Back again for Indonesian food

When Florence, my foodie friend, said we were going to lunch at a new place, she decided to spring a surprise and deliberately did not say where we were going and for what food.
                      
Henny Lumintang [Right] and her husband, Jason Antoney,
serving Indonesian specialties and cream cakes at
Mampir Lagi in Taman Pelangi, Johor Baru
I’m used to her surprises so I just went along with the plan.  We arrive at a familiar area in Taman Pelangi where there are plenty of food options and I follow her lead to walk to that café.  I may have missed seeing the signboard but tucked along the row of shops was a cosy café named Mampir Lagi.
           
As my eyes adjust to the lighting within, I see a young lady coming out to welcome us.  

I take a moment to recognise our Lombok-born friend, Henny Lumintang and I’m pleasantly surprised to see her teamed up with her husband, Jason Antoney, to serve homemade Indonesian favourites in a small but interesting and affordable menu.

Facade of Mampir Lagi cafe 
Her family is already enjoying Henny’s cooking at home and when their 11-year old daughter commented (with conviction!) that customers would surely mampir lagi after they taste mum’s cooking, it inspired them to name their café, “Mampir Lagi,” a Javanese expression for “come again!”

True to their daughter’s words, Mampir Lagi is serving regulars who are coming back again and again to enjoy quick lunches and set meals for dinner.

Quick Lunches

I’m amused at Henny’s habit of lapsing into Bahasa Indonesia when she’s excited so I try to keep up with what she’s saying as she introduces the menu to us.  

Everything sounds mouth-watering and I’m more than ready to savour a salad of Gado-Gado (RM10) with a main course of Ayam Penyet (RM10) which comes with white rice.  When she said Sayur Asam (RM9.50), a tangy tamarind based soup, is also popular, I had to give it a try.

A serving of Gado-Gado
A glance at the food served at nearby tables gives me a hint of popular picks like Nasi Uduk (RM8.50) the Indonesian equivalent of nasi lemak, served with a piece of fried chicken, boiled egg, sambal belacan and prawn crackers.

While their signature Nasi Goreng (RM10) is a favourite fried-rice choice, the Mixed Rice (RM12) platter is a full meal of white rice with Ayam Pelecing, a Lombok specialty, egg curry, stir-fried long-beans, a stick of fish satay, prawn crackers and a side of clear chicken soup.

As Henny heads into the kitchen, Jason, who happens to be a chef trained in French cuisine, tells me about how he’s applying his experience in the Food & Beverage industry to give discerning diners a comfortable dining experience with value-for-money meals, quality cakes and coffee.  

Check out the sambal terasi [Centre] that comes with
a serving of Ayam Penyet
Speaking of Henny’s home-baked cakes, my eyes zero in on the range of freshly-baked cakes in the chiller and I make a mental note to save some space for this!

When our lunch is served, Florence and I share the portion so that we can taste each dish and decide which is most agreeable.  For a while there is silence because we seemed to fall upon the food with such hunger.  When I taste a dollop of the sambal terasi (belacan) with a bite of the smashed (penyet) chicken, my eyes fly wide with wonder because there is a distinct fire about this spicy condiment.  But it tastes so good that I shamelessly ask for a top-up!

Set Meals

A set meal comes with a choice of dishes with the
main item, Ikan Goreng, a deep-fried fish, that should
be savoured with two types of exciting sauces
I see from the menu that from 6pm on Friday and Saturday, Mampir Lagi serves set dinners for four people, in three menu choices.  The sets are designed for guests’ convenience but there is also an ala carte menu to select dishes to savour with or without rice.

While I’m thinking of coming again for dinner, I notice that a set meal is being served at a nearby table at lunch time.  Intrigued and somewhat curious, I ask Jason about what those guests are having.  He quickly explains that while set meals are planned for weekend dinners, the café is ready to accommodate requests for lunch, particularly from their regulars!

Appetizing Sayur Asam, a tangy tamarind-based soup
The main dish served in Set A (RM78) and Set C (RM80) is Ikan Goreng (RM46) a whole red snapper, marinated in seven herbs and spices before being deep-fried to a crunchy crisp.  The fish is served with a side of sambal belacan and a dip of sweet dark sauce filled with chopped chilli and shallots.

Fans of Beef Rendang and fried chicken will enjoy Set B (RM65) served along with tahu tempe and a sambal belacan dip.  Sets A and C come with Sayur Asam or clear chicken soup, a super thick 5-egg omelet, a meat dish of chicken rendang or in another preparation, steamed white rice and iced tea.  

Cream Cakes

Red Velvet cake is among the popular cake picks
I watch as meals are efficiently served so that guests can enjoy their lunch and round off with a slice of cake and fresh brew of Cagliari Italian coffee (RM8) or tea (RM6.50) – and return to their office in good time.

I don’t need much persuasion to indulge in dessert but I’m spoilt for choice.  While Henny bakes and decorates whole cakes on orders for special celebrations, the café always has a range of cakes and pastries including popular picks like Red Velvet (RM9.50), Rich Chocolate Fudge (RM8.90), Strawberry Tart (RM8.50) and Carrot Cake (8.90).

A weekly special of Mee Ayam with a side of soup
When Florence helped to decide on a slice of Carrot Cake, I must say it’s a good choice as I can taste the fragrance of ground cinnamon with every creamy bite.  Our order for Crème Brulee (RM7) came after as it took a few minutes to brown and melt the sugar into a crispy top layer.

Since discovering the delightful menu at Mampir Lagi, I’ve been back – several times – with my family to savour the set dinners and enjoy their delicious cakes.  I also discovered their weekly specials like Mee Ayam, chicken noodles with a side of clear chicken soup or Gulai Kambing with white rice.

Armed with a Polaroid camera, Jason is having fun snapping shots of satisfied guests and decorating the café with them.  From the photos posted on the wall, one can see who often mampir lagi, so don’t be surprised to spot me among them!

WHERE        
Mampir Lagi café (Halal-sourced ingredients)
40 Jalan Pingai
Taman Pelangi
80400 Johor Baru, Johor
Tel: 607 - 3365568

OPENING HOURS
Daily 11am to 9pm

GETTING THERE
Easy access to Jalan Pingai, an adjacent road that links Jalan Sri Pelangi and Jalan Kuning in Taman Pelangi.  The café faces the side of Giant Hypermarket in Taman Pelangi.

WHAT’S COOKING
Indonesian cuisine, cream cakes and good coffee

MUST TRY
Nasi Uduk, Ayam Penyet, Sayur Asam, Ikan Goreng, Gado-Gado and a range of cakes

YOU’LL PAY
No service and GST charges
    
ATMOSPHERE
Casual dining cafe

FACILITIES
Disabled-friendly
Child’s high chair
No smoking
No pets
No alcohol
No credit card facilities

THE LOO
Modern toilet          

SERVICE
English-speaking staff

OVERALL VERDICT
Go give it a try

A version of this was published in The New Straits Times, Life & Times on 7 November 2016

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