Sunday, 23 February 2014

Coffee Sprex – Basic

No. 9, Jalan SS25/23, Taman Plaza, 47301, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

I normally just write about the food at a restaurant, but here is a rare opportunity for me to furnish a little backstory.

A while back, there was this new cafe that opened up in Damansara Perdana called DiB, which stands for Deaf in Business. It was a Hawaiian-themed joint opened by a doctor to – as its rather unimaginative name indicates – provide jobs for the hearing-impaired. Its name aside, DiB did serve up pretty good food and coffee. They used quality ingredients and I felt that they offered good value for money.

So I was rather saddened when they shifted away to the nearby PJ Trade Center – and thus outside the radius within which Lady Fartsalot would be willing to walk.

Then in August 2013, two of the staff from DiB decided to strike out on their own and thus opened Coffee Sprex. My lazier half found out about it on Facebook and here we are at lunch one weekend.

Firstly, the place is very small. It occupies just half a shoplot and in that space they had to fit their kitchen, coffee machine, a display cabinet with cakes and pies and six tables that can seat two each.

It may only be half a shop, but the food is not half bad!

The menu is interesting, with many items that are probably unique to Coffee Sprex. We’re curious about quite a lot fo them and will definitely go back often to try them out.

The staff are hearing-impaired so we ordered by pointing at items on the menu. Then they somehow managed to crank out all the stuff we ordered from a tiny kitchen that has only one burner.

The drinks arrived first. Mine was a macadamia latte that didn’t really taste very much like macadamias, but was still a decent glass of iced coffee.

Let's just call this kopi ais, then.

Lady Fartsalot decided to be more adventurous, and ordered one of their ‘exotic brewed teas’. It was a turmeric milk tea that was incredibly thick, particularly if you stirred up the bits at the bottom of the really, really big teapot they brought to our table. It was sort of like a pale yellow porridge, and tasted of, well, turmeric… and – to me – dried Chinese medicinal herbs. It certainly was exotic, perhaps a bit to much for us.

Seriously an acquired taste.

The food was more successful.

The steamed burgers are very basic, devoid of sides or garnishing, and at a basic price that’s just slightly higher than Ramly Burgers. Steaming made the patties extremely tender and juicy.

The beef burger had some runny sauce that tasted strongly of dried herbs – perhaps oregano – and was sandwiched between incredibly soft steamed buns.

And the cheese was all nice and melty, too.

The pork burger was as juicy, though with a more springy quality. It had a porky taste that was just right and its sauce was more barbecue sauce-like and less herby.

The pork burger is nice, but I still think lamb and beef make the best burger patties.

Our favourite of all was the lamb – which we had on a later visit and didn’t get a picture of – just like the beef burger but with a very nice lamb flavour.

Spicy Joe was a pasta dish with a spicy, tomatoey sauce and minced pork. It tasted hearty and delicious, but the pasta was unfortunately overcooked.

Sigh.. if only the pasta had been a little more al dente... 

Finally, the cheese dip with toasted bread. I was expecting a creamy dip but what we got served was a very watery liquid with strands of half-melted cheese and bits of bacon and mushroom floating in it. It tasted fine but I really wouldn’t call this a dip. I actually ordered this on two separate occasions and was served the same thing – so I guess this wasn’t a mistake and they really meant to make it this way.

They should name this 'cheese soup' instead.

All in all, we had some interesting and creative dishes, though some perhaps not executed as well as others.

I hope they do well and expand to a bigger place with a better-equipped kitchen. In the mean time, we will definitely go back frequently with our support and appetites.

Snack-sized review
A tiny, basic place offering an interesting and creative menu. Decent, no-frills food at no-frills prices. Some items are executed better than others. The steamed burgers are our favourites. Seats 12 max, so don’t bring a large party.

Hours: 8:00am to 7:00pm
Price: Very good prices with most items below RM10.