Asian food enthusiast have little to complain in Rotterdam. Yet, there was still something missing for a long while: almost all of the Asian kitchen were represented in our city, but there was no restaurant with Malaysian food yet. This changed half a year ago, when Kampong Express opened its doors and sinced then serves us the best food from the Malaysian kitchen!
When entering Kampong Express, you see dozens of golden Chinese lucky cats waiving at you from all corners of the restaurant. One wall is completely covered with the iconic cats, very instagrammable! The cat wall draws so much attention that Kampong Express in its bio on instagram directly refers to the interior designer that made this major attraction: CK Chiu of www.nukiworld.com.
The designer covered other walls with Chinese newspapers – look for our own president! – and posters with ladies in traditional clothing. The cheerfull stools were hand-painted with Chinese signs and Asian styled figures. And don’t forget to take a look at the Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling! These have been waiting to get used for almost 20 years, as they were originally brought from China as decoration for the restaurant of the parents of owner Gloria Wong.
Because Gloria isn’t the only one in her family who wants the Dutch people to taste the traditional Asian kitchen. She was already introduced to the food hospitality business at an early age at her parent’s restaurant at Rotterdam-Zuid. No wonder Gloria got homesick for the Netherlands ánd the traditional Malaysian kitchen of her parents at her glamourous job as a stewardess in Abu Dabi. She decided to come back to Rotterdam and open her own restaurant with help of her parents. Her parents had already sold their restaurant and saw it as the perfect ending of their career to help their daughter opening her own Malaysian eatery.
So Kampong Express opened half a year ago at the Gouvernestraat, a side street of the West-Kruiskade. Here Gloria’s parents prepare the best dishes with their authentic family recipes. Gloria explains us that the Malaysian kitchen is a melting pot of the Chinese kitchen and that of the many immigrants from China and India. The dish Hainan Chicken Rice for example originates from the Chinese province Hainan, but cannot be find there anymore nowadays, while it has become a Malaysian classic. Gloria’s grandparents come from China as well, so the typical Chinese influences in the Malaysian kitchen are represented at Kampong Express as well.
We have two Malaysian classics: Nasi Lemak (rice with chicken, fried anchovy and home-made anchovy sambal) and Laksa (a coconut soup with fish balls and noodles). That must be completed with some drinks of course and at Kampong Express you just have to try the traditional Asian coconut drinks Tjendol and Kampong Rolls. Gloria tells us that we cannot leave without trying some of their Rendang as well, created with their own family recipe, as this is by far the most popular dish since the opening day of Kampong Express.
We are not sure where to put it, but the green Kueh Dadar – home-made pancakes of pandan with grated coconut and palm sugar – is winking at us from the showcase. One to share then. As a big fan of the Asian kitchen – but still unknown with the Malaysian one – we are indulging all the food! And we understand right away why Kampong Express owes so many regulars to her Rendang.
The menu is now limited to a few classics, but Kampong Express is busy expanding both menu and restaurant. Gloria tells us that she wanted to start her eatery on a small scale with the option to expend it slowly. As the restaurant was a big success from its start, expansion is already on its way! The Asian and certainly the Malaysian kitchen has much to offer to vegetarians and vegans, so Gloria is planning to put some dishes on her menu for especially those guests.
The eatery itself needs some expansion as well, as it soon appeared to small for the growing number of guests. While we enjoy our Nasi Lemak and Laksa, we see many visitors leaving the small restaurant a bit disappointed, as the eatery has only a limited amount of seats. But don’t worry: even if the eatery has no seat for you anymore, you can take the delicious dishes home with you. Or to make it even more easier: you can have it delivered at home by UberEats or Deliveroo!
Of course we prefer having our Nasi Lemak and pandan pancakes sitting between the waiving lucky cats. So Kampong Express will expend before the end of the year to the neighbouring building. And what about the iconic cat wall then? It will definitely stay, Gloria assures us.
Address: Gouvernestraat 2B
Opening hours: Wednesday – Thursday: 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM| Friday – Saturday: 12:00 PM – 9:00 PM | Sunday: 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM