Eat Drink KL: September 2020

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Namul Vegan Cafe, Chinatown

Climb a creaky staircase to seek this hideout for vegan fare in a time-worn shop-house.

True to its name, a Korean reference to herbal delicacies and edible leaves, Namul Vegan Cafe specialises mainly in East Asian recipes. 

A rotating list of specials is set for full meals: On every first and third Monday of the month, the vegetarian version of bak kut teh is your best bet, brimming with corn, mushrooms and tofu. Japanese-inspired snacks abound, from vegan dorayaki (RM3; pancakes made with soy milk, with no milk or eggs, sandwiched with local peanut butter) to onigiri (RM6; with brown rice and tempeh).

Beverages trend toward the ultra-healthy: Fresh oat milk (RM6 for 500ml, about four small glasses), moringa lemon tea (RM10), and an alcohol-free Kombucha Mojito (RM10; with mint and lemon). Groceries are also available, from fresh carrots to frozen pumpkin tofu.

Namul Vegan Cafe
First Floor, No. 54, Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur. Open Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm. Tel: 012-265-4472

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Friday, September 25, 2020

Pasadena Burgers

Pasadena Burgers tempted us with the promise of California-style burgers and cheesy dipping burgers, delivered to your door.

Its ready-to-eat burger starts at RM22.50, complete with the basics of a beef patty with lettuce and tomatoes, plus fresh and caramelised raw onions; we added RM6 to top up with blue cheese. The patty was the weak link of our order, coarsely dry, with an artificial, alkaline flavour. In a city overrun with burgers, this needs tweaking, from the meat to the fairly stodgy bun.

The dipping burger (RM26) is undermined by the same patty; it's served in breakfast muffin bread that's sturdier and won't turn soggy from the cheese sauce. We ordered two types of extra sauces - the South Cali Habanero Cheese with Mincemeat that's enjoyably rich-textured but not particularly spicy (RM13) and the Cajun Chili Queso that also needs more kick (RM10); it's unclear what dipping sauce would have been provided if we hadn't ordered the two extras, since we received no other sauce.

Pasadena Burgers:

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M'Laboori, Petaling Jaya

Serving sustenance for both the brain and the belly, M'Laboori is a library and a vegetarian cafe. Books cover everything from Amy Schumer to Artemis Fowl, while bowls brim with meat-free pad thai, pretty tasty and wholesome, complete with bean curd drumsticks (RM11.70), and soy patty sliders with fried tempeh and acar (can't complain for RM9.90). Wash down with a blend of hand-whipped milk with coffee and brown rice, honeycomb-topped for a distinctive whole-grain take on the Dalgona (RM10).

55A, Jalan, Jalan SS 2/75, SS2, 47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-10pm. Tel: 03-7490-6407

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Gentilezza Cafe, Sri Hartamas

Genial warmth, genuine fulfillment: Gentilezza Cafe has a graceful new home in Sri Hartamas, serving honest, homely fare in a soothing space. Gentilezza's name is Italian for gentleness, kindness and thoughtfulness, all qualities embodied in this venue, which moved less than two months ago from DC Mall to Plaza Damas 3. Take a table under the portraits of artistically antlered deer, with young plants sprouting on a shelf by the wall, for a feeling of comfort and closeness to nature.

Gentilezza promises familiar fare with intriguing twists, inspired by casual, everyday nourishment. 

For breakfast and tea, we'd endorse the Egg & Cheese Paratha (RM17.90) - the fluffy flatbread is made distinctive with a surprise filling, stuffed with egg and shredded mozzarella cheese for a delightful layer of extra richness to complement the crisp paratha. Have it street food-style with chicken-and-potato curry that's thick and tasty, with a robustness reminiscent of rustic rendang.

We also like the Sambal Pattaya Toast (RM8.90), a sandwich to savour, blanketed in crepe-thin omelette like Nasi Goreng Pattaya, slathered in between slices with house-made, sweet-spicy onion sambal. An addictive creation that's new to Gentilezza's menu, in conjunction with its relocation to Plaza Damas 3.

Other breakfast and tea treats include mini croissants, savoury toasties, banana cakes and more.

For mains, we like Asian specialities like the Oriental-style Olive Mushroom Rice (RM10.90), freshly fried with olives, french beans and diced mushrooms, rounded out with shredded omelette and nuts. The olives provide an aromatic, mildly briny boost to the rice, a wholesome, minimal-oil order for meat-free days. For a crunchy kick, the accompanying shrimp sambal is also made from scratch in Gentilezza's kitchen, with a cili padi alternative available for vegetarians. 

Exclusively on Saturdays, Gentilezza serves a weekend special of Sarawak Laksa (RM15.90), flooded with bee hoon, shredded chicken and egg, prawns, fish cakes, coriander, bean sprouts and lime. Gentilezza's peninsula-born founder loves Sarawak laksa so much, she visited the Hornbill State three times to research this recipe, passed on and perfected with the help of her friend's Sarawakian mother. It's subtler and lighter on coconut milk, exactly how it's commonly preferred in Kuching, with a broth that's nonetheless deep and strong with balanced herbs and spices, channelling everything from lemongrass to tamarind. If you're a Sarawak laksa enthusiast, this is one more in the Klang Valley to check out.

If you're here for a quick workday lunch or want something on the go, try the toasted panini sandwiches, such as the Ham & Cheese Panini (RM15.90) - Gentilezza generously loads it with chicken ham, slightly melted mozzarella, lettuce and house-blended tomato sauce in airy-crisp ciabatta bread. Other panini possibilities span tuna mayo to egg mayo to margherita (tomato sauce with mozzarella), alongside more main courses from East to West, from fish ball noodle soup and chicken rice bowls to spaghetti bolognese and pasta with dried chilli sausages.

Gentilezza's signature dessert brings together the best of both worlds with its Apam Balik Waffle (RM16.90) - this waffle, crafted with Gentilezza's own special batter, channels the taste and texture of Malaysia's favourite classic pancake turnover, with elements of cream corn, crushed nuts and peanut butter, plus vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of honey, for a contemporary fusion creation to charm all generations, especially the young at heart.

It's easy to imagine spending an hour or two at Gentilezza, sipping a lovable hot latte (RM9.90; a chocolaty-nutty blend of Brazilian and Indonesian coffee beans) or a cool lychee iced green tea (RM9.90; predominantly fruity, with mellow undercurrents of tea, one of Gentilezza's various refreshments that also include lemon tea).

All in all, folks working or living around Plaza Damas 3 will be pleased to welcome Gentilezza to the neighbourhood - a fuss-free cafe that strives to satisfy. Many thanks to Gentilezza for having us here.

Gentilezza Cafe
Unit C09, Plaza Damas 3, Jalan Sri Hartamas 1, 50480 Kuala Lumpur. Across the road from Hartamas Shopping Centre.
Open Monday-Friday, 830am-7pm; Saturday, 9am-6pm. Closed Sundays. Tel: 012-320-3062

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