As the world continues to go plant-crazy, nature-themed eateries flood social media feeds with foliage fever and lush aesthetics. Here are five such cafés and restaurants with inventive menus that live up to the hype.
Nothing suggests nature’s bounty on a dining table like a heaping bowl of salad. The signature Happy Harvest organic salad (RM49) at The Farm Foodcraft epitomises the restaurant’s vision with just-plucked vegetables from its urban farming laboratory upstairs, blended seamlessly into the structure and established to encourage healthy eating and sustainable living. Ingredients not grown in the hydroponic lab are sourced directly from local farmers and vendors, typically used on the same day they arrive for ultimate freshness.
The medley of greens, ice plants, seeds, strawberries, edible flowers and passionfruit dressing proved high in nutrition and low in salt. That is not to say the menu depresses the diner with terms such as boiled, steamed or fat-free. In fact, the crunchy crab in the soft-shell crab burger (RM35) in a toasted brioche bun was so conspicuously free of oil that we were hard-pressed to guess if it had been intimate with a deep fryer or an air fryer (it was the former).
Rather, the overall theme seems to be enjoyment of the gifts of land and sea with minimal guilt and great relish. That spirit of generosity evinced by the abundant portions extends to several sharing dishes on the menu. Combined with farmhouse-style wide tables and benches in the al fresco section, it marks a return to the joy of communal dining.
Flavours are overall clean and wholesome and pricing is laudable for mains such as the 48 Hours Beef Stew Pasta (RM49), the BBQ Beef Rib (RM49) and slow-cooked Whole Spring Chicken Stew for two (RM55). This is especially so considering the portion sizes, farm-to-table freshness and the lush, upscale environment with a profusion of greenery and a customised chandelier comprising tiers of pitcher plants. That said, our desserts seemed overpriced by comparison. The Carrot Cake and Nutella Chocolate Cake (RM24 per slice) selected from the display were decent but not memorable.
What does linger long after the ride home is the memory of sitting in a cosy arboretum, a verdant oasis secluded from the surrounding bustle of Bangsar South. Make it a merrier affair with spirits or cocktails from the hidden bar, fittingly called Secret Garden.
G-01 and G-02, Ground Floor, The Sphere, Bangsar South City, KL. 03-2242 0964. Daily, 10am to 10pm.
If you think the sourdough trend has run its course, think again. If anything, the quarantine fixation earlier in the year has ensured the masses are more acquainted with the wonders of wild yeast. But while sourdough offers a deeper flavour profile on top of a relatively low glycaemic index, sometimes fluffy white bread is all you need for your butter.
At Sunday Coffee & Cakes, you get the best of both worlds.
Tucked away in a quiet neighbourhood in OUG, Sunday is distinguishable from its shophouse neighbours by its periwinkle façade and arrangement of potted plants by the entryway. The interior design is kept rather simple with well-spaced tables and mismatched chairs. A variety of indoor climbers and knee-high plants soften the look of the concrete coffee bar, which also acts as a cash counter and pastry display area.
The café has a small menu, comprising breakfast and brunch fare and a handful of desserts. They have only opened a little over a year, but Sunday has made a name for serving flavourful sourdough and the fluffiest shokupan-inspired Fat White Bread.
We had reservations about the signature Tamagoyaki Sando — sounded a tad expensive for what is essentially an egg sandwich. But after tasting the lightly crusted, sunny slabs of subtly sweet rolled omelette, sandwiched between two slices of white bread with tangy mustard and wasabi, we immediately ate our words.
If you are hankering for something more substantial, we suggest you go straight for the Shakshuka. What made it great was the 63-degree slow-cooked onsen egg, whose yolk flowed effortlessly when punctured with the butter-grilled sourdough slices on the side. Dessert-wise, sample the visually gorgeous Strawberry Tartine or the highly raved-about Cheese Terrine Cake that’s rumoured to be comparable to the popular cheesecake at The Tokyo Restaurant in Lot 10, KL.
14, Jalan Selera 1, Taman Bukit Indah, KL. 03 7498 1038. Daily, 9am to 6pm.
Creating a corner of greenery is a sentiment that seems to be echoing among nature-starved city slickers. But if your track record of keeping plants alive has always been less than stellar, bask freely in their therapeutic effects at Sipping Corner.
The cakes-and-coffee joint is tucked deep in the recesses of botanical concept store Plant & Pots, away from the prying eyes of serious gardeners who flaunt scientific names of rare plants like whispered passwords at a speakeasy. Inside the café, a freewheeling jungle aesthetic dominates the green walls, where sprawling ferns curl out of glass terrariums and buds spring from earthenware pots.
The anchoring coffee counter is a cross between a rustic kitchen and a mad scientist’s laboratory, where congenial baristas labour over a mannered filter coffee ritual with V60 drippers and swan-necked kettles. The litany of single origin beans — sourced from local roasteries such as Cream/The Roast Things and The Hub — on the menu with their tasting profiles, may read like a dossier.
Our Colombian Juan Lopez variety tasted distinctive and bright, coating our palates with notes of black sugar, dark plum and black tea. If you are not in the mood to partake in the slow dance of pour-overs, machine-concocted staples like a flat white or a piccolo latte are reliable energy boosters.
The café also steps into uncommon ground with a flurry of inventive offerings, including shakerato, a seasonal Hainanese latte and dirty matcha latte. Customers have also taken to the cafe’s signature gula melaka hojicha latte. In our books, however, the dash of sugar was an improvement on something that most discerning tea drinkers probably did not think needed reinventing.
The sweet smell of success, we believe, lies in the unmissable display of homemade cakes at the entrance. Unusual ingredients such as mandarin orange, thyme, elderflower and even taro were given top billing. The aptly named Wonder Woman was a bid for the heart as the tart raspberry filling rounded off a pleasurable chocolate mousse topped with generous dusting of cocoa powder.
If berries provide a demure sweetness, grape is the distant cousin that lends a pop of ripened juiciness. These slightly tangy flavour bombs tempered the richness of a layered dark chocolate cake, which immediately commanded another coffee refill.
78G, Jalan Puteri 5/5, Bandar Puteri, Puchong. 018-919 6311. Wed-Mon, 9am to 6pm.
Sweeping fronds, small trees and a cornucopia of greenery in pots and window boxes secure this corner-lot restaurant and bar along Petaling Street as an urban Eden. Although named after a species of wild-growing flowers, every single element here is carefully cultivated for a stylish dining experience.
Each section tells a different story: the bar is trendy, the adjacent dining area casually elegant, and the first floor a touch formal save for a showpiece tasselled chandelier and mezzanine gallery packed with plants. Head upstairs for peace and privacy or settle in at the ground floor for people-watching over drinks.
Cocktails are the way to go: consider the Spirit of Borneo (RM36), featuring tuak, violet liqueur, lemon and honey, or Casablanca’s Isla (RM36), a sweet concoction of gin, menthe-pastille, raspberry syrup, lemon juice and egg-white foam. Beer, wines and spirits are also on the menu, as are soft drinks, coffee and tea for teetotallers.
If you are looking for nibbles to whet the appetite or soak up the alcohol, the small plates section intrigues with the likes of Mapo Tofu Nachos (RM26) and Sambal Prawns in Red Wine with papadum (RM28). Heartier – and highly recommended – dishes include the Shao Xing Seafood Platter with Hainanese Bread (RM42), a savoury, light broth brimming with plump squid and fresh shellfish, and the Rib Eye Pad Kra Pao (RM38) accompanied by soft tortillas for DIY wraps. Carnivores will appreciate the Gilled Aussie Sirloin with House Green Curry Sauce (RM68), made wholesome with a side salad.
Popular with the Friday night crowd and for weekend rendezvous, Wildflowers has built its reputation on a holy trinity of good food, drinks and accessibility in the heart of downtown KL. Portions and prices are fair, which makes this an attractive proposition for the younger crowd, while friendly service and the upmarket yet unpretentious setting draws in its more mature regulars.
That its verdant aesthetic is a literal interpretation of the phrase “concrete jungle” is a clever nod to its surroundings, and we do appreciate a dose of wit with our wine. Pick your poison and let the soothing template of crisp white walls, clean black accents and lush foliage work its magic.
153, Jalan Petaling, KL. Tues-Thurs, noon to 10.30pm; Fri-Sun, noon to 12am.
Over the years, Jalan Kemuja in Bangsar has hosted a slew of successful establishments. Ever busy from the am to the pm, the area is usually packed with people, from brunch goers to gin connoisseurs. Its latest addition, however, acts more of like an oasis from cacophony.
Nestled between The Lankan Crab and Lisette’s Café is a path lined with potted plants in various shades of green. Go up the stairs and you'll be immediately greeted by the revitalising scent of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the air. Let your nose lead you through the glass doors and step into Planter Chin’s lush, green haven.
Not long ago, plant purveyor Taman Hati uprooted itself from Lorong Maarof to build a café cum plant studio with coffee experts Planter Chin. The result is a breezy space, best described as an urban jungle cared for by caffeinated plant lovers.
Those who share the same passions can plant-pick (under the eyes of three resident felines) while enjoying an invigorating cup of joe — black or white — made from single origin Brazilian beans or a soothing cuppa, courtesy of Niko Neko Matcha. For something more refreshing, opt for the fizzy seasonal kombucha or lemon soda coffee.
The selection of plants run the gamut, from pretty climbers to sun-loving cacti. In terms of what sorts to bring home, we’ll leave that to the experts.
6a, Jalan Kemuja, Bangsar, KL. 019 616 5193. Tues-Sun, 10am-5pm.
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