Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mano Mega Curry House

Location: Kota Damansara
Date: 19 Apr 2010, late lunch

Banana leaf rice is one of our local treasures that is easily categorized as Value For Money. Though there are exceptions, this great Indian concept is generally accepted as a go-to solution when you want a whopping meal  on a budget.

And so it was that we were looking for lunch after being held up in an expo in KL, that we found ourselves in Kota Damansara looking for good eats. The Kota Damansara commercial area has quite an impressive array of eateries day and night, though parking is quite a nightmare. After several rounds of parking-merry-go-round, we finally settled down in Mano Mega Curry House.

The place looks like your typical mamak restaurant, complete with aluminium furniture etc. Banana leaf is generally an Indian thing, and I usually never trust banana leaf in a mamak store. A quick survey of the operations, however, revealed that this was not your typical mamak place.

From the minute we sat down, we were quickly attended to by the staff. The place wasn't crowded at the time, but was certainly not empty either. All our orders arrived within 3 minutes. Requests for extras were also attended to with great gusto, to a point we were almost surprised.

Sorry, we were halfway thru by the time we took a pic

Portions initially served were so-so. However, being banana leaf, you can top up as much as you like. We put this to the test and they were more than happy to serve you more. The quality and flavor was up to par with  what would pass as 'authentic' Indian food in Malaysia. Not amazing, but quite good nevertheless. I note particularly that the rice was good and grainy; doesn't clump or stick. 

Our order was 2 banana leaf sets, chicken varuval, sambal egg, fried fish and fried bittergourd plus two drinks. Total damage = RM23. That right there is value at work.  

Pros: Fast service, reasonable prices. 
Cons: Location looks more like a mamak shop, if that matters to you.  

4/5 rating
Good value
Fast service

Monday, April 19, 2010

JM Bariani

Location reviewed: Damansara Perdana
Date: 18 Apr 2010, lunchtime

JM Bariani seems a highly popular name with outlets across the Klang valley and apparently originating in Johor. They have received ample media coverage in all the major newspapers and also have several glowing reviews on food blogs online.

They've just opened their latest outlet in Neo Damansara, located in Damansara Perdana, so we went to check it out.

First thing I noticed is that the menu is rather simple. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I noticed they don't have eggs or even some form of veges to go with the rice dishes. Must be damn good and confident to not have any condiments or sides on the menu, I thought.

Wrong. So... very... wrong.

I ordered the Nasi Bariani Rendang (RM13.42) and was immediately turned off by the portions. The rice itself looked bland before even tasting it. Looked like plain rice with a few grains of color and the odd herb here and there. Tasting it didn't improve my opinion either. Very so-so.
The beef rendang was also very un-rendang like. It was more like daging kicap; sweet with soy-flavor, watered-down and not spicy at all. The two condiments served are pickle and some watery gravy, which actually tasted better than the rendang.

Now, I may be a bit harsh on this case. By itself, there's nothing really 'wrong' with it. But there's nothing 'right' about it either. The entire meal was wholly uninspiring and nothing to shout about. However, couple this with the fact that JM Bariani has enjoyed tremendous reviews and the high pricing, I am inclined to feel more than a little disappointed. In fact, I think this is utter bullshit.

I note that most of the other reviews of JM Bariani are of its Subang Jaya outlet. It is possible that the other outlets are vastly better. But still, this speaks poorly of the brand as a whole, and definitely portrays the Damansara Perdana branch as a blight to the neighborhood.

Pros: Erm... its edible?
Cons: Limited menu, high prices, small portions, so-so taste.

1/5 rating
Very poor value for money
Overhyped marketing

Avoid unless you are starving