Saturday, 3 July 2010

More Than Just A Burger King

Some "Motormouth from Ipoh" pointed this place to a friend. After a dinner there, she decided it would be a good idea if I wrote about this place. Which I did. We stopped by after a weekend assignment/getaway - the same day the article was published.

Despite the warnings of "parking hell" and "motorcyclists from hell" people were still flocking to the place; several groups, including families of four to seven, had to be turned away because there were no more seats.

Response to the food was good. My eating buddy even heard a mom with several kids go, "So cheap!"



Hooked at first bite
The parking is terrible and the double-parking even worse, but the burgers and other offerings at Nambawan Restaurant are just too darn hard to resist

first published in The Star, 03 July 2010


One — OK, two — things about Kuala Lumpur that bug determined gourmands: an apparent scarcity of really good places to eat and the need to travel ungodly distances to reach any such treasures unearthed by those who have gone there before.

While reminiscing our visits to a recently-reviewed restaurant, some Motormouth from Ipoh (at www.j2kfm.com) told Alex about another place that served great pork dishes.

"Do you know where this Nambawan Restaurant is?"

Of course I didn't know.

Ergo, Google Maps — a useful tool. However, we took a few wrong turns along the way to what would be a good meal because I didn't take down the directions. At least I remembered, while researching the place, that the Masak-Masak Lady (at masak-masak.blogspot.com) had noted that Old Town White Coffee was near the premises.

Driving at night didn't help either. There were several hazards, notably the motorcyclists, who tend to ride without lights or helmets on.

Parking at Sri Manja Square was bad — as was the double-parking — the night we were at Nambawan Restaurant and Café for the first time. A family of three and one other patron were the only customers there when we arrived. The whole dining area was open-ended — the 99 Speedmart opposite can be seen at one end.

From where we sat, we could see the blown-up photos of choice menu picks painted on the wall, both featuring bacon, along with some bad copywriting encouraging patrons to "Taste your sense to infinity".

The air-conditioning failed to keep the warm and humid weather outdoors at bay. If some of the menu items look unsettlingly foreign, take a deep breath, calm down, call the waitress or manageress and ask for clarification. They'd be happy to assist.

I settled for the Stone-charbroiled Pork Belly with roasted potatoes and garden salad (RM13.90), and the proudly touted "100% Home Made Pork Burger" (RM6.90).

"Small-town prices," commented Alex but her eyes were city-sized when she realised that I had ordered two dishes.

It appeared that the place has only one chef, who is said to have earned his cooking chops from New Zealand. Nambawan has been around for two years; it turns three next month. No clue as to why they opened shop at a neighbourhood that, at first sight, won't move those pork dishes quickly enough.

The place has its regulars — people who were hooked at first bite, it seems, and braved parking hell for return visits. Can they handle a full house?

By the time the pork belly reached our table we were probably hungry enough to tackle the rest of the pig. Memories of pork bellies past melted like the chunk I'd cut and put inside my mouth.

A little bit salty, but the flavours — oh, how they gushed forth as the molars crushed the firm, glistening fat and the bits of tender, juicy flesh. Every bite was pleasure, with or without the apple sauce, so astringent and tangy it was almost citrus-like.

When the pork burger arrived I took the top half of the bun and wiped the sauce from what was once a plate of grilled pork belly. The patty wasn't really big, but it held a nice surprise. It was tender, juicy and had a nice texture, and most of all, virtually none of that gamey pork smell. A hint of fragrant herb might be responsible, and seemed familiar.

Coriander?

"No, it's parsley," said the manageress.

Yes, I had two dishes, from which Alex stole the occasional bite; she already had dinner prior. Small-town prices mean small-town portions, after all. But every bite was so darn good.

"Dish number three!" I thumped the table, with my sights set on the Pan-fried Chicken and Bacon Roll.

But then Alex spoiled it all by announcing that she was tired and had to go home.

I sneaked back when Alex was out of town over a week later. The manageress did say their "100% Home-made Beef Burger" was also worth a try.

The pan-fried chicken and bacon wasn't really rolled. The centrepiece was one slab of chicken that was butterfly-cut with a slice of bacon folded in. Resting on pieces of roasted potato and garnished with a similar salad, it was a tasty, healthier version of the KFC Double Down "sandwich".

The 100% home-made beef burger?

Upon dissection, I found that like the pork burger, it was rather loosely packed, allowing for a burger that was juicier and easier to chew. Besides flecks of parsley, there were also what looked like black peppercorns.

It's not just charbroiled pork belly, burgers, steaks or pastas — weekend specials may include Lamb Shank in Red Wine Sauce, Barbecued Spare Ribs and Roasted Pork Belly, which is different from the charbroiled version. From what I've eaten so far, they're all worth a try.

Days later, I came back for a third visit and a second go at the charbroiled pork belly. Am I becoming addicted?



Nambawan Restaurant and Café
10, Jalan PJS3/48
Sri Manja Square One
Taman Sri Manja
6½ Miles, Off Old Klang Road
46000 Petaling Jaya

Non-halal

Lunch: 12pm-3pm
Dinner: 6pm-10pm

Closed every other Monday

+6016-224 1533 (Yap)
+6013-263 2772 (Gilbert)

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