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By Wilfred Pilo
KUCHING, Sept 28: The bustling Medan Selera Telaga Air is a must-see destination and a paradise for food lovers in search of tasty and affordable seafood.
Vendors at the food centre take advantage of their strategic location and relatively easy access to seafood freshly harvested from the bountiful waters of the South China Sea.
Located by the riverine village of Telaga Air, the food centre is a 30 minute-drive from Kuching City. It’s a journey many city residents consider worthwhile as what awaits visitors upon arrival are some of the tastiest seafood dishes one can find.
There are many vendors at the Telaga Air food centre, each with its own unique take on bringing out the best flavours of nature’s bounty. Among the eateries operating there is R&R Family Cafe.
The eatery has a buffet-style layout and offers seafood cook with the finest condiments that will please even the most fussy of eaters.
This writer, who patronised the eatery recently, found that the cafe’s seafood is not only delectable but affordable.
Seafood lovers who patronise the eatery will likely have big smiles when settling their bill after a hefty meal.
The cafe is owned and managed by Ramdi Saimon, who has operated the eatery at the food centre for eight years.
Ramdi revealed he has been in the seafood and culinary business for many years, and he knows well what seafood lovers want in their meals.
The cafe specialises in Malaysia-style seafood styled with a twist to suit local palates.
“Our seafood has to be savoury, and it must be sweet, salty, bitter, slightly hot and spicy in flavour,” he told this writer, pointing out that locals don’t go for food which tastes too hot and spicy.
He added that there must be consistency in quality, as tasty dishes will bring customers back for more.
“The assurance in the consistency of taste comes from the aromatic smell from the pot that cooks it,” he said.
He noted that the seafood served at the food centre are wallet-friendly compared to those served at many restaurants in the city.
“Apart from a tasty meal, customers want value for money. The best way is to serve them a buffet-style meal. That is what the eateries here do.
“In this way, customers can pick and choose what they want to eat,” he added.
Customers may opt to order for the ala carte menu, but Ramdi suggested they make a reservation before coming to his eatery so that he can prepare the dishes for them.
He said paying attention to a special request is crucial so that customers are satisfied, and that if customers like the food they are served, they will come regularly.
Ramdi revealed that he had entertained customers from West Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and China who have different taste palates.
He related an experience where a Taiwanese customer would come to eat his lobster dish regularly as the visitor liked the way how the seafood was prepared.
R&R Family Cafe routinely prepares more than 20 dishes daily to meet popular demand.
Their dishes, among others, include Crispy Deep-fried Squid, Battered Prawns, Spicy Tomato Sauce Prawns, Battered Crab, Sweet and Sour Fish, local vegetables and many more.
“Prawns are a popular seafood dish, so we prepare many different types of prawn dishes to suit customers’ taste,” said Ramdi, adding that this includes giant freshwater prawns.
He also revealed that local vegetable dishes served at the face include savoury brinjal, bamboo shoots, wild ferns (paku and midin), the sweet, tender heart of the palm tree (umbut), and young jackfruit.
He noted vegetables cooked in coconut milk with prawn paste and chillies are popular among locals.
Ramdi disclosed that preparing more than 20 dishes daily including seafood dishes is not an easy task, and that he places his faith in the food preparation skills of his wife, Rathni Bolhan.
“My wife knows what to do in the kitchen, and she has help from our family members. I will not interfere with her expertise.
“She is the captain, so she decides on all the preparations, the ingredients in the dishes and the management of the kitchen,” he said.
Ramdi said that he and his fellow food vendors at Medan Selera Telaga Air were happy to serve customers and hoped for more public support.
“Most importantly, we can serve and provide scrumptious dishes for patrons, and Telaga Air can be their regular destination for seafood,” he said.
R&R Family Cafe is open daily from 8am to 5pm except on Wednesdays. For inquiries, call 016-872 7371. — DayakDaily