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The ZamZam Restaurant along North Bridge Road & the one in Kuala Lumpur

By Rigval on 11 Apr 2011

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One iconic landmark around Arab Street/North Bridge road aside from the Sultan Mosque is Singapore ZamZam Restaurant and its neighbour Victory Restaurant. Both Indian Muslim restaurants serve affordable cooked food like the roti prata, fried noodles, biryani rice and the murtabak. It is the last item that both restaurants are actually famous for, the Singapore styled murtabak. This is slightly different from the regular type of murtabak which usually has its ingredients (of egg, onions and minced beef) on the outside of the prata-type dough instead of being wrapped within it. Anyway, the ZamZam Restaurant has actually spread its wings outside of Singapore, with an outlet in downtown Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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If you're ever been to ZamZam or Victory Restaurant along North Bridge Road you'd find people driving up in their cars and stopping right in front of the restaurant to order the murtabak. You don't even have to get out of your cars and the waiters from both restaurants will take your order. Usually it takes less than five minutes for the take away order to be ready as the restaurants are basically cooking the murtabak non-stop. This is quite a motoring experience that most take for granted as its like a McDonald's drive through window, but it's not. Its something closer to home and more traditional in nature.

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And so if you drove down to Kuala Lumpur and headed to Tunku Abdul Rahman Road (Jalan TAR in short) you will also see a ZamZam Restaurant (located close to the famed Coliseum Cafe along the same road see the picture right above; the shop with the flags in the middle is the Coliseum Cafe/Hotel). This ZamZam Restaurant actually serves the same style of murtabak (in the larger sizes as if you ordered one in 'small', it isn't like the original unless you request it as such) and the taste is pretty similar too. We were there and asked the person manning to cashier whether it was the same people who owned the restaurant down in Singapore. A resounding 'yes' came up. But the experience isn't similar to the original as this was a slick modern styled establishment instead of the pre-war or 1950s styled shoplot which the original is located. The item that fully established the link with the original back in Singapore is the murtabak.

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The other item that tries to establish some heritage is the fake pre-war styled shop windows on the interior walls and a large print of the Sultan mosque in the 1950s. The whole outlook is a slicker, modern restaurant with the same sort of food. I suppose it is better as everything is more spacious and it looks cleaner than the traditional Indian Muslim food establishment. It's all about branding a product I suppose. Everyone seems to do that with Chinese styled 'Kopitiam' around Malaysia and Singapore so why not do the same with a long established Indian Muslim restaurant that serves something iconic like the Singapore Murtabak? Oh, check out how the Sultan Mosque looks like these days (if you haven't been in the area recently)

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Oh yes, unfortunately unlike the original where you can wait in your car up front while ordering your take away you cannot do that at the Kuala Lumpur ZamZam. This is because it shares a small drop off area with a budget hotel and Jalan TAR is right smack in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The roads are usually busy with traffic and it would be almost impossible to do the same sort of thing as you could on the quieter North Bridge Road.

So, if any of you are in Kuala Lumpur and have the urge for some 'proper' murtabak, you could head over to ZamZam along Jalan TAR. Actually you could also head over to Subang Jaya in Petaling Jaya too. There is also a Victory Restaurant selling the same stuff there too but it looks like any other 'mamak' shop without any photos or items linking it with the original. I've been there and the reason I knew there is a Victory restaurant there was because the chap who served me as I drove up in my car to take away some murtabak at the Victory at North Bridge Road said so.

So, there you have it. You now know that there is something of Singapore right smack in downtown Kuala Lumpur and you also know that the two Indian Muslim restaurants along North Bridge Road are actually one of the original 'fast food' drive through counters in Singapore. Writing this has made me hungry.

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Written by Rigval
Born in 1972. Married with a kid. Loves B-road drives and have driven cars from the 1950s to date.

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