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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 19 — It started with the nasi dagang. Once I tasted that dish cooked by Aleng Sulaiman who runs Merechik, I was hooked. In fact, I've been eating his dishes for the past two weeks.
My friend had come across Merechik's account on Instagram. What actually grabbed both of us was the enthusiastic reviews for his lontong. As I stalked his Instagram account, I noticed that every dish he puts up would be sold out quickly.
His best seller is nasi minyak, a celebratory dish often served at weddings. This is served with kuzi daging and ayam masak merah, acar timun, a hard boiled egg and pappadums. Remember to stalk his Instagram account to get your hands on it.
Prices for the dishes range from RM20 to RM29. You may think that price is above that of most other offerings on the market but once you taste the food, you know only the best ingredients have been used.
For instance, for the gulai ikan tongkol served with his nasi dagang, he uses ikan tongkol hitam. It's pricier than the usual ikan tongkol putih favoured by the stalls but your reward is a sweeter, softer tasting fish that makes your meal incredibly pleasurable.
Usually the dishes are available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. However, sometimes depending on availability of ingredients there could be changes.
Once the dish is put up on Instagram, just WhatsApp to book as he only cooks upon pre-order. It's small batch cooking, maybe about 60 plus portions so it's best to book ahead.
You can pay online and arrange for collection from his home yourself or delivery can be arranged with a third party provider where charges are borne by you. The food is usually ready by 10.30am, giving you ample time to collect the food or get it delivered for your lunch.
There are a few Kelantanese dishes offered like nasi dagang, nasi kerabu, laksam and ayam percik. You also have lontong, gulai tunjang and lidah (ox tongue) sambal ijo.
For the nasi dagang, the red flecked rice is served with gulai ikan tongkol, gulai udang, acar and a hard boiled egg. Expect to pay RM29 for the dish where the portions are substantial.
The rice is perfectly cooked and the gulai for the fish has a distinct, well balanced taste from the use of spices. I really enjoyed the sweet tasting fish with the creamy gulai. While the fish had more subtle flavours, the gulai udang had slightly bolder flavours. The incredibly fresh prawns with their firm flesh was just delicious.
We also enjoyed the laksam (RM20) even though there wasn't any solok lada or stuffed green chillies because of the monsoon season. You get smooth, thick rice flour sheets rolled and cut into pieces that are paired with the creamy gravy with minced fish. What I liked was how generous they were with the gravy as it's the best part of this dish.
The sambal comes with a cube of belacan that you crush and mix with the sambal. Just mix it with the gravy and it heightens the flavours well. The ulam of long beans, bean sprouts, cucumber, torch ginger flower and daun kesom will also freshen up the dish.
For the Chinese New Year celebrations, we dined on pulut kuning or golden sticky rice that was paired with rendang daging, sambal tumis and a hard boiled egg (RM29). Each grain was soft and delicious. I especially liked the rendang daging with its creamy gravy and the meat that was tender to the bite. The sambal tumis with ikan bilis was more subtle rather than spicy and complemented the rice well.
Last but not least, there is the lontong (RM26) that had reeled us in from the beginning. I liked how he uses the more traditional lontong where the rice is wrapped with banana leaves and boiled. They have a much softer and nicer texture compared to nasi impit.
The sayur lodeh is served with thick, creamy gravy, prawns and laden with vegetables like yam bean, cabbage, carrots and long beans. There's even wood ear fungus for slight crunch and smooth beancurd skin. I especially liked the thick cut cubes of fresh tempeh where each bite yielded a lovely creaminess.
Mix in the sambal sotong kering for a hint of spiciness and sprinkle it with serunding ayam for extra flavour. Delicious!
Merechik, Lembah Keramat, KL. You can WhatsApp 012-2971164 to place your order. Instagram: @merechik.kl