Posted By

Tags

Authentic Malaysian Cuisine in Wellington!


Istana Malaysia Restaurant, Wellington (Photo Supplied)

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like” – Mark Twain.

New Zealanders who yearn for Southeast Asian cuisine, especially Malaysian food need not look further than the 28-year-old restaurant: Istana Malaysia Restaurant, located at 1 Allen St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011, New Zealand.

Indian Newslink had the privilege of visiting the restaurant and speaking to the owners. Istana Malaysia Restaurant was established on Malaysia’s national day – 31 August 1994 in Wellington. Istana is a Malay word that translates to Royal Palace. “Here we treat our customers as royalty and we source and buy the best ingredients and serve freshly prepared dishes,” said Baskameri Arulandu the owner of the restaurant. The restaurant boasts 634 reviews and a 4.5-star rating out of 5 on TripAdvisor together with numerous positive feedback.

Istana Malaysia Restaurant’s Menu

Beef Rendang (Photo: supplied)

Istana Malaysia Restaurant’s menu is divided into two sections: lunch and dinner. “We serve dishes that range from hot, spicy, vegan, vegetarian and Halal Malaysian cuisine and the menu caters to most dietary requirements,” said Baskemeri’s husband Danny Arulandu. Danny is also the owner and head chef of the restaurant. Danny honed his cooking skills from his experience working in the Equatorial Hotel in Malaysia and the Park Royal Hotel (the current Intercontinental Hotel) kitchens.

Istana Malaysia Restaurant customers’ favourites include beef Rendang (tender beef marinated in herbs and spices and cooked in a coconut base), Mee Goreng (wok-fried noodles that can be made vegetarian or with chicken or seafood), Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Roti Canai (Indian flatbread that can be served with Dhal, lamb or chicken curry), Murtabak (stuffed Indian flatbread), Char Kway Teow (wok-fried flat rice noodles), Fried Beehoon (wok-fried rice- noodles), satay (marinated chicken or beef or lamb skewered and cooked over a grill) and Lamb Korma (lamb cooked in spices, almonds, cashews, coconut and yoghurt), to name a few.

Chicken and Lamb Satay (Photo Supplied)

Other dishes include Chicken Curry, Chicken Sambal, Lamb Curry, Nasi Lemak, Fish Curry, Laksa, Dhal Curry, Mixed Vegetable Curry, and many more.

Their Sago Pubbing Gula Malacca (tapioca pearls topped with palm sugar and coconut cream) and Banana Roti (Indian flatbread stuffed with bananas and topped with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream) are sought-after desserts.

The Arulandus

Danny & Baskameri Arulandu with their three daughters: Adeline Shallani, Abigail Shantine and Abbekah Sharmini

Danny Arulandu was working at the Equatorial Hotel in Malaysia in 1989, the year he took a holiday to New Zealand. A chef friend of his brought him to Park Royal Hotel where he was offered a job as head chef in the cold kitchen. “When he called me and told me he has gotten a job in New Zealand, I said no way am I moving to New Zealand,” said Baskameri. “I was working as a lab technician in Malaysia, and I already had two kids aged 3 and 2 and I did not want to leave my family and support system in Malaysia and come. I continued to stay in Malaysia but after a month of separation, we decided that it is best that we keep the family unit of parents and children intact. I remember how I used to cry for the first two years yearning to go back home and be with family and friends. 33 years ago, there were more sheep than people in Wellington! Shops will all be closed by 4 pm and I felt lonely. But I slowly built my network and looking back, I don’t regret moving to New Zealand,” said Baskameri.

Entrepreneurial Expedition

Five years after moving to New Zealand, Danny decided to start a restaurant that serves Malaysian cuisine and opened the Istana Malaysia Restaurant in 1994. “I am happy that he decided to start this business,” said Baskameri. She says that she is a people person, and this job allows her to connect with her local community.

“We have three generations of customers coming to our restaurant. Customers call us uncle and aunty,” said Baskameri. She speaks of how her customers invite her to their family functions and pride in how they are able to build an intimate rapport with them. One of the waiters in the restaurant serving was the son of her long-time customer. Baskameri said that her part-time weekend staff are usually her customers’ children.

“I enjoy working with my husband,” she added. When asked if Danny would reciprocate that same feeling, he candidly said “that’s not a question to be asked in front of my wife.’ The duo said working together has strengthened their bond and are grateful for the support that they find in each other.

The secret to running a successful restaurant business

Istana Malaysia Restaurant serves about 180 customers on a busy day and about 60 on a normal day for each service.

Interior of Istana Malaysia Restaurant (Photo: supplied)

Istana Malaysia Restaurant has kept their pricing fairly reasonable. “33 years ago, our Roti Canai was priced at $3 and today it costs only $4,” said Baskameri. “The Mee Goreng was priced at $17.90 then and now it costs $20.50, “said Baskameri.

Baskemari said entrepreneurs should embark on the restaurant business. She said that the secret to the success of a restaurant business lies in buying fresh produce and maintaining the taste of the food. She said that there should be no compromise on the quality of food.

Istana Malaysia Restaurant operates from Tuesday to Sunday, and they are open from noon to 2.30 pm for their lunch service and 5 pm to 11 pm for the dinner services.

Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink correspondentbased in Auckland.

Share this story

Related Stories

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Indian Newslink

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement