What you see – A pretty woman in black with a muted red belt ushers you into Awana, the Malaysian restaurant. Just across the foyer is the bar, with low tables and leather cushions on your left and regular tables on your right. You will find that this is a two-storied restaurant with the staircase lined with pictures of buildings in Malaysia and done up with wooden paneling. And the “Visit Malaysia” advertisement screams at you from quite a few places in the restaurant.
What you get – Run by a true blue Malaysian, this restaurant offers you authentic Malaysian food and the owner is not high-nosed either. You will find him serving at some table or the other. The staff offers you a wet towel as soon as you are seated and that can be a refreshing thing to use. But once they hand over the leather bound menu, it is sure to read like Greek and Latin to most. So, like we did, you could take help from the captain or the person taking your orders.
As Malaysian cuisine is known for its sea food, we decided to try the Udang Garam Lada Hitam, which in common parlance is crispy golden prawns stir fried with spring onions and green leaves for starters. It was made to perfection. The prawns were cooked well, were just crispy enough and went well with the peppery spring onions. A platter gives you seven tiger prawn pieces for Rs. 380.
For vegetarians too, this place is a delight. We tried the Murtabak sayur. It is a paratha stuffed with vegetables, but that is where the Indian connection ends. This one comes with vegetables stir fried with pepper dressing and then stuffed in. You get the taste of each vegetable and yet together, their taste is subdued. It is served with pickled carrots and onions and a dip, which resembles the South Indian onion curry, but here they have used more of tamarind. It complements the taste of Murtabak Ayur.
For main course we ordered Nasi Lemak, which is priced at Rs. 220. In simpler terms, it is the Malaysian version of our thali. It comes with coconut rice, lamb curry and peanut masala. The rice was steamed with coconut milk and the peanut masala had a touch of seafood taste to it. You could also try fragrant rice, which is plain rice, with any of the curries.
We recommend the Kari Ayam Masaman, which is chicken curry cooked with coconut milk. It comes with a lot of vegetables such as brinjal, ladies finger and beans. Though boneless, the chicken is not cube-shaped. Seafood lovers could try it with Kari Ikkam. This is red snapper in coconut curry with okra and aubergine. As this restaurant serves wine, you could wash it down with Madeira’s white wine. This is priced at Rs. 190 for 150 ml.
That is not all. They have soups and satays (Malaysian style barbeque) and special Malaysian bread, roti canai. They have tofu and tomato starters too. With main course, you could always try the items in the claypot section. It can substitute for a heavy soup by itself. It has Chinese cabbages, mushrooms, aubergine, dried chilli, spring onions, soya sauce, rice wine and chicken. All this for Rs. 200. The regular fare of fried rice and noodles also find a mention in the menu. But if you want to try authentic Malaysian cuisine, please don’t wander further down the menu card.
To sweeten the meal, you could opt for Dadar. It is a pancake with sweet coconut shavings. But the ideal way to end the meal would be to try the Teh Larik, which is the Malaysian pulled tea and is served with milk and coconut cream on top. The taste lingers long after it is downed. There is even the special variety of crispy sweetened bread served with vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce for Rs. 120. It makes for a wonderful end to the meal.
The verdict – The ambiance settles you in fast, save for the jamming noise from the pub Afterlife next door. The lights are not too muted either. The service is attentive. It pleases to see them serve beer without any froth on the top. If the food is delayed, they tell you immediately and apologize too. Our meal got served at another table, yet they informed us of the reason.
But please crosscheck the bill, as the names appear similar to first-timers. They billed us for a non-vegetarian dish though we had ordered for a vegetarian one. You will find a lot of Malaysians frequent this restaurant so the food must definitely taste like home-food for them. And valet parking is available. This restaurant is worth going back to anytime.