How’s the idea of eating pasta over a bridge sound? Bet you never expected that question to be fielded to you, right? I didn’t either, but here I was, doing exactly that: eating pasta over a bridge. This is Pusat Bandar Damansara, and the ‘bridge’ I’m talking about is the flyover over Jalan Damansara nee Sprint Highway down below. Let me tell you some more.
Come along at nights, 10pm onwards and head towards Pusat Bandar Damansara. Take the road that will lead to the McDonald’s, and you’ll spot a row of mostly full tables next to a small white van. Stop. Get down. Find a table and take a seat. Welcome to The Humble Chef.
The Humble Chef is actually a truck/kitchen/café combo, serving pasta dishes, sandwiches and omelettes. The proprietor, the friendly Chef Rosman Hussin, is actually a fully qualified chef; he took a Diploma in Culinary Arts from a local private college, and he had stints working as a chef in KL and Germany a few years back. Now he’s home and cooking up satisfying late-night dinner fare from the back of his converted truck.
“It was basically my mom’s idea,” Rosman said when asked why a truck and not a grounded premise instead. “You know, to open an actual restaurant takes a huge investment. Not to mention the overheads: rent, bills and so on. So my mom suggested a truck instead. I bought this truck, paid to turn it into a moving kitchen. And here I am.”
What about the food? “I don’t think a lot of people sell pasta from trucks. So why not? It’s easy, convenient and quick to prepare.” His truck, as I looked, seemed a marvel of cleanliness and efficiency. “I have two helpers with me. We use plastic containers for convenience. Drinks, we let customers take themselves from a cooler outside. So basically you come, have a seat, and we’ll take your order and bring your food to you.”
So that’s what I did, with a friend of mine. We took a small table, directly above the highway below. It was a rather pleasant, cool place to have supper in. Heck, some people have even called it romantic, and I could see why: despite the plastic utensils, containers, tables and chairs, there’s just something about eating beneath an open sky, over a bridge. It does get crowded though; most of the people seem to be students (HELP University College is just nearby).
On to the food then. The menu is fairly simple: pastas, pita sandwiches, regular sandwiches and omelettes. Pastas are RM5, the pitas are RM4, sandwiches RM2.50 and the omelettes RM2.50. Those prices are unbelievably cheap for what you’re going to get. We ordered the Pasta Carbonara and the Seafood Olio, a chicken sandwich, lamb pita, and a chicken omelette sandwich. To drink, we just grabbed ice-cold Mountain Dews from the icebox. We waited for awhile, which was understandable as there was a lot of customers, and it was only Chef Rosman and one other helper in the kitchen, with another dude acting as runner, sending food back and forth.
The pastas came in the clear, rectangular plastic containers, with a plastic fork. The sandwich was wrapped in wax paper. We tucked in. The carbonara yummy: creamy sauce that was velvet smooth, and chunks of chicken sausage. The unmistakable tang of cheese brought it all together for a satisfying finish. The Seafood Olio had juicy chunks of prawn and squid and bell peppers. It was delightfully garlicky, and a dash of cracked black pepper added some welcome warmth. The seafood provided a meaty touch to the otherwise light dish. I’ve mentioned before in an earlier review that I hate pastas that are overcooked, but The Humble Chef definitely knows what he’s doing: both portions of pasta were expertly al-dente. The chicken sandwich was two pieces of fried white bread, with a mayo-chicken filling and fresh green lettuce. The chicken filling was moist, savory and well seasoned. I couldn’t help but wish for a couple of slices of tomato in it though.
The chef seems to love his cream as it shows up in a lot of their dishes, even their incredibly addictive lamb pitas. A regular wholemeal pita overflowing with creamy, tender bits of lamb, with the perfunctory piece of salad leaf. Their chicken omelette sandwich is also wonderfully smooth, with melted cheese on fried bread. Gotta love fried bread in sandwiches! Friends have recommended their chicken pesto pasta as well, a great fresh-tasting version that you'd be hard-pressed to pay RM5 for elsewhere. This food is perfect for late-night, post clubbing eats!
My friend and I finished our meal satisfied. The crowds kept on coming, as I saw they were setting up more tables. Looking at Chef Rosman in the kitchen, I was glad that there are people who just wanted to provide excellent food for good prices. There was no need for a pretentious restaurant name, or address, or fancy décor and crockery. You just need a good idea, and the drive to pull it off.
The Humble Chef? Very humbling, indeed.
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