Prasad’s Chetty Naadu Mess in Lebuh Ampang is one of my more unusual banana leaf rice experiences thus far — a hole in the wall above the goldsmith shop along Lebuh Ampang. Getting there is a little tricky, for the entrance is rather hidden. You need to spot Prasad’s goldsmith shop first, where there will be a dark, narrow alley at the side that leads you to a staircase to the first floor where the eatery is.
There are only several small tables available at this pre-war shoplot, but Prasad Chetty Naadu Mess offers an eclectic selection of Southern Indian dishes. From mutton masala to curried vegetables to chicken peratal, all with their own distinct spice palate.
The atmosphere is traditional, with people from all walks of life tucking into their lunches on banana leaves. I’ve been here at least four times and each time, the selection is exciting and so varied I don’t get bored.
They don’t accept reservations and service on all visits has been pleasant – gracious, friendly and accommodating. I reckon it must have been strange for them; to see a Chinese girl walk upstairs in work attire and eating rice the way burly men do. Earlier this afternoon, the manager who’s accustomed to my ways took the extra effort to replace my smaller banana leaf with one that’s larger and squarer. Yes, I’m fussy like that. #OCD
You get a generous serving of parboiled rice, an assortment of vegetables, fresh papadum and curries (chicken, fish or dhal) for RM6 or just slightly more. I like the chilli chicken best, followed by the chicken masala; the latter aggressively spiced and robust in flavour. The mutton masala is well seasoned and fiery, but occasionally, the meat is tough.
Prasad Chetty Naadu’s dishes taste seemingly authentic – with plenty of spices, the way South Indian cooking should be. That said, my colleague who is a regular insists that they have toned down on the level of spiciness to suit the local palate.
The heat level varies depending on the dishes you take. Some days, the curries are so fiery that little beads of sweat would form with every mouthful of this tongue-numbing goodness. On other occasions, the curries are milder so you only get some tingles minus the massive sweating.
At the end of each meal, I always look forward to a cup of rasam to soothe the tummy from all the spicy dishes. Prices are reasonable here – a meal with two or three small dishes works up to about RM10 per pax and I always leave feeling content.
Food: 6.5/10 (pork free)
Verdict: If you’re looking for a good variety of affordable South Indian dishes, this is the place.
Prasad Chetty Naadu Mess
14-44 Lebuh Ampang,
50100 Kuala Lumpur.