* Article in English
“You all like spicy food right? Cus this is really spicy.”
It is one thing for a foreigner to call something spicy – we have a rather low tolerance after a childhood of non-offensive things like sandwiches – but a Malaysian warning you that something is really spicy is a serious warning sign. But I was feeling reckless, so I took up the challenge and joined some friends on a trip to Mum’s Place in Damansara Perdana.
All spice worries were pushed far from my mind as we stepped foot inside the restaurant, a gorgeous and very large eatery packed to the brim with wooden furniture, fancy screens, wooden statues and carvings and large round tables where people were already eating furiously.
Mum’s Place, as the name suggests, serves up only the best recipes that manager Christopher de Mallo remembers from this his mum’s kitchen. Chris is half Chinese and half Portuguese, and he left his job in a bank to set up the restaurant, getting his wife and sister to man (or woman I suppose) the kitchens.
The menu is impressive and covers a lot of different ingredients – chicken, beef, seafood, vegetables, rice dishes – as well as incorporating Malay, Indian, Portuguese and even some Chinese styles to offer a huge array of choice. It is safe to say that Chris’ mum was quite a cook, and my best advice is to let someone else order for you or you will undoubtedly spend a good hour salivating over the menu!
Now my Malaysian host for this lunchtime treat had warned me that he was in a mood for spicyness, and the food he ordered thankfully offered a range of heats as well as a range of flavours to keep the whole table happy. Despite the lunchtime rush, our food arrived quickly and we were grabbing forks and wading in before I had time to fear for my tongue.
Let’s work our way up the spice scale. Right at the bottom was the Beancurd with Petola, which swam in a thin sauce and despite looking bland, was very tasty, and the petola had a nice bite to it that contrasted the wobbly beancurd. The Daun Keledek turned out to be a dish of sweet potato leaves in a dressing of dried shrimp, lime juice and chilli padi. This was somehow very mild despite the chilli padi, with not quite enough lime juice to give a distinct kick.
A Mum’s Place favourite vegetable dish was the Teru Black Pepper: long fat stems of aubergine cooked until soft but not sloppy, and slightly sweetened with something, honey perhaps? Simple but delicious, I could have eaten a whole plateful to myself! And now we start to sneak on to the spicy scale. There were two different okra dishes: the Okra Belacan served up short stumps of okra, cooked to perfection and swimming in spicy shrimp paste which gave it a savage after-kick, while the other served them up long-stemmed okra and coated in chillis. This second one was pretty spicy, although not to the point of overpowering the fresh taste of the okra.
The final vegetable dish (we certainly got in our five-a-day here!) was a mixture of okra and aubergine swimming in a lemak sauce, which was richly flavoured with coconut milk that left the vegetables tasty without being sloppy. It was a dish that seemed creamy and refreshing for about five seconds, until the spice kicks in and then wow! The tongue was beginning to throb.
The least spicy of the meat dishes was the Fried Chicken with Thai Sauce, an oily but thankfully mild chicken dish, while we stepped up a notch with the Chili Padi Chicken Fillet served with petai. This was delicious; the chicken was perfectly cooked, the petai was crunchy and distinctively nutty while the sauce was so delicious. There was just enough of a spicy kick to make my lips tingle without overpowering the whole flavour.
Then finally, the Ultimate Challenge: the Fried Cencaru Fish with Chilli Paste and Petai. This platter served up two whole fish smothered in chilli paste that had both been fried to a crisp. The skin was crispy and delicious, and peeled back to reveal soft, flaky flesh that was so addictive and so so spicy! Despite the sensation that my mouth was on fire, the fish tasted fantastic and kept calling me back for more, until I was sniffling and snuffling like a lost child.
Despite the serious threat to our tongues, we were all in agreement that the food was truly excellent. The menu offers so much variety, and everything tasted fresh and had been lovingly prepared. If you have space for dessert, the list includes some mouth-soother such as ice cream and cendol, but all I could manage was a sour and bitter Honey Lime Sour Plum while my lips fizzled furiously.
Mum’s Place is quirky and yet homely, and the staff were attentive and quick, and with food as good as that it is easy to see why it is so popular! I highly recommend this place and I will certainly be back to work my way through the menu and challenge the chilli to a re-match!
Mum’s Place, Jalan PJU 8/5A, Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya, Selangor,Tel: +603 7727 8443