Grandma’s Restaurant

This eatery tucked away quietly in Orchard Parade Hotel is owned by the Akashi Group, which spawned concepts like Akashi Japanese Restaurant, Inakaya Robatayaki, Akashabu and White Dog Café. Although the name sounded a little dodgy, we dropped in here one weekend as we were ravenous. Note: A former chef from Madam Kwan’s (three-decade-old eatery in Kuala Lumpur famous for its nasi lemak) is now holding fort at Grandma’s, which serves local/Malaysian dishes and strangely, Western grub too. The place is cleanly furnished, with eager-beaver staff who did their best to answer our questions and provide interesting nuggets of information. We ordered the fish head assam curry and the nasi lemak, as well as the beef rendang and sotong served in black soy sauce. Expectations ran high for the first two dishes as they were signatures. But alas, we were disappointed. Don’t expect the customary spicy, slightly creamy, curry-like gravy for the fish head curry—this one comes with a light, very sour assam broth without much kick that reinforced our love of the localized version of the dish. For the price, the fish head was also rather paltry and (heaven forbid!) extremely fishy, especially once the dish grew cold. The nasi lemak was serviceable—think slathered-with-gravy chicken, meat floss, sambal ikan bilis and sambal egg. While the rice was fragrant and tasty, the combo of sambal egg and sambal ikan bilis bored us quickly as they blended too easily. Thankfully, the beef rendang was flavorful, tender and juicy. The sotong was slightly tough and had too much onion slivers and too little sotong. The portions remained on the small side for all dishes. To lift up this ho-hum experience we ordered desserts, but only the Fudgy Wudgy chocolate milkshake brought a grin to our faces. The cendol, drowned in a mountain of shaved ice and rock-hard attap chee (palm seeds), was also a letdown. The selling point here is obviously the Malaysian style of cooking. But the food failed to impress us. There are tons of local hawker stalls selling excellent Malay food—so we’d be hard pressed to see why anyone would pay such prices for similar dishes when they can get way better quality at a fraction of the price. We’ll stick to our grandma’s cooking, thank you.