Friday, September 3, 2010

Kanna Curry House - Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

One of my all time favorite South Indian delicacy is the Banana Leaf Rice. I have yet to find a banana leaf rice restaurant here in NYC (if you know of any, please please please let me know!). Therefore, every time I am home in Malaysia, I would make it a point to eat as much banana leaf rice as I can. There are only two banana leaf rice restaurants that I would usually go to (I think they have the best banana leaf rice ever!). One of them is Nirwana Maju in Bangsar and of course, the ever popular Kanna Curry House in Section 17. Nirwana Maju is located right in the heart of Jalan Telawi 3, just opposite Bangsar Village. Since Kanna Curry House is located nearer to my parents house (compared to Nirwana), I would usually end up in Kanna.
Kanna Curry House occupies two shop lots at the fringe of Section 17., near the Rothmans Roundabout There is an air conditioned non smoking section inside and there are also tables and chairs under the big shady trees opposite the restaurant (I guess you can call it the smoking section :P). Yup, if you choose to smoke, you will have to brave the heat and sit outside! Parking is always a pain at Kanna. It's quite normal to see cars double (sometimes even triple) park along the streets and back streets around Kanna. We once spent almost half an hour just circling the neighborhood, looking for a spot. You know what? The food in Kanna is sooooo good, it was worth it!
For those of you who are not familiar with whole concept of banana leaf rice, here's how it works. A huge pile of steaming hot parboiled rice will be place on top of a banana leaf in front of you. Yes, the leaf is your plate! Three (sometimes four) different types of vegetables will then be scooped onto your leaf. They can range from cooling cucumber salads to potato chutney. Usually, crispy papadams will be served too. The rice, vegetables and papadams are free flow, so if you want seconds or even thirds, you can just get the waiter to top it up. The rice and vegetable combo in Kanna cost RM4.80 per person (approx US$1.50). It's almost the same price in Nirwana but you get something extra. They serve the best deep fried bitter gourd ever! Seriously, that's the main reason why I would go to Nirwana. It's all about the deep fried bitter gourd. Really good!
Alright, so now you have your rice and vegetables. Next, the waiters will bring out different types of curries. This is complimentary and you can help yourself to as much as you want. Most banana leaf rice restaurants would serve the usual three types of curry - fish curry, chicken curry and dhal (a non spicy dried lentils curry). In Kanna, you get two extra types. They are famous for their crab curry and salted fish curry. Now, THIS is the reason why I come to Kanna. The crab curry as well as the salted fish curry is AMAZING! I would usually mix all 4 (minus the dhal) curries together and just pour it on top of my rice. Thinking about it now makes my mouth water. Sooooo good. You must be thinking, wow, four curries at one go? I thought you always say that you have a weak stomach and have a low tolerance to heat? Yeah I do. However, this is so good, I would just go for it and then chug about half a bottle of Pepto Bismol later :P
Some people are just happy with the curries and vegetables but most people would order some dishes in the middle to share. The waiters would walk around with small plates of meat and curry and we could just pick out what we wanted. We chose a plate of mutton chop curry (RM5.50 = US$1.80) to share. The curry was really thick and the mutton was tender. Pretty good. There is also a deep frying station outside, where you could pick whatever meat/seafood that you want and they would fry it on the spot for you. There are all kinds of stuff to choose from. You can get pigeons, calamari, fish eggs, various types and cuts of fish, potato croquettes, shrimp or just regular fried chicken. We chose three pieces of chicken drumsticks/thighs (RM14.40 = US$ 4.60), two fish cutlets (RM9.60 = US$3) and a portion of deep fried fish eggs (RM5 = US$1.60). I loveeee the deep fried fish eggs. Super high in cholesterol but super yummy! I guess it's alright to eat some once in a while, just don't make it an everyday affair.
The total bill came up to RM62.50 (approx US$20) for four people. This includes 2 iced lemon tea, 1 hot milk tea, 1 mango lassi and a banana (yup, my dad ordered a banana for dessert :P). A little pricey for lunch (especially for Indian food) but I guess it's worth it. You cannot put a price tag on good food, can you? Oh and for those of you who are not familiar with Malaysian banana leaf rice culture, here is a little trivia for you. After you are done with your meal, the way you fold you banana leaf tells the owner of the restaurant if you enjoyed your food or not. If you were to fold the leaf inwards (towards you), it signifies that you had a good meal. If you were to fold the leaf in the opposite direction, it shows that you didn't enjoy you food. So yeah, the next time you are at a banana leaf rice restaurant, remember to fold your leaf correctly after your meal. We don't want the poor owner to think that he did a bad job when in reality, he didn't! :P

Kanna Curry House - Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
29, Jalan 17/45
Section 17, Petaling Jaya
Selangor, Malaysia
Tel: (603)7958 4814
Fax: (603)7958 2829

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