Sponsored Post: Agrobazaar – Melaka Plate

The Arab Street vicinity continues to fascinate and intrigue me. Every other month, there seems to be a new Muslim-owned eatery that opens ..like Ratu Lemper , a newly-certified halal eating establishment such as Hyde & Co, or even new food trends that send foodies like me zooming straight down to try chendol ice cream from Overrun.

Through the grapevine, while searching for a venue for Eiding The Feast 2016, I discovered Agrobazaar, a restaurant and event space aimed at delivering the authentic taste of Malaysia through their dishes.

Agrobazaar is not difficult to spot. Located just a stone’s throw from Busorrah Street (where you’ll find your extremely delicious teh sarabat and teh halia), the building which is painted in maroon and colourful stripes is difficult to miss.

agro

Photo Credit: Agrobazaar

The building houses two floors for dining purposes and a retail store selling fresh produce and packed spices, food mixes and sauces from all over Malaysia. The first floor, where their in house cafe, Kopi Satu is,  seats about eight people and is the primary space for their retail operations while the second floor, or the verandah, houses both an indoor venue for dining and an outdoor dining area for patrons who prefer to dine al fresco or if you’re looking for a venue for an event.

As part of their bid to spread awareness of the different Malaysian state cuisines, Agrobazaar regularly organises ‘state plates’ where they showcase some of the best offerings from individual states. As our venue sponsors for Eiding The Feast, the good people at Agrobazaar invited The Alternative Food Blog team to sample their Melaka Place which ran from the 2nd May to 15th May 2016. Since most of the dishes were not vegetarian, Kit opted to sit this tasting out so I roped in the help of my family members.

As I mentioned earlier, Agrobazaar Malaysia also houses a retail store which sells imported products from all over Malaysia and as part of their Melaka Plate showing, my family and I were introduced to some of their more popular products on sale and some live cooking demonstrations.

As we were introduced to these new food items, our Melaka Plate lunch was being prepared for us by the in-house chefs for us to enjoy at the end of our shopping experience at the mini-supermarket.

Prior to this, my exposure to Malaccan food was not so extensive, given that the little exposure that I did get was from the few trips my family had made to Melaka so the entire experience was a rather interesting one for me.

I had always had the impression that Malay food was spicy and very rich in flavour but my recent experience at Agrobazaar has made me reconsider my earlier impressions and chalk that down to our local food scene.

As part of the Melaka plate, we were introduced to 6 different dishes: the laksa nyonya, ikan bakar, gerang asam, ayam pongteh, cucur udang Melaka and the cendol Melaka. One look at the names of the menu and it  was evident that the names of these dishes were rather similar to familiar Peranakan dishes.

Since we were extremely hungry by then, we dove straight in to our lunch of white rice and the assorted dishes.

ikan

The Ikan Bakar is a whole grilled fish that is marinated in specially mixed spices and baked in a banana lead and aluminium foil. As with all other dishes that are baked in banana leaf, the fish was soft and succulent and the special blend of spices definitely helped to get rid of the fishy smell. The spice level for the dish was not that high and I was able to tolerate it quite easily. Served with a side of lime to squeeze over, the lime juice added a nice level of acidity to the fish and went well with the sambal belachan styled fish.

gerangasam

The Gerang Asam was a very new dish to me as I had never eaten it before and as such, I was quite interested to try this for myself. The dish was reminiscent of a milder and lighter version of tom yum soup. The broth which contained tomatoes, which is meant to be eaten with rice was sour and slightly spicy but not overly tangy such that it would turn people off. Looking at the colour of the dish, I had expected it to be hot but the heat in this dish was mildly surprising.

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As part of the Melaka Plate, we also tried some Ayam Pongteh. The dish, which is well known in Peranakan circles as a dish prepared with pork, is cooked at Agrobazaar with chicken instead. The broth which is flavoured with fermented soy beans (tauchou) and gula Melaka is definitely light and flavourful, with generous servings of chicken and potatoes. If you’re a fan of heavier curry-type dishes, the spice level and lightness of the broth might not be to your liking but it is definitely a welcomed change from our generally more rich Malay dishes.

laksa

On top of this, each table was also served a large serving of Nyonya Laksa. The nyonya laksa is reminiscent of the Chinese-style laksa which is more milky and less spicy. However, this is not to say that the laksa did not pack a heaty punch, which it did! What struck me was the sweetness of the broth which is generally not present in other laksa dishes I’ve tasted but I wonder if it could be a trademark of traditional nyonya laksa. The laksa was kept fresh with springy rice noodles, a generous serving of cucumber strips and taugey, prawns and fish cake!

To complement our main dishes, we were also served Cucur Udang Melaka which I loveeeee! I like anything crispy with a yummy sweet and sour sauce and this was no different. The cucur udang which is a prawn cake made with flour, water , chives and onions was fried to crispy perfection and tasted so good with their special dipping sauce which was imported directly from the famous ‘Kuih Udang Alor Gajah’ stall in Malacca. These were served to us piping hot, which made it all the delicious and kept me wanting to go back for more.

Since we were invited on the second last day of the Melaka Plate promotion, it is unfortunately unavailable during the fasting month but, they do have a Ramadhan iftar buffet  which  runs throughout the month of June from 6.30pm onwards. For more information, check out  their website here.

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Categories: Asian, Halal

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