Prior to visiting this place, I have often wondered what the "IR" stood for. There had been several reviews about this restaurant and the name itself kinda piqued my interest. So when I received an invitation from FBB and Poesy Liang for a review here, I took it upon myself to research it a bit.
As it turned out, "IR" simply stands for "Indonesian Restaurant" and the 1968 is the year it was established, in Hong Kong. With 2 outlets in Hongkong, they have been serving authentic Indonesian fare since 1968, with some Chinese influence. This was further elaborated by the suave and charming Hudson Chang, who owns the restaurant here in Terrace Hock Choon, Kuala Lumpur with his equally charming business partner, Debbie Goh. Born into the food business, Hudson spent almost his entire childhood in his parents' restaurant back then in Indonesia. Later they expanded their business to Hong Kong and now, Malaysia.
Nestled in the cosy enclave that is Terrace Hock Choon (which currently has 8 restaurants/bars/cafes), IR1968 is tastefully done. With bare rustic floors, painted wooden & rattan furniture and splashes of colours in the forms of cushions, table napkins, lanterns and walls, the place exudes a warm cheerful cosiness which is instantly likeable.
You can choose to dine al fresco at the terrace too - this would be a nice choice to chill out in the evenings.
Right after the little introduction by Hudson, we were served one of their top signature dishes - Semur Lidah (RM32).
Ox tongue - boiled for 8 hours and then braised in a sweetish slightly spicy sauce. There's a good reason why this dish remains as one of their top selling items - one bite into the tender tongue and you will definitely go for seconds and thirds! I didn't know the texture of ox tongue was so similar to beef itself - I had expected it to be something else. The almost beef-like texture and gorgeous taste of this Semur Lidah instantly elevated it to be the favourite that day.
Ayam Asam Kacang (RM22) came next. Chopped pieces of crunchily fried chicken sitting pretty on a sweet-sourish plum sauce with hints of nutty flavours. Dip them into the accompanying plate of chopped peanuts and you'll have a mouthful of crispy nutty chicken which screams "more more!"
Asam Fish (RM38) - fried fish fillets cooked in a spicy asam gravy with ladies' fingers, tomatoes, bombay onions topped with fragrant chinese parsley leaves. This dish will have you digging into your rice and more...
At this point, their Coconut Rice (RM5) served covered with a cone-shaped banana leaf was greeted with glee - just perfect to mop up the Asam Fish gravy. And if that is not enough, their wicked sambal would have you asking for more rice please!
Tofu Telur Goreng (RM18) - egg omelette with tofu (beancurd) pieces mixed in, served with shredded cucumber, carrots and beansprouts. Pour the sweetish-spicy peanut sauce over and you have a dish almost like the gado-gado. I can just eat this on its own.
Codfish in Special Sauce - this was a new item which is not on their menu yet. A succulent juicy piece of cod fillet, lightly battered & fried, served on a bed of sweet-sour sauce. This was redolently delicious! The portion served is for 1 person, I believe.
We were fortunate to be served another new dish - Prawns in Coconut ...(not in the menu yet)...
Fresh succulent prawns cooked in an aromatic tomyum-like soup in a coconut. You can get similar dish in seafood restaurants around here and IR 1968's version was done well - it had us clamouring for more rice - carbs overload!
Our fibre contributor in that meal came in the form of their Kailan in 2 Ways - this definitely was very strongly Chinese-influenced. Leaves deep-fried while the stalks were lightly saute'ed, thus retaining their fresh crunchiness.
Desserts weren't very impressive, though ... Fried Bananas or Pineapple with Es Krim (ice cream). The bananas fared better as the pineapple came from a can.
Their Es Cendol was kinda lack lustre - more gula melaka & thicker fresh santan would have helped. Perhaps their other desserts would have fared better?
Though the desserts didn't do much for me, this would be a good place to unwind, with some interesting Indochine cuisine. The warm chic cosiness of the place would probably make up for the above-average prices here.
Many thanks to FBB and Poesy Liang for orchestrating the brunch - had a great time catching up with everyone that day!
IR 1968 Indochine Restaurant & Bar
241-B Lorong Nibong
Off Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur