COCONUTS HOT SPOT — Malaysians love their banana leaf rice.
What is there not to love when you can have unlimited rice (regular or parboiled) drenched with a variety of aromatic curries with sides of vegetables, meat and seafood. It does sound like a typical Malaysian meal but the charm here is that the rice is served on fresh banana leaves and the idea is to eat everything with your fingers. Everything tastes more delicious when a meal is executed this way.
One of my favourite banana leaf rice restaurants is Sri Ganapathi, nestled deep inside Petaling Jaya Old Town. It’s actually an old bungalow house converted into the restaurant it is now and you can’t miss it: it’s just across the Sekolah Kebangsaan Petaling Jaya.
As you walk in the entrance, you’ll pass by the frying station where all kinds of marinated meats and seafood are laid out in stainless steel containers, ready for the frying wok upon order.
The Frying Station
The dining areas inside the restaurant are in all the various rooms – it’s kinda like eating in different dining rooms in somebody’s house. Once you settle in, and the banana leaf is laid out with the rice, condiments and drenched with curries, a metal mug of Crab Rasam is served.
Crab Rassam and bitter gourd
It’s one of the best rasam around – the briny taste of crabs is very distinct even when mixed with the variety of spices in this tangy broth. It aids digestion, so be good and sip it with the mountain of rice.
My must-have condiment for banana leaf rice is the deep-fried bittergourd. Sri Ganapathi’s version may not be the best I’ve had – it was kinda limp and not crunchy enough but it was tasty. I ate this with their Mutton Varuval and I hardly missed the crunch then. When ordering mutton varuval, go for the local mutton version.
It costs more but its definitely worth the money as the local mutton is more flavoursome and tender.
Their sambal prawns are great with rice, with just enough heat in them without being overpoweringly spicy. Another seafood item I love here is their fried squids. Lots of onions and curry leaves go into this to give the squids that extra kick. Fresh and bouncy, the squids is a must-order every time.
Just look at those babies
I never miss out the fried stuff whenever I have a banana leaf rice. My favourite here are the chicken and ikan tenggiri. Fried to a crisp on the outside but once bitten, the meat beneath the skin was tender and juicy. Piling on more curry, eating the hot rice with the fried chicken and fish was simply divine.
Chicken and Ikan Tenggiri
Ohh, don’t forget the crunchy fried pappadam too – a banana leaf rice meal is never complete without those crackers!
Business is brisk, so try to be there early, before 12.30 noon. Once the crowd comes in after that, be prepared to wait for vacant seats.
Sri Ganapathi Mess
47, Jalan 1/10, Seksyen 1
46000 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-7782 0863
Open: 11.00am to 4.00pm daily