PETALING JAYA, Nov 12 — Like any Malaysian, I look forward to our numerous celebrations — whether it’s Deepavali or Hari Raya — for that rare opportunity to relish home-cooked food at my friends’ open houses.
When I first visited Lontong & Such, I discovered that their food was rich with flavour. Even better, the hospitality offered at this no-frills eatery was warm and comforting just like being in a friend’s home.
Started in October this year, Lontong & Such is a venture by a trio of food lovers: couple Azlan Aziz and Nor Azizah Abdul Karim (Azie), and their friend Shazniza Shamsuddin (Shaz).
They have a close knit relationship from working together previously. Azlan worked in Hilton KL, Legend Hotel and TV3. He also worked in London as a wedding planner for a hotel while Azie was studying there for five years.
Azlan and Shaz are involved full-time at the eatery while Azie helps out on weekends as she has a job in recruitment.
Their food ambitions started about a year ago with Azlan and Azie’s home-based brand, Ooga Ooga Food Industries. “When it was first formed, we had a dream to make cinnamon rolls as big as Auntie Anne’s pretzels as it was special to Azlan,” explained Azie.
She further elaborated that Azlan was taught the basic cinnamon roll recipe by her mother. Through his own innovation, he came up with different toppings for them.
Aside from baking, they also make savoury items such as roast beef or roast lamb and Yorkshire puddings, depending on customers’ requests. Azie is also well known for her shepherd’s pie.
When an opportunity came to open up their own eatery at Selera Wawasan in SS3, they took it since they also live around the area.
They decided to select lontong as their main dish. “We picked it because we’re Javanese. I grew up with lontong and I’m a lontong addict who will search high and low for the dish,” said Azlan.
Prior to opening, he also conducted a due diligence exercise to scout out the other eateries and realised there weren’t many around the PJ area that sold good lontong.
Azlan adds, “As a resident of SS3, I had this lightbulb moment, why don’t we open a lontong stall?”
It’s not limited to just lontong though as the signboard reads, “& Such” which allows the trio to showcase their specialties.
On a daily basis, you get lontong, nasi lemak, and their English big breakfast. Depending on the availability of ripe bananas, there is also lempeng, a type of pancake that is traditionally served in Johor.
It’s during the weekends that you will see them ramping things up. So far, they have introduced their soto ayam, duck rendang (which is Shaz’s specialty), pilau rice etc.
It’s not limited to just local fare, as they have also made lamb aglio olio pasta, roast lamb, Yorkshire pudding and Azie’s famed shepherd’s pie. There’s no fixed schedule for these weekend specials so pop by and be surprised!
Every day — except Friday — you have a choice of lontong with various toppings. The basic version starts from RM5 onwards. If you can’t decide, opt for the lontong power (RM9.50) that has three types of toppings: paru or cow’s lungs, chicken and sotong.
Here, their sayur lodeh has an unusual orange hue as it’s an amalgamation of the couple’s Javanese heritage. Since Azie’s family is from Selangor and Azlan’s from Batu Pahat, their lontong recipes differ.
For Azie’s family recipe, the sayur lodeh is yellow in colour while Azlan’s family’s version is white in colour. His family also adds a secret rempah to the sayur lodeh which he has adopted for his version.
Azlan prides himself on his high standards for lontong. He adds, “I have a certain benchmark which is my mother’s version.”
He tells us that his lontong has nine ingredients such as tempeh, fuchok, sambal, kuah kacang and serunding kelapa. Even the sotong used is not the dried kind as they prefer using fresh cuttlefish that tastes better.
All the ingredients give the dish different textures so mix them all together and enjoy... which we did thoroughly.
They also recently changed an ingredient, replacing nasi impit or compressed rice with proper lontong or boiled rice in a banana leaf parcel secured with a stick.
The slightly green tinged boiled rice is painstakingly prepared by Azlan’s relative; it’s a laborious task that requires many hours.
So far, their best seller is the English big breakfast — sausages with baked eggs, your choice of eggs (scrambled, omelette or sunny side-up), tomatoes and mushrooms. It fills you up for a very reasonable price of RM8 which is the draw factor for this satisfying meal.
Azlan adds his own unique touch with his own bread which he calls Roti Jawa that is toasted and served on the side. One of his regulars will always order this for his breakfast so Azlan starts prepping it the moment he sees him approaching his stall.
On weekends, don’t miss the superb soto ayam, another amazing recipe from the family vault. Azlan tells us that his family traditionally serves soto ayam for Hari Raya Puasa while lontong is reserved for Hari Raya Haji celebrations.
On its own — the broth made with chicken bones and all kinds of spices — is robust and addictive. Azlan explains that his mother’s version is similar to a clear consommé since she puts the spices in a bag and just allows it to infuse the broth.
The version served here is Azie’s mother’s recipe where the broth is mixed with the spices and boiled. This gives it a cloudier look but adds depth to the broth which Azlan prefers.
We do agree that it’s the right move as that delicious, fragrant broth had us slurping it down to the last drop. Stir in a dollop of their chilli kicap — a mix of chillies and dark soy sauce — and it takes the broth to a different level.
The fragrant broth is paired with their own-made nasi impit that yields a softer bite. Accompanying it is the unusual bergedil nicknamed Angry Bird as Azlan has added a quail’s egg in the middle of the soft potato cutlet.
The bowl is also filled with a generous handful of fried vermicelli, shallot crisps and daun sup or Chinese parsley leaves. The fried vermicelli is inspired by a similar soto that Azie and Azlan ate in Tanjung Karang, Kuala Selangor where hot broth is poured over the crispy strands.
The other weekend special is Azie’s pride and joy: pilau rice with lamb curry. It’s a dish she learned how to make in London. She tells us that she got the recipe for the fluffy pilau rice studded with dried apricots and cashew nuts by asking the Pakistanis who cooked this dish there. It’s paired with a thick fragrant lamb curry and a refreshing yoghurt salad with cucumbers and onions.
Look out for their lempeng, a soft pancake made with mashed bananas, which is also very good. It’s usually available when they can get ripe bananas. Azlan tells us when people sample the pancakes, they always tell him, it tastes just like how their mother made it.
He got the recipe from his mother who inherited the recipe from her own mother. When he was taught the recipe, his mother would just use a handful of ingredients. He took the time to weigh each ingredient, making sure he can replicate that same taste again and again.
“It needs ripe bananas to make it sweeter,” explains Azlan who usually uses pisang berangan. He also uses brown sugar to give it a nice caramelised taste. At the eatery, they serve the soft sweet tasting pancakes with steamed grated fresh coconut.
As they just opened, most of their customers have been their network of friends. One devoted admirer of their lontong is five-year-old Luth Rahman Nizam who calls himself “Lontong Boy.”
His mother, Linawati Adnan, tells us that the whole family will come from Ampang just for their weekend meals. The energetic boy only approves of three spots for his breakfast treat: his grandmother’s, this place and another spot near his home in Ampang.
And as a gesture of their hospitality, they also provide a small quantity of free drinks for diners at their eatery... so help yourself to coffee, tea and water.
By the way, the eatery also does catering but you need to place your order at least a day or two in advance.
Lontong & Such
Lot No. 21
Open: 7.30am to 2.30pm
Closed on Fridays