In a country where inequality is so often glaringly obvious, it’s heartening to know that in one area at least the playing ground is levelled. Next time you visit Berjaya, take a look around and you’ll notice two things: firstly, that for some unfathomable reason, the customers there are primarily male (does nasi padang have some secret virile ingredient? Is paru an aphrodisiac?) and secondly, that Tan Sris are seated next to taxi drivers who have just lined up behind ministers for the same chow they’ve been dreaming of all morning, whether in their plush offices or squatted beside monsoon drain, toothpick at the ready.
And the reason for this brotherhood, albeit transient? Two words: nasi padang, meted out by a lady of stoic nature. Unfazed by her grim façade, the punters pack out this place so that if you arrive bang on lunchtime, you’ll be lucky to get served, let alone find a rickety table. You could hazard that it’s because Berjaya is located in a swanky neighbourhood where good local food that doesn’t arrive on a banana leaf is hard to find, but the honest reason is the food is pretty a-ok. Not swooningly so, mind, but certainly good enough for rich men to risk soiling their safari suited derriéres on the plastic chairs.
The signature dish is a Padang slow-cooked beef with chilli and lashings of onions that bears more than a passing resemblance to beef jerky, if beef jerky was sour and hot. There’s also a fried tenggiri with a dry chilli sauce that is fairly titillating if sour flavours are your thang. I prefer the spicy lala which comes in a tasty broth that is reminiscent of assam tumis and is good enough to drink. The finely sliced tempeh with ikan bilis and peanuts is also dangerously more-ish (thank heavens they don’t serve beer!).
Strangely, I seemed to be the only customer there who didn’t have fried paru – lungs – or fried chicken livers on my plate. They looked so worryingly dessicated that I just didn’t have the heart to do it. Next time. Next time. Fay Khoo
|Venue name:||Restoran Berjaya||Contact:|
44 Jalan Telawi, 59100
|Opening hours:||Tues-Sun, 7am-6pm|