Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Vishal Food & Catering, Brickfields - chettinad cuisine

array of food at vishal
The beauty about being of mixed parentage is that I have been exposed to a variety of cuisines from an early age. Mum learnt how to cook Indian food only after she got married, but she quickly picked it up to please my dad who enjoys a good curry. On her part, she taught my dad how to enjoy sambal belacan and kuay teow t'ng. It was a match made in heaven, and I am a by-product of their romp in their bedroom many many many many.....m a n y years ago after a dance in the rain (together with music and change of costumes) around the coconut trees in Penang.

Vishal, a chettinad restaurant, has been operating in Brickfields for the last four years. Dining at Vishal used to be an interesting experience. There was no signboard outside the restaurant when it first started operating. We were just told to look for the end shoplot next to Woo Lan. After locating it, we had to walk through the dark dusty room filled with cobwebs at the ground floor of the shophouse that seemed to be a store of some kind. We would then climb up the rickety wooden stairs to the first floor where we removed our shoes and walked barefoot to the tables that were lined up in rows along the length of the room. We would sit in a row, not facing each other, as Indian workers promptly placed banana leaves before us followed by the various types of food. It did feel like our little secret then. A little hideyhole which housed treasures meant for us alone. Of course, it was only a matter of time before word spread about the good food on the first floor of that dilapidated shophouse and people thronged the place to eat the freshly prepared meals at Vishal.

vishal, brickfields
Barbie and I recently visited Vishal after an absence of almost 10 months. During that period, Vishal underwent massive renovations and is currently a very presentable looking restaurant located at the ground floor of the building which doesn't look as dilapidated as before and now sports a new coat of paint.

inside vishal
There is only one similarity between the old and the new Vishal. Tables are still placed in rows where people sit on one side. If you are seeking a romantic meal where you wish to gaze deeply into your partner's eyes as you sip your payasam, this is not the place for you.

Service was excellent. Before our butts touched our seats, banana leaves were immediately placed in front of us as one of the waiters quickly rattled off the menu for the day. We were overwhelmed with the selection of food and felt rather intimidated and obliged to take whatever was recommended by the affable waiter.

"Briyani rice is very good. You must try it", the man said.

Eager to try as many dishes as possible, I turned him down. "No, that's okay. I'll have white rice, please."

"No, no, no, the briyani rice is very good. You try", he said with a dancing movement of his head.

At that point, I gave in. Within seconds, the briyani appeared before me. Having tasted victory, the man backed off Barbie, so she got to enjoy her white rice.

briyani rice
The briyani rice with chicken was very good as the rice was infused with the flavours of the spices. The serving, unfortunately, was rather big and two could have easily shared that portion.

banana leaf rice
The banana leaf rice is served with a standard selection of vegetables. The vegetables that day were nondescript and uncreative. I hardly touched them after consuming the bare minimum for my daily intake.

The meat and fish dishes, on the other hand, were wonderful. The chicken varuval, a typical South Indian dish, had a dry, almost paste-like sauce that was spicy and extremely delicious.

fried fish
There were several types of fish, marinated in a turmeric and chilli paste, that were deep fried to the point of crunchiness and brought to the customer immediately.

lamb chop
An interesting dish which we tried that afternoon was the lamb chop. The lamb was presumably slow cooked until very tender and then fried in an egg batter. The resultant dish was surprisingly delicious with the meat literally falling off the bone and the fried egg creating a custardy sweet flavour to the spiciness of the lamb.

Rasam, a spicy soup tasting very much like mulligatawny (perhaps they are the same), is served together with the meal. We are both big fans of rasam, and I always maintain that rasam either makes or breaks a meal. In this case, the rasam was sufficiently sour without overpowering the rest of the flavours.

For refreshments, we ordered two types of lassi. Barbie ordered the mango lassi which the waiter claimed was made with Indian mangoes, while I had my favourite salty lassi, which is essentially a diluted yoghurt drink with salt.

For dessert, we were served payasam, a thick soup-like drink (like tong sui) made of milk, cardamoms, cashew nuts and vermicelli. There are several varieties of payasam, but the payasam served here is the traditional South Indian variant. I wasn't too impressed with the payasam as it had a rather strong flavour of oil. The very sweet dessert, nevertheless, acted as a good foil for the spicy meal.

Vishal Food & Catering
No. 15, Jalan Scott
Off Jalan Tun Sambanthan, 50470 KL

Tel: 03-2274 0502/012-287 1995/012-311 2837/ 016-679 3374


cookies_cream said...

The plate of briyani rice with chicken is really killing me right now. And, dessert with vermicelli inside? Sorry but it does sounds weird to me as I seldom dine in Indian restaurant. Do they add in the vermicelli inside the cup of dessert or is it being served separately?

How's the price there? Feel like eating briyani and the lamb chop. :)

sc said...

some of the dishes sounds interesting! have a friend who absolutely loves indian cuisine..shall try this place with her soon!

boo_licious said...

oooh, the lamb chop sounds good based on yr description. Not sure why but it takes forever to download the pixs on my connection. Must go one day. Thanks for the tip.

tankiasu said...

Yea I think those are high-quality pics. I'm using fast broadband connection in my office, but still took some time to load it all. Great pics though.

I'm very curious bout the prices as well. ;-)

Babe_KL said...

when i see the name, it strike a bell cos i remember going there with my colleagues many years ago to get back copies of certain magazines. din know they've opened a restaurant now. sounds like a great place for briyani.

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

SORRY guys!! I promise to reduce the size of my pictures.

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

cookies_cream: Payasam is actually an acquired taste, or at least that's what I notice with all my 100% non-Indian friends. ;-) The vermicelli is quite tasteless, so it just adds texture to the dessert. It's my second favourite indian dessert.

sc: Apparently, they have different stuff on different days. The fried fish is always good there. Have fun trying. Don't blame me for those additional 2kgs. :-P

boo: I've never seen lamb chops done like that before. And I've eaten indian food all my life. hehe. Sorry about the download rate. I will do better next time. ;-)

tankiasu: Thanks. We paid RM30 for two. I think the prices are quite reasonable. Probably cheaper than Raju's?

babe_kl: That's very observant of you! Yes, I do believe they also publish magazines. This restaurant is just a couple of doors away from the magazine place.

Rarebeet said...

This place looks really goooood! I love banana leaf rice but rarely eat it because I always feel like passing out after lunch! I'm not a fan of fried foods but your picture of the fried fish looks gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

South Indian cusine is more fried and dried such as tandoori, is it true?
Recently, I'm hooked to Indian food-from goat curry, to tandoori chicken, and any masala dishes. Yummy!

But the eatery looks so odd. Imagine I have to eat and look into a stranger's eyes :O
As if I'm imprisoned ler!

MeiyeN said...

what else do they serve apart from da nasi briyani cause i don't really take rice.....

Pink Elle said...

The food looks really good and the lamb chop is really something unique! Whereabouts is it? Not very familiar with Brickfields. I've gotta take my dad there. He loves Indian!

fatboybakes said...

very bad girl. its very dangerous to read these food blogs before lunch. i'm like pavlov's dog...i can literally feel saliva under my tongue...

Rasa Malaysia said...

Ooooh, those little fried fish with turmeric, I would trade my black cod for them anytime! I am serious...I can never have enough of little fresh fish, they are the best but it's impossible to find little ikan in the US. Sigh. :(

Tummythoz said...

I used to think rasam was a dessert drink as it's usually served in a metal glass, until a friend showed me how it's mixed into rice like gravy.
Haha, d sitting position looks more like a private conference/meeting of sorts. If not for your post, I'm sure I'll dare not step in.

backStreetGluttons said...

Goodness that sure is one big huge makan, and that was before or after your hot dancing got rain ornot romp romp romps ?! Haha.

The giant deep fried small fishes sure got our gluttonuous attention u know, then all those names suppose only you can get them right ! Reminds us we are lost in Brickfields land...really please help us !

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

paprika: I normally feel the same way after a banana leaf meal too. I suppose it is best eaten after fasting for a day. ;-)

tigerfish: tandoori is north indian. South Indian food is more varuval, perattal, etc. And you can't really see into the eyes of the person in front of you unless you have 20/20 vision. :-P Actually, I suppose it's a good place to hang out at if you're single and have no makan kaki.

meiyen: they also serve thosai, idli...the usual works.

pink elle: It's next to Woo Lan at Scott Road (where there's a very big hindu temple and a condominium at the end). Look out for Petronas petrol station along the main Brickfields road.

fbb: The feeling's mutual with your blog oso lar. I always feel hungry...not like Pavlov's dog tho....Ah Kau's rabid dog maybe lar.

rasa malaysia: I'll take your cod anytime. :-) fedex can ar?

tummythoz: You'd probably have choked and died after drinking rasam in anticipation of something sweet! Glad you found out. It's a great soup to clear a blocked nose. ;-)

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

team bsg: how to romp and dance dance after that kind of makan? More like crawl and groan (in pain!) looking for the nearest toilet to dump and make more space for other stuff - maybe that's what Precious Pea did when she did her food crawl at Sek Yuen hor.

Tummythoz said...

Last checked still alive! Still very alive but strapped to office chair.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering how diluted yogurt with salt tastes like. o_O The lamb chop looks unique

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

tummythoz: lol. I hope you've unstrapped yourself and gone home by now.

jason: oh it tastes wonderful! :-P Oklar...it's an acquired taste. If you're not used to salty/sour drinks, don't try this.

Unknown said...

"m a n y years ago after a dance in the rain (together with music and change of costumes) around the coconut trees in Penang"..reminds me of bolloywood scenes..hehehe notty lar u

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

kampungboycitygal: I'm hoping my parents are not reading this. :-)

Anonymous said...

Lyrical Lemongrass: Eh.. I'll skip that then.. hehe... I never see 'dance in the rain' scene in bollywood film before. 'Rolling on the field' got la :P

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

murder to enter ur blog early morning..thank god i m munchin on my breakfast..awesome pictures u hav here..if time allows i shall c you in person in the klue event..

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

jason: my parents were the pioneers of the bollywood dance in the rain scene. U must try it some time. Ipoh got trees ar?

SWICC: thanks ar. glad u're reading on a full stomach. Yeah, looking forward to meeting u too. :-)

Anonymous said...

Lyrical Lemongrass: Trees, of course have but coconut trees ar... have to go Lumut lar. Lol

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

jason: good. after u find da coconut trees, u gotta find da woman. Got ar?

wmw said...

Hey girl! Wah, new pic! So sexy lar! I think I've eaten here once before, I loved the chicken varuval (is that how you spell it???)

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

hey wmw! Sexy meh? We try to please. Yep, varuval is correct although i sometimes spell it varuvel. as long as can understand and eat, that's all that matters. I have another post coming up on the best varuval in town. Look out for it.

Shilpa said...

Hi Lyrical Lemongrass, haven't been back here in ages, but was knocked out cold by the sight of all that food! I agree, kids of mixed parentage are so lucky! :)

I've made my own rasam before but it didn't look so oily leh...

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

shilpa: welcome back! don't be a stranger. ;-) Mmmm...nothing like homemade rasam, eh? I shud make some soon too.

Melting Wok said...

oh oh, new pix, new look, new sexiness *wink* :) ooh, btw, is tt a new color too ? hehe :) all good, both the food and the pix :) ah..tt payasam sounds like kheer horr, over here they used almonds, cashews, pistachios and erm..rice I think :)

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

melting wok: hehe..where got sexy one? *recommending new glasses to you* Yes, payasam is very much like kheer, except that this version of payasam doesn't have rice in it.