kumi: Eurasian Culinary Gem at Damansara Heights
Late last year, an article in the food section of a local newspaper caught my mum's eye. It was about a Eurasian restaurant called kumi, which serves homely Eurasian Kristang cuisine. What stood out to her, and subsequently me when she showed me the article, was their signature dish, devil's curry. We love devil's curry, and since we had not been to kumi before, I gave them a call and booked us a table for three. So off to kumi we went on a slightly drizzly Saturday evening in December, me and the folks. Tucked away in a quiet residential corner of Damansara Heights, kumi (which means "eat" in Eurasian Kristang) sits serenely along a single row of shops surrounded by tall trees and soothing greenery... a nice escape from urban stress. When we arrived, I noticed that unlike most restaurants, kumi doesn't scream for attention. The simple-looking signage on the outside echoes the equally minimalist theme on the inside. But we soon found out that behind the unassuming decor lies remarkable gastronomic delights.
Deciding on the first dish was easy as it was no decision at all - we were here for the devil's curry. After that, it took a bit of thinking, not because the menu was long-winded or excessive, but because it featured really enticing specialised dishes, all of them inviting. We went back and forth several menu items before finally settling on pong teh, cincalok omelette and fried brinjal to complete our order. Here's a look at our dishes:
Devil's Curry (RM17.00)
If you haven't tried devil's curry and you're wondering what it's like, Wikipedia describes it as "a very spicy curry, flavoured with candlenuts, galangal and vinegar, from the Eurasian Kristang culinary tradition in Malacca, Malaysia."
I'll admit it... I don't often eat spicy food. But every now and then, I do like getting a good ferocious smack. Hence, the love for devil's curry. And I must say, kumi's devil's curry was superb. It had my taste buds doing cartwheels. Really divine, though I suspect the heat could've been taken up a notch or two higher. Next time I'll ask them to!
Pong Teh (RM17.00)
A Eurasian as well as a Baba Nyonya classic, pong teh is another dish I love. My mum likes it, too. We've eaten a lot of pong tehs in our time and we can attest to kumi's version, which was warm, comforting and an excellent interpretation of the soulful dish. It reminded me of the one my friend, Rachel, and I once had in Malacca.
Cincalok Omelette (RM10.00)
There's something about cincalok (fermented shrimp) that really puts a zing in an omelette. Or any dish for that matter. It has a distinctive tang, which I love. Our compliments to the chef for doing such a great job of cooking our omelette. It had just the right amount of cincalok to elevate the dish.
Fried Brinjal (RM6.00)
A gripe I often hear about brinjal, or aubergine as I like to call it, is sogginess. kumi's fried aubergine, however, was anything but. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, it looked like it had been sautéed skin side up and down to achieve that perfect texture.
As the evening progressed, more diners rolled in. It was evident that some of them were regulars, which says a lot about the restaurant. At the helm are cousins, Rueben Moissinac and Ammos Stevenson, who founded kumi in 2016 with the humble aim of sharing their grandmother's age-old Eurasian dishes with a wider audience. Their philosophy is simple: stick to fresh ingredients as much as possible and create each dish from scratch, the same way their grandmother did. It's a noble idea and certainly a fitting nod to their culinary heritage. And from what I saw that night, I think they may be onto something.
Sugee Cake (RM12.00/slice)
For dessert, we had another Eurasian jewel - the sugee cake - which I understand was baked by Rueben and Ammos' auntie. As we were pretty stuffed from all the delicious food we'd just had, we ordered just one slice to share. Rueben was kind enough to slice it down for us. Lovely cake. It was light and moist with the gorgeous semolina yellow coming through clearly.
Outside, the drizzling had stopped and we were ready to make a move. But before we left, I couldn't resist taking a picture with the white little Christmas tree at the counter!
Out of all the Eurasian restaurants I've been to, I would sum up my dining experience at kumi as really down-to-earth. You come here to be fed. There aren't any "too pretty to eat" dishes here. Just honest, delicious, affordable food that stems from a family's culinary legacy. And I think that anyone who comes here for something else is missing the point. My folks and I thoroughly enjoyed the dishes we had, and the laid-back atmosphere made dining here feel almost like home.
For reservations, call:
012 651 1182
kumi 21 Lorong Setiabistari 2 Damansara Heights 50490 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia www.facebook.com/kumi.malaysia Business hours Mondays to Fridays:
11.30 am to 3.00 pm
6.00 pm to 9.30 pm
6.00 pm to 9.30 pm
Sundays: Closed Note: Prices, where mentioned, are correct at time of writing.