Mama Dessert, Damansara Uptown

June 29, 2019

More than 40 years ago, Madam Tay began running her own independent street stall, serving hawker fare that she taught herself to prepare. Since the 1970s, she has cooked for tens of thousands of Malaysians across the Klang Valley, moving from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, most recently setting up a nameless stall in Sri Gombak for five years.

Fast forward to 2019, Madam Tay's food - fuss-free warm meals and wallet-friendly sweet treats that she has perfected over four decades - is the cornerstone of a new restaurant in Damansara Uptown, founded on a matriarch's tireless work to feed her family, underscored by photos on the wall that pay homage to her personal history.

True to form in Damansara Uptown, the crowd peaks at lunch, when customers flock for midday specials (available 1130am until they're sold out), comprising rice with braised tofu and egg, complete with cherished classics like Herbal Chicken Leg (RM9.80; potently herbaceous, with an aromatic fragrance that alluringly permeates the fleshy meat) and Hakka Steamed Pork Belly With Yam (RM8.90; Chinese comfort food at its most moist, for sink-your-teeth-into-this succulence). These two temptations remain on the menu throughout the week, with other traditional offerings that channel homemade vibes like ginger duck (Monday-Wednesday) and stewed chicken with potatoes (Thursday-Saturday).

The lunch rice platters represent solid value for under RM10, but there are other even more affordable options, from snacks like rice cakes made textured and punchy with preserved radish (RM2.50), yam cakes that taste like genuine tuber, with morsels of cooked yam in each bite (RM2.50), both paired with a thick, moderately spicy sambal bilis and a light, kitchen-made sweet sauce, as well as fried tau pok, made addictive with a fluffy minced pork filling (RM1.50; limited amounts of this are made daily, so come early), to light meals like the economy mee hoon and economy mee siam with a tangy kick (RM2.50 per plate).

Despite her extensive experience, Madam Tay is still passionate about learning, consistently experimenting with and fine-tuning her creations, even studying techniques off YouTube. You'll find seasonal concoctions to keep patrons constantly engaged (such as hand-crafted dumplings for the recent Dragon Boat Festival), as well as other possibilities that'll pop up from time to time, like sambal petai udang and yong tau foo that's meticulously made, including foo chok stuffed with minced pork that's cooked with dried salted fish for a deeper burst of savouriness. Wash down with a daily-changing array of herbal tea (RM1.70; such as loh hon kor).

We've saved the sweetest for last: With a name like Mama Dessert, it's no surprise that a variety of tong sui is available all day long, from the soulful bubur cha cha (RM3.50; chunky with sweet potatoes and yam) to the spirit-lifting boiled peach gum with red dates and snow fungus (RM3.50; warm and collagen-rich). Those two are staples through the week, but you'll find other bowls rotated on selected days - ginger with sweet potatoes, red bean soup, and mak zuk wheat porridge on Mondays-Wednesdays, and green bean soup, black glutinous rice, and dried beancurd with gingko nuts on Thursdays-Saturdays.

Thanks to Mama Dessert for having us here.

Mama Dessert

19, Jalan SS21/56B, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Open Monday-Saturday, 730am-9pm. Tel: 016-232-5814

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