KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — I am amazed how Selera Mawar Utara has remained hidden from many food lovers.
This place just off Jalan Kuching is a wonderland of Malay kampung style dishes. What grabs your attention is how it's beautifully laid out in an Instagram-worthy buffet.
Once you finish being awed by its display or taken a million photos for your social media accounts, join the queue for a plate of rice, which is next to the cashier counter.
I like how the buffet spread has its own section, separated from the dining area.
You select your food items from a buffet spread of 'ulam', sauces, grilled items and cooked dishes.
'Ulam' lovers will be spoiled for choice as you can pick what you like from 'ulam raja', four angled beans, bittergourd, grilled eggplant and even the rarely seen cashew leaves.
You will find various sized plates and bowls next to the utensils counter, so help yourself to those. I saw families piling up grilled items on their plates.
The star is their ikan bakar, grilled over hot coals. It's a rare sight as most stalls opt to grill on a hot plate with a gas fire. That method is less messy but somehow, grilling it over charcoal gives it a nice, smoky taste.
If you prefer the hot plate cooking method, just down the road from Selera Mawar Utara is Ikan Bakar Banjir. There they use a gas fire to grill and the food is "flooded" with their sambal to infuse it with taste.
There's ikan tilapia, ikan keli, ikan kembung, ikan siakap and ikan cencaru stuffed with sambal. What's strange is you don't get any ikan pari in the spread. You can also get grilled Chicken Maryland.
Various grilled fishes, grilled chicken and the 'ulam' can be paired with the different sauces like 'air asam', 'budu', 'kerabu mangga', 'kicap manis' and more.
The fish is lightly marinated with turmeric and grilled over a charcoal fire (left). Tilapia fish is available and can be shared with family and friends (right).
'Ikan keli' or cat fish may not look appealing but the flesh when grilled has a creamy consistency (left). The 'ayam bakar' is juicy and delicious on its own or dipped with a sauce (right).
There's also 'ikan cencaru' stuffed with 'sambal' for those who crave this (left). You can scoop up clams in a separate bowl to eat with your plate of rice (right).
Indulge in fish eggs once in a while (left). There's also prawns cooked with tomatoes, chillies and vegetables (right).
I tried the bergedil or potato cutlets which were huge bites of mashed potatoes. There was a delicious bean curd and tempe dish tossed in a sweet sauce that one can't stop eating.
Don't forget to look for the stove too. On the stove, there will be two pots of deliciousness boiling away. Everyone flocks here to grab a bowl of the clear chicken soup or take away a packet home. It's sweet and tasty as an abundance of chicken feet is used with vegetables.
Next to it, you get their gulai kawah and this is even more delicious with the curry and tender pieces of cow's lungs. They mix up the mixture of meat and spare parts for the gulai kawah but the day I visited, it was just paru.
Once you settle down with your food, you can order the drinks. They will come over to write down the prices on a piece of paper and just use that to pay for your meal at the counter afterwards.
Everyone's favourite is this chicken feet soup with vegetables that you scoop yourself from the pot.
As the soup is boiled with so many chicken feet, it's sweet and tasty with vegetables (left). Scoop up from the pot, this delicious 'gulai kawah' with various parts of 'paru' or cow's lungs and long beans (right).
If you love 'paru', they also do the fried version (left). There's various vegetables like pumpkin or this bitter gourd dish with a crunchier texture (right)
Another important thing not to be missed is their dessert. This is available in a separate counter where you get an assortment of sweet broths or bubur.
On everyone's table is their leng chee kang — topped with canned fruits, basil seeds and toasted peanuts. It's not overly sweet and very refreshing.
I also liked the pengat pisang as the bananas are well cooked to a soft sweetness. The broth is not too thick but rich enough as they add a scoop of coconut milk before serving it.
Another must eat here is their steamed tapioca dessert. The tapioca is steamed, cut into tiny pieces and tossed with freshly grated coconut mixed with sugar and salt. Delicious!
Pick up what you like to make a plate for lunch with 'ayam bakar', 'pajeri nenas', cashew leaves 'ulam' and beancurd fried with 'tempe'.
Another highlight is the various 'bubur' or sweet broths (left). Order the 'leng chee kang' which is made from various canned fruits, basil seeds, raisins and toasted peanuts for crunch (right).
They offer this unusual, tasty steamed tapioca cubed and tossed with grated coconut, sugar and a dash of salt.
The place gets incredibly crowded during lunch time. On weekends, there are queues of people waiting for a table.
Just outside the eatery, there are various stalls selling different things. If you visit during the weekend, make a beeline for the goreng pisang stall.
It's incredibly good as they use the small, sweet bananas coated in a light, crispy batter. They also have the slightly sourish type of bananas if you want and their deep fried sweet potato is also great.
'Pengat pisang' is also excellent with soft, sweet bananas in coconut milk and sago pearls.
The lunch crowd is crazy during the weekend so be patient to get your food.
A queue of people going into the eatery to look for seats.
Prices are reasonable here. For my ikan keli, it was RM7 while the ayam bakar was RM8. They look at the quantity taken and adjust the pricing accordingly. For instance, a small bowl of chicken soup is RM1 while my small bowl of gulai kawah was RM2.
Selera Mawar Utama, No. 1, Jalan Jambu 3, Off Jalan Kuching, Kuala Lumpur. Open: 11.30am to 4.30pm. Closed on Friday. Tel:+6017-6367147. Facebook: @Selera-Mawar-Utara-Ikan-Bakar/100040299673892/