Friday, January 14, 2011

Sajian Wadihana Islamic Kitchen (SWIK)

When SWIK first opened in Bandar Baru Bangi's spanking new 3B Curve Business Park, its signboard had just Wadihana written on it - prompting us to wonder what was the restaurant's specialty. Does it serve Arabic food, or Indonesian cuisine (we always jokingly called it Wadi Unung after the Malay drama) or simply, Malay dishes? Even when the new signboard with the words Islamic Kitchen written across it, we never felt inclined to try it out. But SWIK were always enjoyed good patronage almost daily, and that just got us more curious. 

So one fine night, we decided to try SWIK out. (Perhaps you might like to find out about the restaurant's name origins - read it at


Simple and minimalistic, SWIK's open kitchen concept is indeed welcome, though not original. The restaurant is spacious enough as it occupies two shoplots (by the corner too), so it has wide, open spaces for large families or gatherings. Comfortable without being overly decorative, SWIK achieves high in the furnishing department.


The service was average, but not as quick as we expected it to be. The staff was friendly enough, but they only notified us that one of our order (nasi impit) was finished, about 20 minutes after we had placed the order. However, they did make it up a free bowl of keropok for us to nibble the time away.


When we looked at the menu, there were two things that bothered us a bit. First, was the price. The dishes are a bit expensive for a restaurant of this type in Bandar Baru Bangi. Let me give a few examples - RM30.90 for a chicken fajita? Well, I like Tex-Mex food, but at that price it has to be authentic (with guacamole?) and served in a big portion. And a mixed grilled steak will set you back RM45, and with no mention of whether it's sirloin or tenderloin, I'm not prepared to go for it. Other examples of pricing are fish and chips (RM15.90), rib-eye steak (RM65) and mee siam kuah (RM9.90)

Secondly, SWIK is trying to serve too many kind of dishes in one go - they specialize in Asian, Western, Italian and Mexican (as stated in menu and business card) - that we cannot pinpoint what to have. Perhaps a chef's recommendation note is put on the menu. We finally decide to go Johorean, as the restaurant has deep roots in JB - and ordered the Laksa Johor, Nasi Ambeng and Nasi Goreng Ah Pau (replacing the finished nasi impit set). We also decide to make the Laksa as the benchmark. 

Now, for the positives. The price might be a little steep, but they do make an effort to make it up in size, freshness and presentation. The Laksa Johor was tasty though a little spicy and the portion was just nice. My nasi ambeng was also okay, it had white rice, sambal goreng, serunding, sambal ikan bilis and ayam kicap. But it would be nicer if I could choose more options to put in the Nasi Ambeng, like the missing meehon, begedil and fried fish. Finally, the Nasi Goreng Ah Pau was seafood-based, and the shrimps and squids are quite big and fresh.

The dishes we ordered did not disappoint, but they did not impress either. Tasty, but could be much, much better. So are the prices worth it? We do not think so, if we plan to eat there on a regular basis, but would be fine if we make SWIK a monthly visit. However, it is up to you to decide. 


It would be unfair to judge SWIK because we only tried only one type of its extensive menu. There are plenty more to choose from depending on your taste buds and budget. Recommended for a special night out or if you want to have a lot of varieties under one roof. Contact details are 03 - 8927 5540.

Six-and-a-half marks out of ten.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Zoo Negara Ulu Klang

Getting started:

Our very own Zoo Negara is located within a sprawling 110 acres of land in Ulu Klang, just north of Kuala Lumpur and situated in a somewhat mixed jungle-concrete landscape. For Malaysians, the Malaysian Zoological Society will charge you RM20 for adults and RM6 for kids (Zoo only and includes the animal show); and RM25 adults and RM9 kids to add extra entrances into the Insect Zoo and Butterfly Park.

click to enlarge

Remember to show your MyKad (everyone in your group must show) to prove you're Malaysians, so if you're in a large group and only one person is queuing, please collect all MyKads to avoid being turned away at the ticketing counter or worse, being asked to pay the foreigners' rate (almost RM10 more expensive).

F is for FOC

You will get to wear wristbands which you have to verify at the entrance gate, which is quite cool and contemporary. And if anyone is celebrating their birthday on that day, also inform the ticketing counter to get FREE admission. Our daughter turned three during our visit, and she got in free!

Also, disable people get in free and senior citizens get a big discount. So get everyone in your family to join in the fun and educational trip to Zoo Negara!

There are also ample parking at the Zoo, with two parking areas (at Gate A and Gate B) - so do not park haphazardly outside the area. The parking fee is also minimal, and there will parking attendants to guide you on where and even HOW to park, during peak hours.

There are two entrances to the Zoo, Gate A and Gate B. If possible, try to enter via Gate A as it brings you straight into the Zoo's main area while Gate B will bring you to the Aquarium and Animal Show Theater. The best hour to visit Zoo Negara is as soon as it opens, that is at 9.00 a.m. There will be enough trees and gazebos to provide shade and shelter, but as the day goes on, you will feel tired.

The Zoo is home to almost 5000 animals from 400 different species, and most them are placed in spacious exhibit areas. The Zoo compound is large too, so be prepared to walk a bit, and bring a lot of water especially if you have kids in tow. Our advice is also to plan where and what your family would like to see and visit the most, and which exhibits and attractions to skip. Plan your trip around the Zoo as soon as you enter the gates.


Once you enter, immediately buy tram tickets, costing RM3 adults and RM2 children (again, with MyKads). You can start by taking the tram ride as it will make two stops along the Zoo at designated tram stations. Alternatively, you can do it like us - we walked around the Zoo first and then took the tram for one complete round before going home. It is better this way during peak seasons, as the tram stations will be packed with tired people waiting for trams to take them back to the main gates. 

If you decide to take the tram at the end of your trip, now you must decide where to go in the Zoo. It very much depends on what you'd like to see. If you want to see the Aquarium, Animal Show, Children's World or Penguins - the take the right turn. But if you'd like to see the giraffes, elephants and the Lake, then turn left. The main stars of the Zoo, the lions and the tigers, are also much nearer if you follow the path on the left.

We took the path on the right, and was greeted by the many monkeys and apes. The magnificent horn bills are next on the exhibit enclosure area. Then we reached the Animal Show Theater, which had already started, but being the school holidays, was so packed we couldn't get a peek at all. Unfortunately, the shows are also limited to only two shows per day, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Next, we found the Penguins' aquarium, before entering the Tunku Abdul Rahman Aquarium. You can skip this, as the old aquarium's building is quite small, cramped, suffocating, stuffy and unsuitable for children. Walk a bit more and you will discover the Bear Complex, and see the bears having fun and relaxing under the sun. By this time and distance, you should already be feeling the heat, so take a rest at the kiosks.

When you do continue, try not to miss the Savannah Walk, a large open concept exhibition area created like the safari, which is home to giraffes, zebras and antelopes. But some of the animals might be lazy and would prefer to sleep anyway, but you will appreciate the unique Savannah area which makes you feel the animals are close by, instead of them being in cages.

When you approach the Cat Walk area, if you're lucky, you might hear the roars of the tigers and the lions. Naturally, this is the main attraction of Zoo Negara, and the exhibit area is so crowded. Take your time here, be patient, and you will find a nice spot to view the tigers and lions, or wait for them to come near (if they're not sleeping). The big cats are truly majestic animals, true kings of the jungle, and you might want to spend more time here. 

We ended our journey in Zoo Negara with one tram ride around the zoo, which we felt was a better way to appreciate the surroundings after a tiring walk. The Zoo might lack the modern facilities and need more attractions - but the kids will love it here. It will be a rewarding educational trip for them, and perhaps for the whole family.


- Bring lots of water
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Make sure everyone has MyKad/ MyKid
- Buy tram tickets
- Arrive early and see animal show at 11 a.m.
- Do not miss Savannah, tigers, lions, elephants - kids love 'em the most!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Senandung Malam Seafood at Bagan Lalang

Craving for some fresh seafood in the 30 - 40km radius of Bangi, we decided to head to Bagan Lalang, the world-renowned bird watcher's paradise and sleepy town off the coast of Sepang. The Bagan Lalang coastal area was a well-kept secret but when the Swiss Belhotel's Golden Palm Tree Sea Villas and Spa Resort (rates from RM500 onwards) opened at the Sepang Goldcoast Beach last year, the place has quickly gathered recognition as a tourist spot.

So be prepared for a packed beach and heavy traffic on weekends, public holidays and school breaks.

long Q

There are many restaurants along the beach, and each boasting fresh and cheap catches of the day. The trick is to find out that is tasty. Reading reviews from prior visitors to Senandung Malam, we decided to get there, and again, our group will be a large one consisting of 18 adults and children.


Contact: 013-384 9368 and 019-259 7356.

There are no specific method to make reservations. We managed to find and call a few contact numbers, but do not expect friendly greetings from the other side. Perhaps they are busy preparing the restaurant, as they open as early as 5.30 p.m. You should inform them of your entourage size and time of arrival. On busy periods, they might not be able to entertain you, if you plan to come after 8 p.m. You can also order the menu straightaway if you know what and how much to eat.

Our recommendation is to come early and enjoy the beach, then make your way to the restaurant as soon as they open.


Of course, seafood, and fresh too. As it is with other eateries of this type, you order at the counter where all the fishes, shrimp, prawns, squids, pepahat, clams and what-nots are. Make your choice, and then have them weighed and tell them how you want them prepared - fried, grilled, steamed, etc. All the items are fresh and are of satisfactory sizes.

But the downside was, the waiting time here was almost two hours. The queue was long, and at the beginning, there was only one person weighing, and taking and writing your orders.

Our advice here is to work together in your group - assign someone from your group to get a table, and someone else should just head straight to the ordering counter. And make sure to double check your order - they might get it wrong.

So for our group, we had bawal (grilled, but actually we ordered it masak 3 rasa - that's why we recommend you to double-check), pari (grilled), squid (fried), prawns (fried), clams (boiled), siakap (grilled), kailan ikan masin, rice and 3 jugs of sirap limau.

The grilled items were delicious and not over-burnt, and the sambal a bit too spicy but went well with the fishes. The fried squid and prawns, being fresh, was juicy and mouthwatering that they were the first items on the table to be wiped out. The fact that the seafood were fresh probably helped them being delicious as well.


As we said before, the staff aren't too friendly and they are extremely busy running around anyway. But, they will always try to find you a table and adequate enough to seat your group. Our tip is to grab someone, ask nicely, and they will surely help you out.


So was it worth the long drive and wait? Yes, the price certainly was, though not exactly cheap, but it is still one of the cheapest in the Klang Valley-vicinity area. The drive would be tolerable if you skip the highway and take the leisurely route through Bangi, Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi, and the small towns and villages along Sepang, Salak and Sungai Pelek. The long queue at the counter could be made less painful if you plan early and smartly, and of course you must have the patience for it. 

We thoroughly recommend this restaurant if you crave for fresh seafood,  a beach front restaurant and going in a large group. Eight and a half out of ten for Senandung Malam.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Restoran Al-Abraj, Bangi


Al-Abraj, Seksyen 9, Bandar Baru Bangi.

We are not really fond of Arabic/Middle Eastern cuisine, but decided one night to try out what the fuss was all about. Joining us, was almost the whole family, totaling 12 of us, so finding a spacious eatery was top on our list.

Joining the many, many food outlets in Bangi is the Al-Abraj, specializing in Arab and Yemeni cuisine. Find your way there (via your SatNav) at No. 40, Jalan Medan Pusat 2C, Seksyen 9, Persiaran Bangi.


Moderate but clean and tidy. Spacious and suitable for large gatherings. The Arab decor was minimal but just nice enough to set you on a mood. There is also a surau for your convenience.

The staff was fast, efficient and friendly. The waitress who attended our large group was so helpful, that she explained the items on the menu and made some recommendations too. She was patient too as she had to make the explanations a few times. Two thumbs up, and big thank you to Abraj's wonderful staff.


Being somewhat unfamiliar with Arabic cuisine, we took some time to digest the quite extensive menu. Typically, the main menu consist of lamb and chicken served with rice but only the cooking/serving style differs. Choose from Zurbian (cooked inside the rice - Abraj's specialty), or Haneez (steamed), or maybe you'd try the famous Mandy (oven-cooked). Our recommendation is, always go for the lamb - it is a standard rule when you're in Middle Eastern outlet anyway - and Al-Abraj cooks the lamb tender, moist and juicy and it goes nicely when you have some trouble with the dry rice.

Another thing which makes this main course worthy of its price, is its large serving. A plate could easily satisfy two moderate-eating adult.

My wife went for the dry lamb Akdah, which is tender lamb meat floss cooked with potato and tomato, served with Lebanese bread. This dish was fantastic as the spices blends well and gives you a myriad of tastes. The rest of group had kebab, sandwiches, fool (kacang pool) and Yemeni bread. Again, the Yemeni bread was so large it could easily feed two adults too.

As for the beverages, you could try the Yemeni lime if you could take the extreme sourness. But you must try the bottled non-alcoholic malt drink which comes in a lot of flavours.

There are plenty more items on the menu which looks appetizing, and perhaps the more adventurous among you would like to try the equally adventurous items. The lamb is a must-try, and if you can skip the dry rice, try to have the lamb with bread instead.

Moderate ambiance, clean environment, large portion and tasty food makes Al-Abraj a recommended place to visit, even if you don't really like Arabic cuisine.

A definitive eight marks out of ten.