June, 2017 - A Taste of Ramadan




Enak tried something different this Ramadan. A drive around the Melawati and Taman Sri Rampai area to sample some food specialties that is available over the Ramadan period.

Twelve Enakkers and three guests met at the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre Cafe for a delicious lunch of Roti Jala with Chicken Curry. The lacy pancakes were ideal for soaking up the delicious gravy and chicken pieces. Whilst having lunch, Datin Paduka Chen Mun Kuen, the granddaughter of the original owner Yong Koon, spoke to us about the history of the pewter factory. Yong Koon was a migrant from China and in 1885 came to the tin mining town of Kuala Lumpur to set up a pewter business making mostly ceremonial items for ancestral alters for the Chinese community. In the 1930s with the price of tin falling he and his wife shifted the focus to making more European influenced items such as cigarette boxes, vases, tea pots and other utilitarian items.


A beautiful melon tea pot is on display in the Visitor Centre which is a very important family heir loom as during WW11, a villager named Ah Ham spotted a shiny object on the ground and bent down to pick it up. As he did so he narrowly escaped death as a piece of shrapnel whizzed over his head. He always called it his lucky teapot and it found its way back to the family as it was stamped with the original hallmark of one of Yong Koon’s original pieces. The Visitor Centre is an excellent place to take visitors to KL on a guided tour and to learn its history and see pewter objects being made. It’s free!


Royal Selangor Visitor Centre (4, Jalan Usahawan 6, Setapak Jaya, 53300 Kuala Lumpur)

Our next stop was at the legendary Pak Ali Lemang Asli store on MRR2 (opposite the Zoo and Taman Melawati). Pak Ali is famous for traditional lemang (sticky rice cooked in bamboo) which is usually only available during Ramadan and Raya in KL as it takes a long time to make. We were invited to the back of the hot workshop to see banana leaf lined bamboo sticks filled with white pulut (sticky rice), packed down and then creamy coconut milk poured into each stick until it was overflowing. They were then vertically laid over a very hot charcoal fire and turned every 15 minutes for 2 hours to ensure the rice was cooked thoroughly. Did I mention that it was very HOT inside the workshop? Of course, we bought some to take home after they cracked open the bamboo with an axe for us and you could eat it with Rendang or Serunding (crunchy fried shredded meat with coconut and dried spices). A traditional tasty treat.


Pak Ali’s Lemang Asli Store, on the MRR2 before the U turn off to the Zoo

Our last stop was a famous Kuih shop. Kuih means cake in Malay.


Yum, cakes! The shop in Sri Rampai, Setapak is called Seri Talam Zaiton. The owner, Puan Zaiton used to make and sell Kuih from her home. Puan Zaiton’s Kuih became so popular she started her own business in a proper shop. Sri Talam Zaiton now sells traditional Malay cakes or kuih to many businesses and even to international corporations who want to showcase traditional cakes to their clients. We were lucky to see the grandmother and even the grandchildren helping to make some of the cakes by hand so truly a labour-intensive business. Even luckier we were given trays of cakes to try, some green, pink and yellow and some even with rainbow stripes! I can’t remember all their names but a few of them- Seri Muka (pretty face), Kuih Lapis (layered cake), Pulut pangang (grilled sticky rice with pounded prawn filling) and Ondeh ondeh (Pandan balls with palm sugar). You can see from the photos that there were many steamed, baked, fried and grilled varieties. They were mostly sweet and delicious with a rich coconut flavour. Some were savoury. Puan Zaiton and her nephew Inche Muzzafar were very generous with their time and with samples to taste and we appreciate the effort they took to show us their hand made creations. The shop has a Facebook page and the MCG Enak group was featured so take a look. https://www.facebook.com/seritalamzaiton/

As a bonus, we were allowed to take a sneak peek at the Cat Café Gallery next door where for 10rm you can spend an hour with many furry cat friends of all makes and sizes.


Seri Talam Zaiton, in No 1 Jalan 5/23H Kwsn Perindustrian Ringan Off Jalan Genting Kelang 53300 Setapak, Kuala Lumpur.


The Enak group would like to thank Datin Paduka Chen of Royal Selangor Visitor Centre, Rowena and staff of the Café there, the family and staff at Pak Ali’s Lemang Asli store, Puan Zaiton, Inche Muzzafar and staff at Seri Talam Zaiton Kuih store for their kind contribution to making our drive-about and Taste of Ramadan so interesting and  serving us with tasty and traditional Malay food. Thanks to our special guest, MCG member Marion Mustapha, who assisted and shared her valuable knowledge of the history of Melawati and the Food & Culture during the Holy month of Ramadan. Volunteer drivers were Dori, Rosemary and I. Also to Rosemary Chin our Enak convenor who made it all possible.


By Janine Williams