Biryani rice has been described as a dish fit for a king. Ewe Paik Leong samples biryani rice served in restaurants in the Klang Valley
1. RESTORAN BERIANI ASIF, JALAN WALTER GRENIER, KUALA LUMPUR
Tastefully-furnished, this air-conditioned restaurant is located in an area where parking is a nightmare.
Ten varieties of biryani are listed on its menu. When my chicken biryani is delivered to my table, its tantalising aroma wafts about my face.
Some mouthfuls of the fluffy rice are smothered by the aroma of caramelised onions; a few others by the floral burst of cilantro.
Marinated with garam masala and other spices, the chicken pieces fall off their bones with only a nudge of the fork. Rating: 5/5
2. HYDERABAD BRIYANI HOUSE, JALAN BERHALA, BRICKFIELDS, KL
Daily, chicken and egg biryani are sold in this no-frills restaurant, and they are supplemented by vegetable and mutton biryani on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
My chicken biryani comes after a long wait. Some of the long-grained fluffy rice are white while some are saffron.
While it’s first-class, the foreign workers falter in service, so I can’t award full marks. Rating: 4.5/5
3. HYDERABAD RECIPES, JALAN PUTRA, KL
This restaurant offers the culinary hits of Moghul fare. It serves eight types of biryani: fish, egg, prawn, chicken, mutton, tava, keema and dum ka murgh.
A bowl of yogurt accompanies my chicken biryani. Slightly spicier compared to several others in this list, the fragrant aroma of the tri-colour rice can deodorise a patron with body odour!
It is also fairly fluffy. The juicy chicken is a happy marriage of time-consuming marinating and perfect cooking. Rating: 4.5/5
4. MAK CIK BIRYANI, LEVEL 1, WESTERN COURTYARD, THE CURVE, PJ.
Several types of biryani are available such as vegetable, mutton, chicken, beef, egg and prawn.
There are also side dishes of meat and seafood cooked in different styles. My chicken biryani consists of basmati rice and two pieces of chicken.
The tender chicken is densely coated with spices and sends a pleasant jolt to my tongue. The rice holds together without being claggy and seems to be heavy on cardamom, clove and cinnamon. However, its herbaceous aromatics score can be improved. Rating: 4/5
5. JM BARIANI HOUSE, JALAN PRIMA SG 3/1, TAMAN SRI GOMBAK, BATU CAVES
This is one of several branches of the Johor-style biryani eatery headquartered in Subang Jaya. Choices include fried chicken, roast chicken, ayam masak merah, beef, mutton and lamb.
The basmati rice is perfectly fluffy and every individual grain is coated with fragrant herbs and spices bloomed in oil.
Two orbs of sour cherries turbo-charge the rice. However, the chicken stumbles slightly. The spicing is rather flat, not vibrant and lively. Rating: 4/5
6. KOVAI SPICE, JALAN SS 3/39, PJ
The table tops of this restaurant are decorated with black-and-white photos of scenes from India.
Menu listings include rice, naan, South Indian and tandoori dishes. My biryani is served in a metal pot with a hard-boiled egg on top, with the chicken drumstick tucked beneath the saffron rice.
The basmati rice unfurls with the aromas of cardamon, cinnamon and coriander with every bite. The near-fiery chicken is culinary manna to spice-seekers. Rating: 3.5/5
7. RESTORAN MAHBUB, LORONG ARA KIRI 1, BANGSAR, KL
Don’t be intimidated by the restaurant’s location in Bangsar as its prices are affordable. The varieties of biryani listed on its menu are honey chicken, fried chicken, curry chicken, kurma chicken, majura chicken, mutton, beef and fish.
I try the honey chicken. The first bite of the chicken unleashes a slight sweetish-spicy crunch which my taste-buds love. Second chomp on a spoonful of the rice rewards me with a pleasant but not compelling taste as its aromatics falter. Rating: 3.5/5
8. BIG SINGH CHAPATI, JALAN SS 15/5A, SUBANG JAYA
Expect furnishings to be spick-and-span as this is a new kid on the block. The a la carte menu lists many tandoori dishes, including salads and desserts.
Under “Briyani”, there are vegetable dum, chicken dum and mutton dum. When my chicken dum arrives, I am taken aback as the rice looks oily. My first mouthful of the rice reveals that it is moist, soft and oily, and the spices blur each other out. Maybe this is the kitchen’s original recipe but it does not tango well with my taste buds. However, the chicken is very delicious. Rating: 3/5
9. RESTORAN TAJUDIN NASI BERIANI, JALAN HANG KASTURI, KL
In this rather stuffy, albeit air-conditioned, restaurant, fried chicken, mutton curry, squid, quail, prawns, acar and vegetables are displayed in aluminum trays. Customers pick what they want and pay later at the counter. I come at 1.30pm and am disappointed that the plate of biryani served to me is cold. Ditto for the fairly flavoursome chicken. The price is cheap but since you get what you pay, standard rice is used, not basmati. This restaurant seems to be popular with immigrant workers. Rating: 3/5
10. RESTORAN INSAF BARU, JALAN TUANKU ABDUL RAHMAN, KL
This eatery has been around since the 1970s and is now under a new management. A motley array of dishes is listed on its menu, ranging from biryani to otak goreng, kambing Mysore and murtabak ayam.
I order acar to go with my chicken biryani. Though the acar is of acceptable standard, the spice-flecked rice is only two notches better than coloured steamed rice. The recipe can be improved to produce a more robust-flavoured biryani rice. Rating: 3/5