THOSE who have tried banana-leaf lunches at Samy Restaurant in Chemor will declare it’s the best they ever had and it’s not surprising as the authentic home-styled curries and chutneys here are simply addictive.
Before making a beeline over to Samy however, it’s good to note two things to avoid disappointment. Firstly, the exterior of the restaurant along the busy Federal Road 1 passing Chemor is not bold so you could easily miss it and secondly, be prepared to wait in a queue for your table between 12noon and 2pm when it’s most busy.
The restaurants’ blue and yellow signboard may not be too conspicuous and neither does the rustic 1915 exterior of the building shouts for attention but once you step in, it is a pleasant surprise to see the large, clean interior with gleaming marbled floors and walls, where row after row of marbled seats and tables are often packed with diners from all racial background.
As you enter, be greeted by a bewildering sight of meat, poultry and seafood, prepared in various dry and wet South Indian styled curries, all neatly presented steaming hot in large earthenware.
Fried fish, curried fish, fish cutlets, prawn sambal, yellow squid curry, duck kurma, turkey, chicken and mutton made in both dry or wet curried styles, an assortment of vegetable dishes for a balanced vegetarian thali , curriedmangrove crabs, and even a choice of free ranging ‘kampung’ chicken dishes are available for lunch at Samy.
The fish and crab curries are highly recommended, and the prawn sambal is divine. Portions are large so if you are ready for a hearty and heavy lunch, dry mutton and chicken curries will leave you craving for more.
Complementing your meal are complementary ‘rasam’ which is an Indian herbal soup, and ‘payasom’, a thick sweet dessert made of milk, pumpkin, sago and flavoured with pandan (screwpine) leaves.
At Samy, meat and seafood is served in stainless steel bowls while your rice and vegetables are placed on banana leaves.
Many diners at Samy are regular customers from around Ipoh but there are also those from far who cannot resist checking the food out after recommendations from friends.
One diner, Hong King Chek, 68, said the restaurant not only offers plenty of options for curry lovers and dessert enthusiasts but also exhibits a high hygiene standard.
“As you walk in, you will notice how clean the premise and all its facilities are and I value their cleanliness most, apart from the delicious mutton curry,” he said with a chuckle, adding that the recipes here were passed down for three generations since the 50’s and has clearly marked its’ place in the people’s taste buds, hearts and memories.
Ong Beng Tat, 77, a former lawyer in Ipoh High Court whose love for the restaurant is over 20 years, said Samy’s food is affordable to middle class people in Malaysia.
“I have been bringing many of my local and foreign friends to this paradise for curry lovers and never once failed to see them satisfied and happy,” he said.
“I dare to claim this is the cleanest, neatest, most organised, and affordable Indian restaurant worth the money you pay for, in the whole of Malaysia,” Ong attested.
Samy restaurant is owned and managed by S.Sundram who inherits the family business and still holds the secret recipes for the dishes sered at his restaurant.
The restaurant was first started by his late grandfather Samy 66 years ago who later passed it down to his father before he took over.
“All our ingredients are sourced fresh from the wet markets around Chemor and luckily my dad didn’t forget to pass down the recipes to me,” he said.
“Our desserts are homemade as well, and we serve from 200 to 250 customers daily but there will be a beeline on weekends when we have about 400 customers,“ he added.
He vows to continue the legacy of serving the best curries, chutneys, Indian breakfasts, thalis, and Indian desserts that has captivated his diners and lured them to come back for more, over and over again.