Banana leaf rice happens to be one of the most debated cuisine among my readers and followers – and it’s also one of my favourite things to eat. When Daddy Arumugam Recipe took over the bakery lot in Bangsar Baru, I had mixed emotions.
Because I enjoyed the pastries from that bakery and they served good Italian coffee. But Daddy Arumugam Recipe apparently serves proper Southern-style banana leaf rice and that thought alone makes me excited.
We arrived at Daddy Arumugam by noon and got a table immediately. They open from 12pm onwards from what I overheard and by 12.30pm, the restaurant is packed and there was a queue that formed outside the sidewalks. Service is slower than the average banana leaf rice restaurant but the elderly uncle was apologetic about their shortcomings.
I also reckon the food took longer because there wasn’t a hot food station to house all their specialties like mutton chukka, chicken chukka, goat’s brain curry and crab curry. Most items came from the kitchen (I can’t tell if they are precooked or cooked to order) so even though my mutton chukka (RM13.50 – small, RM20 – large) arrived 30 minutes later, it was hot and aromatic.
Daddy Arumugam Recipe’s standard banana leaf rice costs RM12 per head – more expensive than Devi’s and Nirvana I’ll admit. You get pooni rice (Indian parboiled rice) which I like, four types of vegetables, papadam, rasam and an option of crab, mutton, chicken and fish curry; Southern style.
The rasam is served piping hot which I really enjoyed, as the banana leaf rice spot I always frequent gives it to me lukewarm – potong steam, really. Here’s hoping Daddy Arumugam keeps this up or else, it’s no better than the two banana leaf rice spots down the road.
Let’s talk curry: I liked how robustly spiced the curries at Daddy Arumugam Recipe are, particularly the mutton and fish curry. There’s this savoury-aromatic balance from the mutton and the spices used offsets the gaminess of the meat but also brings out the flavour of the curry. As for the fish curry, it’s not your typical “kari ikan” but rather, a properly cooked, rendered down, thick and rich fish curry with a good balance of tang and heat.
Jien still prefers the Kerala curries (we like our curries rich and creamy) from our regular banana leaf rice spot but I find Daddy Arumugam’s South Indian curries pretty solid and they really bind the rice and vegetables together nicely.
The mutton chukka (some call it varuval) is also tasty as the mutton is properly cooked so each piece is tender and laden with spices. I rarely order mutton varuval these days because most places pre-cook them and serve them cold-ish. Daddy Arumugam’s version is definitely one of the better ones I’ve eaten in a while because they (seem to) cook it fresh. The small portion is also pretty sizeable compared to many banana leaf rice restaurants I’ve been to so I find this reasonable since there was a good amount of mutton inside.
Early into our meal, a customer decided to go “bat shit crazy” by yelling at the staff and the young lady because his rice didn’t arrive within 5 minutes from the time he got his vegetable sides. While it must have been unpleasant for the owners and staff, I found it amusing how impatient some people are and the things they would say to get their way – “I’m an F&B manager you know! I’m also a chef you know! Where’s my rice?? Tomorrow only coming ah??”
Refills are given for rice and vegetables – just ask the staff and they will get you more of what you need. Be prepared to wait when it’s a full house though, as Daddy Arumugam seems a bit short on staff at the moment. From what I understand, you also get thogayal, mango chutney, kesari and mooru with your banana leaf rice meal but since it was pretty chaotic when we were there, I didn’t bother asking for them.
Our bill came up to RM43.30 inclusive of two teh ais (RM2.90 each) – fair for the portion and quality of food served. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind going back for more of the mutton chukka and maybe give the chicken chukka a shot too. Hopefully, service would be better and quicker by then.
Food: 6.5/10 (pork-free)
Verdict: If you’re into banana leaf rice, give Daddy Arumugam Recipe a shot – order their mutton chukka. Expect to wait a little since they have yet to iron out their service kinks.
Daddy Arumugam Recipe
9, Jalan Telawi 5,
59100 Bangsar Baru,
Tel: 010-407 1526
Business hours: 12noon till 11pm
(closed 2nd Monday of the month)