By Ellie Philpotts
Since Jalan Malaysia kindly invited Quench Food to their Menu Relaunch, I thought I’d be a good little editor and publish a review in response. Which isn’t too hard, because they really are worth shouting about. Or, in this case, photographing to the point of forcing Instagram self-restraint, then writing, but the sentiment applies.
It’s fair to say Cardiff is becoming increasingly known as a city of foodies. Every suburb, from stunning Llandaff nestled in the north, to quirky and creative Canton over in the west, boasts its share of food culture – think independent coffee shops; takeaways slightly more niche than Dominos (while we do remain steadfast fans of the stuffed crust!); and champions of proper unspoilt Welsh grub.
Amid all this though, sometimes it can seem like Cathays didn’t quite get the memo. Although you won’t go hungry if you do a walking tour of Crwys Road, and there are hidden gems dotted in areas such as Salisbury Road, if you’re seeking a foodie day in the capital, it’s likely other Cardiff counterparts would jump to mind before Cathays.
So this just makes Jalan Malaysia even more welcome in the district we call home. Perched on Woodville Road, running right through the heart of studentville, Jalan Malaysia is a small but perfectly formed eatery focusing on, you guessed it, Malaysian fare. With attractive decor and a friendly impression before you even set foot inside, I’d often walked past and wondered why I hadn’t yet been – then the arrival into my inbox of the invitation to their event on Friday night put a stop to this.
Alongside Pontcanna-based PR gurus Little Big Foot, Jalan Malaysia hosted two evenings last week, whereby media kids and the like could sample their new menu. They specialise in street food-style dishes, and here the Nasi Lemak was the word (or two) on everyone’s lips – figuratively and literally.
I was served up a storm in the form of Beef Rendang, which, as the name is suggests, is probably not suitable for vegans, but should be a big winner for everyone else. In a nutshell (literally, because roasted peanuts play a significant role), it’s beef slow cooked in rich coconut milk, with tangy spices, lemongrass, lime leaves and chillies. It’s further described as ‘an aromatic dish balanced with caramelised ground coconut.’
As per the reason of the launch, this fits under the Nasi Lemak category. Nasi Lemak is a traditional Malay rice dish, starring coconut, half-boiled egg, cucumber, anchovies and sweet chilli sambol, and other varieties on offer spanned from Turmeric Fried Chicken, to King Prawn and Lamb Shank. But fear not if you’re a Cathays dweller who doubles as vegetarian – the Tofu Rendang, aka bean and chilli sauce, clearly deserves its reputation as one of Malaysia’s most popular meat-free meals.
Nasi Lemak may be the star of the Jalan Malaysia show, but they serve up the full works. On the night, they got things started with a selection of ‘Little Cravings’ – think fish ball skewers; chicken wings; spiced fish cakes; chicken or vegetable dumplings and veg spring rolls. On a side-note – my History teacher many moons ago did say I needed to write more chronologically, and I guess I haven’t learnt – because just to clarify, these starters do come become the main dish!
To end your meal in style, the dessert availability is also generous – highlights include Banana Way; Sweet Taro (Taro is a purple root vegetable, so not something you’d find down the road in Coco Gelato); and Durian Dessert, which markets itself as ‘king of all fruits, it’s a ‘love it or hate it’ dessert.’ The sugar lover’s equivalent of Marmite?! I’m in!
Drinks are also big business at Jalan Malaysia. From authentic Aloe Vera Juice and Malaysian White Coffee, to Chinese Herbal Tea and Ice-Cream Floats, your thirst will be well and truly quenched (sorry, we had to). If you’re just getting the night started, however, they also do an impressive array of beer and wine. And, although you really have no excuse in terms of walking there, if your ‘student syndrome’ laziness has reached new heights (or lows), they do Deliveroo…
With other perks including gluten-free options; a 10% student discount which is bound to be utilised given its location; and a bargain-savvy £10 Lunch Deal, Jalan Malaysia demonstrate the validity behind the old adage ‘variety is the spice of life.’ They also feature in our next print issue, out in November…
Thanks Jalan Malaysia and Little Big Foot for such a great evening – hope to see you again soon!