Monday, 15 January 2018

Penang Food galore: 5. Penang's Famous Banana Leaf Rice And Malay Restaurant

Penang is indeed a haven for great tasting food and an ideal place to go on a food tour. Spending just two or three days to try out the different flavors of Penang is never enough as the food trail appears endless. Not only is the island famous for its hawker's delights, it also offers a diverse range of multi-ethnic cuisines. The various races that live and coexist with each other in the island, each boasts of its own authentic food specialties even though cross-cultural cuisines are commonly observed. We walked the street in search of the best Indian banana leaf rice and Malay food and here's what we found!

Veloo Villas Restaurant - Best Banana Leaf Rice In Penang?
In our quest for the best banana leaf rice aka 'nasi daun pisang' in Penang, we came to know about this Indian restaurant called Veloo Villas. Located in 'Little India' which is a series of streets in the heritage zone of Georgetown dedicated to all things Indian, this restaurant is said to sell the best banana leaf rice in Penang.

Veloo Villas is not altogether a neat place to dine in but the food is cheap and the ambiance cheerful with bubbly chatters from its patrons.  
The main specialty of this restaurant is its banana leaf rice. The meal is thus named because the rice and the dishes that come with it are served on a banana leaf. The authentic way of eating this is using the hand instead of cutlery like forks or spoons. The main difference between a banana leaf rice meal and a rice meal served on a plate is patrons are allowed unlimited refill or top-ups of the rice, dhall, vegetables, pickles and curries that come with it at no extra cost. The main banana leaf rice set is a vegan meal but there is a range of non-vegan add-ons that are charged separately. These add-ons include, chicken, mutton and fish cooked in a variety of styles. They come in small portions served in individual bowls.
We tried the mutton and chicken. Lavishly spiced with strong aromas both tasted great. The fragrance of the curry spices is enough to whet one's appetite!
I like everything about the meal except for the white rice which is cooked with too much water making it very soggy.
Instead of white rice, diners can opt for the flavored rice. 

Veloo Villas
No.22, Penang Street (Penang Street is not the same as Penang Road)
Open: Everyday 7:00 am - 10:30 pm

Best Malay Restaurant - Jawi House Cafe?
Jawi House Cafe is one of the very few restaurants run by Malay proprietors in the Heritage Zone of Georgetown and if not mistaken it is the only Malay eatery along Armenian Street. The cafe offers Jawi Peranakan cuisines, traditional Malay desserts as well as some western stuffs like sandwiches, pastries and cakes. We have never been to a proper Malay restaurant in Georgetown and was eager to try the food at Jawi Cafe. 
 Among its signature dishes that we ordered were the Herbal Lemuni Rice that comes with curry chicken, the 'laksa lemak' and the 'bamieh', a lamb stew that is served with Bengali bread. 
Herbal Lemuni rice (from the herb Vitex Trifolia), served with chicken curry, egg, cucumber, fried anchovies and sambal or chilli paste is a traditional confinement food for Malay women. I have never experienced eating this before and I anticipated something very flavorful and fragrant but the rice was quite bland without any special aroma. It was quite a letdown.
The curry chicken, too was not that great (pales in comparison with the curries from Hameediyah Restaurant and Line Clear).
We ordered the 'bamieh' without the Bengali bread that is supposed to come as a set. This tomato lamb stew has an overpowering smell and lamb taste which sad to say is quite repulsive to my nose and taste buds. 
The only thing I enjoyed eating in this cafe is the 'laksa lemak' which is quite authentic and full of flavors. The dishes are on the pricey side. For example this plate of laksa is RM18. On top of that there is GST and service charges.
  The ambiance is commendable. The cafe is also a gallery which displays vintage furniture, photos, paintings and other decorative items.
It was a nice experience dining here but there is not much of a 'wow' factor in the taste of the food and it will need a lot of coaxing to make me come back again.

Jawi House Cafe & Gallery View restaurant
85 Armenian Street, George Town, Penang 
Tel: 042613680
Open: Everyday except Tuesdays

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3. Flower Pot BBQ Chicken At Easy Brew Cafe
4. Penang's Famous Nasi Kandar Restaurants And Best Mee Goreng Mamak
5. Penang's Famous Banana Leaf Rice And Malay Restaurant

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