Kuala Lumpur - Malaccan Favorites at Baba Low's
I finally got round to trying Baba Low's in Bangsar this evening. A very popular little dining spot, I'm trying to figure out its attraction - maybe the charm of a simple, old, almost ramshackle, unpretentious place which puts one at ease almost immediately. An affable old lady came to take our order. The food, as they turned out, were pretty much hits-and-misses - more on the latter category, unfortunately.
What we had:
- Nyonya laksa - this one's a definite hit. It was the most piquant Malaccan Nyonya laksa I'd ever had, and had a more pronounced, home-cooked flavor compared to the one I had at Donald & Lily's in Malacca (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/841733).
- "Kueh pie tee", which had nice, crisp pastry shells here, but rather bland & soggy stewed, shredded jicama. Even the freshly-pounded chilli sauce that came with it failed to improve the dish. The normal "popiah", which would most likely have the same filling as the "kueh pie tee", was not available this evening.
- Fish otak-otak: another miss here - the bony pieces of fish were covered in dry-ish chilli-"rempah" marinade, and served with some semi-toasted dry-ish sliced bread. I spent too much time picking out small pieces of bones to really enjoy the dish. And the chilli content rather exceeded my tolerance limit (gack).
- "Tauhu sumbat" - unlike the deliciously tasty versions one gets in good Indonesian restaurants in Jakarta like Pondok Laguna or Sari Kuring which served this dish, the Malaccan version (even those I'd tried in Malacca) were next to tasteless: plain deep-fried tofu, stuffed with shredded cucumber & jicama. The chilli sauce gave the dish a spice kick, but did nothing much else to improve the overall taste. A miss.
- "Ikan Asam Pedas" was shockingly sour for me, and enough contained chilli to numb 3 of my 5 senses. The two small whole mackerel were also very bony
- "Ayam Pongteh" - this one's a borderline hit. I liked it - though probably more out of hunger (from eschewing those other 'misses') than the dish per se. The chicken was perfectly cooked - meltingly-soft yet still moist, but the gravy was much too sweet for my *non-Malaccan* palate.
Didn't have any capacity left to handle the "Nyonya chendol" and its sugary -sweet content, so may just come back again sometime.
Baba Low's 486
11, Lorong Kurau
(Off Jalan Maa'rof).
Tried three more dishes at Baba Low's recently:
- Ikan Masak Gerang Assam: fish in sweet-sourish gravy - tasted like a sardine, accompanied by okras. The dish tasted rather one-dimensional and a bit too rustic for me.
- Nyonya chicken curry: again, not my type of "nyonya" cooking which is usually complex and piquant. This curry was rather bland.
- Nyonya popiah: I liked the skin here - moist and soft. But the filling was simple and, again, rather bland.
Baba Low's continue to get positive reviews from KL food bloggers. Maybe my palate is very, very different from KL-lites', but I simply could not appreciate Baba Low's cooking thus far.
Oh, those 2 Rastafarians next to us? LOL! You better believe it - KL-lites are quite colorful these days.
Re: Malaccan otak-otak. I honestly don't know what to make of it. I'd tried the dish at 4 different restaurants: Ole Sayang and nancy's Kitchen in Malacca, Tranquerah in KL, and now Baba Low's - and all 4 versions had a different look, taste and texture.