Have you ever been overseas for so long – for me it just takes two days – and swear that you will have good ol’ Malaysian food the moment you get back home?
Well, the folks at Hidang banked on that sentiment when they opened their restaurant at the Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA in Sepang, located about 7km from the KLIA and KLIA2 airports.
“Malaysian food is the first thing we miss when we are away from home. We believe this is a very strategic spot to service customers in search of Malay cuisine before they leave the country, or to give a taste of home after they return from their trip,” says Hidang co-founder Irwan Zulkefli.
So it is not an uncommon sight to see people rolling their luggages and carry-ons in and out of the restaurant.
Hidang is located on the first floor of the outlet park, home to various international brands, and heaven to shopping aficionados.
“This is also the only premium outlet store in the Klang Valley – the other outlet store is located in Johor – so we get our traffic from hungry shoppers as well,” says Irwan.
Opened in May last year, Hidang has a pretty old fashioned interior, a stark contrast to its modern surroundings.
There is a nice kampung feel attached to the restaurant with huts where patrons can opt to dine sitting cross-legged, tangga batu Rumah Melaka, wooden deco, patterned tiles on the floor, and batik seprah in place of tablecloths.
There are also blown up images of trees serving as backdrop on the walls that gives a nice outdoorsy feel.
“We wanted to bring the kampung that many of us love and miss, to the people in the city. This image goes well with the food that we serve,” says Irwan.
Hidang has a variety of traditional Malay cuisines on its menu, focusing on signature dishes from the various states of Malaysia.
“We have Fish Head Curry from Penang, Patin Temerloh Masak Tempoyak from Pahang, masak lemak dishes from Negri Sembilan and asam pedas dishes from Malacca. Each of our signature dish is served with white rice, and a side of sliced cucumber and sambal belacan,” he shares.
First on the table is Ketam Masak Lemak (RM45), and we cannot stop slurping the coconut gravy. It is watery but has a nice kick from the handful of cili padi that went into the cooking. The flower crab isn’t too fresh but that doesn’t mean that it is not delicious when combined with the gravy and steaming hot white rice.
For something hotter, Daging Salai Masak Lemak (RM24) is the way to go. The slightly chewy smoked beef slices soak in the thick gravy which gets its creaminess from santan and fragrance from fresh turmeric. Again, cili padi gives a welcomed sting and a dash of sambal belacan takes the heat a few notches up.
“We smoke the beef slices ourselves. All of our produce are sourced locally and the dishes are made from scratch,” says Irwan.
Hidang gets its dishes from its central kitchen in Bangi, and deliveries are made every morning and sometimes up to three times a day during weekends.
“The pre-cooked dishes are stored in the freezer or chiller depending on whether the dish is made using fresh santan. When the orders come in, we take them out and prepare accordingly,” says Irwan.
Hidang has the capacity to hold up to 115 patrons, and is often booked out by tour groups. “This is the easiest way for tour operators to give a taste of local Malay food in one place. But we welcome walk-ins as well,” he says.
One of the most requested dish is Patin Temerloh Masak Tempoyak (RM30), made according to Irwan’s family recipe. The patin fish usually weighs around 900g to 1kg and is delivered from Pahang every two weeks.
His family hails from Pahang and Kelantan, and representing the latter is Laksam (RM18) – a dish of steamed flat rice noodles served with coconut milk and fish broth and topped with ulam.
“Oh, and the Ayam Goreng Kunyit is also made Kelantan-style,” says Irwan. Well, the chicken cubes fried in turmeric, with onion, long bean and chilli taste like any ayam masak kunyit you can find in other states. The chicken pieces are dry and the dish emits a strong turmeric scent which I absolutely love, so it’s a half-and-half for me right here.
We try the tangy and spicy Asam Pedas Ikan Tenggiri (RM25) which comes with a huge chunk of soft, fresh and flaky mackerel that they get from the wholesale market in KL. Spiciness is a running theme here but no one is complaining as it helps us warm up in the cold air-conditioned dining area.
Now it’s time to try their Penang-style Asam Laksa (RM18), and boy it is worth a thumbs up. The lack of fish bits is disappointing as the sardines are blended and mixed into the gravy, but the taste makes up for the difference. It comes with a topping of half a boiled egg, slices of onion and cucumber, calamansi lime, and daun kesom. The gravy is watery but I like the sourness and the heat that, yes, more cili padi, gives to the dish.
Dessert is a minimal affair with only two selections – Tapai with Ice Cream (RM8) and Sago Gula Melaka (RM8). But hey, any cooling dessert is a welcome change at the end of a hot and fiery meal.
They also have an ala carte menu served 4pm onwards which include fried rice and fried noodles, and the drinks are priced between RM3.50 to RM9.
Hidang has an Iftar buffet at RM55 for adults and RM35 for children, and serves a Ramadan-only special menu throughout the fasting month.
Lot 25 Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA
Tel: 03-8660 2892
Open 10am to 10pm daily