I begin this website by posting this review of The Prep Room. It’s a new cafe that opened on Oct 29, and I liked it so much I was there twice in three days – Hooi Khaw.
Two cafes and a restaurant I have eaten in the past three weeks deserve repeat visits. And I have been twice to one of the cafes – The Prep Room – in Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur. The first visit was when it had opened for only for six days, and I went back on the eighth day.
What piqued my interest was first the menu which was beautifully illustrated in watercolours by the owner, Akmal Zaki and his friends, and which read like a book. It oozed sincerity, honesty and a dedication to real food, made from scratch and from the freshest ingredients.
I had heard good things about its Grumpy Sailor Fish & Chips, waffles and coffee. So we went and had these, and the Spicy Thai Spaghetti. Zaki had worked two years as a banker in Bangkok and I had trust in this Malay Chinese’s (as he introduced himself to us) palate. “My favourite was Pad Khi Mao or Thai Spaghetti, spicy and rich in flavours. I just had to bring it home,” he said in the menu.
It was smoking hot! Stirring aromas from fried bird chillies, green peppercorns and Thai basil and a deeply flavoured sauce, with salty and sweet nuances, clung to every strand of al dente spaghetti. Prawns and mussels added to them.
It’s an excellent Fish & Chips here. The batter is light, and the fish is ikan tenggiri or Spanish mackerel. No dory for them as they don’t like the taste of it, and I’m relieved. The ikan tenggiri works with the crispy batter and the house-made tartar sauce. I loved the sauce. It was tart as it should be, taming the richness of the fried fish. The thick cut chips – sweet potato and potato – were the best I have eaten. They were so addictive.
Oh, the waffles! The yeast-fermented batter makes them crispy and delicious. You can pick the Classic Red Waffle (with strawberries), Banana Chocolate or with Housemade Peanut Butter. We took the last, and were wowed by the scoop of peanut butter – bursting with roasted peanut aroma, and was lightly sweet, and gritty a little with salt. It was simply lovely. We tried the waffle with the maple syrup and the fresh double-whipped cream, an with all three together.
Zaki’s wife generously shared with me her recipe for making this gorgeous peanut butter, and yes, it has butter in it.
On my second visit with other friends, The Godfather Stew was my pick. It was a well-cooked stew with beef chunks, onions and potatoes and served with bread, salad and creamy, tart mashed potato with chopped shallots.
We couldn’t resist the carrot cake – chunky, nutty and cinammony. My friends liked the old-fashioned feel and taste of it; so did I.
The prices were lower than those in other cafes, and I worried about the cost of ingredients for the owners. They have two other cafes – Coffee Elements – in Penang.
The Prep Room is just next to Aunty Nat, in this matured neighbourhood of Sri Hartamas. It is open from 11am to 10pm. It’s closed on Monday.
The Prep Room,
5 Jalan Sri Hartamas 7,
Taman Sri Hartamas,
50480 Kuala Lumpur