Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Yusof Arni's - Cooking With Heart and Soul

I get cynical when people tell me they are cooking with their heart and soul, as I always discover that those that really do so do not need to trumpet so loudly the essence of genuine cooking.

Cooking with real heart and passion is about the actual delivery on the plate, not a slogan you need to brand. And thankfully, this is what I got from the couple that is Yusof and Arni, and at their humble eatery at Far East Plaza, appropriately called Yusof Arni's.

The setting is simple yet cosy, and the food so homecooked you forget that you are eating outside of your home.

Steeped in good old labour and effort in preparing their classic Malay dishes, Arni is a real cook at heart and one with a lot of soul. The passion that is infused into her cooking is evident in every dish. You can hardly find a weak dish here, and that says a lot for someone who does everything almost by herself.

Saya Lodeh

Saya Lodeh is such a common Malay vegetable dish, and there are some good ones out there. Here, it is so beautifully flavored that even the child at our table could not have enough of it. He might be even weened off MacDonald's for good!

The cabbage leaves are huge and perfectly cooked to perfection and tender to every single bite. There is a distinctively rich taste of the coconut milk infused with an aromatic blend of spices that just invites you for one more spoon of its delicious gravy. Heavenly.

Egg Bomb

It is literally eggs deep fried with lots of oil and even more skill. No wonder we Chinese call it zha dan (literally translated it can mean either bomb or fried egg). How good is it? Well, I hardly eat overcooked eggs, but this is an exception.

Almost crispy to without a fault on the sides and crusts, the dried egg yolk would normally put me off, but somehow here it manages to work some voodoo magic that makes it exceptionally delectable with the rest of the fragrant egg bits. Hard to describe, and better if you eat it yourself, and you should!

Curry Chicken

Ah, curry chicken. So many out there, so many competent ones even. This is beyond exceptional. The curry gravy itself is of the perfect consistency, not too thick or lemak, and neither is it too watered down. And it tastes like it was made totally from scratch from the rempa to the cooking of the sauce.

The chicken itself was moist and juicy, and nicely tender when you bite into it, and totally infused with the beautiful spices of the curry. Hard to stop at just one piece, honestly. How good is it? Brilliant is the best word to describe it.

Fried Beef Lungs

This is fried beef lungs. I would lie if I did not say I was quite skirmish at first, but just one bite overcame any lingering fears. Beautifully cooked, it has a nice crusty exterior and an incredible texture underneath.

Coupled with the black pepper squid gravy which I will touch on in a while, it is just amazingly delicious. It is a real play on textures and flavors that you do not normally get, and a novelty for most I presume. Novel or not, it is equally brilliant!

Beef Rendang

If you think I have been gushing so far, I have not come to the 2 best dishes here. The first is this ridiculously delightful rendang that has to been eaten to be believed. Throw away all your preconceptions of the best rendang you have ever had or think you will have, and then multiply that by 2.

And you still will not get close to how this baby actually tastes. Beef that is totally fork tender and full of robust beef flavors, coupled with that incredible sauce that is the epitome of spices and flavors. Man, this rendang is so good I think it should be considered illegal to eat this more than once a day!

Black Pepper Squid

Last, and certainly not in the very least, this Black Pepper Squid will forever change your notion of eating squid, permanently. That thick, luscious black pepper gravy. That squid texture that is impossible to achieve in any kitchen, let alone a humble one like Arni's.

You know, I should just stop describing it now, as doing so is just doing an injustice to one of the best things I have tasted this year. Or any year. All you need to know is I cannot stop going back for just one more squid bit, and that one more spoonful of gravy. Are you getting the idea now? No, then dream on. Best squid dish. Ever.

As I have said, there is hardly a weak dish here. Heck, there is not any dish that is below average. But the key thing is, Yusof and Arni are really very delightful owners and they bring an amiable atmosphere to their establishment.

Not just with their food, but their wonderful smiles and hospitality as well. It is shocking that so few blogs out there talk about them, or there is so little write up on them. They deserve to be culinary stars by now with just one of their dishes.

The fortunate thing for us is that they have more than one great dish. And they have also bundles of passion in their culinary prowess. Yes, they are so good that what they have accomplished deserves to be called prowess and not the mere mundane term of skills.

Nasi padang nirvana? You bet!

Yusof Arni's
Far East Plaza
14 Scotts Road
(Follow the aroma from the escalator)