With Ramadan right around the corner, Azee Café ─ a gem of a find when it comes to home-grown Malay fare ─ might just be the place to go for a satisfying Buka Puasa. The eatery is a notch up the average in terms of taste, consistency of taste, presentation and décor and the prices are not bad too, considering the all-round atmosphere, which is why it finds itself worthy of a review here.
But before we talk about food ─ first, a history lesson. We’ve lived in Puncak Jalil for the better part of the last decade and it’s been a sleepy, rather desolate neighbourhood for most of its early years. There were swathes of fallow land that were left barricaded and forgotten until they grew thick with undergrowth and business of any kind was unheard of in this little corner of the world save for a few coffeeshops and kedai runcit that served the community.
My Little Town
But today, all that has changed, thanks to the property boom in the last five years or so due to Malton’s Bukit Jalil City/Pavilion 2 (at the front) promising to propel Bukit Jalil into the stratospheric realms of The Next Iconic Landmark of Malaysia. That, and the simultaneous development and rebranding of Seri Kembangan (at the back) as upmarket Puchong South. Puncak Jalil, being sandwiched in between, and linked to Kinrara, got pulled along with the growth spurt in tandem.
All of a sudden, my little town got busy. Commerce centres rose out of the once-fallow land ─ not one, not two but three middle-range lifestyle-inspired centres each housing dozens of three-storey shoplots rose out of nowhere and swept over the land. Doors opened, businesses started and suddenly, we even have Hong Leong bank in the neighbourhood. There’s also KFC and Subway looking trendy beside computer stores, bridal boutiques, bakeries, pharmacies, and where getting groceries is concerned ─ there’s Mydin and Hero Supermarket, loads of 7Eleven and KKMarts and of course, restaurants.
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You’d be surprised how many Malay restaurants there are in Pucak Jalil. Most are located in front of the main Surau (and this is not taking into account the Mamak Shops which number around five or maybe more dotting the area). But Malay restaurants? They virtually line the streets one after another, each with its own bright lights and identity. But Azee Café? It stands out on its own.
For one, it’s the most stylishly renovated eatery of the lot, it’s air-conditioned (and that’s a rare find for a local cafe), with Wi-Fi access given free to all who patronise complete with electricity sockets for charging and password emblazoned on the wall and there are TV screens hooked up at strategic corners of the ceiling with nice lights. Yet the place is bright enough and quiet enough to hold private conversations or have a wholesome family meal. Best of all ─ it’s clean and the service is fine. And then, there’s the food.
So What’s the Food like?
Last night, I decided to drop by for dinner. It was my fifth or sixth or seventh visit and in the ensuing visits, have tried quite a bit of their menu. There’s the local section but I have yet to try their Western fare. Actually, it was during my first visit that I got immediately sold to the place. Someone suggested Azee and we had a meal there and everything we ordered was good by any standards. This was the start of our “special relationship” to the point that whenever we want to go out for dinner, we say: Azee. And I’ve been there so often, the staff is already used to seeing me take pictures of my food.
The Thai Connection
Last night’s visit was as usual, an impromptu decision. I ordered the Siakap Steamed with Limau, which I thought was an interesting combination, and for drinks, I got their zany special: a blue drink which I can’t remember the name ofhand. (Azee makes very colourful drinks!) And just for good measure, I got their Kang Kong Goreng Tepung as well. And, yes I walloped the lot all by myself.
The Kang Kong Goreng Tepung looks massive but it’s really all air. It wasn’t oily at all, just delicately blown out of proportion to balloon bigger than it actually is. The crunchy texture contrasted nicely with the softer taste of the Siakap. In my opinion, this is one of their best dishes. The fish was tender, tangy, with just enough sharpness to stimulate the senses.
Azee’s strongpoint lies in their Thai dishes. I had the Green Curry Chicken set on an earlier occasion and I wasn’t disapointed. It tasted authentic, at least to me and it had all the right herbs in. On yet another occasion, I had their Sambal Petai Seafood. They got their piquancy right. Their Thai offerings come in a set ─ like the Steamed Siakap dish, the Green Curry and the Sambal Petai Seafood, complete with spicy-sour tanghoon salad, pungent hot sambal belacan and steaming hot rice. Ah! If you’re into Thai flavours, this will hit the spot.
Their local fare, to be honest, is not as good as their Thai ones. I had their Udang Butter and Rice once, and it was actually…quite good, almost on par with the Chinese version, almost. Probably, the fault lay in the prawns ─ they were not big enough to figure anywhere in the final outcome. Duh! But, to be fair ─ it was not bad, not bad at all.
I was also disappointed with their Kailan Ikan Masin. It didn’t hit the mark and neither did their Buncis Belacan. Somehow the KL version of Kailan Ikan Masin ─ and I am talking about every restaurant that serves it here ─ just cannot match the original one-and-only in Kuantan. Because only one place in Kuantan has got it pat. I cannot remember the name or exact location but it was a house-turned-part-time restaurant. We were holidaying in Cherating some years back and we ate at that house/restaurant/stall everyday, ordering Kailan Ikan Masin for six days in a row. Yes, it was that good. The gravy was thick, hot, strong and full of flavour and considering the price which was, if I remember correctly ─ RM7.00 for the kalian alone, and only one stalk at that ─ the dish was very expensive. But worth every mouthful.(But I’m rambling aren’t I?).
Azee’s beverages are quite imaginative in their combinations and flamboyant in presentation. They are what I call fun drinks. For example I had the Keladi Sago, a blended taro root drink that came with bits of pink sago on top. It was, well…cute. Taste-wise, they are all sweet and serve as agreeable thirst quenchers.
Azee has done a good job in bringing the Malay restaurant one notch above expectation. And that’s delightful news for residents of Puncak Jalil and those staying nearby. At least now, in my little town, there’s a local restaurant with a global flavour that can hold its own. For the month of Ramadan, they’ll be open from 4pm till 1am only, just so you know the timing. If you want to ask more about Azee Café, look below
Azee Café: No: G-53, Jalan PUJ 3/9, Bandar Putra Permai, 43300, Seri Kembangan. Tel: 012-924-1011