Surprises at neighbourhood eatery
Writer: Basil Foo
Published: Fri, 15 Jun 2012
Driving around the SS2 commercial square is usually a mind-numbing affair, with each turn and hole in the road already committed to memory, the hands go into autopilot.
However, an unfamiliar sight would greet those who have frequented the square recently with an addition to the myriad of eateries in the form of the British Malaya Coffee House.
Sitting at the location of the old Hong Kong-style Prince café, the coffee house’s clean white signboard can be seen quite starkly amongst other dusky-looking shops.
The interior still retains some of the layout of the previous café with a partition separating the indoor and outdoor seating and an elevated platform where couches can be found.
This time the walls and ceilings are adorned with pictures of old colonial-era buildings, wayang kulit puppets and wooden lamps.
Their staff are friendly and helpful, with suggestions forthcoming without the need to ask.
Drinks at the coffee house arrived briskly, followed soon after by the food, despite hosting quite a sizeable crowd for a midweek night.
The ice lemon tea, assam laksa, and soup of the day came together under the Daily Set Specials which can be seen promoted on bunting outside the eatery.
The daily specials feature different dishes for lunch and dinner every day of the week with most Asian set meals costing RM11.90 and Western set meals RM14.90.
The ice lemon tea was noticeably not as sweet, while the soup was savoury and broth-like in consistency.
Assam laksa seems to be a dish that is quite difficult to pull off with swanky restaurants offering bland concoctions while the aromas from some roadside stalls draw long lines.
The coffee house seemed to have got the balance between spicy, sour and fishy tastes right while their glass noodles were smoother than the average.
After heating up one’s palate with the laksa, another recommended dish to try would be the British Malaya special fried rice for RM11.90.
The humble fried rice was a mix of savoury and spicy flavours which had just the right amount of oil so that the grains won’t clump together and make eating a labourious task.
It was tasty, filling and came with some papadum, which the waitress kindly refilled after a piece accidentally dropped to the table.
The coffee house had bangers and mash on the menu but was unfortunately out of stock for the day – it would have been great to try a very British-sounding meal.
Instead, the shepherd’s pie, at RM12.90, was a salty and meaty alternative with the pie arriving in a deep bowl with mashed potato forming a soft crust on its top.
The pie was another filling dish with the soft mash offering a contrast to the tangy tomato sauce – it is recommended for diners to just mix the whole thing together and enjoy.
The shop’s chicken cordon blue, at RM19.90, was touted as a deep-fried breaded chicken breast stuffed with turkey and cheese and topped with mushroom sauce.
The chicken, which came served on a bed of mashed potato, came apart easily but could have been filled with more cheese as the plain meat was hard to go down.
As far as carbonaras go, their spaghetti chicken carbonara, at RM15.90, was above average with an abundance of the distinctive creamy sauce flooding the dish with flavour.
Interspersed between bites of soft noodles were pieces of chicken, which felt like they were fried and were rather difficult to munch on.
An alternative could be thin chicken ham slices, while the uncharacteristic spaghetti used for a dish normally using fettuccini did not interfere much with the transportation of sauce to mouth.
For after-meal palate sweeteners, the shop’s soya milk cendol with gula Melaka, priced at RM7.50, tastes just like what it says, needing a quick stir to mix the sugar and milk together.
It was strange for a coffee house to have only a handful of coffee choices – with hot and iced variants of kopi, kopi O, cham and white coffee.
Nonetheless, the large glass of thick iced coffee, at RM4.80, provided a satisfying endnote to the meal.
The British Malaya Coffee House was a hit and miss affair with some dishes standing out quite distinctively from the others.
For a neighbourhood eatery, the coffee house meets expectations while providing the adventurous diner some hidden surprises which may end up being their next favourite dish.