Groove To The New Tune Of Malay Dining At SPG by Bijan
Cheekily alluding to the colonial period that birthed the term 'sarong party girl' (Asian women who consorted with British officers), SPG by Bijan Bar & Restaurant merges history with modernity seamlessly. You can dress down, as I did, in my favourite pair of denim jeans, and not feel out of place in the retro-themed restaurant housed within a clandestine bungalow on Jalan Ceylon.
Here are some high notes from our preview of the restaurant's menu, which sees some novel items (like a cocktail with pickled petai and gin called The Stinkini):
Artist Noemy Zainal painted and stenciled batik motifs on every wall in SPG by Bijan, making for an immersive dining experience. Rattan furniture and bright jewel tones complete the picture. With the space divided into 3 sections—lounge, tapas bar and private room—there is a suitable space for any occasion.
The art of mixology has always seemed like a science experiment to me, and SPG's skilled bartenders are no strangers to mixing up mocktails and cocktails. While taking slow sips of the Bluepea Tonic, I tried to identify the ingredients—refreshing lemon, sweet honey, and butterfly pea flower that gives off a pretty violet tint (the plant is also what gives Nasi Kerabu its famous blue hue).
Meanwhile, the Kedondong Kampung is SPG’s take on an asam boi drink with all the mouth-puckering sourness of umbra and calamansi. If you’re looking for something with a stronger kick, the Asam Pedas is spicy and sour with tequila, triple sec and tamarind juice.
An appetising introduction to the menu, the Keropok-Kerepek, a platter of crispy homemade crackers, is served with three types of sambal dips—we kept going back to the sambal hijau!
Next, the Pais Barramundi is reminiscent of otak-otak, but instead of coconut leaves, it’s wrapped in saccharine banana leather.
I'd long heard that jackfruit can taste quite identical to meat, and at SPG, the fruit is cooked rendang-style and stuffed into toasted mantou buns. While we still don't believe jackfruit can be mistaken for meat, the Jackfruit Bao is definitely a nice option for vegans.
Also read: Who Are The Chettis Of Melaka? And What Is Hindu-Peranakan Cuisine?
A daring reinterpretation of our iconic Nasi Lemak, the Ah Rah Sini pack all the goodness of the rice dish into deep-fried balls served with creamy anchovy mayo.
As for meatier mains, the skewered chicken satay marinated in ginger soy sauce gave off an appetising smokey aroma, while the pan-seared black pomfret and grilled lamb loin were equally tasty—it simply depends if you're in the mood for surf or turf.
Desserts capped the memorable lunch. We began with the Pulut Mango Cake, layers of chilled mango mousse, coconut glutinous rice, and shortbread, before moving on to the Bananas Over Bananas. Ice cream lovers will love the latter, which combines homemade banana ice cream with caramelised bananas; a dehydrated banana cone goes on top.
Mark your calendars for November 11th, the official launch date for SPG by Bijan, to experience a new wave of Malaysian cuisine and to take advantage of the dance floor. All the better if you come in your favourite sarongs!
SPG by Bijan | 3A, Jalan Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur | 03-2022 3575 | Daily, 12pm-12am
- Photography Khairul Imran