Old established restaurants are like old friends - so familiar that you know you will end up enjoying yourself. Just like long forgotten friends, when you dine at these places, everything seems to fall to place once things start up. One such place is Muhibbah Seafood Restaurant, the Chinese Muslim stalwart that has been around since the 1980s. A fixture in the Taman Tun Dr Ismail dining scene, the restaurant recently moved to Kg Sg Penchala to a stand-alone bungalow premises that used to play host to weddings.
Looking around the restaurant set up, one can see the little touches Muhibbah was familiar for - the plate with the dipping sauces, cutlery and wet towels served in the beginning, the pristine clean open kitchen seen through glass panels and the drinks being brought to you in a small metal tray (that always remind me of a baking tin!). Most importantly, food standards are maintained and they still have the best deep fried sotong (RM10 for a small portion) in town. Covered in a crunchy light batter the calamari is always perfectly cooked and never rubbery. Another big favourite here for us is the kerabu paku pakis (RM6 for a small portion), where tender ferntops are served cold and dressed with coconut milk, lime juice, chopped birds eye chillies and lemongrass. It is a tangy yet light dish that seems to bring out the sweet taste of the ferntops. In my opinion, it is one of the best renditions of that humble vegetable I've grown mighty fond of throughout my eating years.
There's a string of tummy favourites like the Cantonese Fried Noodles (RM6.50 for a small portion), fried lala, fried fish and etc. What's interesting about Muhibbah is the Chinese food served here appeals to everyone including my mega fussy Aunt. If you think my mother was particular about her food, my aunt is worst as her palate is severely limited to the delicate flavours of Chinese food (she never ate roti canai until recently claiming the Indian spices overwhelm her). Ever since we introduced her to this place, she's been returning here for special occasions such as whenever her children return from overseas.
In their previous Taman Tun Dr Ismail outlet, as they were adjacent to a church, you'll often see a mixed bunch of people dining here - the early Chinese crowd especially the ones after church while the Malays dine much later after maghrib prayers. Occasionally, there'll be a stray Westerner (maybe in the form of Eating Asia, who are also big fans of this place), making this place truly muhibbah in all senses.
Here's hoping business at Muhibbah continue to prosper as I'll hate to see one of my absolute favourites dissapear from the food landscape of Malaysia. Quick, go try the deep fried sotong and kerabu pucuk paku and I'm sure you'll end up being an absolute fan of their simple unpretentious Chinese halal food like my whole family.
Muhibbah Seafood Restaurant
No. 2851, Jalan Seri Penchala
Kg Sg Penchala
Tel: 03-7727 3153
(Halal. From the LDP highway, turn the turning towards Kg Sg Penchala, go through the small tunnel, keep left and go across, go straight and take a left turn near the car showrooms. Go straight, there'll be banners leading you to the restaurant. From Taman Tun Dr Ismail, take Jalan Datuk Sulaiman, go straight towards the Penchala Link. At traffic lights, go straight into Kg Sg Penchala, take a left turn at traffic light where the mosque is visible, go straight and at the end of the village, take a right turn up the hill. The restaurant is on the left hand side. For the map and more pictures, see my 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.