Dependable, delicious Malaysian fare at Dua by SKOHNS

Dependable, delicious Malaysian fare at Dua by SKOHNS

Update: Skohns has consolidated with its Damansara Heights Restaurant so the Ttdi branch has closed.

After being abroad for a few days after Christmas, I had a hankering for spice and wholesome Malaysian food. Some good old-fashioned value for money grub.

One of my latest favourite haunt for Nasi Bojari is Dua by Skohns. The sister restaurant Skohns in Damansara Perdana specialises in Western fare, but Dua in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur is all about local food. It’s been open for more than two years (it is after all a new year already) but a closely guarded secret I guess as it’s upstairs and not easily seen. There’s a play area for kids and the TV plays kid-friendly shows so parents can eat in peace.

What’s heartening is that it’s not offering some whitewashed local dish sold at extravagant prices in a clinical air-conditioned environment. Rather, it is darn good nasi choices that you would be proud to bring your in-laws to try, with true blue sambal that will knock your socks off and at very reasonable prices.

I’ve eaten at Dua a couple of times and so far, the quality has been quite consistent.

I have never heard of Nasi Bojari until I was invited to a popular and well-known restaurant chain in town for lunch. It came with chicken that was over fried and dry to the point of being stringy; shredded beef that couldn’t make up its mind whether it was rendang or serunding; a few pieces of cucumber and tomato. The most attractive thing on the plate was the rice while the scariest was the atrocious price tag.

Looked it up and Nasi Bojari is supposedly an Indonesian dish originally meant for royalty whereby it just means the rice comes various colours of red, yellow and white.

Dua conjures its own version of Nasi Bojari that comes with fragrant rice, a generous piece of chicken, acar, half-boiled egg and sambal sotong. Granted the chicken can also sometimes be a little dry too as it’s a large piece so it’s tricky trying to keep it juicy yet all cooked through. But the acar is nicely pickled to give that contrast in flavours and the sambal sotong is the bomb! This is no half-baked made for Caucasian tongue condiment but loaded with proper spices with real kick so definitely not for wussies. For this full-on meal, it’s just RM16.50.

The other dish I discovered here that made my day was the Lamb Shank Beriani. More often than not a popular offering at Indian or mamak coffeeshops, the Beriani Rice at Dua is milder but no less fragrant. Some places I’ve been to load up on cardamon, fennel seeds and clove that it can be too much of a good thing.

It comes with acar, papadom (crackers), a bowl of dhal curry and, of course, the main highlight is the lamb which is fall-off tender, flavourful and moist. OK, stop me here, I’m gushing a little but I’m so thrilled that this only costs RM15.

The colourful arrangement of the Nasi Kerabu will be the first thing that catches your eye as the rice is blue, dyed by the colour from butterfly pea flower, sitting on a bed of yellow salted egg gravy. The Salted Egg Chicken is not bad, with a bit of crunch on the outside and a hint of the salted egg though their Ayam Goreng Rempah or Percik, cooked Malay style is even better. What really stands out for me is the sambal, as it has got a hearty taste with enough power to make your tongue tingle. Prices start from RM10 depending on your choice of meat.

The other dishes I’ve tried is the Nasi Lemak Pandan, which also comes with a choice of different meats – beef rendang, ayam goreng rempah, sambal sotong, etc – delicious and dependable Malaysian staple that can’t go wrong – at similar prices.

The Soto (RM8) has more glass noodle than nasi himpit (compacted rice) which is fine by me, drenched in robust, comforting soup that will warm your gut.

Dua also has some Western fare – the cheeseburger was actually very good as the homemade patty was juicy, nicely textured without being mushy or tough and large, accompanied by an even more generous portion of fries. Some green at the side would have been good such as some cucumber or lettuce in the burger, but then, I can’t really complain at RM10. The double patty is RM15. I can’t vouch for the pasta dishes though as I’ve not tried any of these. Oh, and they also have Roti John, by the way.

Dessert here offers a choice of scones (given the name, you would think so, right), waffles (cendol waffle is interesting), coconut ice cream (I like this more than Sangkaya as I find the latter too much like frozen santan) and bubur of the day. I’ve tried the pulut hitam which is legit and thick at RM3, better than most tong sui stalls as it’s proper black glutinous rice and not just gruel thickened by flour.

While understandably not every single dish shines, generally I like the quality of food at Dua and given its very affordable prices for Kuala Lumpur standards, this serves as one of the most attractive factors. Service is friendly and fast (most times) and they even offer discounts for certain days of the week.

You don’t have to thank me, just invite me when you go check out Dua by Skohns, OK?

Add: 12A, Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-7731 6954