20, Jalan Sultan Ismail,
Tel: 03-2181 6717
Business hours: 11.00am-10.00pm, daily.
WHERE do you find authentic Malaysian cuisine with a twist of Thai?
Situated in the heart of Kuala Lumpur at the KL Life Centre, is a restaurant with a simple name, Serai (Lemon grass).
Serai was first established 20 years ago in Section 13, Shah Alam and now there are several branches around the Klang Valley that offer the same delicious food.
When her husband asked her what ingredients she uses most often in her cooking, owner of the Serai Group restaurants, Rina Abdullah mentioned using serai and that’s how the name came about.
“I believe that if I like the way the food taste, and it must taste good of course, my customers will find it good too,” said Rina. Along with her son-in-law, Mohd Najib Abdul Hamid, who is also director and chef of the restaurants, they have created a wonderful environment in each restaurant along with food that is catered for the masses.
According to Rina, the interior of each restaurant around town matches the location it is in. For example, the Serai restaurant located in Kuala Lumpur, has a more corporate interior as it caters for the working professionals around the vicinity.
However, Serai Thai at the Empire Gallery, Subang, has a more laid back interior, which is suitable for the entire family.
Serai, at the KL Life Centre, is a spacious but cozy cafe with a menu full of wonderful items to share with friends and colleagues.
Rina prides the restaurant with its in-house creation: Satay in a cup. It has a few sticks of satay (beef and chicken) in a cup along with some dipping sauce (kuah kacang) by the side. The satay meat is marinated to perfection and every bite offers a juicy piece of meat.
Rina also recommends the Serai Platter which includes rice served with portions of oxtail ‘asam pedas,’ honey squid, ‘fresh acar’ and chicken fried in herbs. This incredibly tasty dish is the most authentic Malaysian dish one can come across. Complete with all the traditional flavours, this dish offers a perfect portion to share or to have by yourself.
Other items that are highly recommended are the Nasi Kerabu, Middle Eastern Medley, Deep-fried Squid with Salted Egg, Steamed Fish with Lime Sauce and Tom Yam Soup that comes with seafood or chicken.
The Tom Yam Soup is perfect for a cold rainy day or any ordinary day. Although it may look like an extremely spicy dish, it isn’t. It is simple and contains the perfect blends of aromatic spices.
The Steamed Fish with Lime Sauce, on the other hand, is perfect for the more health-conscious crowd. According to Rina, no oil is used in preparing this dish and it’s the lime sauce that gives this item its kick. You may chose from two types of fish available, Sea bass or Garoupa.
Nasi Kerabu contains blue-tinted rice served with ‘ayam percik’, salted egg, ‘solok lada’ and fish crackers. Mixing the ‘solok lada’ with the ‘ayam percik’ and the rice along with the crackers is the best way to consume this dish. Each flavour is distinctive and is great for either lunch or dinner.
In their seafood corner of the menu, you will find various fresh items from the sea, cooked in many ways to suit your cravings. There are deep-fried, cooked in butter, black pepper, green curry, sweet and sour sauce, lemak chilli padi and just plain old sambal.
If you’re looking for something simple and quick, Serai also offers oodles of noodles and rice dishes such as mee goreng mamak, beef noodle soup, seafood char kuey teow, spicy Thai fried rice, ‘sang har yin yong’ and the simple but delicious kampong-style fried rice.
Serai also has an interesting concoction of pastas, notably the penne pasta cooked in beef rendang. There is also the normal spaghetti seafood marinara, spaghetti carbonara and prawn aglio olio, just to name a few.
The list on the menu goes on and on. It is also vegetarian-friendly and has something for everyone.
Serai also offers a wonderful selection of desserts. Two notably must tries are the Pandan Banana Fritters and Pistachio Creme Brulee. There is also a great selection of cakes for those who crave for sweets.
And finally to wash all that down, some of the selected specialty drinks are the Serai Iced Tea and Serai Blended. If you are a fan of lemon grass, these two signature drinks should leave you content.
Other items in their drink tray include flavoured milk shakes, a variety of fresh fruit juices, a wonderful list of coffees and teas.
So even if you’re up for a quick tea break with friends, Serai certainly has some great beverages and desserts to keep you satisfied.
Although the prices may seem a little steep, the large portions served at Serai make up for it and the ambiance is perfect to relax during lunch hour or after a busy day at the office.
Other Serai outlets around Klang Valley: Serai Thai Restaurant @ Section 13 Shah Alam; Serai @ Empire; Serai @ Shaftsbury, Cyberjaya; Serai @ Paradigm.
Serai celebrates Christmas with a set menu priced at RM120++ per person. The Christmas Turkey is priced at RM350++ per bird, Honey Mustard Australian Leg of Lamb is RM400++ for 2.5kg, while the Seafood Platter is RM450++ for three to four persons. Pre-booking of two days in advance is essential. For reservations, call 03- 2181 6717.