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Located in a relatively quiet stretch near to the watering holes of Changkat Bukit Bintang, Bijan sits majestically in a beautiful bungalow with plenty of indoor seating and a large, open patio, which also serves as a potential event venue. The interior of the restaurant is spacious without being impersonal, perfect for romantic nights out and yet able to cater to large parties of guests. The warm lighting casts a soft glow throughout the restaurant, allowing diners to feast in relaxed comfort, while contemporary art pieces adorning the walls provide a modern edge. The patio, on the other hand, is surrounded by lush greens and is reminiscent of dining in the lush tropical forests.
A firm favourite to commence the meal is the aneka pembuka selera, a delightful assortment of appetisers consisting of fried spring rolls, prawn fritters, tofu with pickles and steamed beef parcels that give diners a tasty preview of the meal to come.
Being a Malay restaurant, Bijan offers an impressive variety of meat, seafood, poultry and vegetable dishes, all of which are impeccable paired with rice. From the meat selection, the rusuk panggang, chargrilled, marinated Australian beef ribs, is fall-off-the-bone tender and deeply flavoured with earthy spices. An alternative to this is the opor rusuk, the same beef ribs slow-cooked in thick coconut gravy.
The sotong sambal hijau is one of the highlights from a choice of seafood dishes, and is a celebration of squid cooked simply but beautifully with a zesty green sambal. Diners can also go for the ikan siakap sos asam, a deep-fried seabass served with tamarind and peanut sauces; the sweetness of the fish comes through without being overpowered by the tangy sauces that is served alongside.
A small assortment of poultry dishes is available, and the ayam percik is a perfect representative; the succulent grilled chicken is paired with a luscious spiced coconut sauce.
As in important element to balance the meal, vegetables are given the unpretentious but flavoursome treatment here. A standout is the pucuk paku goreng tahi minyak, which despite its rather unappealing name, is a gorgeous stir-fried blend of wild ferns, chillies and generous amounts of shrimp.
From the dessert menu, customers can pick from a wonderful array of sweets. The classic sago gula Melaka stays true to its roots; the loose and softly chewy sago pudding sits in lush coconut cream and a gula Melaka syrup that is not overly sweet. The decadent chocolate durian cake, layers of creamy durian flesh and chocolate cake covered in a velvety chocolate ganache, is pleasantly balanced with neither ingredient overwhelming the other. The pandan pudding, meanwhile, is a mild, fragrant pudding infused with pandan and finished with lashings of gula Melaka syrup; an ideal way to end a stunning meal.
It is interesting that Bijan offers a decent wine menu, given that it is a Malay restaurant and that patrons normally do not associate such cuisine with alcohol. Bijan’s wine list offers an assortment of Old and New World, and while not exhaustive in choice, is good for wonderful pairings with the food menu. The staff are well-versed enough for basic recommendations, and expect to see labels from the more well-known wine producing regions. Several choices of wine by glass are also available, giving diners the flexibility to sample the few types of wines on offer.
Enthusiastic greetings at the restaurant entrance sets the tone for the restaurant’s service; the pride in which the servers take in their jobs underline the foundation of the service levels here; generous, friendly and sincere. The staff are never far away and are always available to respond to requests promptly, often with a genuine smile. Possessing an in-depth knowledge of the menu and the cuisine in general, the staff are great with recommendations and portion sizes. The plates are also changed quite regularly, which is not quite the standard in Malay restaurants. There is never an idle moment for the staff as they will be busy ensuring water glasses stay filled when they are not serving food or attending to other patron needs.
Prices in Bijan are affordable, given the quality of the service, the food and the ambience; appetisers have an average price of RM20 per dish, while meats, seafood and poultry are mostly priced within the RM80 mark. Portions are fairly large, in the spirit of Malay generosity, and is great for sharing amongst parties of three or four. On the dessert menu, nothing costs more than RM20. A very good meal will cost below RM200 per person with a glass of wine, which is very good value.