First of all, I came here not expecting much. You hear about local celebrities opening their own restaurants and cafés all the time, and based on past experience, it’s usually more hype than quality. Khadijah’s Kitchen – owned by homegrown legendary singer Khadijah Ibrahim – is not without some (thankfully tasteful) decor to remind you of its famous founder, but my prior scepticism was diminished when the food arrived.
Here’s my advice: If you don’t know what you feel like eating, prepare to spend some time going over the menu, which pretty much covers Malaysian favourites from the entire Peninsular (there’s at least three kinds of everything here, including laksa). I didn’t know whether I wanted noodles or rice, so I went with the dish that ‘spoke’ to me: Nasi Goreng (FBI) Datin Paduka Faridah Sedap Gila. My dining companion took a less risky route by asking the waiter for recommendations, who confidently suggested the ayam daun kari and masak lemak daging salai.
My dish was part of a set and came with cucur udang (prawn cake) as an appetiser. I’m not a huge fan of cucur udang, but this one impressed me with a crispy exterior and a filling that utilised chopped fresh herbs for an extra burst of flavour. When the mains arrived, I hadn’t anticipated the gigantic platter on which they served my nasi goreng. Surrounding the rice were portions of chicken in satay sauce, fried prawns, acar, keropok ikan and a fried egg, all of which appeared minuscule on the large plate. Thankfully, the dish made up for this. While I wouldn’t call it ‘sedap gila’, the petai-infused nasi goreng compensated for the dish’s weak points (the over-fried egg and the tiny prawns).
Surprisingly, the dish of the day was the ayam daun kari: tender pieces of chicken in a sweet and spicy soy sauce-based gravy. Meanwhile, the masak lemak daging salai (spicy turmeric curry with smoked beef) was a little too creamy for my liking, with the beef unpleasantly chewy. Pulut hitam (black glutinous rice porridge) was served for dessert, which made for a satisfying end to the meal.
If you’re looking for a decent, affordable place to treat visiting friends to Malaysian cuisine, Khadijah’s Kitchen comes highly recommended (the decor and classic Malay music will make excellent conversation starters; just make sure everyone can handle a bit of spice). For locals, save this place for special occasions.