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Maliqa,

49, Jalan Medan Setia 1,
Plaza Damansara,
Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2095 0002
Business hours: Open for lunch, noon – 3.00pm
daily except Fridays,
dinner, 6.00pm – 10.30pm, nightly

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Maliqa invites you on a sojourn to the Mediterranean through its selection of soul-satisfying comfort food.

ONCE upon a time, a Persian queen was forced to flee her war-torn homeland with her personal cook and few belongings. After trekking across the Mediterranean, the fair consort soon found her way to our fair land and decided to open a restaurant, to serve soulful dishes that are fit for royalty.

According to one of the co-owners, Syed Salehuddin Wafa, maliqa means queen consort in Persian. “Every restaurant has a story to tell, and that romantic story defines what Maliqa is about. It’s also relevant to our chef Hazfaizah Jasuki who had lived in Bosnia for five years and spent another three years travelling and cooking her way around the Mediterranean. The Turkish, Greek, Italian and Spanish specialities in the menu are based on her many vibrant experiences and sojourns.”

Still, a fantastical tale is of no help to a new restaurant if the food isn’t up to scratch. Fortunately, Maliqa passes the taste test with ease, thanks to chef Hazfaizah’s heart warming Mediterranean comfort food. Bursting with deep-seated, hearty flavours, her specialities are bound to win the begrudging approval of the industry’s most discerning customers ? mothers and family matriarchs at first bite.

The high-ceilinged, double-storey Maliqa restaurant belongs to a group of friends, a haven for them to escape from the daily demands of their work and home life. Apart from the clusters of tables and chairs in the main dining area, every nook and corner is filled with upholstered wingback chairs, side tables and shelves of books, Turkish ceramics and Moroccan bric-a-brac. There is even a cosy lounge-cum-dining room upstairs for those who want to nip away for private discussions and to accommodate larger dining parties.

Food-wise, every dish served at Maliqa is a testament of chef Hazfaizah’s passion for cooking and all things culinary.

“I discovered my knack for cooking when I was in New Zealand pursuing a hotel management course. My part-time job with a catering company that produces airline meals required me to cook different dishes for the company’s clients to sample so I just did whatever it takes to roll them out,” she says.

The self-taught chef relished the challenge so much that she notched up a string of restaurant and hotel stints over the last 15 years. At Maliqa, Hazfaizah feels that she has finally come into her own and it shows in her culinary offerings.

For instance, our starter of Fried Calamari with Tartar Sauce (RM13.90) is gimmick-free; a heap of chewy, salt and pepper-dusted morsels covered in crisp, airy-light batter made tastier thanks to her homemade tartar sauce.

We recommend following this up with Pirincli Yoghurt and Carbasi Soup (RM12.90), a tangy, creamy broth that has minced chicken and grains of al dente rice in every delicious spoonful. It’s the perfect succour for cold, rainy days and perking up jaded palates.

The Moussaka (RM23.90) gets top marks for its deeply satisfying collision of tastes and textures. Tucking into the cheesy and meaty layers, you’d find that the slightly charred eggplant still has a discernible crunchiness to it.

“To prevent the eggplant from turning into mush during baking, I prefer to grill the eggplant lightly before layering ground beef and cheese over it,” says Hazfaizah. “Besides giving the dish a smoky tinge, you can see the melded layers when you scoop it up. It looks nicer and more tempting.”

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Pirincli Yoghurt and Carbasi Soup.

Saffron and smoked beef are the chef?s ingredients of choice to suffuse the short grain rice for the Lamb Pilav (RM30.90) with a delicate floral aroma and sweet nuance. She also boiled the shank in yoghurt to tenderise the meat and temper its inherent gaminess. The resultant dish is all the richer from such loving efforts.

We find the Maliqa House Steak with Cheese and Mushroom Sauce (RM46.90) a tad chewy but the rustic, savoury sauce is so irresistible that we simply lap everything up.

Kids and finicky teens are another finicky lot to feed but once they sample the crunchy wafer-thin Pizza Andalusia (RM23.90), they?d be begging for more.

The crowd-pleasing creation is an indulgent version of the classic margherita laden with additional toppings of beef pepperoni, green capsicum, black olives and mushroom slices.

For the customary sweet finish to your meal, the velvety coffee-laced Tiramisu (RM8.90) is likely to make a better impression compared to the ho-hum Apple Crumble (RM8.90).

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