24 January 2017

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) - Limablas Peranakan Restaurant @ 25 Jalan Mesui

Date of Exploration : 16 Jan 2017

Peranakan cuisine has always been one of my weaknesses and any mention of udang petai (prawns stir-fried with stink beans) would instantly start a wild saliva party between my teeth. So when I saw a friend's Facebook photos of his nyonya lunch at Limablas, my keyboard got drenched.

But more than just serving up mouthwatering Peranakan food, Limablas' contempo-retro decor is a photographer's dream come true and would turn even the most camera-shy into an instant camwhore.

Here. I must come!

Tucked along the eclectic Jalan Mesui lined with quirky shopfronts, the entrance of Limablas is an invitation to travel back in time. It felt like I was walking into a 70s hipster's home.
 The good thing about Limablas is that it is located within the popular Bukit Bintang tourist district so it doesn't need a spaceship to get to. We stayed at Rae Hotel (which is on a street parallel to KL's famous Jalan Alor food street) and took us under 5 minutes to walk here.

We had initially wanted to come by for lunch on Sunday but the restaurant was closed so we came back on a Monday expecting a large lunch crowd but it was comfortably patronised. Unfortunately, they were out of petai (stink beans) that day and I'll have to find equal pleasure in Limablas' other menu offerings to make up for the disappointment.

Limablas means fifteen / 15 in Malay and is the unit number where the restaurant was originally located on Jalan Mesui. It's current unit number is 25 that's why there's a "@25" at the end.  To match the retro decor theme, I decided to channel Fei Yu Qing (费玉清) so that my poses will fit the setting...

... but of course, I can't emulate my evergreen idol so it's free-styling with the patchwork of vintage furnishings.

Limablas has an open bar at the patio but it was too early to sample their interesting sounding cocktails.

Hello there! This uncle chio or not? Hahaha...

Interior of Limablas... Yesterday didn't happen once more, it never went away.

Limablas offers a set lunch menu as well as ala carte selections. Most of the Perankan signature dishes are in it except Ayam Buah Keluak. At RM13.90 for the set lunches, they are a pretty good deal. Otherwise, eating here would rank on the high side. I find eating in KL generally quite expensive by local standards.

Retro-hip... a place to feed the stomach and the camera!

This flower fan looks like it fell out of the pages of Alice in Wonderland.

One of the fun things to do was to take a closer look at the display items... sometimes recovering a memory, and sometimes discovering a good laugh.

Old things given a new purpose at Limablas... me not included.
The period setting very got 'feel'. We stayed till past 2pm when all the customers had left and practically had the restaurant all to ourselves to shoot.

Put me in a vase and I'll bloom for you :)

We were so caught up with capturing nostalgia and putting ourselves in the photos that we almost missed the arrival of our orders. The charms of Limablas' movie-set grade interior could almost steal the limelight from the food.

Now that I've fed my Olympus Tough TG-4, it is time to feed the tummy...

We ordered the Bendil Kukus (literally translated as "bundle steamed", which is the okra dish), Nyonya Laksa, Ayam Ponteh (stewed chicken) and Gerang Asam Fish. The servings are rather huge so for the two of us, this is an over-order. Usually, waiters would warn us that we've ordered too much but maybe the waiter at Limablas thought I looked yao gui so he didn't stop us. Thankfully we didn't waste food. *Burp!*

Our bill totaled RM106.95.

The steamed okra (Bendil Kukus) was easily my favourite. The lady's fingers were cook just right and really tender and fresh but the belachan dip it came with was a stranger. Usually when I order this Peranakan dish, the vegetable comes with a coating of stir-fried minced garlic, onion and chilli in lime sauce layered on top with crispy hae bee (deep-fried tiny shrimps).

Maybe that's another dish altogether and not Bendil Kukus. For this, I much enjoyed the okra on its own without the sauce.
As for the Nyonya Laksa, I think it has an identity crisis. It looked like Penang Laksa (cucumber strips and lime) fell into a bowl of Curry Mee yet resembled neither in taste. The broth was thick and hearty but it didn't taste like the Nyonya Laksa I know. The taste wasn't bad, but somehow the flavours didn't quite work together and left me baffled. Perhaps some Laksa leaves could turn things around or it should be called Nyonya Curry Mee... LOL

The Ayam Ponteh won us over. Although the gravy was a tad too watery (nothing that a little tapioca flour solution mixed into the sauce can't fix), the dish hit all the right notes in taste and aftertaste. The chicken was stewed till the meat divorces the bone readily and the potato and mushroom had all soaked up the robust flavours.

No room for dessert... We were thinking of some Peranakan sweets to end off the saliva party but we were too stuffed!

Okay, I must qualify ah... I'm no expert in Perankan cuisine except for being good at eating so what my tastebuds dance to may be different from yours. Overall, although vintage-themed cafes and restaurants aren't exactly a rarity nowadays, I feel that Limablas has a character of its own and makes for an interesting dining (and photography) experience in the heart of KL's downtown tourist district.

Address : 25, Jalan Mesui, Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur
Opening Hours : 11am - 3pm, 6pm - 10:30pm (Mon - Sat)

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