About Zenith Restaurant

WHEN she became a Muslim some 20 years ago, Haslinda Sim Abdullah had no problems adjusting to a new way of life except for one aspect food. She couldn´t find a Chinese restaurant that catered to Muslims. So Haslinda had little choice but to cook the food herself, more so when she got married and started to raise a family.

She became very good at it and eventually, her husband suggested that she take over the Zenith Restaurant when its owner had trouble making it profitable. She agreed as she wanted to share the joys of Chinese food with fellow converts and her Muslim friends but was nevertheless anxious.

After all, she could only cook Chinese and she worried about whether the largely Malay Muslim market would find Chinese food acceptable though all the ingredients were halal. So she started with quite a lot of Malay dishes, interjecting a few Chinese dishes here and there to test the market.

Later, she says, when she decided to switch to all Chinese dishes (except for a few items like nasi goreng kampung), the number of customers grew and many of them kept coming back.

Their praises for her cooking gave her the much-needed confidence and she began to expand on the menu.

Today, the no-frills but airconditioned restaurant has gained a reputation that Muslims in Kuala Lumpur and even as far away as Rawang and Seremban come to when they get a craving for Chinese cuisine.

She also attracted the Chinese Muslim community who were now glad they could eat out and enjoy halal Chinese food.

These days, with her clientele growing, she´s roped in a proper Chinese chef from a major Chinese restaurant chain of restaurants, to help her cope with the vast amount of cooking.

“A lot of Malay customers don´t really know what to order when it comes to Chinese food, so I have to be there all the time to make recommendations,” says Haslinda. Some regulars never bother with the menu anymore, preferring to happily let Haslinda take charge of their meal. Now she is in the process of coming up with a picture menu that will help her customers decide better.

Lunch time sees a good crowd who come in for the chap fan � the pay-for-what- you -take Chinese coffeshop buffet. Haslinda offers only eight to 10 dishes there are vegetables, fish, tofu, eggs, chicken � all cooked Chinese-style.

“I think I´m the only one offering chap fun in this area. The rest are mostly mamak shops. Many office workers come in for a quick bite.

With chap fun, they don´t have to think about what to order and many don´t have the time for a leisurely meal,” she says.

But I notice that many of her customers do pick up items from her a la carte menu. These range from quick single- serve meals like noodles and fried rice to more elaborate dishes to go with rice.

A set lunch of meat or fish with rice and a fruit juice costs only RM6.50.


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