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Monday June 26, 2006

Little touches for unique dishes


geetha@thestar.com.my 

THE visual feast beckoning to shoppers at Alamanda Putrajaya’s Archipelago is now complemented with food. 

Sandwiched between the U-shaped row of stalls selling a myriad of wares from the Malay Archipelago, the month-old Samudera Cafe arms itself with the tantalising aromas of Laksa Johor and Mee Jawa, to name a few. 

Nusantara delights – (clockwise from top) Bubur Pulut Hitam, Mee Soto and Mihun Sup.
The cafe is the first food venture for local designer and interior decorator Jay Ibrahim. 

“My late dad was from Kelantan and my mother is from Johor so there were enough family recipes for me to work on and add my own little touches,” said Jay whose ID work can be seen at the cafe. 

The few handmade posters featuring beautifully intact seashells on the cafe walls are what remain of a large batch made for the Maritime Department.  

Even the furniture pieces sourced for his cafe were much admired by diners who eventually bought a few. 

The owner of the cafe is also an interior designer and some of his works can be seen at his newly opened cafe.
“So now, everything at my cafe is available for a price including transportation for larger pieces like the dining tables,” he said.  

Elaborating on his personal touches to the dishes, Jay said he used orange-coloured sweet potatoes for his Mee Jawa because the tubers deepened the gravy’s hue.  

White ones though cheaper, he said, tasted bland. 

“I use better quality dried shrimps from Sabah so the gravy is robust in flavour.  

“The Mee Jawa is served with fish cakes and fish balls.”  

Jay shops for a fish known in Malay as ikan mambong at the Selangor wholesale market for his special Laksa Johor. 

Ikan mambong comes from the same family as ikan kembong but the former has bigger eyes.  

“Although the fish is usually priced at RM12 per kg it makes a difference to the Laksa Johor because the flavour is more intense.”  

Jay’s Mee Soto is based on the authentic recipe from Johor that uses peanuts.  

Instead of using chicken slivers, he also serves generous chicken chunks in keeping with the true recipe. 

Included in the list of house specials is the Serunding Daging, a mound of spiced and shredded beef, surrounded by nasi himpitin the shape of tiny pyramids, and complemented with thick peanut sauce. 

Determined to give the Nasi Tomato an East-West flavour, Jay re-invents the recipe by using a blend of bird’s eye chilli and Prego tomato sauce to make a spicy-sweet stock for the rice.  

The cafe’s teatime favourites include Serunding Daging (front) and Teh Tarik.
“This to me is an example of a wonderful marriage between Western and Eastern flavours because the aroma is distinctly different from the taste.”  

Jay’s day begins with preparing breakfast and then on to lunch. He also handles the catering, packing food in tiffin carriers for delivery to his customers in Cyberjaya. 

At least four main dishes are prepared daily for the lunch and dinner buffet counters.  

For tea, there is Bubur Pulut Hitam, Bubur Kacang Hijau, Bubur Cha Cha or other Malaysian teatime favourites like kuih

Hot beverages like Johor Coffee 434 are available on the menu, alongside Teh Tarik and Milo. More items will be added to the menu at Samudera Cafe over the months. 

 

  • SAMUDERA CAFE, Archipelago, Ground Floor, Alamanda, Precinct 1, Putrajaya (Tel: 03-8888 8882). Business Hours: Daily, 10am-10pm. 

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