with a peanut sauce made spicy or not, to order) makes for an excellent light lunch or a fine addition to a gluttonous repast, and mashed spuds fans won’t want to miss out on the pergedel, fat potato cakes dipped in egg and deep-fried.
Sweets lovers will want to save room for Fatimah Selera’s air jagung, a tower of shaved ice topped with corn and doused with condensed milk that forever changed my perception of that lowly vegetable as a never-for-dessert food. Robyn Eckhardt
Fatimah Selera Kampung, 5, Jalan Haji Yahya Sheikh Ahmad, Kampung Baru, KL.
Tel: 03 2692 1073
Opening times: Open daily, times vary
Child friendly: Yes
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