We had arrived early at Ana Patin House, determined to beat the lunch crowd and find parking. It’s unexpectedly busy in this part of Mutiara Damansara in Petaling Jaya, and we are surprised by the number of Malay restaurants in this neighbourhood. All seem to be worth visiting.
But we are at Ana Patin House for the Ikan Patin. There was a choice — we could have the farm- reared Patin Temerloh Masak Tempoyak or the wild- caught Patin Buah “Original”.
My friend Ivy decides. We will have one Patin tail each, the farmed one, from the huge pot of tempoyak fish curry at the entrance of the restaurant. “I’m not going to share mine with you,” she declared. It says on the pot “Patin Temerloh Masak Tempoyak RM13”. That sounds reasonable.
I understood why Ivy didn’t want to share her fish with me when I started peeling the smooth, firm flesh off the main bone, soaked in the delicious sweet and sour tempoyak curry, with faint hints of fermented durian lifted by the fragrance of turmeric leaves (daun kunyit). There was turmeric in the curry as well. The Patin, which is from Pahang, tasted so fresh, without any mud taste which is frequently associated with farm-reared fish.
I love anything that’s durian and that includes tempoyak. I put a large dollop of it on my plate, together with daun raja, a small bittergourd and four- angled beans. The zesty , sweet tempoyak stirred with sambal set off quivering sensations on my palate. Wow! I couldn’t resist taking home a few tubs of these after our lunch. These lasted in the fridge for two weeks.
On another occasion when I dined here, we had the wild-caught Patin Buah (from the Pahang River). There is a difference of course from the farmed Patin, both in flavour and texture. This wild fish was tender and smooth, with a fresh sweetness. A Patin tail cost us RM41. The price ranges from RM35 to RM45. There are other styles of cooking the fish on request. You could have it deep fried, but who would want a fresh fish deepfried?
Other varieties of fish from Pahang are available here too, such as the Ikan Kelah and Ikan Kerai.
You are spoilt for choice for Malay dishes here too — from balitong to crab curry, ikan asam pedas, sambal terong, daging dendeng, fried fish smothered in green chilli sambal and fried chicken among 40 dishes available daily.
I have yet to try the sambal hitam, a Pahang specialty that has chillies, belimbing bulu and ikan bilis in it. The colour comes from the small, tart belimbing boiled with salt till black.
For dessert, the tapai or fermented glutinous rice on the table, wrapped in rubber tree leaves, is irresistible. It’s lightly sweet, tingly and refreshing. Puding Raja Pahang
Ana Patin House is at 50-1 Jalan PJU 7/16 Mutiara Damansara 47800 Petaling Jaya, Tel: 03-7733 7377.