Kristang is an ethnic group of people from a mix of Malaccan and Portuguese descent, originated after the conquest of Malacca by the Portuguese in 1511. While there are not many people of this ethnicity around the Klang Valley, I was fortunate to know a lovely person by the name of Alison, who is from the same descent. Her love and passion for food must have run in the family, for Simply Mel’s was born recently – a restaurant that specializes in Malaccan Portuguese cuisine, with her mom Melba as the head chef.
What’s that nut?
Simply Mel’s is located in The Sphere, Bangsar South, a building that is filled with restaurants and coffee shops mainly catering to the working community in the surrounding area. It was my first time there, and I thought the place was really comfortable – easy and free parking (first 2 hours), spacious and no traffic jam! Ideal, isn’t it? I seldom raved about beverages in my food reviews, but I had to do so for this Assam Boi drink that was a combination of sour and sweet with a cooling finish, such a refreshing start before dinner.
Assam Boi (RM5.90)
We were also served a plate of Karing-Karing (dried threadfish) which looked like giant ikan bilis, as appetizers. These were very crispy and addictive, though having too much of these would be too salty. Everything in moderation!
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of spicy food, so when the bowl of fiery red Mel’s Malacca Laksa came, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it! This was prepared with rice vermicelli in an aromatic coconut broth, fragranced with daun keso and lemongrass. I don’t know how she did it but I swear I could taste the coconut cream, the lemongrass and the lime used in this broth, on top of being spicy. What a plethora of flavours! It was not overly rich and it’s sufficiently spicy, I loved it.
Mel’s Malacca Laksa (RM16.90)
Then, we had the Chicken Seybah, which was traditionally cooked with pig ears and belly. However, in an effort to make this place a Halal one, they improvised and made this dish with chicken instead. Mel makes her Chicken Seybah by braising her chicken with onions, garlic and two types of soy sauce. The chicken is cooked until the sauce caramalises and forms a thick layer on the skin. Finally, it’s topped with a smothering of Mel’s homemade chilli sauce. Needless to say, the chicken meat was oh-so-tender and smooth, not to mention they used my favourite part of chicken thigh here.
Chicken Seybah (RM16.90)
Crab Stuffing was such a labour of love! I have mentioned in my blog before that I am not a fan of crabs simply because it takes too much effort just to extract a small amount of meat from its hard shell. Now, imagine someone who not only extracted the crab meat out, but combined it with diced turnip, carrots, prawns and onions, before frying and serving them nicely in a crab shell. The effort and the thoughtfulness in this dish moved me.
Crab Stuffing (RM21.90)
Generous stuffing of shredded fresh crab meat and more
When the dish of Mel’s Pineapple Curry Melayu Prawn was served, I knew that I had to order a bowl of rice to go with it. The creamy curry with pineapple was very lemak and fragrant with a hint of sweetness from the pineapples. The prawns were huge and succulent no less, while the gravy was perfect with rice. Most importantly, this dish tasted very – well, home-cooked.
Mel’s Pineapple Curry Melayu Prawn (Regular RM17.90 / Large RM23.90)
Talking about Malaccan Portuguese cuisine, one will never escape the popular Keluak Curry. The keluak nuts are hard to come by so Mel’s sources them from a supplier in Malacca, who gets his high quality Keluak from Indonesia. The keluak nuts have to be soaked overnight to soften the shell, before cracking an opening to be cooked with various spices in a sourish curry broth with chicken. One is supposed to dig out the contents from within the nut to savour the full flavours of the keluak. The contents were black, soft and velvety with a nutty and slightly bitter aftertaste. I have to be honest to say that this is an acquired taste and I’m still acquiring it. I did enjoy the spicy and sour curry chicken very much with rice though.
Keluak Curry (Regular RM18.90 / Large RM25.90)
Terung Sambal, or pan-fried eggplant with Mel’s Sambal, was a dish that I wouldn’t have enjoyed a few years ago. I grew up hating eggplants (hate is a strong word, I know) thinking that they were too soft and mushy for my liking. Little did I know that when eggplant was cooked with sambal, it became this whole new dish that has now become my weakness. The soft and spongy texture of the eggplant just soaked up the savoury and spicy sambal, making it irresistible and moreish, perfect with rice. This was very good.
Terung Sambal (Regular RM9.90 / Large RM13.90)
Ox Tongue Semur, a delicacy that was simmered for hours until tender, was quite a hit with a certain blogger. I was expecting the tongue to be chewy and tough, but a bite into it proved me very wrong. The ox tongue was so tender and soft, you could almost taste the hours used in this stew, giving it an almost melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Ox Tongue Semur (Regular RM18.90 / Large RM25.90)
Of course, we had to have Mel’s Cincalok Omelette, for this is one of the signature Malaccan dishes that one must not miss. The fluffy pan fried omelette was cooked with onions, chili and cincalok – simple yet delicious.
Mel’s Cincalok Omelette (RM15.90)
Finally, it was time for desserts! Mel’s Ol’ Fashioned Chocolate cake was very moist without being oily. If you’re worried about it being too sweet, you can skip the icing layer on top, and stuff yourselves silly with the moist cake – it was rich, chocolatey and not overly sweet. Thumbs up!
Ol’ Fashioned Chocolate (RM6.90)
For something warm, the Pulut Hitam was really quite comforting. Black glutinous rice dessert was served with a dollop of coconut cream if you wish and most importantly, loaded with longans. Not only is black glutinous rice high in fibre, this combination of a dessert was most delectable.
Pulut Hitam (RM 5.90)
But if I had to pick a dessert from Simply Mel’s, it would have to be the Sago Biji – gloriously bouncy sago pearls topped with rich coconut milk and a generous amount of palm sugar (gula melaka), proved to be a potent combination that even a full stomach could not resist. This was decadent!
Sago Biji (RM5.90)
Aly & Aunty Mel
The gorgeous meal and delightful company were more than I could ask for on a weeknight dinner after a long day at work. Much thanks t0 Aunty Mel and the lovely hosts Cheryl and Aly for having us. Aly’s shirt says “Beng Naki Kumi!“, which, in Kristang language means “Come here and eat!” With such an authentic and sumptuous array of food, I’ll definitely be back.
Dining environment at Simply Mel’s
Simply Mel’s Restaurant
Simply Mel’s Restaurant
Unit 1-1A, 1st Floor, The Sphere,
No. 1, Avenue 1, Bangsar South,
No. 8, Jalan Kerinchi,
59200 Kuala Lumpur,
Tel No: +603-2241 4525 / +6012-428 9890
Website: www.simplymels.com / Facebook page
Business Hours: Mon – Sun (10:00 am – 10:00 pm)
GPS Coordinates: 3.11142,101.66748