Tucked away in a quiet, shady area of central Kuala Lumpur is perhaps the city’s best-kept secret. Featuring fine Malay cuisine with an innovative twist, Bijan Bar & Restaurant combines the traditional with the contemporary in a lush, intimate setting, giving diners an experience that is quite out of this world.
Named ‘Best Malay Restaurant’ by Tourism Malaysia in 2004, Bijan Bar & Restaurant is your ticket to the true taste of Malaysia. Using original recipes that are passed on from generations after generations, this restaurant’s offerings are the next-best thing to good, wholesome home-cooked meals.
Batik features strongly in the restaurant's décor, with batik wall hangings and batik-covered menus. Plenty of natural materials are used, such as wood and bamboo, lending an organic feel to the interior.
A large chalk board is placed near the entrance, highlighting the restaurant’s specials and promotions, and a sizeable bar occupies a corner, serving a good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Just outside, attached to the main dining area, is an al fresco dining section with wooden decking and banana trees lining one side.
Warm and cosy, Bijan's interior feels more like somebody’s home rather than a city restaurant. The lush surrounding foliage and its secluded location make you feel cut off from the rest of the; it is easy to forget that you’re actually dining somewhere in the middle of the city.
During the evening, the place gets decidedly romantic with subdued lighting and tea lights placed on the tables. The restaurant is a favourite with corporate clients, and is busiest during dinnertime on weekdays.
A good selection of red and white from France, Spain, Australia, Italy, South Africa and New Zealand are available. Prices range from RM 98 to RM 405 per bottle, with regular wine promotions.
Other drinks available include martinis, sparkling wines, champagnes, dessert wines and fortified wines, as well as a collection of classic and signature cocktails and mocktails.
We start with Bijan’s appetizer platter, comprising beef and chicken satay, cucur udang (deep-fried prawn fritters), tauhu sumbat (fried stuffed tofu cakes) and popiah goreng (fried stuffed spring rolls), served with spicy peanut sauce and hot chilli sauce. The cucur udang, our favourite, is flavourful and crispy, with corn kernels and a whole shrimp in each fritter, just the way we like it. The hot chilli sauce is exactly the way traditional chilli sauce should be – thick and uncompromisingly hot, not like the watered-down variety sometimes served around the city.
For mains, we are served Bijan’s signature dish, rusuk panggang (tender chunks of grilled short ribs marinated in dark soy sauce), and a variety of ulam (raw plant shoots and herbs) with sambal belacan (hot and spicy sauce made from chillies and shrimp paste). We are also given the chance to try Bijan’s latest offering, the nasi hidang selera, which incorporates the concepts of Indonesian nasi padang and Chinese dim sum.
Eaten with a serving of rice, an array of traditional Malay dishes are served to us on a large tray, allowing us to sample a bit of everything where we are free to take as much as we want from each dish. Available during lunchtime from Monday to Friday, a different set of dishes is served every day. We finish off our meals with a bowl of refreshing pandan cendol and some homemade ice cream, a smooth and creamy coconut crème caramel and the heavenly chocolate durian cake as desserts.
Zulkifli Razali, Bijan’s jovial Head Chef, reveals that only the freshest ingredients are used in the preparation of Bijan’s dishes to ensure consistency in taste and quality. For example, his chocolate durian cake and other durian-based dishes only use top-quality D24 durians, which provide the right flavour and texture. Born with a great passion and appreciation for food, both of which translate well into his cooking, Chef Zulkifli first learnt his art from his grandmother, perfecting his technique throughout the years by constantly experimenting and improvising.
Like the food, Bijan's service doesn’t disappoint. Staff members are friendly and attentive, and go out of their way to make us feel welcome – demonstrating true Malaysian hospitality. Even the large group of diners seated behind our table is attended to promptly, with no noticeably long wait.
Bijan Bar & Restaurant is located on Jalan Ceylon, next to Nero Vivo, the only other restaurant on the same road. Further down the road is Changkat Bukit Bintang, a trendy strip of upmarket restaurants and nightspots.
Bijan Bar & Restaurant
- Opening Hours: Mon - Sun 16:30 - 23:00
- Address: No. 3, Jalan Ceylon 50200 Kuala Lumpur
- Tel: +603 2031 3575 or +603 2031 6568