Pak Jen serves up traditional northern Malay cuisine in the heart of Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR: Gulai panas may be one of the most ubiquitous of Malay recipes, yet few chefs get it right. Slap on the northern-style tag to the gulai panas, and it would be almost impossible to find a version that satisfies your cravings in the Klang Valley.

Until you step into Pak Jen Gulai Panas Langkawi in Quill City Mall. Founded by two lads in their early 20s who have roots in Kedah, they have set their sights to introducing wholesome traditional northern Malay cooking to Kuala Lumpur.

Pak Jen Gulai Panas Langkawi

Pak Jen Gulai Panas Langkawi founders Tan Jen (left) and Safwan Bahari (2nd from left) with Guest of Honour, Chef Ismail Ahmad (left, in red) demonstrating how to cook gulai udang hangat.

Co-founder Safwan Bahari said they wanted to share Kedahan delicacies with Klang Valley residents, as many of the dishes are hard to find in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

“We grew up eating gulai panas, which is our version of what many call curry. Of course, there are many eateries selling gulai or curry but it is rather difficult to find a similar one in the Klang Valley that can compare to what’s offered up north,” said Safwan.

Pak Jen Gulai Panas Langkawi first opened its doors in December 2017, and some of the crowd favourites, aside from gulai panas, include itik golek and dendeng daging.

“The itik golek is a home recipe and you can hardly find it in restaurants. We use to eat it during special family occasions. Home cooked, of course,” said Safwan.

During lunch hour on weekdays, Pak Jen Gulai Panas Langkawi also has a wide spread for its nasi campur. Approximately 20 nasi campur dishes are available daily, and the food items are rotated to keep diners excited.

The Malay chefs at Pak Jen Gulai Panas Langkawi can whip up more than 70 dishes, including authentic Malay recipes cooked with premium wagyu beef. While wagyu beef is commonly associated with steakhouses, you would be hard pressed to find them served in a Malay restaurant.

Safwan’s family has been in the meat business for more than 10 years, and the wagyu comes directly from a sister farm in Margaret River, Western Australia.

“We are very particular about the quality of our ingredients. They must be fresh, they must be premium. We screen the produce very strictly, whether it is fish, chicken or vegetables. Our suppliers can vouch that we are not easy clients, and we want to thank them for always providing the best ingredients to us,” said co-founder Tan Jen.

The drinks menu has a list of signature drinks, including Cenang Ais, Coke Tarik and Lychee Mojito.

These drinks were concocted by Safwan and Tan.

Pak Jen

Pak Jen’s signature drinks – from left – Cenang Ais, Teh Ais and Lychee Mojito.

Safwan and Tan places great attention to detail to the menu, and even the tea leaves used for teh ais is not of the variety commonly found in eateries.

“If you are from up north, you would have grown up drinking a different type of tea. We won’t share our secret, but if you are a northerner, you will know,” said Tan.

Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur along the busy Jalan Sultan Ismail, Pak Jen Gulai Panas Langkawi is quickly becoming a popular venue among office workers.

“Like all Malaysians, the spirit of neighbourliness is entrenched in us. So staff and students of Universiti Kuala Lumpur, Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), EXIM Bank, SME Bank and Quill Group get a discount when they show us their staff or student card,” said Tan.

The dinner crowd is more varied, as families stream in to join the office crowd at Pak Jen Gulai Panas Langkawi for a wholesome and satisfying meal.

Pak Jen

VIPs, guests and customers flowing through the entrance of Pak Jen at Quill City Mall, Level 4.

Come make your gulai dreams come true at:

Pak Jen Gulai Panas Langkawi
Lot 4.02, Level 4, Quill City Mall
Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur

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