Contributed by Kenny Phang.
In collaboration with Defy Media.
A few days ago, I was invited to lunch at Restoran Rebung Chef Ismail, a stone’s throw away from our August House of Parliament. Not within walking distance but it’s within the Lake Gardens so diners can perhaps take a stroll after partaking of the buffet to shed off some calories. I found the location rather unique as it’s not in a shophouse, not in a house, not in an office or apartment building but a multi-tiered car park. I didn’t drive there so when I was dropped off, I looked at the huge signboard that had the name “Restoran Rebung Chef Ismail” on it and thought this must be the right place.
I entered the parking building, looked for the nearest elevator but there was no sign at the elevator pointing to Restoran Rebung Chef Ismail, only a sign indicating “Seafood Market” on the 5th floor. I got out on the 5th floor and the whole place looked deserted. I went back down again to ground level to relook at the Restoran Rebung Chef Ismail signboard and reassured myself it was on the topmost, i.e. 5th floor.
Once on the 5th floor again, I decided to explore and before long, saw signs of life. Someone was frying something in a wok. Surely this had to be THE Restoran Rebung Chef Ismail. Turns out there is another elevator that goes directly to the restaurant and this elevator is at the back of the restaurant whereas I had taken the elevator leading to the restaurant’s main entrance but not visible from the elevator I took. Rather confusing for first-timers but anyway I was so relieved to have found the restaurant, by which time I had whetted my appetite with the walk back and forth.
The ambiance at this restaurant is homely, like you have stepped into someone’s rustic home. There are wardrobes, cabinets, candelabra, displays of plates and all sorts of things you would expect to find in someone’s house. I was there before noon and already it was almost full house. While the buffet spread is not extensive, it is more than adequate for me.
Everything here looks delicious – from the starters to dessert. I only had room for a few items, the beef rendang was one of the best I have ever had as the beef is not tough and it isn’t too spicy. In fact, I would actually say it is the BEST beef rendang I have had in recent years. It’s so good that I wish I can have it every day. The packed nasi lemak is also wonderful as the rice is so fluffy. Another must-try are the sublime duck eggs.
The kuih desserts are also my favourite. I must have had at least 2 plates of them and the pisang goreng is also on the top of my list of “must try” foods at Restoran Rebung Chef Ismail. There’s free flow of cordials, tea and coffee. I found the teh O rather too sweet for my taste. I couldn’t find any hot water to add to it so that it’s “kurang manis”.
Overall, you would be hard pressed to find a more charming restaurant serving Malay cuisine. Many restaurants look too commercialised and lack that homely feel. Restoran Rebung Chef Ismail has oodles ot the homely factor and the quality of the food is beyond reproach.