KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — Today, MTR 1924 celebrates a milestone... their first year anniversary in Malaysia.
Since they opened in Brickfields, the legendary restaurant from Bangalore has opened our eyes (and tastebuds) to the wonders of dosa.
Who can forget that first bite? Crispy. Fluffy. And of course, that fragrant ghee you drizzle over the fermented mixed grains and pulses dosa. Sublime!
The history of MTR, or Mavalli Tiffin Rooms, goes back to 1924 in Bangalore. Set up by three brothers, the restaurant has been feeding Bangalore natives their delicious vegetarian fare.
It's now run by the third generation of the family. In 2013, the restaurant started to expand overseas, starting with Singapore. In Malaysia, they granted the license to Culin Ventures run by a group of Bangalore natives and local partners.
Adarsh Srinivas, a director of Culin Ventures that manages MTR 1924 here, tells us that diners during this weekend can also experience elaborate thali meals. There will also be special desserts to sweeten your experience here.
Diehard MTR fans will be happy to hear that new dishes are coming their way. Adarsh explained that even though MTR's original menu hasn't changed much for the last 90 years, they are now open to some tweaking and new dishes.
For instance, the Pudi Dosa, which was introduced in Singapore with much success has now been adopted in Bangalore. When it comes to bringing in new dishes, they take their time. "We do extensive research and testing of new dishes before we introduce them," explained Adarsh.
Currently they are testing the Sagoo Dosa, a Bangalore specialty, which we had a chance to sample. A variation of their popular plain dosa, this contains a dollop of sagoo inside. It's a nice, creamy surprise with the chopped carrots and long beans.
There's also their Pudina Rice. Adarsh explained to us that the fragrant rice dotted with mint leaves is usually found in a lot of South Indian homes. Eat this with a side of cool raita made with yoghurt, chillies and onions.
Sweets lovers can also look forward to new treats like the fudge-like Mysore Pak which is made from ghee, sugar and gram flour or besan.
They have also introduced two new refreshing soda drinks to the menu. The Masala Soda is very much an acquired taste with its peppery kick. For the faint hearted, maybe you can try the sweet Lemon Soda. There's also a salty variant, an unusual taste but it helps clear the palate well.
Even with their existing menu items, the management works closely with their master chef to test things out all the time to make sure it's up to their standards.
Adarsh explained that this is part of adapting to a new country's offerings since there'll always be quality differences in rice flour and wheat flour. The different water and weather can also affect the cooking process.
Since they opened, Adarsh also shared that it's been a fascinating experience. "Malaysia has welcomed us with open arms and we are extremely overwhelmed by the support MTR has received."
High on his list of memorable experiences was when a 75-year-old woman visited them and told them she first visited MTR in Bangalore when she was 7! "She was very emotional when she said the food was exactly the same. It was a very proud day for us!"
And of course, one of the experiences include explaining to local diners why their dosa is different, since they are used to a another version here.
"Our dosas are crisp outside, soft inside, multigrain and thicker! So that was a challenge." He is also amazed how some locals can also differentiate a good dosa from the ordinary ones once they taste the MTR version. Usually, they are curious enough to ask why.
And if you're looking for another MTR 1924 Malaysia outlet to get your dosa fix, you may have to wait another nine to 12 months more.
Adarsh says they're still working on opening another outlet. Who knows, it could even be in Penang as Adarsh revealed that some of their customers come all the way from there!
MTR 1924 Malaysia
69, Jalan Thambipillay, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur
Open: 8am to 3.30pm, 5pm to 10.30pm