Last night Mimi hosted dinner...again. This time it was at Auntie Aini's Garden Cafe in Nilai; a place introduced to her by a client and serves wonderfully authentic Negeri Sembilan malay cuisine.
I shall not go into detail of the location or how difficult it can be to locate the place at night nor its description; there are enough articles on the internet including GPS coordinates (here, here, here, here, here and many more). It was Mimi's second visit and she being also from Negeri Sembilan I trust her taste buds when she waxed lyrical about her first culinary experience there. As for me, I was more interested in the various masak lemak cili padi.
We arrived late as usual but Mimi had already pre-ordered the food and we were ushered to a table that could accommodate the 6 of us. Nothing to complain about the service.
The main courses that Mimi ordered (shown here in portions for 3):
(L-R) Pucuk paku masak kerang, sambal kupang, ayam kampung goreng, kangkung belacan, and signature dishes, daging salai masak lemak cili padi, telur itek masak lemak cili padi and the udang galah masak lemak tempoyak. There were of course many other dishes on the menu and the must try later would be the asam pedas and rendang offerings.
How do I rate the food that we had? The masak lemak cili api dishes were of course exquisite with the rich santan flavor cut with the sourness of belimbing and probably asam keping. I think they reduced the hotness for us with less cili api. The poached telur itek would have been better underdone with the yoke still able to ooze out. Tempoyak aficionados would call me an idiot (I am not a tempoyak fan) for having just tried a bit of the udang galah masak lemak tempoyak for taste. The gulai daging salai to me was just perfect and the ayam kampung goreng was well marinated (a tinge of asam or lime sourness) and fried the way most Malaysians like; crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside.
I suspect vegetables may not be Auntie Aini's cup of tea. The kangkung belacan and pucuk paku goreng kerang although not over-fried, lacked more distinct flavor normally associated with the two dishes. Being a masak lemak place a kerabu pucuk paku with santan would have been a better choice. The kupang masak sambal was nice but rather ordinary.
However, this dessert was by no means ordinary. Homemade tapai with vanilla ice cream!
Auntie Aini? Well, she is both a personality and a character. Go meet her for yourself as Auntie Aini's Garden Cafe is a must visit destination on the Malaysian culinary map.
To Mimi, a big thank you.
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