Curveballs...don't you think life often throws us weird situations that we just have to make the best out of it? Our visit to this place was one big curve ball since the visit was prompted by the pursuit for Johor food but instead we discovered amazing rice dishes. C'est la vie!
nasi lemak in a packet
I was recently asked where do you get great Johor laksa? You could hear silence on my end when that request came through. I could feel the brain cells processing its internal search system and coming up with no results. Oops! Internal error? Nope, it ain't no error as honestly, my exposure to Johor laksa has been pretty bad since the great ones I have tasted have only been the homecooked varieties.
D'Cengkih has always been on my horizon, probably because we do a compulsory weekly visit to Taman Tun Dr Ismail to stock up pet supplies (yup, kitties don't just cat nap all the time, they also eat the house down!). One weekend, I finally made it here as like my friend M pointed out to me, this place is supposedly famous for its Johor food. A word of warning though about dining here - bring your earplugs if you love your peace and quiet when you're chewing your food - live music sessions go on within the narrow confines of the restaurant - thwang goes the guitar!! I honestly don't mind having an old tune (no Lady Gaga or Keisha ok?) to hum to when I'm chowing down but not when the acoustics bounce around so much that I can't carry a conversation with my friend about the merits of their food.
On to the food, apologies for taking so long to reach that point since it has been spiel for the past paragraphs. During the weekends, Johor laksa can be found here, which we promptly ordered. When they plonked the bowl down, it looked promising with the thick sauce, a dollop of sambal, a mountain of vegetables and the pre-requisite spaghetti strands. A spoonful of the laksa though revealed it was just an illusion as it way too sweet. Was my sweet ice tea corrupting my tastebuds? I took another spoonful and yup, it was too darn sweet despite it being thick (a plus point) even though it didn't have enough shredded fish. The next dish we tried was the mee rebus. I braced myself for the sweet attack and yes, there it was mingling among the thick broth garnished with crunchy fried shallots, sliced hard boil egg and crumbled crunchy prawn crackers.
Hold on, something is not right, my brain was screaming to me. Isn't this place packed with people? They must be here for the spread (all laid out at the back for you to pick and choose) since I don't think they're here for the music? A glance around the tables revealed rice dishes and nasi dagang that looked foreign here since they claim to be specialising in southern food versus the northern fare. Never mind we thought, throwing caution to the wind (or more the tummy) and M went to get a plate of the reddish brown and white rice. Visually it was promising with the pre-requisites of an excellent nasi dagang: halba or fenugreek seeds, finely sliced ginger and shallots, and each grain seperate, not mushy with a sheen only obtained from coconut milk. One taste and bingo! we confirmed that we were in the presence of greatness - amazingly good and authentic nasi dagang. Served with a fruit and vegetable acar and ikan tongkol (tuna curry) this was heavenly stuff that I could eat all day.
M's friend had also pre-warned her about the nasi lemak. We expected it to be served in a plate but instead it came in a humble little brown packet. Opening it, we discovered sambal slathered on a piece of banana leaf. Pushing that aside, we discovered the RICE. Looking a little compressed from the packing, a mouthful revealed a rich coconut milk taste and a hint from the fenugreek seeds - simply gorgeous. The sambal that was vying for our attention was also a little too sweet but decent tasting.
Conclusion of the day: zoom in on the rice dishes since they seem to excel in those versus the noodles unless you have a very higher tolerance for sugar. I reckon I'll be back for more especially their fascinating array of dishes at the back. Maybe the briyani rice since its also a weekend special or nasi ambang that is served daily.
No.6, Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
(Halal. Open from 7am to 10pm. For more pictures, see the Flickr set.)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.