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Published: Monday February 3, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday February 3, 2014 MYT 7:11:53 AM

Former journalist carves a niche with nasi kandar restaurant in NY

Food haven: Nani’s restaurant has been getting rave reviews from NYC foodies. — Bernama

Food haven: Nani’s restaurant has been getting rave reviews from NYC foodies. — Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: Hardly a year since its debut in New York City, Malaysian restaurant Mamak Malaysia has been awarded a one-star rating by Michelin Guide, the international benchmark for good food.

Owned by chef Nani Yusof Hughie, a former journalist with national news agency Bernama, the restaurant serves up popular dishes identified with Penang’s Indian Muslim community. It was listed in the guide last month.

“I am surprised and honoured by the recognition as I am not a professional chef, and that includes my kitchen team. Furthermore, I am very new in this restaurant business, (it’s) not even a year,” she told Bernama via e-mail recently.

The restaurateur, who is also a freelance writer, says the coveted award was meaningful for her and her team.

“I was cleaning up my office at the restaurant on Jan 18 when I found a stack of letters on my desk. To my surprise, I found this letter dated Dec 23 from Michelin,” Nani recalls.

Mamak Malaysia serves mixed Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisines, which are popular in Penang, she said.

”We are famous for our shrimp nasi kandar, beef nasi kandar, squid nasi kandar, crispy okra and lamb rack with rendang sauce,” she said.

Born and raised in Penang, Nani moved to New York in 2005 and is the creator of Mami Penang Cooking Inc, the registered company that runs Mamak Malaysia, the first fully halal Malaysian restaurant in New York City.

The restaurant is located at 35-20 Farrington Street, Flushing, in the north-central region of the city’s borough of Queens. Within three months of its launch, the restaurant received rave reviews from various media, such as The New York Times, The New York Magazine, Chopsticks and Marrow and Chowhound, am­o­ng others.

Mamak Malaysia has attracted royal diners, foreign dignitaries and celebrities and Nani had the honour of serving Brunei’s Prince Abdul Mateen Bolkiah and his delegation during their visit to New York City in November. Malaysian ministers, MPs and celebrities are also among her distinguished diners.

Nani, 42, says her entrepreneurial skills were developed from the time she was a teenager.

“During my college years, I started my own street burger business, which is still operating after more than 20 years.” she said.

Nani has been married for the last 10 years to a Barbados-born Ame­rican nutritionist.

The mother of a five-year-old boy and three-month-old girl said that several well-known food blogs, such as Midtown Lunch, Eating in Translation and Chubby Chinese Girl Eats, had written glowing reviews of Mamak Malaysia in the past year.

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, mamak m'sia restaurant, new york, michelin star

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