Thursday, November 17, 2016

Chengkih by Norman Musa @ Bangi Gateway

Bangi may be off the beaten path for many of us, but curiosity compelled us here to check out Chengkih, a contemporary Malaysian restaurant spearheaded by Norman Musa, a well-regarded chef who relocated to the UK more than a decade ago & launched a restaurant called Ning in Manchester. 

Staffed by a capably warm & welcoming team, Chengkih puts a playful, pretty spin on local fare, borrowing a few flourishes from elsewhere in Southeast Asia - crowd-pleasing starters for sharing include Gado-Gado Ikan Sepat, a can't-fail classic combo of lightly blanched crunchy vegetables with tempeh, tofu, potatoes, hard-boiled egg & house-made spicy-sweet peanut sauce, with salted perch for extra dynamics (RM15.90), & Itik Panggang Kertas Beras, featuring sliced grilled duck wrapped in rice paper with cucumber, carrots, lettuce & baby tomatoes, paired with punchy sesame-oil-tinged hoisin sauce (RM11.50).

Chengkih seemed to still be fine-tuning its menu when we visited, so the restaurant had not reached its complete potential: The Mee Sanggul Makanan Laut Berkuah was a hearty serving of egg noodles with prawns, calamari & clams, but the recipe would be better buoyed by chilli-tomato broth with more resonant nuances (RM29.90). A sense of effective subtleties was also a casualty in the beef showered in breadcrumbs & chopped water parsley - less textured & more one-dimensional in flavour than it sounds, done a disservice by potato wedges & ketchup (RM29.90), & the Chicken Kapitan, which might benefit from a fresher spice paste for richer depth & tangier complexities (RM21.50). The nasi lemak (RM4.50) wanted for fragrance, while the nasi ulam (RM5.90) could have had a keener balance of herbs. We're nitpicking, since most of the meal is easily edible (we still scooped up every spoonful of the Kapitan gravy), but Chengkih is capable of concocting food of a more potent calibre.

Expectations should also be tempered for the chocolate brownies, a bit too moist & mushy for our preference, with scant hint of the promised pandan dimensions, though the topping of kuaci & crushed pistachios is a pleasant touch (RM15.90), & the soya panna cotta, more tau fu fah in texture than Italian dessert, with its accompaniments of passionfruit & pomegranates undermined by Oreo chunks (RM15.90). Chengkih merits our respect for laudable ideas, but its execution requires tweaking - ditto for the drinks: Soul In Love (RM13.90; strawberries, apple juice, lemon juice, santan, Gula Melts coconut nectar, mint) & Cosmos Caudatas (RM13.90; ulam raja, pineapple juice, coconut nectar) both deserve more natural, uplifting refinements.

Chengkih by Norman Musa
Bangi Gateway Mall, Seksyen 15, Persiaran Pekeliling, Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor. Tues-Sun, 12pm-11pm

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  1. Quite artsy this place and the food presentation, though from your review, it did not quite hit the spot. Teething issues perhaps. Bangi is quite out of the way. I used to study at UKM, so Bangi is sort of familiar.

    1. Phong Hong: ya, i wonder if other customers feel the same way, or whether most customers are satisfied with the dishes here. it's very possible that other customers are totally cool with the food here ;) ooo ... i live maybe 30 mins from bangi, but this might only been my second or third time visiting the area! :)

  2. Curry looks good, and the noodles too. Hope they will work on it and improve.

    1. Suituapui: yup, they've done well for presentation. With some fine-tuning of the flavours, the food would be quite enjoyable ;)

  3. Bangi definitely an "UFO" for me, haha!

    1. Choi Yen: for me too! But it might be fun to explore the choices of food around the area :)

  4. Bangi is actually known as syurga makanan for Malay foodies, or just Malay folks in general. It's interesting to note Bangi is pretty much non-existent outside of the aforementioned community.