346, Jalan S2 8,
Seremban 2, Seremban.
Tel: 06-601 5559
Mon to Thurs – 3.00pm to 1.00am,
Fri to Sun – 1.00pm to 2.00am
(Closed on Tuesday)
Kitchen closes at 10.30pm.
FANCY some curry maraydu, baked otak or stir-fried bamboo mussels?
If you have a thing for seafood and enjoy spicy Cristang cuisine, you will simply love the new items on the menu at Cafe Sportivo in Seremban.
Chef Benildus De Silva, who helms the kitchen at the restaurant-cum-bar, recently added a range of seafood dishes to the already extensive menu to give diners more variety.
De Silva waxes lyrical about the Cristang flavours he grew up with and wants customers to try some of his own favourites such as curry maraydu (yellow curry) and baked otak.
“It’s only fitting to introduce the new items now since we are in the midst of Lent, a time when many Christians choose to abstain from meat and consume fish and other seafood instead.
“We already have a menu with plenty of meat dishes and we want our customers to have more choices,” he said.
Passionate about cooking especially the Portuguese fare handed down to him by his mother, the affable chef’s eyes light up as he introduces the dishes he has whipped up for my dining companion and I.
The aroma hits us first as the platters of food arrive at our table and it is no wonder because Cristang cuisine is redolent with spices.
We tried ikan kembung cooked curry maraydu style, a curry sauce made with turmeric (hence its yellow colour), ginger, lemongrass and shrimp paste which was simply divine.
Portuguese cooks consider this dish a simplified curry, but there is nothing simple about it in taste.
The omission of chillies make this a mild curry, but it certainly takes a deft hand to concoct the paste that makes this curry finger-licking good.
“This is a dish that my mother used to make, it’s something you’d find in Cristang homes but rarely on a restaurant menu,” said De Silva.
Next up was Portuguese baked fish and baked otak.
Portuguese baked fish is quite common even in Chinese restaurants, but at Cafe Sportivo, you know this is the real McCoy.
We had baked stingray (RM18++) cooked to perfection in a spicy chilli sauce with candlenuts and dried shrimp and if you prefer not to bother with fish bones, opt for their baked otak (RM12++), which by the way is not baked brain but fish paste prepared the with the same spicy sauce.
Another dish that I’d never heard of but is apparently quite popular with the Portuguese community is chuan-chuan, deep-fried fish served with a sauce made from fermented bean paste.
De Silva takes pride in his cooking and prepares the aromatic pastes for his Cristang dishes daily.
“This is authentic Cristang food, everything is made to order and not pre-cooked,” he said.
But the menu at Cafe Sportivo is not just limited to Cristang flavours. Diners can have their seafood prepared Western or Chinese style too.
De Silva has over two decades culinary experience and while he honed his skills in Cristang cuisine in his mother’s kitchen, he picked up his skills in Chinese and Western cooking in the restaurants and hotels he had served in before joining Cafe Sportivo.
We feasted on stir-fried bamboo mussels (RM15++), a platter of succulent New Zealand mussels in a creamy cheese sauce (RM15++), deliciously spicy chili prawns (RM22++) and as if all that wasn’t enough, De Silva also served us scallops with butter garlic sauce (RM18++).
You can even have salted egg crab here if you like but crab dishes have to be ordered in advance.
The portions at Cafe Sportivo are nothing short of generous and the prices are definitely reasonable. Prices quoted here are all for “small” portions that can feed two people.
Its cosy ambience and non-smoking before 10pm policy also make Cafe Sportivo a great place for family outings.
Come 10pm, music takes centrestage, and diners can enjoy live band performances almost daily.
De Silva said more menu items would be added on gradually and expressed hope the new additions would hit it off with diners.
“We’ve got our regulars who come for the drinks and music but we want people to know that we are not just a pub. You can bring your family here and we’ve got great food, one thing’s for sure you don’t have to drive down to Malacca if you’re craving Cristang food, we have lots of it right here,” he said.
This is the writer’s observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.