Serai=Lemongrass ... !!! ARGH !!! Paranoia strikes !!!
SERAI Sate Kajang opened last month or so, tucked near the end of a rather secluded row of new shops, behind Ipoh's Tesco hypermarket in Medan Ipoh Bistari area. Previous strolls revealed the immense crowd on weekends, a positive sign of either the satay IS good, OR we Ipoh-ans are just desperate for a taste of Kajang satay.
Less than stellar review by a Malay colleague, probably a foodie herself, Ms Suzy whom hyper-ventilated-ly lamented the poor service, and low quality of food marred my plans to visit this outlet for a potential review.
But the temptation was too much to resist, and I found myself magnetically-attracted to the place one fine evening, for a light dinner. Or that's how I hoped my meal would be.Typical peanut gravy with spicy sambal - A signature of Kajang satay outlets
As expected, the place was pretty packed, and it was before dinner hours. Variety's limited, only chicken, beef, perut (cow's stomach), lamb and deer meat are available. Other selections include nasi himpit (rice with coconut milk ~ ketupat), chicken rice and even Muar otak-otak.
First to arrive on your table would be the sauce for the satay. A bowl of peanut gravy - thick and sweet with lots of crunchy peanuts, and a smaller bowl of fiery dark red sambal chilli sauce.Messy DIY concoction of rich, thick and spicy peanut sauce
The concept's simple. Add the sambal into your bowl of peanut sauce, according to how much your stomach can erm .. stomach the spiciness. Be warned, do not go overboard before testing your bowl of fire.Double servings of Nasi Himpit (RM0.50/serving)
The nasi himpit at Haji Samuri fares better compared to the ones served here. The nasi himpit at Serai was too mushy and soft, a wee bit sticky, and lacking in texture. Unlike the more compact offering by Haji Samuri.
Yup, a stick cost 70 cents now. Even pricier than Haji Samuri's. Still reminiscing the good old times when a stick cost a mere 30-40 cents. Sigh ... Blame it on the petrol?
Of course, all that matters is the taste. And at Serai, I'm glad that the satay are grilled on the spot, fresh and piping hot, unlike their counterpart (gee, I'm REALLY comparing these two outlets, huh?) where you get your satay in an instant, grilled in bulk, thus the meat may be slightly cold. And the chunks of meat are fat-less, marinated well, not too sweet nor salty, and char-grilled to perfection. Minimal burnt parts=More edible parts.
But what satisfied my lust the most (no, not THE lust, but the cravings for meat lust) were the lamb on skewers. Thicker cut compared to the chicken and beef, but lacked the gamey texture, these were really good. Though good things come at a price, RM1.00 per stick, no less.
We did not go crazy on the orders, as this was not our sole dinner for the evening. =P More like a tea-time/dinner hybrid. A meal for two including drinks came to RM12 only. And was I glad the name Serai (Lemongrass in Malay) is nothing but a name. And their meat is devoid of over-powering lemongrass scents. Shudder to think the possibilities ....
Location : SERAI Sate Kajang, Jalan Medan Ipoh 1E, Medan Ipoh Bistari, 31400 Ipoh.
Specifically, this shop is somewhere behind the McDonald's drive-thru restaurant on JalanTasek, Ipoh. It's at a new row of shops, directly behind the row of 4-storeys shoplots facing Jalan Tasek, noticably with HUGE signboards/billboards.