Friday, November 2, 2007

Simply Spice Restaurant, Bangsar

From The Star

Keeping it in the family

Photos by CHUA KOK HWA

IT IS said that a family that eats together will stay together but how about a family that operates a restaurant together?

For Simply Spice Restaurant manager Azmi Ahmad, the move enabled him to spend more time with his family.

Cool dessert: Ayesha holding up her home-made cheesecake.

Azmi, along with his wife Maria Lee Abdullah and daughter Ayesha opened the cafe and restaurant at Kompleks Niaga Utama in Bangsar Utama about three months ago. His son, who is studying at a local university, also drops by to help during his free time.

While Azmi takes care of the management and operations of the restaurant, Maria shares her culinary skills and family recipes in the kitchen.

Ayesha helps with the serving and keeps the staff on their toes to ensure that customers get what they want.

The restaurant, tucked away in a corner of the building, has injected a certain charm to the previously bare area.

Despite its simple design and decorations, the restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor dining for customers.

Colourful: Nasi Tumpang is a popular choice at the restaurant.

Minimalist style seems to be the key for Simply Spice.

“We want to keep it simple but with food that people enjoy. There is nothing fancy here - simple design and simple food but it's simply delicious,” Azmi said.

The menu only has about 20 local and Western dishes.

One of the highlights is the Nasi tumpang - flavoured yellow rice served on a plate in the shape of a cone with a choice of vindaloo mutton, masala fish or the restaurant's special ayam panggang bersenggek, which is oven-grilled chicken.

The rice dish is also served with pineapple pajeri and acar. Though the rice dish originated in Indonesia, the recipe used at the restaurant is Maria's own.

“The recipe for ayam panggang bersenggek is part of her family's recipes and we are sharing it with the customers.

Flashback food: According to Azmi, the Chicken Chop is prepared like it was at the old colonial rest houses.

“All the spices used in the dish are ground and hand-mixed by her,” Azmi said.

He explained that bersenggek actually means grilled with coconut milk (santan).

The spices and santan gave the chicken its rich flavour, similar to rendang.

Another must try dish at the restaurant is the mee rebus Utara.

Unlike the Southern version, which uses keledek for its rich and thick gravy, the Northern version uses a combination of pumpkin and potato.

Mashed and boiled potato and pumpkin not only thicken the gravy but also give it a tinge of sweetness.

“We also serve our mee rebus with sambal sotong on the side to add flavour and spice for those who like it hot,” Azmi said.

Something light: Caesar's Salad is also available on the menu.

For those who prefer Western dishes, several choices are available, including several pasta dishes and salads.

However, Azmi said most would opt for the Oriental Chicken.

The chicken is dipped in batter and then deep-fried. Served piping hot, the chicken comes with baked beans on the top. Though the outer layer is crispy and crunchy, the meat itself is juicy once cut - just like the way it was once served at the colonial rest houses.

“I used to follow my parents to stay at rest houses like the one in Taiping and that was how they served their chicken.

“I am trying to bring back that memory,” Azmi explained.

The outlet also serves chocolate cheese cake made by Ayesha.

Simply Spice Kafe & Restaurant,
2-LG-6 Kompleks Niaga Utama,
Bangsar Utama, 59000, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2283 2727. Business Hours: 7am to 7pm.
Closed on Sunday and Public Holidays.

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