One recent newspaper article has reported that Malaysia is the number one tourist destination among Muslim travelers particularly those coming from the Middle Eastern countries. As such, it's quite normal to see Arab tourists with with their harems walking along the Bukit Bintang walk especially on Saturday night. Strolling on Saturday night along that area makes you feel that you are somewhere in UAE or Lebanon . Only the occasional presence of Chinese pimps soliciting for customers makes you realize that you're in Malaysia .With the Arab tourists, there's bound to be Arabic restaurants and these types of restaurants are mushrooming now in Malaysia. Bandar Baru Bangi , Serdang and Cyberjaya have also witnessed the explosion of Arab owned restaurants. Yours truly today would like to share his Arabic food adventures around Bandar Baru Bangi and its vicinity.
The best Arabic restaurant I would say is the one in Cyberjaya called SABA (Food 4.5 star and service 3.5 Star). It is located not far from the Cyberjaya Mall. Before reaching the Mall , you have to turn right at the second traffic lights if you 're from KL or Kajang.The owner is an Arab guy from Yemen and married to a Malaysian.The place is always full of customers especially Malaysians from all walks of life but particularly government servants working in Putrajaya. The menu is typical Arabic dishes like Lamb/Chicken Hanith, Mandy or Kabsah, shawarma Kebab and a number of other traditional Arabic dishes that I can't remember the names. The parboiled rice is particular long, fluffy and soft immersed with aromatic spices from Yemen and it's very delicious. You can even eat the rice on its own. The meat , lamb or chicken, is extremely tender, juicy and succulent. The restaurant is best visited in the afternoon after 3 pm when there's less customers around. The service is not very good despite having numerous waiters holding their hand held order gadget.Despite having lots of waiters you need to get your own gravy that is placed near the cashier's counter. The price set for the rice dishes is around RM 17 -25 slightly more expensive compared to other Arabic restaurants in the area.
The next best restaurant is called the Half Moon (Food 4.0 Star and Service 2 Star) . It is situated somewhere in Serdang not far from the Southern or South Hall Mall (I'm not very sure of the name of the mall ) . You need to drive 100 metres past the Mall and turn left. The restaurant is just adjacent to the KL Seremban Highway. The restaurant is very popular among Arab students studying in UKM and UPM.My Arab friends have told me that this is the best Arabic restaurant but I don't really share their sentiment. I still feel that the one in Cyberjaya is still the best. The service at Half Moon restaurant is mediocre at best and the ambiance is quite ok-nothing interesting. The portion given is enough for you to share with your partner. There is a seating section in the restaurant for those who don't want to be seen. The pricing is cheaper than the one in Cyberjaya and costing around 13-17 ringgit.
The third best is the Arabic restaurant not far from the Kajang bus Terminal. The restaurant (3.5 star for food and 2 Star for service) is nestled among the furniture stores. It's the last shop house and open after 12 noon . The pricing is quite reasonable (RM 14-25). The portion given is not that much but more than enough to meet a one day food requirements of an Asian which is around 2000 calories.The restaurant is bare and lacking in Arabic features. It could be mistaken for a Malaysian restaurant except for its large signage on top of the shop house indicating that it is actually an Arabic restaurant.
Another nice Arabic restaurant ( Food 3.5 Star and 4 star in Service) is the one in section 7 of Bandar Baru Bangi. I don't remember the name but the restaurant is big and occupies the last block and its 3 storey high. The place is squeaky clean and looks like a real Arab restaurant with its ornamented cornice compared to the other inconspicuous restaurants that I mentioned earlier. During this holy Ramadan the restaurant offers a buffet at RM 40 per pax. The spread is reasonably wide in selection and most of them are meat dishes with some rice dishes with generous portion of various types of nuts spread on top of the rice dish as codiments. The desert section however lacks the typical Arab offerings but according to the owner he will prepare a better desert selection in the future.The rice used is not the extra long American grain but still the expensive Basmathi type.
Last but not least is the Arabic fare that is prepared by 'orang Melayu' at the Bandar Baru Bangi grand Blue Mosque ( Food 3 Star and Service 3 Star) in Section 9. The only drawback of the restaurant or more of a stall is that it is only opened on Friday after 11 am. It basically targets the worshippers for the Friday prayers. But one interesting thing about the place is that I even noticed a number of girls having their lunch there. They must have known that the dishes are delicious (RM 10 for chicken and RM 13 for lamb). Even though the dishes are prepared by Malaysians, it does not differ much from the real thing. The meat is very tender and delicious and immersed with a stronger aromatic smell of Arabic spices. The sambal is pefectly prepared according to the Malay taste buds and it tastes better that the usual Arabic fare. The owner started off selling the rice dishes using the extra long Arabic parboiled rice but later changed to the Basmathi type of late but with a reduction in price by a ringgit.