"Food, art and bicycle loving action..."
Inspired by business combinations in international stores, founders Fadli Hj Rosli and Halyza Halim sought no time to combine three things they loved most – riding, art, and good food. Grafa began as a fixed gear lifestyle store and design studio, with a small café at the side. Only recently did they expand the café into a full-blown designer restaurant. "This is a place where people can come and forget that they're in Subang," said Fadli.
Taking the combo inspiration further they teamed up with Williams (the all time popular foodie hangout in Kelana Jaya) for inspiration and a helping hand, so Grafa Café was born. Recipes are the same to give the familiar quality of good cuisine, but the cafe does have their own special stuff! The result is a funky restaurant with a menu that boasts both local and mixed cuisine in plus size portions. Perfect for a chilled out food loving session.
From lunch to supper, Grafa Café is usually buzzing with friendly conversations and acoustic music. Food here comes in generous portions and the menu offerings are promising. They have a range of western grill items like house specialty Grafamama’s Grilled Lamb Chop, served with creamy white gravy, mint sauce, with a side of mashed potatoes. It comes as two pieces of lamb, tender and light, a portion big enough for two people to share. The mashed potatoes can be a little clumpy but nevertheless tasty. The Chicken Chop offers a crunchy chicken breast with a deliciously thick black pepper sauce on the side.
There's also the Boyfriend Steak Sandwich, a messy, meaty meal of steak strips, chicken ham slices, with cheese and onions. The steak strips are marinated to a fine flavour of barbecue and are very soft to eat. Together with light, crispy onion rings, this dish makes for a tasty appetizer.
Try too the Nasi Goreng Ketam. It’s an aromatic serving of spicy seafood, a taste as familiar as tom yam. The rice is a little zesty and goes nicely with the soft shell crabs, though the whole dish may a little hot for some. Each mouthful is a flavourful trip, and will definitely fill an empty stomach. More »
"Super-famous buttermilk chicken..."
College students are perpetually on a budget. Sharing money to fill up petrol, ordering air suam at the mamak, counting change at the copy shop to print out assignments. So what’s a collegiate foodie to do? Well, for Subangites, there is an option that won’t break your bank: Gold Chilli.
Gold Chilli was started by Mr Harry six years ago, serving up basic kopitiam-style fare. Unfortunately, it didn’t do very well, so he started expanding his menu to suit the taste of the resident public, aka the college student population. Ever since he added more Chinese and Thai options to the menu, business has been steadily growing and is positively booming now. A decision worthy of a business course case study, we think!
Even on a weeknight, it takes a little while to get a table. College kids tend to swarm in large groups, and it’s no different here at Gold Chilli. Up to three tables can be seen joined together to accommodate large parties, everyone lingering and chatting over their drinks leisurely. But once you get a seat, service is more often than not snappy, and piping hot food delivered to your table in a jiffy.
There’s a dish that almost every table will have here in Gold Chilli, and that’s the super-famous butter milk chicken. They go through an average of 150 servings of this stuff daily and we can definitely see why. Crispy fried pieces of chicken are generously doused with a creamy and delicious butter & milk gravy – perfect with a bit of rice and chopped chilli padi. Sometimes you can see even a table of six, all eating the same dish. It’s that good!
"nostalgic and tasty...."
There are a few restaurants that hold a special place in your heart. The ones you went on your first ever date, the ones you first sneaked out of school for, the ones that you saved up money to go to – because it was out of your price range enough to make it a special treat, but cheap enough to mean you could pay for it yourself as a broke schoolgirl. For me, Strawberry Fields is a place few other restaurants can hold a nostalgic candle up to (and the food’s pretty good too!)
What was that thing Anthony Bourdain said? If the menu has over 100 things on it, there’s no way it can be good? Something like that. While our favourite neighbourhood cafe isn’t exactly haute cuisine, it does a pretty excellent job at keeping the bellies of PJ folks full as it’s been doing for years. Looking pretty much the same since I first started going there as a pudgy schoolgirl more than 10 years ago, it occupies a sweet piece of real estate in New Town that many would clamour to hold on to for that long. In recent years, they’ve even acquired the lot across the walkway from it, essentially making the restaurant twice as big.
Back to the aforementioned menu: this thing really does have over 100 items on it. There’s a small selection of different nasi lemak, a couple of pages of Asian noodle and rice dishes, a whole section of Western offerings, snacks and nibbles, and a long list of drinks. I’ve rarely been disappointed with anything I order here, as their portions are generous and the taste almost always hits the spot. This has led to menu exploring; most times my friends and I come here, we challenge each other to try something new on the menu we haven’t tried before. You know, just to see if it’s good. And that’s what we did the other day, on our (probably) 256th visit to our favourite cafe. A few random jabs at the menu, and we sat back and waited patiently.
"Mama's cooking gone native!"
Native cooking is all about fresh ingredients and fuss free cooking. At Cafe Sumai Indai, resident cook and owner Ramina or more lovingly known as Indai, whips up authentic Iban dishes that you usually find in a longhouse.
One of the signature dishes here is the 'Ayam Pansuh'. This is a dish that requires minimal prepping. Chicken pieces, tapioca leaves, ginger and torch ginger flower are mixed together and cooked in a bamboo. The secret is not to add water since bamboo already has a high moisture content. Water would just dilute and mute the flavours. Instead of barbecuing the bamboo, Indai cooks it directly on her stove. She takes it off the fire when the chicken aroma starts to fill up her kitchen. That's when you know it's done!
When you slurp the broth, it slides down your throat like your mum's chicken soup. Bitter tapioca leaves and tender chicken chunks are infused with hints of ginger, warming up your tummy like a cosy blanket. This is great for those cold, rainy monsoon nights. Indai also makes pork, fish and even duck pansuh if chicken's not your thing.
If you are an adventurous epicurean, the shark umai will be right up your alley. Strips of shark fillets are marinated in a combination of chillies, ginger, lime and onions. Once the flesh transforms from translucent to opaque, it's ready to be eaten. This is a Melanau dish that is now a common lunchtime 'lauk' served in most homes across Sarawak. The raw fish will absorb the citrusy juice and the chillies giving you a tangy and spicy hit with each mouthful. Eat it the traditional way- with some sago pearls. This is a great alternative to rice if you want to have a lighter meal. They serve both here. More »
"Good food and cosy ambience"
Not much has changed at Quan since the last time I had my lengthy conversation sessions, the walls are still plastered with old movie posters and cigarette ads, coca cola paraphernalia peppers the room, bathed in warm lighting, it has a very mom and pop café feel. Servers pick up dishes through a small sliding door, when it opens, a myriad of aromas waft from the kitchen to the dining area.
As an appetizer, we ordered the cornflakes chicken, chicken tenders coated in cornflakes with a thin layer of glaze on top. It tasted like crispy candied chicken nuggets. Sweet and savoury, it’s a wonderful start to our meal.
I ordered my usual, a plate of Singapore fried glass noodles, it’s listed as Singapore fried beehoon in the menu but I always ask them to use glass noodles instead, the texture of the glass noodles gives it more bite and just elevates the dish to a different level. Tasty with flavours of garlics and onions, the addition of bean sprouts and sawi adds crunch and freshness to the dish.
My dining companions ordered Butter Chicken with Rice (listed as one of the top 3 dishes in the menu), Black Pepper Lo Shu Fan and Fried Mee Sua. The menu is a mind-boggling list of choices ranging from braised rice to western dishes, even the drinks list is extensive, with pages for different types of coffee, tea and juices. More »
"Birdwatching while grabbing some grub..."
We have a world class bird park slap bang in the middle of KL. If you don't already know this, The KL Bird Park boasts the biggest Free Flight Walk In Aviary in the World. Wow. Yes! I looked it up. 800 birds of 60 local and foreign species flying around in 20.9 acres. And the best part is that they built a restaurant inside the walk in aviary so that you can eat and enjoy the scenery as well. Situated on a higher ground and with a verandah big enough to hold a couple of tables outside, it is a unique experience indeed. But how's the food then?
The menu is quite extensive with sections that include pasta, egg, international favourites and Asian Delights. The Asian selections are quite interesting with Nasi Lemak, Char Koay Teow, Cantonese Noodles and Chicken Curry on offer. Cantonese Koay Teow is not one of the best I've had but is a good representation for people trying this for the first time. Portions are generous with ample toppings of prawns, squid, slices of chicken and fresh vegetables.
The Malaysian Chicken Curry with Yogurt is very nice but judging from the thin layer of oil on top of the bowl, quite oily. It has a nice Nyonya-like taste instead of the spicy heavy Indian version so it's a bit more sourish with a hint of lemongrass (if I am not mistaken). Comes with white rice. But this curry is also the kind that goes well with roti canai (pity they don't serve this). More »
"Hey! Leave some for me..."
“We’ll have one of each,” I told Din, the owner of Shazana Cafe. We vowed not to over order in one place during the Kampung Baru Crawl but the daily specials were too tempting to ignore. Gulai tempoyak ikan patin, rendang itik and asam pedas daging tetel- Malay dishes I love but seldom get to have.
The gulai tempoyak had the most amazing scent but it was more Pahang style hence a little spicier and richer. However, if you are hankering for this, it does hit the spot. The tempoyak is also a little on the sour side which is how I like it. The daging tetel (known as daging cincang in KL) is basically the bits of meat and fat people cut off their meat. Cooked in an asam pedas, the fattiness of the meat chunks lends itself superbly to the sour-spicy gravy. This was the first dish to finish.
Mmm… the best of the trio though was the rendang itik. The spices or bumbu are cooked until almost crispy so it has a little bit of smokiness to it. Coupled with duck, the heady spices masks the gaminess while giving it tons of flavour. A plate of fried eggplant is served with this. I suggest you get the rendang spices and slather it on the eggplant- delicious!
Shazana seems one of those Kg. Baru hang outs that mushroomed out of simpler eating shops. The newer generation of cafe taikos make it a little trendier, serve a mixed menu of local grub and Western-ish dishes and provide wifi. There are many such eateries in the labyrinth of Kg. Baru- cheeky, a little schitzo and relentlessly cheerful. This hodge podge of everything that strikes one's fancy makes interesting dining out but it's something that's uniquely ours and makes no apologies for it.