Recently, I was kindly invited along to a supperclub organised by Malaysia Kitchen, a body created by the Malaysia External Trade Corporation (Matrade) to promote Malaysian food within the UK. The supperclub was hosted by the Masterchef champion of 2010, Dhruv Baker, and took place at Cafe Malaysia on Woodville Road in Cathays, Cardiff .
As we entered Cafe Malaysia, we were greeted at the door and offered a drink from the menu, which consisted largely of Malaysian teas, coffees and fresh fruit juices. I went for a Malaysian white coffee and my friend, Steph opted for a tea. Both were fairly milky and sweet in comparison to tea and coffee as us Brits know it, but they certainly made for a warm welcome on a cold November evening.
The food menu for the evening was sitting in front of us on the table. Just reading it made my tummy rumble. To start we tucked into inchi kabin (that’s Malaysian fried chicken to you and me), squid satay and coconut and chilli salad.
The coconut and chilli salad consisted of fresh bean sprouts interspersed with sliced red onion, red pepper and green chilli, sprinkled with coconut. It was full of flavour with a subtle, spicy kick and an interesting, crunchy texture.
The Malaysian fried chicken/inchi kabin was sensational. The batter was deliciously crispy and the chicken was succulent and tender, although no matter how hard we tried, Steph and I just couldn’t quite pin down which spices had been used in the dish – it was so full of flavour, we just couldn’t work it out! Whatever it was, it was amazing.
Now, I’m not going to say much about the squid satay because I’m not a big seafood fan, so I gave it a miss. Steph really enjoyed it though, and having sampled some of the satay sauce I can definitely vouch for that.
Moving onto the main courses, we were served vegetable murtabak. The best way I can describe this is as a heavy flatbread stuffed with veg and spices and folded into quarters. It reminded me somewhat of a stuffed paratha from an Indian restaurant. Tasty, yet filling.
The murtabak were followed by a chicken and prawn laksa, although as you’ll notice from the photo below, this laksa doesn’t have any noodles in it. Usually it would do, but Dhruv doesn’t want us to get too full as we still have another main course and desserts to follow. We can really taste the fresh coconut and coriander in the laksa which, like the salad, has a gentle, spicy heat to it.
Our final main course was the beef rendang, which was served with a dome of fluffy, boiled rice. This dish completely surpassed my expectations. Made using the traditional mix of onion, ginger, turmeric, chillies, lemongrass and garlic, the beef rendang was like a thick, rich curry with a medium heat. The beef was what really did it for me. As Dhruv explained, it was shin beef that had been cooked for no less than eight hours, so you can just imagine how soft it was. Cafe Malaysia serve their own version of this dish for just £9.50 (with rice) and I wouldn’t mind betting that theirs tastes pretty good too.
We were feeling fit to burst after our main courses, so it was lucky for us the desserts were relatively light. The unusual green and white balls you can see in the picture below are known as ‘buah melaka’ and they are Malaysian rice balls with a melted palm sugar centre, finished with coconut. They felt soft to the touch, as though you could squash them if you wanted to. I took a bite of one and it tasted quite bland at first, but I could taste the rice afterwards. I don’t think their squidgy texture was to everyone’s liking, though.
The second dessert, and our final course of the evening, was ‘pisang goreng’, traditional Malaysian banana fritters. I love banana fritters, and I actually think I preferred these ones. The batter was much lighter and sweeter than usual, and the fritters sat in a pool of condensed milk.
We really enjoyed our supper club with Malaysia Kitchen and I am really looking forward to visiting Cafe Malaysia again to see how their cooking compares to Dhruv’s! Have you ever tried Malaysian food? What are your favourite dishes?
101 Woodville Road
(029) 2023 5616
I was invited to Cafe Malaysia as a guest and our food and drinks were complimentary.