Manado cooking is set to make its mark in Malaysia, thanks to this red-hot new restaurant that specialises in fiery fare from the capital city of Indonesia's North Sulawesi province.
Roa by Jovian Mandagie in Shah Alam is the first F&B enterprise by popular fashion designer Jovian Mandagie, whose family's roots stretch back to Manado. This is a restaurant with a reassuringly personal touch in everything from the food to the keepsakes that form part of the shaded alfresco setting.
Worth heading all the way to Shah Alam for? If you're a fan of every sort of Southeast Asian gastronomic tradition, then yes; the food here is distinctive, pretty rich with herbs & spices; as a bonus, the restaurant's manager, Hasnidah, is wonderfully warm & helpful, enabling customers to enjoy their time here.
Many of these are recipes that Mandagie's grandmother once served at a shop in Jakarta; fish is a big deal at Roa - which means garfish - with numerous dishes dedicated to finny fare, from 'cakalang saos,' smoked skipjack tuna vibrantly cooked with a sambal of chillies, shallots & garlic (this serving costs slightly south of RM10) ...
... to 'mie cakalang' (RM8.50), comprising noodles with fish & fried spring onions ...
... to 'sup asam' that's tangy with tomatoes & lime, a clear broth made complete with meaty chunks of fish ...
... to 'ikan bakar,' tender & prepared to order, served whole on the plate ...
... to the restaurant's namesake garfish, fried in morsels with rice & 'ayam rica-rica,' another spicy creation cooked with coconut oil & lemongrass (RM10 for this plate).
Don't skip the 'ayam tuturuga,' a savoury-sourish coconut milk curry with chicken & creamy potatoes.
Vegetables are not an afterthought here; we like the kangkung & other 'rica rado' varieties stir-fried with sweet corn ...
... to pleasurably soft eggplant with fluffy egg (note though, Roa's food is for folks who don't fear obvious oil on their plates).
Old-school 'kuih' to wrap up a memorable meal - 'kukus kelapa' (coconut tart) & glutinous rice filled with fish flakes.
Papaya & lemongrass beverages to help us cool down; 'es teler' mixed fruit beverages are available too.
We enjoyed Roa by Jovian Mandagie, especially since we're all in favour of wider culinary diversity - while Sundanese & Minangkabau cooking might be more familiar in Malaysia, Manadonese fare deserves to take its place alongside its peers.
Roa by Jovian Mandagie is open daily, 8am through midnight - the most convenient business hours imaginable.
Roa by Jovian Mandagie
1A, Jalan Kristal K/7K, Section 7, Shah Alam
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