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The Narra Filipino Resto Lounge, Petaling Jaya

Despite having a sizable community here, Filipino cuisine is still (imo) underappreciated in Malaysia. Unlike Thai or Indonesian restaurants, which are ubiquitous all over the country, Filipino restaurants are a bit more difficult to find, and their patrons are usually Filipinos, rather than Malaysians. There is one thing to be said about that, though – it usually means that these are the places that serve authentic food for those who crave a taste of home.

One of these restaurants is The Narra Filipino Resto Lounge, tucked within Dataran Millennium in Petaling Jaya. When searching for the best Filipino restaurants in KL, The Narra regularly tops the list – and for good reason. They have a wide variety of dishes from different parts of the Philippines, service is good, and prices and portions are fair. I’ve been here several times, and even celebrated a birthday here with the Hubs. Since my parents have never tried Filipino cuisine, I thought it’d be a good idea to bring them here for dinner on Sunday.

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The decor is pretty much the same from my previous visit: neat, with clean white tables and chairs, and a small stage where a live band performs on weekends. There is a display of baked goods and cakes at the counter, as well as a couple of shelves stocked with Filipino treats and canned goods. It was quiet during our visit, so we didn’t have to wait long for our food.

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Bro and Pops ordered Calamansi juice while I went for Gulaman, which is a syrupy sweet brown sugar drink with a jelly like substance, similar to cincau or agar. It was a tad too sweet even for me, so you might want to skip this if you don’t like sugary drinks.

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Of course, I had to get my favourite order, Sisig, consisting of chopped pig head with onions, chilli peppers, calamansi and egg, served on a sizzling hotplate. The parts of the pig’s head create a medley of interesting textures: you get the crunch from the cartilage, and soft and fatty bits from the jowls and cheeks. It’s definitely not a healthy dish, what with the fat and grease, but it’s oh-so-sinful.

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I usually come here alone, so I haven’t had the chance to try dishes like the Pininyahang Manok, which is chicken braised in coconut milk, pineapples, carrots, potatoes and bell peppers. My parents found the flavour ‘very odd’, but I liked it because it reminded me of Chinese-style buttermilk, albeit with a slightly sour aftertaste. Not a fan of bell peppers in general, but I don’t think the taste was very pronounced. The chicken was cooked well, and the carrots were done just right; soft without being mushy.

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Bro had Embosilog. The name comes from the dish’s three main components: Embotido (pork meatloaf), Sinangag (garlic fried rice) and Itlog (egg). Nipped a bit from his plate and was impressed. The fried rice was very fragrant and the meatloaf was tasty.

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Grilled pork intestines for sharing. I know some people will find it off-putting but I actually enjoy the slightly gamey smell 😛

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The chicken inasal (grilled chicken thigh) was humongous. Among all of the dishes, I think this was my least favourite. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t exceptional either.

PS: If you’re wondering why we didn’t order Filipino signatures like sinigang (a tamarind-based stew) and adobo (pork cooked in vinegar and soy sauce), it’s because my mom has intestinal and stomach problems, and she can’t take spicy, oily, or sour food. Which ruled out many options because a lot of Filipino dishes are sour, and some of the good ones are oily (lechon, crispy pata).

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Having been to the Philippines many times, I think I have a good grasp of Filipino flavours – but I think my parents found it quite foreign and unlike anything they had tasted before. My mom commented that the food takes some getting used to, while my brother said, “I’m not sure what to make of it. With Thai food or Malay food, you get a distinct flavour profile that is easily recognisable. But these dishes are hard to identify.”

They both make valid points. The Philippines has a unique culture, being the only country in Southeast Asia that was occupied by the Spanish for well over 400 years. The cuisine has strong Spanish and Latin influence, which is why you’ll find dishes like adobo, chiccharon, flan, picadillo and empanadas gracing the dinner table in Filipino and Latino homes. At the same time, it also has distinct Malay influences, as evidenced by the Pininyahang Manok we ordered, which uses coconut milk – a common ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking. There are also dishes like the kare-kare (beef tripe cooked in peanut butter, influenced by Indian cuisine), and lumpia (spring rolls, from Chinese culture).

For me personally, I like some dishes, and some other dishes not so much. The hubs says I blaspheme because I don’t like the taste of Choco Butternut, but hey, you can’t expect every single non-Malaysian to fall head over heels with nasi lemak, right? (although I have yet to meet someone who didn’t like nasi lemak, lol).

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The Narra also sells imported products from the Philippines, such as corned beef, banana ketchup (mom: WHAT?) and Mang Tomas (pork liver sauce).

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I usually get Piattos (they call it Jigs here in Malaysia – although it’s super difficult to find these days), but the restaurant was out of stock, so I got some Lucky Mee Pancit Canton to take home instead.

Our meal (plus my snacks) came up to about RM120. I think we went a bit overboard – could have made do with 3 dishes instead of four – but the price was fairly reasonable given the portions.

If you’re Malaysian and curious about how Filipino cuisine tastes like, The Narra is a good place to try authentic Filipino food. If you’re a Filipino residing in Malaysia, the dishes and the atmosphere (the servers sing Filipino songs while they go about their work, and the resto is always playing OPM) will surely remind you of home.

THE NARRA FILIPINO RESTO LOUNGE

G001 Dataran Millennium, Jalan 14/1, 46100 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: 10.30AM – 9.30PM (Saturdays 11.30PM)

Phone: 03-7498 1061

https://www.facebook.com/thenarraresto/

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Where To Get Filipino Food in KL: The Narra Filipino Resto Lounge, Dataran Millennium PJ

After coming back from Manila, there was a void of Filipino food that I needed to fill. Thankfully, there’s one near my workplace, so I dropped by for lunch one day.

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Despite having a significant Filipino population, there aren’t as many Filipino restaurants as there are Thai or Indonesian, two other large foreign communities in KL. They are, however, slowly but surely popping up. Located at Dataran Millennium, The Narra Filipino Resto Lounge takes up a corner lot of the commercial block, with high glass windows that allow for plenty of natural sunlight to filter in.

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The space is roomy, neat and cheerful. A lofty dark ceiling is paired with clean white chairs and tables. On one side, a counter laden with homemade pastries/cakes/desserts on display, while the other had shelves of products imported from the Philippines.

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If you come on weekend nights, there are live bands and performances to enjoy.

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Pancit Canton. I first tried this when N brought me some during his visit to KL. Addicted to the Chilimansi flavour! I also like how the noodle blocks are round instead of square-shaped lol.

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Piattos is love. The cheese flavoured ones are difficult to find in supermarkets, so I’m glad they sell this. Now I know where I can get them from whenever I’m craving it.

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Promotional posters.

And what did I have? Sisig. Again. Yes, my quota is way over the limit and I’m probably on my way to a heart attack but yeah. On a positive note (for my health at least), I won’t be having it for a couple of months.

The sisig here is decent, but after Razon’s, everything pales by comparison. The version at Narra wasn’t as finely chopped and they used a lot of onions; so it had a strong onion flavour which overpowered the pork. The sizzling bits were also a little too hard on the outside. Portion was quite large but price was reasonable. Didn’t manage to try anything else on the menu since I was dining alone but they have all the staples such as adobo, tapsilog, and more.

Service was friendly. Almost all of the customers were Filipinos.

THE NARRA 

G001 Dataran Millennium,, Jalan 14/1, 46100 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening hours: (Sun-Thurs) 11.30AM – 10PM, (Fri-Sat) 11.30AM – 12AM