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Friday, 26 August 2016

Our Little Cafe

Hello all,

It's been ages since I last wrote anything on my blog. I wonder if I still have any followers following me. My last entry was in May!

I didn't mean to stop writing altogether but I've been extremely busy for the past couple of months. I let you into my secret. I am officially a head cook at a little cafe at one of the busiest mall in Kuala Lumpur run by us (my husband and I). Our old friend purchased the little shop and handed it to us to run the place according to our preference.
I must say this business by far was the most time consuming ever over any other trade that we have had our hands on.
Initially for the first few weeks, I was doing everything on my own. No staff or helpers to help me out. I did the grocery shopping and marketing on my own. Returning home, (by the way, all the cooking was done at home) I will do the fish scaling, meat cutting and cleaning and mise en place ( preparing everything prior to cooking) all on my own. My body ached all over. I had no rest at all and I mean none AT ALL. I am cooking daily from six am until late night, somewhere around 10pm. And to ease your curiosity, I am cooking about nine dishes per day. The food had to be ready by 9 am. So, you can imagine the state I am in for the past couple of months and why I was missing from the virtual world.

Now, a little about our cafe. The cafe's name is aptly called Penang Express. I am from Penang and I cook mostly Penang food. So yes, you guessed it right! Penang's all time favourite hawker's food are available on our daily menu. I cook and operated from home whilst my husband manned the cafe from 10am to 10pm.
I still have to be at the cafe every now and then to teach and show our cooks on how to do the frying and cooking the a la carte menu the way it  supposed to be done. And I tell you, it's not easy to find staff to stay working longer than a week, taking into account that they had to be on their feet for twelve straight hours. As a final solution, we resorted to hiring a non local workers, such as Myanmar and Pakistani citizen.

Now that we're in food business, I truly understand the hardship and difficulty on maintaining the food quality, the taste and flavour of the food served. Every now and then we'll receive a not very welcoming remarks from customers. The gravy was slightly salty, the soup was too watery or the noodle was not fried the way it should be. We took it all in in a stride. It's hard to please everybody. Why! I received the same complaint everyday at home from the kids too, only they are worse than our customers. In this case, I should ask them to do the cooking for me instead of me them!

I think I will list down some of the menu we have at the cafe. You may not understand what they are but it's okay. Daily I will prepare:

1) Laksa : One of the all time favourites in our cafe. A white rice noodle soaked in fish soup. The soup had to be simmered for at least 1  1/2 hour to acquire the blended and sourish taste. All type of Malaysian herbs such as ginger, onion, lemon grass and many more to make the soup fragrant and lose the strong smell of fish.

2) Rendang Chicken or Beef) : This dish too needed all the herbs to make it aromatic and flavourful. The taste is beautiful and I dare say that this is one of the best dishes (in taste department) anyone ever created.

3) Curry Mee : Yellow noodle soaked in curry soup. Of all the dishes I had to prepare, this one menu is still the one that I haven't got my grip on or rather I am still not satisfied with the result. I mean customers have nothing much to complaint, in fact we received many compliments on this menu but for my personal satisfaction, I am still searching for a better result.

4) Sambal Sotong (Squid Sambal) : Sambal is a Malay word in which we used lots of dried chillies to make a paste and add other items such as sugar, tamarind juice and salt. Once the paste was nicely cooked, you could add in any thing you like, we mostly love to throw in shrimp or squid or chicken or anything your heart may desire. It is a Malay traditional best recipe that goes well with rice.

5) Nasi Lemak : If you are a Malaysian, you'd definitely know this dish. If you don't, then you're not  Malaysian, you'll be forvigen for not being one. It is so well loved that it is being sold anytime of the day. When I was little, it used to be a breakfast menu. This rice was cooked in coconut milk with strips of ginger, onion and pandan leaf for the aromatic result.
This rice goes very well with any sambal (as I stated above), a hard boiled egg and  crisp-fried anchovies.

6) Mee Rebus (Sweet Potatoes Thick Soup With Yellow Noodles) : This dish requires boiled sweet potatoes to make it's gravy. The taste should be slightly sweet and and a little spicy. Garnished with boiled egg, crackers, lime, fried shallots and doughie fritters, it could be anyone's favourite or it could be not. It all depends on your taste bud. But for Penangites (those who hailed from Penang), this dish is something to look forward too.

7) Chicken Curry : Most sought after by our Chinese customers. They love having this dish together with my Nasi Lemak. I don't have to elaborate about how to make the curry, right? I am sure everybody have at one time or the other came across any type of curry in their lives. Of all the dishes I cooked, I can safely proclaim that this is my signature dish. I could never go wrong when preparing this one meal.

8) Bolognese Sauce : No elaboration needed.

9) Black Pepper Sauce : I prepared this sauce to go with chicken chop. In Malaysia Chicken Chop is loved by everyone. It's a piece of chicken flattened and de-boned. Worked with flour, egg and bread crumb, then deep fry it. Topped with black pepper sauce, fries and salad. Yummylicious!

On weekend, I will prepare a "Menu of the Day" dish. It could be Chicken Rice or Tomato Rice. It sells like hot cakes. I sometimes skip doing it since it took too much energy and time.

Overall, I loved cooking for the cafe but at the same time, it is too exhausting for my old body. At every chance I got, we (Sophie and I) will find a spa to relax ourselves. It has now become a routine for us to find one new spa house once a month to pamper our bodies.

For those who lives around Setapak, do drop in and try our food here. There's no harm in trying. If you find it not up to your liking, you don't have to visit us anymore. But if you love our food, we are more than happy to welcome you again.

Whatever it is, I want you people to know that I appreciate your loyalties for being my followers.
I will try to write on regular basis once I got the rhythm back right on track.

Stay healthy and stay safe people.
Love you wherever are.

26th.Aug '16

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