Words by BL Khoo
I don’t go over to the mainland as much as I used to before but on a recent visit to the Immigration Department at Seberang Jaya, I came across this place; Restoran Ikan Bakar Amzar along the main road of Jalan Kampung Pertama, Permatang Pauh!
I have to admit that, of late, I changed from a Nasi Kandar (Indian Muslim) buff to a Nasi Melayu fan, mainly because of two reasons. First, I find the curries from Nasi Melayu to be more flavourful and genuinely tasteful and authentic as compared with the Mamak style curries.
Secondly, there is more variety of vegetables dishes (ulam, kerabu, etc) as compared with the same old, boring stir-fried turmeric cabbage from the Nasi Kandar staple. I love vegetables and simply love ulam and sambal belacan. Sambal belacan is different from other kind of sambal. It is not cooked at all, rather, the ingredients are mixed raw. The smell of roasted belacan can be truly disgusting to some people but, to me, it is ‘heavenly’ and a great taste to savour a few minutes later!
Generally, the food spread in Nasi Melayu“warung” (outdoor restaurant) is more extensive compared to Nasi Kandar restaurant. But what I came upon at Restoran Ikan Bakar Amzar totally blew me away into the yonder of culinary ecstasy! The number of dishes available to choose from were adrenaline-charged. If I had a choice, I would have picked almost all the dishes to savour but alas, on that day, there was only two of us so I had to brace myself and not commit any insane eating bing.
As my eyes swept across the long table, I salivated looking at all the dishes laid out in so many trays in the middle of the restaurant. It was definitely very ‘stressful’ de-ciding what to pick from. Even before I could decide, my eyes caught sight of another stainless steel counter that had more dishes like sayur lodeh, brinjal curry, dhall curry, stir fried bitter gourd, spinach and a variety of deep fried fishes displayed on the top tier of the counter.
Like a misbehaving glutton, I was not even done here yet when a waft of aroma of charcoal BBQ delights drifted into the warung. I quickly made my way outside and saw an old man standing beside an intensely flaming grill, fanning away frantically with various types of seafood (some wrapped in banana leaves), chicken and also cuts of marinated beef laid out on top of a red hot iron mesh. My gut feeling told me to stay calm but I was too weak to resist…………well there goes my diet plan! Just makan (eat) la……….!!!
After about 20 minutes, I have had to unbuckle my belt and move one hole down with a satiated look on my face. The food was good, the service was pretty efficient and the lady who was standing at the counter when I paid was very pleasant and cheerful.
As I made my way out, I vowed to come back again and bring some reinforcements “makan kaki” so that I can order more of the food and try them. For me, this is my best experience so far across the island and this warung would be my choice if I am heading to the mainland again.
To you, I dare say JOM! (let’s go), it’s Your Best Choice too at Restoran Ikan Bakar Azam. Dive in without any twinge of eating guiltiness!