Written by @joehairie (Photos by curiostraveller.com team members)
Rediscovering Makan Time
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”-James Beard
Our culinary journey continues at Rasa Utara, Berjaya Times Square, Kuala Lumpur. We were here for the first time in 2015 and we do keep coming back for more. Recently, we were in Kuala Lumpur and we knew that we must fulfill our cravings for authentic Northern Malaysian cuisine. And so we did. This time around we had so many great dishes, in one go. Greedy? Yes and no. We live in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and it is not every day that we get to go to Kuala Lumpur. We are unfortunate to not have Rasa Utara branch in our own city. Having the opportunity to dine at Rasa Utara is one golden moment for us. Why? We believe in the brand’s ability to serve the best authentic Northern Malaysian delicacies. We are fully aware that this is the only brand through its 3 restaurants, ably to to satisfy our cravings for Northern Malaysian Cuisine.
About Rasa Utara
A product of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s aspiration, Rasa Utara was established in November 1984 with the aim of highlighting the beauty of Northern Malaysian cuisine. As a true-born son of Kedah, the state which is fondly referred to as the rice bowl of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir saw the potential and uniqueness in the tastes of the North, and forged ahead with his dream of expanding the delights of Northern cuisine to the rest of Malaysia.
Ever since, Rasa Utara has been committed to offering its customers only the best, and has undergone a rebranding and repositioning exercise to keep itself up-to-date with the times, which lead to the re-launching of a brand synonymous with the Malaysian concept of makan time.
With a new image and direction, Rasa Utara seeks to capture the attention of modern Malaysia, by continuing the tradition of offering an authentic, casual dining experience, at affordable prices. By holding on to the highest standards expected from the brand, Rasa Utara seek to be an avenue where friends and family can gather to enjoy their makan time, and Rasa Utara hope to share this experience with as wide an audience as possible.
With the sound of laughter and smiles shared over age-old authentic Malaysian delicacies, Rasa Utara hope that all those who walk through the doors of Rasa Utara will enjoy a truly satisfying, heart-warming experience.
For more information and latest update, visit:
Rasa Utara @ Berjaya Times Square
As we see it..
While we know that there are 3 Rasa Utara Restaurants (refer to the list at the end of the entry), we opted for the outlet at Berjaya Times Square as it is much nearer to our hotel. Rasa Utara at Berjaya Times Square is located on the ground floor, facing exactly the stairs that goes up to Imbi Monorail Station. Now, that’s another convenient for Rasa Utara customers! For both us, that’s a bonus, getting here is super easy! This particular restaurant is literally accessible from any directions.
The restaurant occupies 2 floors and at times the upper floor is normally booked for private functions. On the day we visited this restaurant, I had the opportunity to go around and took some pictures. If the upper floor is not occupied for private functions, this restaurant has 3 dining area. The outdoor dining area (where we were seated), Ground Floor Indoor Dining area and the upper floor’s Indoor dining area.
It was about 3 pm when we came to this restaurant and already it’s almost full house! There were some people trying their very best to get their preferred table. It was a bit mind-boggling for us at that time as we wondered why people actually flocked to this place at 3 pm. It’s not lunch time. We later realized that people comes here for the nice dishes by Rasa Utara, the same reason as us! We sensed that customers outnumbered the staffs but then things were under control as the staffs managed to maintained their positive working attitude.
On the 1st floor, there is this big picture that indicates the origins of this restaurant, in regard to the cuisine, of course! The paddy field as well as former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pretty much directing our thoughts to the Northern states in Malaysia, Penang, Kedah and Perlis. Kedah is considered the ‘rice bowl’ of Malaysia, in Malay Language, Negeri Jelapang Padi. Our minds instantly recalled that great moments when we had wonderful and delicious dishes in Alor Setar, Georgetown and Kuala Perlis! Such 3 great states as the cuisine are delectable!
Inside, there is this Open Kitchen that curious customers are able to see the preparation and cooking. We both prefer this kind of concept as we get to see how the Chefs are working diligently to produce meals for the hungry customers. If you are seated indoor, there is this big chance that you get to smell the nicest aroma coming out from the kitchen! Brilliant concept!
Then there was David, the Restaurant Manager. It was him who politely greeted us and suggested some great dishes. The menu is quite expansive, with many segments and categories. We were clueless in the beginning on what to choose. The last time we were here was in January 2016 and we’re craving for everything! David suggested one item from each category and he told us we can always come back for more. We are loyal to Rasa Utara and for sure we will be coming back!
The Amazing Food!
Thanks to David’s recommendation, we got ourselves some amazing and delectable selections as listed below:
Udang Asam Goreng (Seafood Category)
Ayam Goreng Cili Lagenda (Chicken & Beef Category)
Tauhu Goreng Sos Thai (Vegetables, Tofu & Egg Category)
Kailan Goreng Ikan Masin (Vegetables, Tofu & Egg Category)
Laksa Pulau Pinang (Noodles Category)
Set Kari Ikan Rasa Utara (Set Rice Category)
Air Cendol Rasa Utara & Sirap Selasih Laici (Drinks)
We were tempted to order more dishes and dessert but soon reality bites, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to finish all that. We will be saving the best for next visits. After all, there were only 2 of us; we need a ‘team’ to help us finishing that generous portions by Rasa Utara. Yes, they serve dishes in big portion and that’s another reason why we are loyal to Rasa Utara. We ain’t getting those big portions at other eateries especially when it comes to Northern Malaysian Cuisine. Economically speaking, it’s worth investing our money here, the actual value is higher than the quoted prices! After all, the taste and presentation of each dish suited our palate.
Let’s have a look into each dish and beverages that we had at Rasa Utara, Berjaya Times Square, Kuala Lumpur…
Udang Asam Goreng
Priced at RM 35.80 nett per serving, this dish can be shared by 2-3 pax : Tiger Prawns marinated in Tamarind Sauce, fried with Rasa Utara special chili paste till dry and crispy. The sambal was delicious, spicy but had that sweetness to overcome that fiery taste. The Prawns were fresh and since it’s marinated in Tamarind Sauce, it had that sour taste. Crispy prawns we say and it’s big in size. This is our favorite dish and we rated this dish 10 out of 10.
Ayam Goreng Cili Lagenda
A bestseller at Rasa Utara and priced at RM 18.80 nett. This dish is good for sharing between 2-3 pax : Deep fried chicken with homemade blended chili paste stirred fried slowly for few hours. This is quite spicy dish but being typical Malaysians, we actually love that level of spicy. A perfect dish that we rated 10 out of 10! This dish is best eaten with rice of any type.
Tauhu Goreng Sos Thai
This particular dish is about Beancurd fried till golden brown and served with Thai Chili Sauce. It is priced at RM 9.80 nett and can be shared by 2-3 pax. Fluffy and fresh Tauhu/Beancurd. It’s crispy on the outside as well but so tender inside. The tenderness of the Tauhu increased with that generous serving of Thai Chili Sauce. Rating : 9.4/10
Kailan Ikan Masin
Priced at RM 12.80 nett this dish consists of Fresh Kailan with oyster sauce and salted fish. It is garnished with fried shallots and the portion is good for 2-3 pax. We love vegetables and we love salted fish as well! To have this dish pretty much pleasing us. The Kailan was definitely fresh. The tiny bits of fried salted fish added another texture and salty taste towards the whole dish. The gravy, we love that! Sweet, salty, fresh and healthy! What more can we ask for?. Rating : 9.7/10
Laksa Pulau Pinang
Priced at RM 13.80 nett, it is one of the most popular dishes from Penang (Pulau Pinang). This dish is dried laksa noodles enriched with Rasa Utara’s special flavoured stock, and gravy made of shrimp paste, shallots and tamarind. It is served with mackerel fish, prawn paste and finely shredded lettuce. @Lan finally gave in to this particular dish, a dish that he hated so much previously. The broth was amazing, delicious and I emptied the bowl. The finely shredded lettuce gave distinct texture to the dish, crispy! The laksa noodles were amazing as well and tender. Rating: 9.5/10
Set Kari Ikan Rasa Utara
This is Rasa Utara special dish and is priced at RM 17.80 : Spanish mackerel fish (Ikan Tenggiri) slowly cooked using mild curry powder with mustard seed cinnamon, finished with tamarind juice. Served with binjal and tomatoes. One of our favorite dish! Each time we had this, we were very pleased with the taste and presentation. The curry was not that spicy and not too oily. It’s thick curry gravy and went well with the white rice. The rice was served with homemade sambal belacan, egg and flour cracker (Papadom). For us, this dish is haven! Perfect 10 for this dish!
Sirap Selasih Laici (RM 6.80 nett)
Sirap Selasih Laici was great by our standard. Not that sweet as we preferred but had all that amazing tastes inside. The selasih/basil seed gave that extra texture to the generous serving of lychee (Laici). Rating: 9/10
Air Cendol Rasa Utara (RM 7.80 nett)
Air Cendol Rasa Utara is our favourite, we ordered this every time we’re in Rasa Utara and we are sure to have it again in the next visit. It’s creamy and sweet. Refreshing beverage indeed especially when it’s sunny day. Rating 9.8/10
For us, Rasa Utara is undeniably the only brand in Malaysia, through its 3 restaurants that serve authentic Northern Malaysian delicacies. We have been to some restaurants that are serving identical dishes but the quality is not great as in Rasa Utara. It’s almost 2 years now that we have been loyal to this brand, precisely the outlet at Berjaya Times Square, Kuala Lumpur. Rasa Utara never fail to please our taste buds and satisfying our cravings for Northern Malaysian Cuisine. The taste and presentation remains the same and we were happy to see that there are some additions to the already fantastic menu.
Perfect score (10/10) for these 3 dishes!
With that said, we hope to see many more options being put into the menu as we believe there are more dishes from the Northern Region that should be highlighted by Rasa Utara. Of all 6 dishes that we had during this visit, we regard Udang Asam Goreng as the best dish followed by Ayam Goreng Cili Lagenda. Honestly, all 6 dishes deserved compliments from us and if we are ask to rate each of the dish using a scale from 0-10, it will be perfect score for Udang Asam Goreng, Ayam Goreng Cili Lagenda and Set Kari Ikan Rasa Utara. We ordered Set Kari Ikan Rasa Utara in our previous visits, in fact every time we came, we ordered one set. The quality is the same every time we had one.
Rasa Utara managed to change @Lan perception towards Laksa Penang/Pulau Pinang. Honestly, he hated Laksa Penang. He previously lived in Penang for 4 years and he had to pass by one restaurant in Sungai Dua, every single day and had to bear with the strong smell of that Laksa Penang being sold there. It forever haunted him, the smell. He later returned to Sabah and still he hated Laksa Penang, although Sabahan version is not that strong in smell. During this particular visit, I purposely ordered one serving of Laksa Penang. He wondered why there’s no strong smell coming out from that Laksa Penang. I asked him to try and all that haunting of strong smell has now become history. He is now learning to love Laksa Penang. There’s a way how to properly cook the broth and Rasa Utara Chefs obviously know how to do it.
We were amazed by the professionalism showed by all staffs at Rasa Utara, Berjaya Times Square. The restaurant was almost full of customers and more kept coming. None of the staffs were showing sign of fatigue or disoriented. They worked from their heart and soul. Tables were cleaned in record time. There were no spills or litter seen anywhere on the floor or on the tables. Simply put, staffs were alert to hygiene issues. Though they were pretty busy with their tasks, they did not show frowning faces but they kept smiling genuinely.
Overall, the dining experience at Rasa utara, Berjaya Times Square was an excellent one. With that said, we are sure to come back for more great dishes. We will never get bored with the dishes at Rasa Utara as the taste and presentation are of high quality. Perhaps next time we will be visiting the other 2 outlets, God willing. Let’s see if the other 2 restaurants ably to perform as well as the one in Berjaya Times Square. We conclude this review by maintaining to our belief that Rasa Utara is indeed the best brand/Restaurant in serving authentic Northern Malaysian delicacies.
In need to have the same experience? Visit any 3 Rasa Utara Restaurants as listed below:
Restoran Rasa Utara
Berjaya Times Square
03-90, Jalan Imbi, Imbi
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Phone : + 60 3 2011 0884
Operation hours: 7.30 am – 11.00 pm
Restoran Rasa Utara
Mid Valley Megamall
LG049-050, Lingkaran Syed Putra, 59200
Telephone number : + 60 3 2201 3258 / 03 – 2282 0749
Operation hours : 10.00am – 10.00pm
Restoran Rasa Utara
IOI City Mall
Lot LG-46 IOI City Mall,
Lebuh IRC, IOI Resort City, 62502
Telephone number : +60 3 8328 0733
Operation hours : 10.00am – 10.00pm