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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Food: Curry Leaf Restaurant @ Damansara Uptown, PJ

If ever asked, I will not hesitate to say I am not a big fan of banana leaf rice. Yes I like north Indian food, but the southern way of cooking and eating rice on banana rice just never tickled my fancy. So when we got the invitation to try Curry Leaf at Damansara Uptown, I wasn't over the moon like Wendy was. But then I was intrigued because they claimed to serve both north and south Indian food, something I'd never seen before.

While we KL-ites may not be familiar with this Curry Leaf restaurant, it's actually a very well-established and popular banana leaf restaurant in Seremban! Having been in the industry for over 10 years, they have decided to descend on KL and Petaling Jaya as their expansion target. If there's any doubt about the story, the proof is in the articles all over a healthy sized notice board at the entrance. =D

Papadam to kick start our feast!

But how does banana leaf rice work together with traditional North Indian cuisine? It all starts off with the banana leaf first, and the standard sides that come with it. The sides here are a little different from what we're used to at other banana leaf joints; we got (from right to left) some cabbage (nice to balance out the heavy curries), sambal tauhu, some crispy onion slivers (so so so addictive!), and a savoury-sweet eggplant & potato combination which Wendy liked. Of course, these may change from day to day.

If you'd like white rice, you'll get a nice big serving together with curry of your choice. This, along with the 4 vegetables costs RM 6 (RM 6.50 with briyani rice). At this stage it all looks like a regular banana leaf joint.

And in fact, if you're just interested in typical banana leaf, just add on some dishes from the ready-to-serve counter, and you're done! But at Curry Leaf, the choices don't stop there. Instead, diners can opt for a more interesting mixture of ala carte dishes off the menu. This is where the North Indian food comes in. =D 

Fancy some squid? Order a plate of Deep Fried Squid (RM 10) with your meal. While fried squid is quite common at banana leaf joints, this version is different because it's not fried with onion. Instead, the squid here is fried with sesame, with a batter that is not too thick. Absolutely tasty with the fragrance of sesame, we'd caution anyone to be prepared for addiction before giving it a go!

Sticking with the seafood, how about some Masala Prawns (RM 10)? Masala in general refers to a variety of herbs and spices, and that's not lacking at Curry Leaf! There's a slight hint of spicy flavour with this, but nothing overpowering. The prawns were very fresh and sweet, keeping us impressed. 

The last seafood item we got to try was also the most elaborate and expensive; the Curry Leaf Fish Head Curry! There is no fixed price for this, as price start from RM 25 and vary depending on the weight of the fish but the portion we had above would normally cost RM 40, which is more than enough to feed 5 mouths!

We were very impressed with the fish, as we found plenty of meat especially around the neck. The fragrant, slightly tangy gravy was also very good, because it wasn't too thick or too spicy. Plus, there was tons of okra & eggplant to go around! It would be the perfect accompaniment for white rice, and at RM 40 we think is a great dish to share with friends or family.

Coming to the poultry now, who can leave out the ever-present Chicken Tikka Masala (RM 10)? This rich tomato, cream & spice based dish is one of our favourites, and it was no exception at Curry Leaf. We really enjoyed the big tender chunks of the chicken and flavourful, robust gravy with our rice & naan. This isn't too spicy, so I think it could be something children can enjoy as well.

The Tandoori Chicken (RM 6) was served with a nice charring, just the way we like it. There wasn't too much of red colour, which is a fault of some places because they use red food colouring to give it that redness on top. Over here we thoroughly enjoyed the flavourful chicken together with a pinch of lime =D

The Chicken Afghani (RM 9) caught my eye when we browsed through the menu because of its unique name. 

Curry Leaf's version of Chicken Afghani  is delicious and brims with a lovely buttery flavour. While similar to Tandoori in that it's also a drumstick and thigh, it's cooked in a different marinade. The skin is brown in colour because it's coated in egg and butter. Something different from what we're used to, but didn't taste too strange. We'd recommend this for anyone looking for a little change up to the usual Indian menu!

The Chicken Lakshimi Kebab (RM 6.50) was also the first of its kind that we've seen and tasted (must thank Curry Leaf for introducing us to so many new dishes!) - a roll of chicken chunks encased within a layer of egg and cheese. This was milder in flavour so Wendy preferred the whole chicken dishes like the Tandoori and Afghani above, but I must say I thought this was pretty interesting as well, especially when consumed with the delightful minty dip on the side. In the end, the best way to describe this would be to imagine an omelette wrap! Recommended for those eating with small children.

Mutton Roghan Josh (RM 10) is perhaps almost everyone's go-to mutton dish at Indian restaurants and I'm pleased to report that Curry Leaf's rendition was delicious. In fact, it was the first dish to be finished at the table, I think maybe not quite enough for the 4 of us! I tend to be quite fussy with the cuts of mutton provided so thankfully the cubes of mutton in this were nicely tender. Perfect strong combination of spices and spicy. :P 

Of course, what's an Indian restaurant review without some Briyani? We got to sample two of their best seller briyanis, the first being this Squid Briyani (RM 9) that contained fresh bouncy squid rings. It ordinarily wouldn't have been my first choice, but I commend Curry Leaf for having some variety in their briyani section by using squid.

I preferred the Mutton Briyani (RM 9) - maybe just being the meat lover that I am - indeed the perfect combination of briyani rice and flavourful mutton. The briyanis at Curry Leaf are tad moister than ones you get elsewhere, but it doesn't bother me cause the flavour is excellent. Goes well with the refreshing yogurt raita served on the side too.

Another first for us, having Chicken Stuffed Naan (RM 6.50). The naan is packed inside with a layer of chicken mince, akin to murtabak. While it may be a good idea, we thought the chicken filling was a bit dry.

Though we didn't quite fancy that, the Kashmiri Naan (RM 5) was a whole different story altogether! The presentation had us from the moment it arrived... I mean, how can you not like something that's served with a pinwheel of mango slices? Beneath that, the naan is dotted with dried fruits - raisins and maraschino cherries. This was one of our favourite dishes of the day, and as stuffed as we were, we actually contemplated if we could possibly order another.

This Kashmiri Naan was thinner than the Chicken Naan and was with its buttery aroma, was a delight to nibble on, crispy in some areas and fluffy in others. The mango (surprisingly, local mango) was sweet and went surprisingly well with the dried fruit combination. Maraschino cherries can taste too artificial or too sweet, but nothing of that sort here. Even Wendy's brother who doesn't like sweet things was having seconds of this naan. :P

I found the lassis here to be quite affordable, we had the Mango, Banana & Peach Lassi (all RM 3.80). Commendation must be given to Curry Leaf because they actually cultivate their own yogurt in house for the lassi & the raita. 

To end the meal on a sweet note, we got small hot servings of Payasam, an Indian dessert that Curry Leaf makes from dhal and minced cashews. Wendy really liked this, especially the textured consistency, but the others thought it was too sweet. This is usually given out free on Fridays here.

In a nutshell, Curry Leaf has blessed us ignorant KL and PJ folk by expanding to Uptown and letting us have the chance to experience their wonderful food that has been kept hidden away in Seremban for the last 10 years! While it's okay to come here and have a simple meal of banana leaf rice, I'd recommend coming with a few friends to have proper meal complete with some of the dishes mentioned above. Trust us; you won't leave here disappointed! We're already planning our second visit...

Curry Leaf Restaurant
Ground Floor, No. 75, Jalan SS21/37
Damansara Uptown,
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tel: +6 03 7726 5880
Email: [email protected]
Opening Hours: Daily, 7:30am-10:30pm

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