Table & Apron’s organises charity dinner to mark the restaurant’s 10-year milestone

All profits will be channelled to eat X dignity, a social enterprise café run by Dignity for Children Foundation.

Low (centre) believes restaurants can be powerful community beacons, for the very simple fact that food brings people together (Photo: Patrick Goh/The Edge)

I live to eat and in my younger days, I spent almost all of my money dining out. Starting Table & Apron was a culmination of all the good bits I loved from the restaurants I’d patronised, and based on the premise of genuine warmth, generous hospitality and simple food cooked very well,” enthuses Marcus Low, the 38-year-old founder of the eatery now into its 10th year.

The idea for the restaurant began with a supper club in 2012 with his then partner, Mei Wan Tan.

They welcomed strangers willing to pay for a dinner experience that revolved around shared plates at the table. “The menu changed monthly and we were booked up three months in advance. Believe it or not, some signatures on our menu today, including our buckwheat fried chicken, came from the supper club era.

“One day, I chanced upon a sleepy corner lot in Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya, that Table & Apron now occupies. It seemed fitting that a neighbourhood restaurant could exist there. With equal amounts of naivety, passion and ignorance about the road ahead, we went all in from then on,” Low remembers fondly.

The restaurant was known as Kitchen Table in the first two years. Built on empathy as its cornerstone, Table & Apron continues to embody its founding principles while also making a difference in the community by consistently donating a portion of proceeds to those in need. To mark a decade in business, Low is organising a special charity dinner, bringing together patrons to celebrate with a cause.

The event will take place on June 3, and is priced at RM200++ per pax. All profits will be channelled to eat X dignity, a social enterprise café run by Dignity for Children Foundation, with the rest used to support a field trip programme for its students to tour and dine at Table & Apron and Universal Bakehouse outlets.


Marcus and the Universal Bakehouse team (Photo: Universal Bakehouse)

“In true Table & Apron fashion, the menu is a family-style sharing format, and will feature some of our favourite dishes throughout our 10-year run. From fork-tender pulled pork shoulder on toasted brioche to an ikura-spiked dashi jelly with raw fish crudo, and an old-school classic of chicken and mushroom pie to top it all off — the food isn’t just there to fill your belly, but also your heart.”

Low looks up to Spanish and American chef José Andrés and his style of community kitchens. “I believe restaurants can be powerful community beacons, for the very simple fact that food brings people together. We rally a portion of our sales either through Table & Apron or Universal Bakehouse (our bakery next door) at the end of each year to Shelter Home for Children.”

During the pandemic, the team redirected its idle energy towards food security initiatives for children’s homes and frontliners. This period exemplified how restaurants can leverage their momentum to support communities in need. Last year, Low dedicated a portion to fund a small school for underprivileged children of Myanmar refugees, showcasing the cuisine his own Myanmarese cooks prepare. This initiative not only provided much-needed funds but also instilled pride in the crew for their culinary heritage.

Over the past decade, Table & Apron has consistently focused on supporting underprivileged children and education. Its efforts ranged from conducting customer service training for young students of eat X dignity to delivering excess baked goods from Universal Bakehouse to The Lighthouse Children’s Welfare Home in Bangsar. These initiatives extend beyond fundraising, demonstrating a deep commitment to making a tangible difference in the community.

When asked what the most memorable moments have been, Low reflects on several impactful experiences that revolved around his guests. “Quite frankly, we’ve had many,” he says. “The most recent singular moment was of Levi and Christine, a soon-to-wed couple who approached us to use our dining space for their wedding pre-shoots. We were stumped as it wasn’t a request we’d ever accommodated. But the minute the groom-to-be shared pictures of every mutual milestone of theirs at our restaurant, this was a win in relationship goals in my book!”

His proudest memories have always been nurturing home-grown talents to rise through the ranks. “And if there was a poster child for this, it would be Asya [Tan], who joined us in 2014 as an intern and is now managing partner and director of operations across Table & Apron, Universal Bakehouse and Basic Wine Store. Her career trajectory is inspirational, and has served as a lighthouse for our young leaders.”


The cuisine at Table & Apron revolves around the trifecta of comfort, familiarity and simplicity

The legacy of Table & Apron is also reflected in its alumni, many of whom have gone on to open their own restaurants or lead prestigious kitchens. Notable examples include Heng Kit of Li, Provisions and Locus; Miki and Daniel of Gooddam; and Idris of NOPI in London. Each success story underscores the impact of the restaurant’s commitment to talent development.

Another significant achievement was the shift in perspective inspired by a regular guest and mentor, Ming Leong. She challenged the team by asking, “Why do you refer to those who dine in as customers? You are not a grocer or department store.” This question was a turning point, leading the team to refer to diners as guests. This change elevated not just the terminology but also the attitude and interactions within the team, making them instinctively more hospitable. From then on, the goal was to become someone’s favourite restaurant, not just the best restaurant.

The cuisine at Table & Apron revolves around the trifecta of comfort, familiarity and simplicity. As many will attest, simplicity is not easy to achieve. When Low started out in the industry, his only way to discover chefs and restaurants was through reading expensive cookbooks and books on restaurants in bookstores. This was long before the age of Instagram.

He fell in love with Fergus Henderson’s writings from St John’s restaurant in London, specifically The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating, which shaped his outlook on food by being intuitive and keeping it simple. He also admired Thomas Keller, the genius behind The French Laundry and Per Se. On a visit to New York in 2007, Low could only afford to stand outside Keller’s restaurant like a kid in a candy store. The latter’s focus on technique and finesse inspired the discipline that defines the food at Table & Apron.

“Our restaurant’s menu straddles an eclectic range of influences, and it’s a delicate balance to avoid creating ‘fusion’ dishes. When I first started, I struggled to communicate this concept to our cooks. We were fascinated by the cleverness of cooking and eager to see how many techniques or flavours we could incorporate into a single dish.



“Over the years, our chefs have learnt that cooking with restraint and adopting a less-is-more approach serves us better. Our hefty pork chop, a bone-in shoulder loin cut, is a perfect example. We brine it overnight and treat it like a steak, where the doneness of the meat is a measure of a cook’s finesse. The condiments and sauces accompanying this dish have evolved, reflecting the individual touch of each chef over the years.”

While Table & Apron may be synonymous with its buckwheat fried chicken, the restaurant offers much more. It continuously strives to create a culinary philosophy that amplifies what a neighbourhood restaurant means to the community — a mirage Low and his team chase every year.

He looks forward to nurturing talent from the restaurant to spearhead small business units within the ecosystem he built. Having transformed it into a small multi-concept group operation, he is focused on solidifying its foundation for the remainder of 2024. This involves strengthening business back-end structures as it transitions from an independent-operator dynamic to an organisation-oriented enterprise.

“One of the passion projects I’m currently working on is to put my personal writings into a zine we intend to release by the third quarter of this year. All proceeds will be used to fundraise for the hospitality education of underprivileged kids, and I hope it will inspire those who look to get into the trade, as well as appreciate what it takes to build a restaurant with legacy.

“I’ve viewed Table & Apron as a neighbourhood restaurant in Damansara Kim with a sense of place, and have therefore not considered further expansion within the Klang Valley. However, the door is always open to opportunities so long as they are aligned with our values.”

In addition to being a restaurateur, Low is also currently on the external advisory board of the School of Hospitality at Sunway University and an adviser for the restaurant management curriculum at the Malaysian Institute of Baking. “My interests outside of work is certainly around food. If I could, I would spend all my money and time eating and dining out; except my wife reminds me that I have two young daughters... and they fill my heart to the brim [and my life outside of work at this moment].”

This article first appeared on May 27, 2024 in The Edge Malaysia.


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