May and Mike’s Corner is the sort of antidote that is sorely needed in a city that has become infested with sleek, chic and too-cool-for-their-own-good eateries. Tucked away in a quiet corner in Section 17, this quixotic Malayalee cafe has charm in spades – a visual ‘centrepiece’ consists of an old fashioned ice kacang machine on a checked tablecloth-topped table, and that’s owner May Miranda’s only concession to ‘decor’.
The cafe, which was launched in 2000 with late partner Mike d’Cruz, serves authentic Malayalee food made with recipes from the duo’s family archives from Kerala, India. Several signature dishes which ensure the continued patronage of regulars include the dry but spicily tasty chicken varuval and the mutton parathal, and the prawn toren, which is stir-fried with coconut, spices and chilli powder and was adapted from a recipe given by May’s mother-in-law. Fish putthu, comprising fish flaked and cooked with the typically Malayalee blend of coconut milk, turmeric, cumin and an assortment of other spices, and aiviyal, a Keralan vegetable dish, also take centrestage here, although in all honesty, the food is best represented with support from May’s homemade pickles and chutneys.
The indefatigable and delightfully garrulous May whips up an impressive repertoire of said condiments on a regular basis and they often include such ‘flavours’ as ginger, salted fish, mango, and even an ikan bilis chamandi poodi condiment. All are equally irresistible and stupendously more-ish, especially when consumed with mountains of rice. My personal favourite is the dried prawn sambal, which explodes with flavour and is good enough to fly solo. In this predilection I am not unique because May says – not without a little puff of pride – ‘My Chinese customers are mad for it’.
Apart from the daily ‘eat-all-you-want’ buffet spread that costs a scant RM20, the Corner also serves idly, uttapam and other delectables and has a catering service for private functions. Best of all, the pickles and sambal are available for takeaway purchase, so you’ll never have to go without again. I know I certainly won’t. Fay Khoo