Written by @Joehairie with Invited Guest, John Eliakim & Research by @Lan (Photos by curiostraveller.com team members)
Rasa Utara is well-known for its mouth-watering dishes of Northern Malaysia and we both still can’t forget how great the dishes that we had in previous visit (November 2016). We were in Kuala Lumpur again recently and decided to indulge in more Rasa Utara’s delicacies, this time around we came with a guest from that came all the way from United States, John Eliakim (Kim). This was the second visit for Kim, he’d been to one of Rasa Utara branch in 2014. He was delighted when we invited him to come along. There are 3 Rasa Utara restaurants, each located in Mid Valley Megamall, Berjaya Times Square and IOI City Mall, Putrajaya. For this particular visit, we chose Rasa Utara at Mid Valley Megamall.
We were warmly welcomed by Eico, the Restaurant Manager for Rasa Utara Mid Valley Megamall. He seemed to know that the three of us were hungry at that time and really looking forward for some great meal. Kim was super excited as he’s about to taste some really great food by Rasa Utara. It’s been more than 2 years now since his last meal at Rasa Utara! Eico invited us to pick our own table.
Eico is one extremely polite, friendly, cheerful, attentive and informative Restaurant Manager that we have ever met. He kept coming back to our table to check on our satisfaction! That is what we call great service! The other staffs were great as well as they ensured our comfort all the time! We begin to fall in love with this eatery, even before our food being brought to our table!
The Food & Beverages!
Not only that we are curios and curious travellers, we’re always hungry too! We ordered quite a number of food and beverages, well, we’re hungry and we always wanted to try the other menu that we have yet to taste. These were the food & beverages that we ordered;
- Chicken Satay- 8 Sticks with Nasi Himpit, Cucumber & Onion as add-on.
- Ayam Kari Kapitan
- Udang Sambal Petai
- Kari Ikan Rasa Utara
- Terung Goreng Sambal
- 2 sets of White Rice
- Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang
Dessert and Beverages
- Ubi Kayu Rasa Utara
- Air Cincau Laici
- Sirap Selasih Laici
- Cendol Rasa Utara
- Samosa Ayam (Chicken)
We saw the promotional menu on our table and without thinking twice, we ordered some satay. Who does not like Satay? Everyone likes it and so we tried it, Chicken Satay, Rasa Utara Version! There are 2 important things when consuming Satay, kind of rules for both seller and buyer. #1 is the peanut sauce. #2 is the tenderness of the meat and taste of some charred meat.
Other things are just sides and add on. Did the Satay that we had at Rasa Utara obliged to the 2 common rules? Absolutely yes. First of all, we tried the Peanut Sauce or Sambal Kacang. A spoonful of that sauce for each of us before dipping it with the chicken satay.
The Peanut Sauce was amazingly delicious, thick and of course peanuty! It had all the tastes of spices. It’s not spicy, and we like that. The texture and consistency were not watery, it’s thick as we preferred, it’s indeed among the best peanut sauce that we have ever had all this while!
We then proceeded with dipping the chicken meat (on skewer of course) into that gravy/sauce and not only the combination of that charred chicken meat and peanut sauce were so good, the meat itself; tender and easy to come off from the skewer. There’s some spices being incorporated into that meat during the marinating process, we were ably to taste the presence of lemongrass and more.
Try dipping that add on; nasi himpit, cucumber and onion into that gravy and eat em’, you will get the most unbelievable taste of between spicy, sweet, peanuty and tangy, thanks to the high quality of that Peanut Sauce. For the three of us, the peanut sauce was indeed the ‘main character’ in this dish.
Had it been a lower quality, this dish might be considered ‘a waste of time and money’ but somehow there’s someone inside that Rasa Utara brand who knows how to make a perfect peanut sauce. We did not regret ordering this particular dish as our appetizer, we glad we did otherwise we wouldn’t know that there’s someone in Rasa Utara who knows how to make the perfect Peanut Sauce! The rating: a perfect 10 out of 10 for this Chicken Satay!
Ayam Kari Kapitan
According to the menu, this dish is priced at RM18.80 and it’s a classic recipe of chicken boiled with a blend of spices, including coriander, turmeric, ginger and shallot, all infused with coconut milk. Everyone knows that this type of dish is of Peranakan or Nyonya Cuisine.
For international readers, Peranakans are descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore and Indonesia inter-marrying with local Malays and combines Chinese, Malay and other influences. Now, both @Lan and me are avid foodies and we are in love with Peranakan cuisine. We know everything about Peranakan cuisine, literally, A-Z. That makes us qualify to present a critique here, our thoughts about this Ayam Kari Kapitan, a version by Rasa Utara.
Presentation wise, the bowl is big enough for sharing between 2-3 person as it has 3 pieces of chicken inside it, mostly of drumstick part! There’s enough gravy for sharing, some people just love ‘spreading’ good gravy onto the white rice, as we always do. There’s some potato slices inside it, so if we are talking about size, this dish alone will ably to make 2-3 diners happy! Now, the taste.
When people talk about Peranakan dishes, there are 2 regions always being referred to, Melaka and Penang. The Penang Peranakans do apply some Thai influences into their cooking by incorporating Tamarind and other sour ingredients hence producing dish such as Asam Laksa which is uniquely different from that Laksa Lemak by the Peranakans in Southern Malaysia or Singapore.
What we are trying to imply here is, we felt the presence of Penang Peranakan touch in this particular Ayam Kari Kapitan. It’s not sour, not at all, but there’s something about it that told us this type is of Peranakan Penang. Well, @Lan lived in Penang for 4 years, so I guessed he’s right when we had this ‘constructive debate’ about the origin of this dish. Remember, this is Rasa Utara, in English it means Northern Taste and Penang is located in northern Malaysia, mmm yeah I guessed we’re right after all.
Did it taste like Peranakan cuisine? Or something fusion being made out of the blue by the Chefs in Rasa Utara? We have to admit that the Ayam Kari Kapitan that we had have all the elements of Peranakan cuisine. It’s almost close to genuine Peranakan cuisine, well, almost, at least.
It has that ubiquitous chicken curry with Kaffir lime leaves and coconut milk being the key ingredients for this mild curry, take note that this is not one spicy curry. This dish is about sweet, mild curry, a little bit of sour and salty taste, spices and bits of tangy on the tongue, a nice one of course, that it’s even suitable for the kids to consume.
Have we tasted better Ayam Kari Kapitan? Honestly yes, somewhere in Johor Bahru. But is this Ayam Kari Kapitan by Rasa Utara ably to become one of the most memorable dish at least for the three of us? Absolutely yes. There’s something uniquely different about the entire dish, in its taste to be precise.
Had it been a little bit sour and more tangy spicy taste (not too much though), this might become the best Ayam Kari Kapitan. Simply put, a little bit of adding this and that then it will become the best Ayam Kari Kapitan. For now we rated this dish as 9.40 out of 10.
Udang Sambal Petai
A dish that we don’t normally consume everyday, but we love it so much! There are some elements that were so great in this dish alone. Priced at RM35.80, this dish is about wok fried tiger prawns with Rasa Utara home made chili paste served with Petai or Bitter Bean/ Twisted Cluster Bean/Sataw.
Back to great elements, 3 to be exact, The Thick & Spicy Sambal Gravy, The Petai and of course the Fresh Tiger Prawns. Presentation wise, it’s indeed a generous serving by Rasa Utara, there were so many Tiger Prawns in the bowl! It’s peeled, saving time!
The Sambal, well it’s thick and spicy. Its much spicier than we thought. It’s quite spicy, not for those who dislike spicy food. It’s fiery to be exact but we like that! We took spoonful of that fiery sambal onto the white rice, ate em’ together, it’s definitely heaven! The presence of that Petai made the taste of that entire dish as bit of tangy and as if we ate something green and fresh, plucked out from a ‘secret garden’ just before cooking.
Those who do not know, Petai have some health benefits for those who consume it, it helps to reduce depression, prevent anemia, control blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart stroke, constipation, hangovers, heartburn, morning sickness and the list goes on. Here is a link to an article that listed the many benefits of Petai, Click HERE.
The Tiger Prawns? Oh dear, there were indeed fresh when we had it, not something that have been stored for a while in the fridge or something, as if it had just been brought out from the sea, this is Kuala Lumpur, not a town bordering the sea. Getting that freshest Prawns was one big bonus.
Though this dish is a bit spicier than we had expected, it’s still an amazing dish and to include that Petai is indeed one smart move by whoever made that decision. It’s not only one great dish in both taste and presentation, it’s health benefits are indeed amazing too! The size, as we mentioned, way generous that we do not hesitate to recommend this dish if you come to Rasa Utara!
For all the amazing taste, presentation, size and benefits in this dish alone, we rated it a perfect 10 out of 10. We did consume some Udang Sambal Petai elsewhere, but this one is indeed the best in Malaysia!
Kari Ikan Rasa Utara
Kim can’t stop praising this dish. He loves this dish, he is in Bali as we drafted this entry, we bet he keeps thinking of this dish. With 2 big slices of Mackerel Fish (Ikan Tenggiri), it’s priced at RM17.80. The dish is slowly cooked using mild curry powder with mustard seed cinnamon, finished with Tamarind juice and served with Brinjal and Tomatoes.
The dish was extremely great when we had it that we have no actual lengthy description, up to this moment. Great food will always be great even without much explanation.We can’t stop getting many spoonful of the gravy. It’s thick, sweet, soury, a little bit spicy (not that extreme) and the fish, fresh and deboned (mostly).
The dish is even suitable for kids, it’s aromatic when being brought to the table. It’s indeed among the best Fish Curry that we have ever consumed all this while and we guessed Kim must be in love with this dish already, he particularly love that gravy. It is truly a dish that attracted most of our attention and we rated it a perfect 10 out of 10. A must-try dish!
Terung Goreng Sambal
Terung Goreng Sambal is a typical Malay dish. Brinjal or egg plants cut into desired size and deep fried. Later, sauté it in a pan with generous portion of Sambal. This dish is priced at RM12.80 and is good for sharing between 2-3 people. We do tend to be honest when delivering our critique, this dish was the dish that we like least.
The Sambal was great, spicy and thick but the fried brinjal was a bit tougher to bite, perhaps not being fried until soft as required. Had it been softer in texture (the brinjal), we might rate this dish as 10 out of 10. For the quality that we received, we rated it as 7 out 10.
Kim immediately told us about the texture when he had the first bite, Kim is one person who will consume anything out of curiosity and he repeatedly said the texture was a bit hard to chew, close to rubber. We agreed as we tasted it too. We will have another round of this dish if we visit Rasa Utara again to see if the Chef(s) take some initiative to improve the texture of the brinjal.
Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang
Price at RM15.80, this dish is about Coconut Milk Rice served with eggs, peanuts, fried anchovy, sambal and Rasa Utara traditional Chicken Rendang. It’s one generous serving by Rasa Utara, we recommend this dish to everyone intending to visit Rasa Utara! The portion is just way too big even for a westerner like Kim! He seemed to enjoyed eating that Chicken Rendang.
The rice was so tasty. Though Kim personally ordered this dish for himself, @Lan tried bits of this and that. It had all the right elements of one great Nasi Lemak. The rendang might look a bit darker but that was the result of cooking the gravy until it’s thicken, moreover if some sugar being applied to the cooking.
This particular dish will make Nasi Lemak fans happy as the condiments were just perfect, not to mention that tender chicken rendang. A dish that truly deserves a perfect score 10 out of 10. Amazing dish!
Ubi Kayu Rasa Utara
I remember my elders keep bragging about Ubi Kayu or Cassava. The stories goes on forever like how hard it was for them to having consume this Ubi kayu every single day during the Japanese Era in Malaya & Borneo. The elders did not only bragging about it, they even made us eat it during our younger years and to make it interesting they infused sugar and many more edible things that they can imagine.
Now, I even have a place at my home where my elders cultivate some Cassava! To see it in Rasa Utara menu is something surprising, I did not see it during the previous visit at Rasa Utara Berjaya Times Square branch. Maybe, I overlooked but anyway I suggested this menu to @Lan and Kim and they were quite surprise about my selection. Their initial thought, this menu is something very common, at least for @Lan. Kim was a bit uninterested as he knows little about this Ubi Kayu/Cassava.
I ordered it anyway and when it was brought to the table, the plate had 3 medium size Ubi Kayu with sides consisting of Gula Melaka Syrup (Palm Sugar) and Coconut Milk. Both me and @Lan have never eaten Ubi Kayu with these sides, we always have it with sugar. We went on pouring some Palm Sugar and Coconut Milk onto the hot Ubi Kayu and started breaking it to small pieces, in it went to our mouth, that includes Kim, he do not want to be left out, tasting that combination of 3 interesting elements.
Much to our surprise, this particular dessert, Ubi Kayu Rasa Utara which is priced at RM7.80, tasted so heavenly, the combination of Coconut Milk and Palm Sugar with that hot Ubi Kayu was indeed spectacular. We have never thought of such basic or staple food ably to be elevated to a much higher status, eating this dessert alone was a stellar experience for us!
We all agreed that this dessert is amazing not only by its taste but for its simplicity as well. Both me and @Lan will surely order this dessert again when we visit Rasa Utara. A dessert that is simple but rich in taste and for that we rated it 10 out of 10. A perfect dessert that we recommended to all!
Samosa Ayam (Chicken)
Most people regard Samosa as an appetizer or starter but we preferred regarding it as dessert as we had it as our final dish. Appetizer or Dessert, it still is Samosa and best eaten while it’s still hot, dip it in the chili sauce, you will get great Samosa. The Rasa Utara Samosa is about fried crispy samosa wrapper filled with curry flavored potatoes and minced Chicken. Kim suggested this option and we obliged as we know he is a big fan of Samosa.
While Kim enjoyed eating it, both me and @Lan thinks that there should be more minced chicken in the Samosa. We noticed that the filling was more to potatoes and not so much minced Chicken. Had it been the minced chicken having the same ratio with the potatoes, it will be one great dish. We have mixed thoughts about this Samosa, resulting the rating to stand at 8.5 out of 10.
We ordered 3 kinds of beverages, I opted for Air Cincau Laici, Kim opted for Sirap Selasih Laici and @Lan had that amazing Cendol Rasa Utara. All of us were satisfied with the beverages that we each had, there’s no negative remarks coming out from anyone mouth. We rated all 3 beverages (average score); 10 out of 10. We did taste @Lan cendol, our favorite at Rasa Utara, and we found out that the quality of the cendol at Rasa Utara remains the same, which is..of high quality of course!
We were amazingly satisfied with what we experienced during our visit to Rasa Utara at Mid Valley Mega Mall. Although the Terung Goreng Sambal and Samosa were not so great, the other dishes were extremely amazing and delicious. The overall experience was indeed a stellar for the three of us! Combine that with the perfect ambiance and great service by attentive staffs, this particular experience is indeed unforgettable.
Both me and @Lan were grateful to have the opportunity to invite Kim to this amazing dining experience. We believe in sharing great local food with our foreign friends, our small humble way to introduce Malaysian Food, northern cuisine to be particular, to the world. It’s indeed an amazing opportunity to being able to insert thoughts from non-Malaysian and see if Rasa Utara cuisine ably to capture a foreigner attention.
Kim was extremely satisfied with the experience and he vowed to join us again in visiting another branch of Rasa Utara (IOI City Mall, Putrajaya), sometime in 2017, fingers crossed. We three have become loyal fans of Rasa Utara, we believe in Rasa Utara ability to provide amazing Northern Malaysia cuisine not only ensuring the highest quality in both taste and presentation but keeping the price(s) affordable to everyone.
We’d like to thanks a million times to the Rasa Utara Restaurant Manager (Mid Valley Megamall), Eico for the hospitality and not forgetting his attentive staffs. Eating great food is definitely not complete if there’s no great service, both factors counts in creating amazing dining experience. We were able to dine some great food and received the utmost attention by the staffs at Rasa Utara Mid Valley Megamall. To our dear angel, Li Shan, thanks a zillion times! This is indeed a restaurant that we truly want to recommend to all of you!
We conclude this review by revealing the average score to indicate our level of satisfaction. To do this, we will be using a universal standard that we recently learned through our extensive readings. We started to apply this standard recently during one dining experience, click HERE to read about how we rated our first experience using the standard by Roberta Schira, a thorough guideline called ‘7 rules to understand good cuisine’ or Le 7 regole per riconoscere la buona cucina.
Roberta Schira wrote about some universal rules that can be applied anywhere, in any kitchen, restaurant, country. She mentioned in her writing that it is undeniably crucial to taste, study, ask questions and compare the food that one consumed in order to understand it wholly and most importantly ably to produce objective critique, far from being subjective with some added personal judgement. In order to be objective, one must travel, experience and understand many varieties of food in different culture.
The 7 rules by Roberta Schira
Must be the best the market can offer, fresh and of quality. Ingredients are good when they taste like they should. All dishes that we had at Rasa Utara Mid Valley Megamall used not only the freshest ingredients, they’re of highest quality as well. To find the average score from each dish that we had, we calculated the average score of each food and beverages that we consumed. We scored each dish according to its taste and presentations which mainly contributed by the ingredients.
Chicken Satay: 10/10
Ayam Kari Kapitan: 9.4/10
Udang Sambal Petai: 10/10
Kari Ikan Rasa Utara: 10/10
Terung Goreng Sambal: 7/10
Nasi Lemak Ayam Rendang: 10/10
Ubi Kayu Rasa Utara: 10/10
All 3 beverages: 10/10
Total Score: 84.4/90
Average: 9.37/10 (For Ingredients)
Must know how to manipulate and transform the ingredients in a dish respecting its essence, tradition and science. Knowledge of chemistry and physics as well as tradition is important to create a solid technique; no matter what the chef wants to do, traditional cuisine or experimental.
We were extremely pleased to know that there’s health benefit being included in one of the dish, Udang Sambal Petai. We listed some health benefits of the Petai. The Ubi Kayu was one simple dish that we had but it was being elevated to a classier dessert. The people behind the scenes, in the kitchen, really knows what they are doing. They are ably to manipulate and transform dishes into something extraordinary. We rated this criteria : 9.5/10.
The capacity to transform something that already exists into something new. Every artisan needs to follow rules and have technique, to take that and go beyond is genius. Rasa Utara is about Northern Malaysia cuisine but as we found out, it;s more to elevated Rasa Utara cuisine, while keeping tradition, the brand through its genius Chefs keep infusing newer thoughts. This can be seen in the simplest dessert, Ubi Kayu Rasa Utara. We scored this criteria: 9.5/10.
A sense of harmony within oneself and the world during the culinary experience. For a restaurant looking for the perfect execution, balance and equilibrium mean “non predominant”, elements should balance each other out. In Haute and avant-guard cuisine, balance is almost a nuance that gives it a certain sense of value, creates harmony: collects the dissonance.
Everything that we seen, tasted and experienced at Rasa Utara Mid Valley Megamall was full of harmony, the food, service and ambiance ‘were united’ giving us some comfort and sense of belonging. We felt like we were being at home, a true comfort, that is harmony. A perfect score for this segment: 10/10.
The ensemble of details that makes one utter “I feel good here”. Atmosphere is made of lights, interior design, people, aromas, sounds, service, and something else that you can’t really explain. As we mentioned in the Equilibrium/Harmony criteria, we’re were satisfied with what we see, taste and felt during our dinign experience at Rasa Utara. Mid Valley Megamall. We felt extreme good here, great is the right word. There’s nothing to be pointed as flaw, everything were perfect, be it food, service and so on. We therefore rated this criteria as: 10/10.
Place an idea behind a dish, a place, move forward. You can have a grand project or even a small regional one, something that interests a country or a neighborhood. Doesn’t matter how much money is involved: what matters is that you can see there is a high motive behind every dish, something that goes beyond taste, price, calories. You can’t tell the story of food through numbers.
The main idea of the existence of this Rasa Utara brand is to promote true Northern Malaysia Cuisine. The motive is to ensure that the Northern Cuisine tradition keeps going on, using food as medium to create awareness among younger generation on how great Nothern Malaysia cuisine is in terms of taste and presentation. For the noble effort plus some innovation showed to us in the food that were presented to us, we rated this criteria: 10/10.
What we think is the right compensation for the gastronomic experience. Did I get my money’s worth at this dinner? Good service, attention to detail, good feeling and thoughts? Absolute value that people are about to receive when dining at Rasa Utara Mid Valley Megamall. We sensed the value.
We looked at the price(s) in the menu. Affordable and each dish presented in great, generous portion. You know the real value if you get great portion that comes with amazing taste and presentation and in the end you pay reasonable price! For this criteria, we rated it as: 10/10.
Ingredients : 9.37/10
Total Score : 68.37/70
AVERAGE SCORE: 9.767/10
A 9.767 is indeed one high rating and we sincerely gave that rating based on our overall experience. It’s not a one sided review, we did not highly praised all dishes, we did highlight one dish that we like least which is the Terung Goreng Sambal. Having said that, we believe that in the end we managed to conclude an objective rating, without any prejudice/bias view(s).
Rasa Utara is one great brand that serves authentic Northern Malaysia Cuisine and as we recently found out, the branch at Mid Valley Megamall is truly an amazing outlet/branch that you should include in your itinerary whenever you visit Kuala Lumpur.
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