Monday, 18 May 2015

In The Company of Good Food

first published in The Malay Mail Online, 18 May 2015

Famished after a day at work, I drifted past the different restos in Jaya Shopping Centre, finding nothing that caught my fancy.

Then I remembered a place on the fifth floor.

Good Food and Co. at Jaya Shopping Centre

Good Food and Co. was an unremarkable two-level café with and open kitchen and several desserts displayed on top of a chiller. A food blog waxed lyrical over the egg dishes, and I'd begun turning to eggs for a pick-me-up.

That was way back when. Several dishes the food blog mentioned were no longer available. One of the first things I tried was the shakshouka, an egg poached in an earthenware dish of spicy tomato-based vegetable stew. This was served with slices of crusty bread that's baked on the premises.

The shakshouka, Good Food and Co's go-to, must-try staple

Even without the optional merguez sausage, the shakshouka, said to be of either Middle Eastern or North African origin, made a hearty and healthy meal. Serious vegetarians can probably ask the chefs to omit the egg. Don't worry - the owners, head chef Jonathan and his wife Lydia, are nice and approachable.

So, on this fine day, I went up to Good Food and Co., who had just introduced a laksa pesto pasta with chicken. Since then, I've had it three times, and each tasted a little different as they tweaked the dish.

Laksa pesto chicken pasta - Malaysia on a plate, kind of

What hit me were the flavours, which tasted like they came from a Malay grandma's rural backyard garden. I imagined (you don't ask, okay?) laksa leaves, chilli, a bit of lemongrass, maybe torch ginger flower and peanuts, tossed with some fettuccine and well-marinated chicken. You also get lime wedges.

I had an ulam spaghetti somewhere a long while ago, and in hindsight, a pesto made out of herbs and condiments in laksa or nasi kerabu isn't all that far-fetched. But to actually come up with it...

Three times. Maybe there was a fourth. I stopped counting since the brain went over the laksa pesto cliff. Seems unfair to some of the other items on the menu that also look interesting.

Possibly among the best brownies you'll ever have in the Klang Valley

Since then, I introduced another makan kaki to this place while Melody was out of town. Irene's roast chicken, sitting on a puree of pumpkin with salad on the side was well made, as was my beef salami pasta with soft-boiled egg. A quirky touch was nesting the egg, still in the shell with the top taken off, upright in a bed of pasta.

I was not keen on dessert, but Irene sort of insisted. Her choice of a brownie with ice cream piqued my interest in the carrot cake, which I saw being iced with butter cream behind the counter by lady boss Lydia.

Homely home-baked carrot cake

Then again, the desserts, including the salted caramel cake and blueberry muffins, look so inviting, even with the uneven surfaces on the cakes and icing. Like the breads, some were baked within the premises.

Both were delightful, especially the brownie, which Irene said she would return for. Not a light endorsement from someone who surgically removes every bit of chopped green herb from her main courses before digging in.

Good Food and Co's fare is simple, unpretentious yet tasty. Just a few good ingredients, some technique and a lot of care, served in a homely setting.

Even their current weekday special: a rice-and-chicken dish with a sunny-side-up egg, is so well done, with moist and tender chicken.

And as the last mouthful finally, reluctantly, slides down your gullet, you can't help but wonder: what will they come up with next?

Good Food and Co.
Lot 5.02, Level 5, Jaya Shopping Centre
Jalan Semangat, Seksyen 14
46100 Petaling Jaya


Mon-Sat: 11:30am-9pm
Sun: 12pm-9pm

+603 7931 5156

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