Monday, 18 February 2013
Lao and Thai Food at Tam Zabb in Taman Nusa Bestari, Johor Bahru (Restaurant is Closed)
I am a big fan of catfish and had wanted to come back for Tam Zabb Lao and Thai Restaurant's Thai styled BBQ catfish. I am so very glad that I did, today. We had BBQ catfish and lots more. After today's sumptuous lunch, I like the food at Tam Zabb even more now than before.
After settling down at the clean and comfortable, contemporary styled restaurant we went through the extensive menu and made our orders. While waiting for our food, I heard the rhythmic music of wooden pestle and mortar, and dashed to where the sweet sound was coming from.
That's when I caught this picture of Aphinya, the lady boss and Executive Chef, making the Som Tum fruit salad.
This traditional Thai appetiser is a complex blend of tangy, sweet, bitter, spicy and savoury flavours from the jumble of diced fruits such as guava, green apple, chili, strawberry, lime, pineapple, peanuts, dried shrimps and fish sauce. A serving of Som Tum for 2-3 people costs RM15.
Next came the BBQ catfish, the main reason why I am back at Tam Zabb. It was certainly well worth the trip.
This may just be an ordinary catfish, anyone can buy from the market but it was so skilfully grilled, the transformation was amazing.
The thin skin of the catfish was crisp almost like dry, wrinkled parchment while the white, slightly oily flesh was still soft and juicy.
The tender catfish was eaten by dipping it in this tangy, spicy and savoury sauce. At RM10, I thought this nicely done BBQ catfish was value for money.
We then had Tam Zabb's popular Fried Fish with Chili (at RM22).
The large Tilapia fish was deep fried and then pan fried again in chili based gravy.
Again, the fish was very well executed. The outside was crispy while the thick white meat was still soft and moist. The fiery looking chili gravy was actually only mildly spicy.
Benny, the boss suggested we try the popular Thai dish Kho Moo Yang or pork neck salad at RM16 per serving.
The pork from the neck area was grilled over very slow fire, thinly sliced, and then tossed in a tangy and spicy sauce. The resulting meat was tender, naturally sweet, spicy and had a bouncy, delightful "QQ" mouth feel. That thick attached layer of fat did not make me feel congested or bloated at all. The grilled pork neck was simply excellent.
Aphinya, the lady boss, told us that they have another of version of grilled pork neck served without the spicy sauce. I want to come back and try that :)
Of course, we had the obligatory, iconic Thai pineapple rice (RM15). At Tam Zabb, the rice was served in a standing hollowed out pineapple instead of the usual style of it laying on its side. I thought this style kept the moisture in better than the usual style in Johor and Singapore.
Tam Zabb's pineapple rice (RM15) was the northeastern version without the turmeric which we often see here in Johor and Singapore. The flavours were also milder. The fried rice served with diced capsicum, pineapple, carrots, raisins, cashew nuts, chicken and shrimps was fluffy and not greasy.
We wrapped up our lunch with grilled banana dessert served with a sweet sauce made with Thai sea coconut palm sugar.
At Tam Zabb, they used a mix of local and Thai bananas for this dessert. The local bananas were sweeter, soft and mushy while the Thai ones were firmer, less sweet and slightly fibrous. Using both bananas gave this dessert an interesting mix of flavours and textures.
We enjoyed our lunch at Tam Zabb very much and expect to be back regularly. We like the clean and neat environment, easy accessibility and parking, attentive service, reasonable pricing, and the authentic, MSG free, traditional Lao and Thai food was excellent.
Read about our first visit to Tam Zabb by clicking on the picture below.
Restaurant name: Restoran Tam Zabb Lao and Thai
Address: 48G, Jalan Bestari 3/2, Taman Nusa Bestari, Johor Bahru
Map: http://goo.gl/maps/QBa4W (rough)
GPS 1.481964,103.666407 (rough)
Hours: 11:00am to 11:00pm (Closed in Tuesday)