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For home-cooked Johorean dishes


Inez (left) and her mother Hasnah, with some of the dishes served at Bunga Lawang cafe in Bangi. — Photos: NORAFIFI EHSAN

Inez (left) and her mother Hasnah, with some of the dishes served at Bunga Lawang cafe in Bangi. — Photos: NORAFIFI EHSAN

AUTHENTICITY in the taste of its Johorean fare is what sets Bandar Baru Bangi’s Bunga Lawang Cafe apart from the rest.

If you are a true Johorean, this is where you will find dishes reminiscent of home when in the Klang Valley.

The cafe serves flavoursome home-cooked laksa Johor, soto ayam, Fish Head Asam Pedas, Sotong Masak Hitam and other Johor specialities.

The restaurant sticks closely to the original recipe with no substitutes or shortcuts, with rather reasonable pricing even if you are with large groups of diners.

Prawn sambal cooked with petai.
Prawn sambal cooked with petai.

The warm and inviting ambience makes you feel at home right away.

“That’s one of the reasons why we started the cafe last September. We wanted to share home-cooked meals and almost everyone who has tasted my mum’s cooking suggested we open a restaurant.

“We finally realised the dream after we quit our jobs. All the dishes on the menu are our family recipes,” said Ruhil Syafinaz Hussein better known as Inez, a former TV3 personality and the sister of singer Ruhil Amani.

The Asam Pedas Fish Head is very popular at Bunga Lawang cafe.
The Asam Pedas Fish Head is very popular at Bunga Lawang cafe.

To maintain the consistency of the dishes, Inez’s mother, Hasnah Hassan, heads the kitchen crew and single-handedly prepares the dishes from scratch, with help from three other cooks.

“It’s hard work and time-consuming but it’s worth the effort when we get good feedback from satisfied customers who would return with their friends and family members,” said Gibran Agi, the son of Malaysian poet/writer and artist Abdul Ghaffar Ibrahim (AGI).

The most popular items on the menu are nasi lemak, Sotong Masak Hitam, Tetel Masak Jintan (Fried Beef in Spices), asam pedas, sambal petai, soto, mutton curry, Brinjal in Oyster Sauce and sup tulang.

Gibran and Inez are satisfied with the feedback they received from customers.
Gibran and Inez are satisfied with the feedback they received from customers.

The classic sup tulang is of the more popular items on the menu. The broth is made with beef bones, cooked for hours and flavoured with cinnamon, fennel, coriander, star anise and cumin.

The meat is marinated in the spices overnight and boiled for a few hours. Once done, the greenish-yellow hued broth is aromatic and inviting.

The thick soup rich with spices, is lovely with chopped coriander leaves and deep- fried shallots. It can be eaten with rice or on its own.

“I try my best to stick to the original recipe and make sure all the necessary ingredients are used so that the taste is as wholesome as it can be,” said Hasnah, who started cooking after she got married at 15.

The Soto Mee, a soupy Johor dish eaten with a special soy sauce-based condiment and bergedil (Malay potato patties).
The Soto Mee, a soupy Johor dish eaten with a special soy sauce-based condiment and bergedil (Malay potato patties).

The family recipes are that of Inez’s paternal grandmother who was a good cook.

Those visiting during teatime will be thrilled to find lempeng pisang, tepung bungkus, nagasari, sardine currypuff, abok-abok and kueh cara. Not to be missed is the green pandan syrup, ABC with extra fine shaved ice, cendol and the popular creamy iced coffee from the famous Elephant Coffee @ Kopi 434 from Muar.

The good response from customers has encouraged Gibran to open an eatery at The Strand in Kota Damansara come April.

Bunga Lawang Cafe, 50, Jalan 7/7B, Seksyen 7, Bandar Baru Bangi, Bangi, Selangor. (Tel: 03-8922 9921/012-336 9912). Business hours: 11am to 10pm, daily.

This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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