There is a saying that one must continuously innovate to stay at the top of the game. It is no different for the highly competitive food industry, or more specifically, the banana leaf and biryani rice restaurant industry.
Most would imagine that banana leaf rice is prepared using a steamer and briyani in a claypot. As it turns out however, there are two other ways to prepare briyani: by cooking the rice and accompaniments in a hollowed-out coconut or bamboo.
Two restaurants that have decided to strike out by using these unconventional methods of preparing briyani in order to stand out from the crowd are located in Subang Jaya and Petaling Jaya respectively.
According to a scrawled notice on a chalkboard in Tengga Briyani, Subang Jaya, they are the “original coconut briyani” restaurant. “Tengga” means coconut in Tamil.
On the other hand, having the Petaling Jaya restaurant name itself after its speciality dish makes Bamboo Briyani a more self-explanatory establishment.
Even with the help of GPS navigation, Tengga Briyani is easy to miss as there is no signboard. In fact, at the time of writing, the signboard of the previous tenant has yet to be replaced.
In contrast, Bamboo Briyani’s bold blue signboard is on prominent display and is impossible to miss.
The aesthetics of Tengga Briyani somewhat resemble a retro coffee shop whereas Bamboo Briyani’s ambience is similar to that of a typical Mamak restaurant.
Both establishments are suitable for children and family gatherings, with sufficient space between tables. In terms of overall hygiene and staff friendliness, they can be considered to be on par with each other as the waiters will attend to you as soon as you enter.
Tengga Briyani is slower than Bamboo Briyani in terms of service and food preparation. Furthermore, they do not have a menu with which to see the complete selection of dishes and drinks, as well as to compare prices.
Bamboo Briyani has a wider variety of proteins ranging from chicken and mutton to prawn and fish along with choices of curry, while Tengga Briyani seems to serve only chicken and mutton.
In addition, Bamboo Briyani also has more choices of beverage including watermelon and lemon tea, whereas Tengga Briyani has a selection of canned soft drinks is in their fridge plus a glass of coconut water which is on the house. It should be mentioned however that the coconut water might come off as somewhat diluted.
Tengga Briyani is incapable of suggesting recommended menu items as the selection itself is quite limited, but Bamboo Briyani recommends the mutton and prawn which are both good. However, Tengga Briyani’s mutton has a higher meat to bone ratio as compared to Bamboo Briyani’s.
The portion of vegetables served in both restaurants is the same, but Tengga Briyani serves a few more spoonfuls of briyani rice than Bamboo Briyani. A serving at Tengga Briyani with its free coconut drink costs RM21.30 whereas a serving at Bamboo Briyani ranges from RM 15.00 for its chicken briyani to RM 25.00 for its turkey briyani.
And yet, in all honesty, despite their unconventional methods, the briyani cooked by both restaurants taste about the same as those cooked using claypots and steamers. Their alleged selling points are just gimmicks after all.
It is nearly impossible to find a parking space near both establishments during lunch hour. Fortunately, there are parking complexes about 5 minutes’ walk from both shops. There are no wheelchair ramps at either entrance.
To sum it up, the tastes, prices and level of accessibility do not differ very much between the two establishments, but Bamboo Briyani serves a much wider range of meats, curry and drink choices.
Perhaps Tengga Briyani ought to be shown some clemency due to their recent move to their current Subang Jaya location, but it does not make for a good first impression when they begin operations without proper signboards, menus and the means to print receipts for their customers.