Penang nasi kandar is what Abdull Khuttus
does best. After all, he tells TAN BEE HONG, he´s been cooking since he
was a teenager
ABDULL Khuttus grew up with
nasi kandar specials. The guest chef at Federal KL´s The Verandah, was
born to a father who operated a nasi kandar shop in Penang´s Chowrasta
Even as a young boy, he used to help out in the Haja Naideen restaurant
before he started cooking professionally more than 20 years ago.
Abdull, 42, now operates a catering business and a stall in Kafe Pantai Timur in Paya Terubong, Air Itam, Penang.
“My brother and I learned from my father who was famous for his daging masak kicap and fish head curry,” he says.
These two dishes are definitely on the menu at The Verandah´s Ramadan
buffet spread. As well as other dishes like karupillay cabbage,
rendang, congo chicken, fried spicy crabs, pasembor and murtabak.
Abdull shows his mastery in the use of spices in all his dishes, with
well-balanced flavours that complement, not overpower. His fish head
curry has just that right tinge of piquancy to bring out the best of
the coconut-based gravy. Makes you take a second helping of white rice.
The big prawns in sambal sauce are crunchy and after you peel the
shells, it´s impossible not to lick your fingers clean. There is a
pleasing hint of tomato that gives a fruity flavour to the sambal.
He has four basic sauces for seafood -- sambal, turmeric, spicy and
curry. The turmeric squid is excellent, with the thick, yellow-hued
sauce clinging on to the squid.
Mutton, chicken and beef are cooked in many ways. I enjoy the lamb
kurma with a lovely gravy that´s great with bread. I´m told the black
sauce beef is tender and extremely tasty.
What bowls me over is ayam masak merah. This is nothing like the Malay
dish of the same name. Instead, it´s deepfried chicken that has been
marinated with reddish coloured spices (I wonder if it´s something like
tandoori chicken spices). Cut into small pieces, the chicken absorbs
the flavours of the spices.
If you like the chicken saucy, there´s honey chicken, congo chicken,
kampung chicken curry, roast chicken, curry chicken, kurma chicken,
spicy fried chicken and more.
Abdull is proud of his mee mamak. His signature Lai Lai mee goreng
mamak and mee rebus are named after that sold in the Lai Lai Kopitiam
at the foot of Penang Hill. “In Penang, we use sweet potatoes to make
the gravy for the mee rebus,” he says.
But nasi kandar is not all The Verandah offers. You also get a wide
selection of western cold cuts and local appetisers like kerabu,
sambal, rojak, nasi kunyit and pickles.
But do start with a refreshing drink of sugar cane, longan, air
bandung, air selasih, honey dates, soya bean or mango juice. Hot
choices are teh tarik and coffee.
Action stalls include mee mamak, mee soto, roti John, grill chicken,
beef, lamb and sausages as well as steamboat, bubur lambuk and nasi
But with nasi kandar dishes, the best is steamed white rice or biryani
rice, which also goes well with rendang beef, tandoori chicken,
hot-sour tilapia, fern shoots with sweet potato and stirfried broccoli
The dessert spread is filled with 20 types of kuih muih, dodol, wajik,
agar agar, pudding and western pastries, cakes an0d tarts. For
something hot, try bread and butter pudding with vanilla sauce or the
various types of bubur like green beans, black glutinous rice, banana,
yam and tapioca. The Ramadan buffet, on till Sept 17, is priced at RM68
(adult) and RM40 (children and senior citizen).