Welcome to the neighbourhood: Petaling Street's latest destination is an ambitious amalgam of a tranquil restaurant called Chocha Foodstore & an upcoming wine lounge, coffee bar, co-working space, newsagent & bicycle rental shop, initiated by the MentahMatter design firm, with a raw, almost unvarnished authenticity shored up by charming embellishments (check out the lovely, leafy courtyard), squeezed into yet another former brothel on the same street as smash hits Merchant's Lane & PS150.
Chocha's affable creators, Shin Chang & his team, put their own personal spin on regional comfort cooking, promising capably executed platters of soul food that speak of Asian inspirations & ingredients; commence with this comfortingly nourishing bowl of steamed barley & rice, topped with tender pan-seared duck breast & flavoured with duck fat, respectably complemented by nitamago, crispy dried shrimp & local ulam cultivated in Chocha's sun-soaked courtyard (RM25).
Can't stop snacking: Cincalok fried chicken, its savoury succulence, complete with the unmistakable flavour of fermented shrimp sauce, balanced by a fresh summer salsa of tomatoes & pineapples, plus thick, kitchen-made tomato chutney (RM25).
Chocha produces its own hand-pulled flat noodles, meant to evoke pan mee, for several pasta-like permutations with a twist, such as this one blanketed with rich ulam pesto, charred capsicums, semi-dried tomatoes, peanuts & sesame seeds (RM20).
Fans of vegetables will have a field day with this trio of tasty salads: 'Curryflower,' comprising crumbed cauliflowers with curry leaves, kesom & shallots; Indonesian-style terong belado, with eggplant & Thai basil in a suitably spicy sambal; & cucumber in an aromatic cumin vinaigrette (RM15 each).
There's only one dessert in Chocha's soft-launch selection, but it leaves an impression: A green-hued reinterpretation of creme brulee, tinged gently with ulam raja & Thai basil, sprinkled with honeycomb candy that simulates the brulee's crunch (RM15).
Chocha is Hakka for sit & drink - the tea culture is alive & well here, with steaming-hot pots of Aged Fujian Shui Hsien from Mount Wuyi (RM18; served with chestnuts) & other representatives of the dark or scented classifications. You'll also find cold-brewed tea - Taiwanese Dong Ding Oolong & Yunnan Black Tea with osmanthus flowers & star anise (RM16 per bottle).
156, Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur. Tues-Sun, 11am-9pm.
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