Words: Dominique Montiel Photos: Monica Tindall
When a restaurant’s name starts with the word ‘awesome’, it’s safe to say that you develop a sort of straightforward expectation of not only amazing food, but also service and atmosphere. I found myself thinking about this word and with it encompassed exactly while driving up to Petaling Jaya; ‘awesome’ means different things to different people, so I questioned whether the founding entrepreneurs would cater to the immense variety of palates that composed their clientele. It was as I witnessed and savoured the restaurant’s nutritious and flavourful meals that I agreed: ‘awesome’ truly is the right word.
|An Artwork on Every Table|
Greeted by the warm undertones of soft, yellow lighting, I proceeded deeper into the spacious venue; it possessed simplistic white and dark green walls and an array of aged wooden stools paired with metallic tables- a perfectly cool marriage. Quirky adornments like impromptu Coca-Cola flower vases and an all green plant wall in the far back of the room contributed greatly to the restaurant’s hipster fresh feel. Perhaps the surprisingly chill tunes bouncing around the venue non-stop also helped on that aspect. I was completely sold. Immersed in a relaxed environment that was simultaneously lively and full of character, all we could do was think about how sophisticated and innovative the food and drinks were going to be.
First up was the Flat White Coffee (RM 9) – a much needed pick-me-up. Considering that I’m a fussy coffee drinker, this cup of hot goodness faired very well. Sporting the ideal temperature in a cup with a pretty leaf design, this drink deserved to be drunk and is perfect for an afternoon cake and coffee date.
Following this caffeinated delight was a refreshing alternative, the Paleo Banana-Broccoli Smoothie (RM 8.90). This healthy concoction is based on the rules of the Paleo diet, which follows the ancient diet of Paleolithic humans and is hence a very natural, energizing, and refurbishing option. The combination, although appearing funky and unpleasant, is surprisingly yummy and invigorating, its overall flavour being soft and easy to drink.
|Banana Broccoli Paleo Smoothie|
After trying some acclaimed choices from the drinks menu, we switched gears into food processing velocity and got down to business. The first dish we snuck our forks into was the delicious Paleo Beef Burger (RM 22.90), a healthy spin-off of a classic burger that employed a large, juicy Portobello mushroom to substitute a regular burger bun, and sides of baked pumpkin and a generous portion of scrambled eggs. Packed with protein and intensely savoury components, this meal truly set the standards high for the rest of the upcoming food; the patty’s organic taste paired with the juiciness and tenderness of the mushroom made me wish all hamburgers were made like that.
|Paleo Beef Burger|
The succeeding course was the Sambal Chicken Burger (RM17.90), a localized treat that became talked about because of its succulently cooked chicken patty and rich spiciness. Opposite the Paleo Beef Patty, this order included the classic bread burger bun, a side of crispy French fries, and creamy coleslaw. The aroma seeping from it was nothing short of hypnotizing, and the sambal topping was a spicy reminder of where this recipe came from.
|Sambal Chicken Burger|
Following the strain of burgers sampled was the Roast Chicken Pesto with Melted Cheese Sandwich (RM18.90) the only chosen of its kind. Now, imagine this: an endless variety of grilled-to-perfection veggies, toasted bread, zesty homemade pesto sauce, nuts and grapes, and melted cheese; hungry? Well, I got to taste this heavenly outcome, and it tasted ‘awesome’. The sauce was especially remarkable given that because of its homemade nature its consistency was thicker and tastier than the bottled product.
|Roast Chicken Pesto Toasted Sandwich|
The Garden Salad (RM16.90) came out looking like edible art. Sincerely, if there was such a thing, it’d be this restaurant’s Garden Salad. Forest green, dark purple, fiery orange, and soothing red were just a few of the colours this beautiful dish presented, and not surprisingly when looking at the generous portions of lettuce, cranberry, avocado, roasted pine nuts, and tomato that were in it. With a fresh and cooling effect, this salad became a favourite for the category of quick bites – oh and before I forget, the lemony vinaigrette was overwhelmingly good.
What came next was the Paleo Butterfish (RM26.90), a masterfully presented dish of butterfish with honey dill sauce and a side of shrimp. The highlight of the dish: the butterfish itself; its incredibly moist and tender body melted inside our mouths with an easiness never seen before. In addition, its honey dill sauce danced perfectly with the flavour of the fish and created a mentionable pairing. The Paleo diet never looked or tasted so good.
Our last non-dessert dish of the day was the Sweet Potato Fries (RM8.90). While most restaurants choose to use the orange version of the sweet potato to make the now trending sweet potato fries, Awesome Canteen swims against the current and uses the purple kind, which although tasting similar to the orange strain, gives an unexpected touch to the ensemble. These fries specifically were loved by all of us, their large size and crispy outside soft inside rendered to be their most adored qualities. Coupled with the house made sauce, it was almost impossible not to order a second serving.
|Japanese Sweet Potato Fries|
At last the time of desserts had arrived, the growing expectation of sweet treats to come had reached its peak. The first delight we had the pleasure of sampling was the Pineapple Cheesecake (RM12.90), a gelatin-based, not baked cheesecake. With slender pieces of pineapple in it, this treat tasted like tropical paradise, all that was missing was a bikini and a piña colada to go with it. The other dessert we gorged on was the Paleo Banana Bread (RM12.90), which was a gluten-free version of the original. Warm and silky in texture, this dish’s flavour had cocoa-undertones (YUM!) and a rich banana taste. And best of all, it didn’t make us feel guilty when we finished!
|Paleo Gluten-Free Banana Cake|
So the conclusion is: visit Awesome Canteen, it’s awesome. This food trip showed me, very eloquently, that when restaurants dedicate enough time to be great, to be exemplar – they can indeed live up to such a name. This café is living proof!
Reasons to visit: good number of Paleo and gluten-free menu items; juicy burgers; excellent coffee using beans from local roasters; Sweet Potato Fries.
19, Jalan 20/13
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia