KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — After 23 years in business, Restoran Rose 911 will be vacating its premises at Kampung Pandan.
And instead of opening elsewhere, the owner, Rusnani Ahmad (better known as Kak Ros) will now focus on lunch box delivery and catering.
The eatery has a stellar reputation among KL-lites for its Negeri Sembilan Malay food, or masakan Ngori.
Started in late 1992, it was originally meant to be a small nasi lemak business for Kak Ros after her husband retired.After the structure was built, they realised the space was too big to just sell only one item so she decided to sell nasi campur featuring the traditional Malay dishes from her hometown in Negeri Sembilan — a rarity in those days.
The Bahau native has always been enterprising; plucking vegetables to earn extra income when she was young.When her husband was sent to Australia, Paris and London to further his studies, Kak Ros did not join him as she preferred to stay home to look after their four young children.
She had to juggle a full-time direct selling job with being a mother, and make kuih to earn some side income. She only asked that the children do well in school and get good university degrees.The eatery got its unusual “911” nickname from customers. It's a reference to an American police car that used to be parked in front of the premises. According to Kak Ros, the police car was a gift to her husband who used to own a production company. Eventually she sold it since the car's maintenance costs were too high.
Negeri Sembilan Malay cuisine is distinctly different from other styles of Malay food as most of the dishes are served masak lemak or cooked in a thin coconut milk curry tinged yellow with turmeric. You will find different variants, like rebung or daging salai (grilled beef). There is also sembilang salai, or grilled ikan keli (catfish) cooked masak lemak. Seafood lovers swear by their siput sedut or the sweet tasting crabs with ladlefuls of masak lemak curry. They also serve asam pedas, ayam goreng kampung, and sambal sotong.Even the vegetables should not be missed. It's hard to choose between aromatic masak tempoyak daun-daun kayu and the addictive creamy sambal goreng jawa with its prawns and, tempeh cubes cooked with long beans. We suggest you have both as they're equally delicious. This is also the only place in KL that serves rendang pegaga made with the pennywort herb, cooked in coconut milk and chicken spare parts. It's often one of the last dishes to be prepared, so sometimes it only hits the counter midway during the busy lunch hour.
Don't miss the badak berendam — steamed glutinous rice shaped dumplings in a light green hue from pandan juice filled with grated coconut cooked with gula Melaka syrup, served soaking in coconut milk. It's divine eaten fresh from the steamer with its soft supple skin paired with slightly sweet coconut filling.
According to Kak Ros, in Negeri Sembilan it's known as kuih sopang, but locals in the city prefer to call it badak berendam or kuih epok epok. This kuih is painstakingly made by hand throughout the lunch session, where diners can get them fresh from the steamer, as it's made in small batches. Kak Ros is incredibly fussy about the kuih's quality, hence she makes it personally with her daughter Mashitah and her long-time worker, Nariah Saad.In addition, they also serve lepat pisang, another popular kuih made with bananas that is steamed in banana leaf parcels. Kak Ros says some of her customers claim it's the best in town. Since word has spread of its imminent closure, regulars have flocked from afar to eat their food here for the last time. Once they close, they will relocate to the kitchen at Kak Ros' house within the Kampung Pandan area. As a back-up business and to introduce their new business plan, Mashitah started a lunch box delivery service in January. Orders can be placed for lunch, with a minimum of 10 boxes, via WhatsApp or email and it will be delivered to you. Since the delivery service started, response has been good with orders from KLCC, banks and a nearby clinic. After April, they will do away with the minimum order rule.
Currently, Kak Ros's two youngest children help her out at the eatery; her daughter Mashitah and son, Ilyasa who is studying for his Masters in Business Administration. Mashitah who graduated with a degree in food science plans to also use food trucks filled with their signature dishes to ply three areas: Kajang/Bangi, Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam. Expect to see their famous food hit those areas in the near future.
Restoran Rose 911, 25, Jalan Satu Kampung Pandan, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-9281 2996. Open: 11.30am to 4pm. Closed on Saturdays and Sundays. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Restoran-Rose-911