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Makan Time: Local favourites that will capture your heart... and stomach

Malay Mail logo Malay Mail 26/8/2018
Look for Makan Time to get your fix on local favourites. — Pictures by Ham Abu Bakar and Lee Khang Yi © Provided by Malay Mail Look for Makan Time to get your fix on local favourites. — Pictures by Ham Abu Bakar and Lee Khang Yi

PETALING JAYA, Aug 26 — Makan Time is quietly making its mark among food lovers here. Those in the know will gather there for their daily specials.

Every Saturday, they wait with bated breath to see what will be served the following week. What sets it apart from many other places is a dedication to authenticity.

That takes a lot of hard work. And passion. It’s that elusive, extra something that makes food lovers drive all the way to this hidden spot in Kota Damansara. This is thanks to husband-and-wife team Daniel Chong, 40, and Terri Chew, 41.

The husband-and-wife team behind Makan Time is Terri Chew (left) and Daniel Chong (right). © Provided by Malay Mail The husband-and-wife team behind Makan Time is Terri Chew (left) and Daniel Chong (right).

Started in 2015, the eatery traces its roots to Little Yum Yum (located just across) which is also run by the couple. It’s the baby sister of Yum Yum, the ever- popular eatery set up in Ipoh by Daniel’s mother.

“We wanted a different one to cater to different customers,” Daniel explained. The dual concept worked well as their regulars would dine at Makan Time for breakfast and lunch. Some would adjourn to Little Yum Yum for lunch or dinner.

After eight years of running Little Yum Yum, the duo decided to close it. Efforts instead will be concentrated on Makan Time. Plans are also under way to relocate Makan Time to Little Yum Yum’s vacated space since it is larger.

Their mutton curry noodles uses a Penang style white curry base is absolutely delicious with tender pieces of mutton (left). Burmese biryani or danbauk is a big hit with their customers for the flavourful rice served with mutton or chicken (right). © Provided by Malay Mail Their mutton curry noodles uses a Penang style white curry base is absolutely delicious with tender pieces of mutton (left). Burmese biryani or danbauk is a big hit with their customers for the flavourful rice served with mutton or chicken (right).

Daniel explains that one reason for the closure is to spend more time with their two young daughters. Moreover, it was hard to just delegate the work to their workers. “At the end of the day, your food can make it if you ‘jaga’ it. It’s not easy to let people to do it. I rather be more hands-on,” explained Daniel.

Cooking for Daniel started at the age of six. He recalled that at that age, he could already boil rice and fry eggs. His mother was busy as a home caterer, an accidental career for the housewife.

Since she was stuck at home, neighbours started to ask her to ‘tumpang’ cooking dishes for their daily meals. Soon the business boomed till she was catering for 100 families. Eventually, she opened Yum Yum in 1991 — a milestone for her as she was already 40 years old.

What makes their Sarawak laksa unusual is their house made laksa paste concocted with various spices. © Provided by Malay Mail What makes their Sarawak laksa unusual is their house made laksa paste concocted with various spices. On their menu, you can order their Siamese laksa served with the condiments on the side. © Provided by Malay Mail On their menu, you can order their Siamese laksa served with the condiments on the side.

Daniel’s mother has a passion for cooking. As the second eldest daughter in the family, she had learned traditional Cantonese and Hakka dishes in Kampar. Later she picked up Hokkien and Peranakan cooking skills from her mother-in-law in Taiping. After observing how the older lady cooked, she would experiment to come up with her own dishes.

That talent to recreate dishes was inherited by Daniel. It starts from the ingredients with him. “You need to know about the ingredients, then you can understand why it is cooked that way or used in the dishes. If you understand that, you can bring out the flavours,” he explained.

In the pursuit for the best ingredients, he does not mind waking up at 4am to visit at least four different wet markets. Not all of these places stock what he needs, that is why the need to visit so many places.

Savour their kai see hor fun with its delicious broth made by boiling the chicken for five to six hours (left). Their Nyonya nasi lemak is served with asam prawns, kari kapitan, sambal ikan selar kuning, sambal hae bee and sambal belacan (right). © Provided by Malay Mail Savour their kai see hor fun with its delicious broth made by boiling the chicken for five to six hours (left). Their Nyonya nasi lemak is served with asam prawns, kari kapitan, sambal ikan selar kuning, sambal hae bee and sambal belacan (right).

That passion for ingredients also sees him searching all over Malaysia for ingredients, whether it’s taucheo (fermented soy bean paste) to all kinds of gula Melaka. Often, he would bring the items back to experiment in his kitchen, slipping it into the most unlikely dishes to tweak the flavours.

Sometimes he would do a taste test of all brands available, like soy sauce, to determine which will suit his cooking needs.

You’ll notice various plants fronting the two restaurants, like an abundant blue pea creeper at Makan Time. All these are used in their food preparation to keep the colours natural.

Poached chicken, gizzards and blanched beansprouts are served on the side for their kai see hor fun. © Provided by Malay Mail Poached chicken, gizzards and blanched beansprouts are served on the side for their kai see hor fun.

Daniel’s most recent discovery is the daun suji from an Indonesian friend, which gives a deeper green shade to his kuih without any fragrance. He would also add pandan leaves to give kuih that distinct aroma.

Previously, Daniel had pursued a hospitality course at Taylors University, specialising in French cuisine. He also did a one year stint at Shangri-La KL’s French restaurant Lafite, working his way up the ranks to a saucier, before he was pulled back to the family business.

During his time there, he was given the task of coming up with the daily soup served in the restaurant using cost effective ingredients. It proved to be a solid grounding to prepare Daniel for managing his restaurant’s weekly menu of daily specials that keeps his regulars happy. He adds, “We rotate it to be different, as customers will get bored.”

Sambal sardine rolls are also available here fresh from the oven. © Provided by Malay Mail Sambal sardine rolls are also available here fresh from the oven. Enjoy beef noodles with tender beef slices, honeycomb tripe and beef tendon balls. © Provided by Malay Mail Enjoy beef noodles with tender beef slices, honeycomb tripe and beef tendon balls.

You’ll find an interesting mix of local favourites served on their daily specials like their nasi dagang. The dish is inspired by Daniel’s father who once worked with KTM which saw him being posted to places like Kuala Krai and Pengkalan Chepa.

Daniel would only make the dish when he can source for the oilier and flakier ikan aya hitam for the gulai. The slightly sourish tasting belimbing buluh is also added to undercut the richness of their gulai. A lot of work goes into the cooking of their rice, which is a mix of reddish brown hill rice and Thai fragrant rice.

It’s through conversations with his friends that he discovers new dishes. Very often he would ask them, “What is the most memorable food?” from their holiday.

Their kuih talam and seri muka is made in-house. © Provided by Malay Mail Their kuih talam and seri muka is made in-house.

“To me, good food will remain on as a memory, If you can recall what you ate yesterday, it’s very good.” The eatery also serves up the unusual danbauk, a Burmese biryani which has become a big hit with their customers.

This was inspired by a friend who had travelled to Yangon. As they had presented the Indian and Muar biryani versions before, Daniel thought why not try the Burmese version, which he recreated from its description. “It’s not necessary to have tried it but I need to know the ingredients that goes into the dish,” he said.

The nasi ulam is served with wild yam stems, salted fish, keropok lekor and fried baby crabs. © Provided by Malay Mail The nasi ulam is served with wild yam stems, salted fish, keropok lekor and fried baby crabs.

What makes the biryani different is the sambal balachaung served on the side. The dry mix is made from roasted dry chillies, dried shrimps, shallots, garlic and ginger. You also have a mango pickle, onion pickle and whole bird-eye’s chillies. There’s a choice of chicken, mutton and occasionally, they serve a venison version.

Some specials reflect their Ipoh heritage, like their famous kai see hor fun. There’s a depth to their chicken broth, eked out from boiling the chicken for five to six hours. We guarantee empty bowls with not a drop left of their sweet, luscious broth laced with prawn oil.

(1) The tedious part of nasi ulam involves the cutting of the fresh herbs. (2) The various herbs are rolled together before slicing them thinly. (3) Daun kesom is added to the mix of herbs. (4) Chopped lemongrass and torch ginger flower ready to be added. © Provided by Malay Mail (1) The tedious part of nasi ulam involves the cutting of the fresh herbs. (2) The various herbs are rolled together before slicing them thinly. (3) Daun kesom is added to the mix of herbs. (4) Chopped lemongrass and torch ginger flower ready to be added.

You may also want to make a beeline for their Sarawak laksa. Unlike other spots, the laksa paste is make from scratch here using an assortment of spices from all over the world. The result is a fragrant, thick broth that you’ll drink up. Sometimes, depending on stocks, you can also score a packet of their laksa paste so you can make the dish at home.

A crowd favourite is their nasi ulam which involves tedious cutting of the various herbs before they are combined with the rice. Daniel learned how to make this dish that is served by the Malays and Peranakans all by himself.

You have an assortment of herbs such as torch ginger flower, lemongrass, daun kaduk, daun kesom, Thai basil leaves, mint leaves, kaffir lime leaves and turmeric. It’s hard to get the texture of the rice perfect, Daniel explains.

The rice cooked for nasi ulam is mixed with galangal and turmeric. © Provided by Malay Mail The rice cooked for nasi ulam is mixed with galangal and turmeric.

It can’t be too dry nor wet or it’ll be mushy. The fragrant rice is served with various items, depending on availability of the ingredients. Previously as he got a batch of organic durians, he served the creamy, pungent fruit with the rice. The day we visited, it was deep-fried baby crabs and unusual wild yam stems.

While their daily specials grab the attention, give some love also to their menu items. For a snack, try the unusual roti “heaven on earth” which is thin toast slathered with cream cheese, butter and raisins.

(1) Once the rice is cool enough, it’s sprinkled with the dry ingredients like belacan and dried shrimps to mix. (2) The harder herbs like torch ginger flowers and lemongrass are added next. (3) You need to mix the herbs and ingredients thoroughly with the rice. (4) Chopped shallots and turmeric are added to the nasi ulam. (5) The softer, cut fresh herbs are added at the end for the nasi ulam. (6) Once the herbs are added, you got to mix it all together to get the flavours for the nasi ulam. © Provided by Malay Mail (1) Once the rice is cool enough, it’s sprinkled with the dry ingredients like belacan and dried shrimps to mix. (2) The harder herbs like torch ginger flowers and lemongrass are added next. (3) You need to mix the herbs and ingredients thoroughly with the rice. (4) Chopped shallots and turmeric are added to the nasi ulam. (5) The softer, cut fresh herbs are added at the end for the nasi ulam. (6) Once the herbs are added, you got to mix it all together to get the flavours for the nasi ulam.

Daniel explained that he was inspired by a bagel he had tried in a cafe where they combined blueberries with cream cheese. What’s not to love when you have a crispy, light bread topped with cream cheese and a slightly salty edge from the butter.

Dusted in icing sugar, it’s also good as dessert.

Roti ‘heaven and earth’ uses cream cheese, raisins and butter combined with toast. © Provided by Malay Mail Roti ‘heaven and earth’ uses cream cheese, raisins and butter combined with toast.

Pair it with a cup of their local coffee which is made from good coffee beans sourced from Ipoh. It tastes just like the way they serve it in Ipoh; no wonder their regulars come on a daily basis to enjoy a cup of the strong, dark coffee.

You also have their Siamese laksa, a milder version with a light, creamy broth. You’ll be served your condiments on the side, allowing you to customise to your taste.

Snack on this pulut inti made with blue pea flower tinged rice topped with grated coconut flavoured with gula Melaka (left). The kuih ketayap makes a substantial dessert with its generous filling of grated coconut (right). © Provided by Malay Mail Snack on this pulut inti made with blue pea flower tinged rice topped with grated coconut flavoured with gula Melaka (left). The kuih ketayap makes a substantial dessert with its generous filling of grated coconut (right). As much as they can, they will plant the items themselves like these blue pea flowers used to colour the kuih. © Provided by Malay Mail As much as they can, they will plant the items themselves like these blue pea flowers used to colour the kuih.

Or if you prefer bovine pleasures, go for their beef kway teow soup, either soup or served dry with soy sauce. It is served with honeycomb tripe, tender beef and rarely seen, beef tendon balls. Completely hand made, these are mixed with ginger and sago flour to give it more bite, just like how they used to do in the old days.

Don’t forget to also grab their homemade kuih. Popular ones are the kuih bingka ubi which they make from the yellow coloured tapioca. Even the simple bingka beras is superb with a caramelised top. There is also kuih talam, seri muka, pulut inti and kuih ketayap.

Bring an empty stomach here and you’ll leave satisfied. And who knows, you may be refreshing their Facebook page every weekend to check on their daily specials!

The cafe is patronised by a group of regulars who often come on a daily basis. © Provided by Malay Mail The cafe is patronised by a group of regulars who often come on a daily basis.

Makan Time

G-63A-G, Block G

Jalan Teknologi 3/9

Kota Damansara

Petaling Jaya

Tel: 011-1191 9218

Open: 8am to 4.30pm (Monday to Friday), 8am to 3pm (Saturday)

Closed on Sunday and public holidays

https://www.facebook.com/makantime/

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