Legen Indian Fusion Restaurant
Pictures by Gisele Soo
SeeFoon is served a King’s Banquet
When you have been the personal chef to the Sultan of Brunei for 10 years, you develop a certain savoir faire in all culinary styles, and whether you’re cooking Western or Asian or Fusion, your skills are bound to dazzle.
And bedazzled they are, as customers who step into Legen Indian Fusion Restaurant, the ‘new kid on the block’ in Old Town, will find themselves.
Bright and sparkling clean, the ambiance is wholesome, with female serving staff in shimmering saris adding sparkle to the place. Along the right wall, a long table is fully loaded with tureen after tureen, all warming over tea lights. More than 20 dishes are on offer every day, with the menu choice changing on a daily rotating basis.
Partner owners Gopi Subramaniam and Executive Chef S. Balachandran are out front greeting guests, with Gopi seating people and Bala explaining the display on the buffet table.
I was initially hesitant to go out to eat from a buffet especially during the CMCO, knowing how people tend to linger over the open dishes on display and chat away, providing ample opportunities for droplets to land on the food. But upon arriving at the restaurant, my fears were quickly assuaged as all the dishes were covered, clearly labelled and all I had to do was to select the items as a service person would follow me, take my order and serve them at my table.
Bala, who decided to return to his hometown of Ipoh after his long service with the Sultan of Brunei, has always nurtured a desire to operate his own restaurant, and this became a reality when he teamed up with Gopi. Bala brings with him extensive culinary experience, having worked in multiple locations including Melbourne as well as a stint as the principal of Crew Skills International College.
The lunch offerings at Legen are Malaysian-style South Indian with most dishes changing daily. Dinner is a la carte, which Bala describes as Indian-Western fusion. Of this ‘fusion’ dinner menu, I only tasted the Lamb Shawarma Wrap with vegetables which was tasty, the lamb tender and well marinated. Great for takeaways. RM12.
On the buffet table the day I was there, there was such a plethora of choices that I was at a loss as to where to begin and what to order. So I decided to order small portions of delectables and since we were four, we could all taste a wide range.
Also, the prices for many small portions were so incredibly reasonable that it seemed a shame not to try them all! (Not that we did….all 20 was a bit on the wild side!!)
Rice, both white and parboiled, is available on the buffet—but the one I chose was the Vegetarian Biryani (RM5). This biryani was so tasty, I didn’t even need nor want any of the gravy that came with other dishes. All others at my table agreed with me, and without MSG, as boldly stated on the wall above the display, this was certainly one tasty dish. The basmati rice was fluffy, extremely tasty and now as I sit here at my desk, I find myself salivating at the taste memory and wishing I had a large bowl of it in front of me. If it’s a Chicken Biryani (RM14) or a Mutton one (RM16) you’d like instead, just call ahead and they’ll prepare it for you. For me, I’d rather just stick to the vegetarian version and eat it with all the other goodies.
I shall just list all the small portions that I ordered from the buffet with their prices. Obviously, the more dishes you order, the more the meal price will rise, but the prices per portion were unbelievably reasonable. And for those on a budget, rice, two vegs and a serving of meat can come in for less than RM10.
Salted Fish with Sweet Turnip (sengkuang) was crunchy and unusual to find on an Indian table. A lovely departure from the usual vegetables, RM3. Chicken Varuval (RM4), one of Bala’s specialities, and Fried Bitter Gourd (RM2) were both my favourites.
Egg Sambal (RM2) was tasty with a tinge of brown sugar; Chicken Sambal (RM4) in a style similar to Ayam Masak Merah was a tad on the sweet side and probably appeals to the Malaysian palate; while the Brinjal Sambal was quite fiery at RM2 per portion.
Traditional Spinach was tangy, while the Palak Paneer with homemade cottage cheese was yummy, though again on the sweet side. Both are priced at RM2.
I loved the Dhal which went so well with the vegetarian biryani, and of course no Indian meal can be complete without Raita—yoghurt with onions, chillies and surprise, surprise, red beans.
Rasam, the de rigueur tangy soup which one can sip slowly throughout the meal or after as the individual wishes, and which serves as a digestive of sorts, was made from homeground spices and was one of the few dishes that had no addition of sugar.
As a special treat, indulge in their homemade Almond Kulfi, a velvety smooth ice cream-like dessert made from milk and given texture with crunchy almonds, yummilicious at RM7. It also comes as Mango Kulfi, milk and mango pulp combined into a creamy texture with the smoothest mouthfeel. RM5.
In general, all the items on the buffet table were well-nuanced and delectable. An appeal to Chef Bala might be to go easy with the addition of sugar, as sugar-averse diners like myself— while appreciating that no MSG is used in the cooking—feel that no sugar is needed for most of the dishes. Let the spices do the talking.
With the very reasonable pricing and skilled spicing, this buffet at Legen is well worth patronizing.
*Legen Indian Fusion Restaurant is pork-free
12B, Jalan Sultan Yusof, 30000 Ipoh, Perak
11am-10pm, opens daily
Buffet available until 3pm; a la carte menu available from 6.30pm onwards
*Takeaways available for buffet menu
*Takeaways and deliveries available via foodpanda and GrabFood