With health now at the forefront of everyone's minds, a restaurant like Staple Eats with an imaginative outlook on wholesome cooking feels increasingly resonant.
What makes Staple Eats stand out is its reassurance that we shouldn't be forced to sacrifice indulgences that we enjoy.
This family-run venue promises everything from burgers to brownies, chilli pan mee to char kuay teow, recreated for health-conscious customers, from keto diet advocates to someone simply seeking a nourishing meal.
When we first visited Staple Eats in September 2020, siblings Danial and Mimi Yik, together with Mimi's fiancé, mixed martial arts champion Keanu Subba, and chef Jerry Siah, impressed us with how nasi lemak and cheesecakes could be the cornerstone of their then-new kitchen.
This bright-white, leafy venue has evolved further this year, introducing intriguing new specialities (Dad's beef liver soup is a must) and inventive ingredients (ELAIESE's red palm fruit oil brings a nutritious punch to prawn salsa), currently available for takeouts and deliveries.
Exploring Staple Eats' repertoire means embracing mindfully sourced ingredients.
Wild-caught local sea prawns are grilled with ELAIESE red palm oil sustainably cultivated in a single-origin plantation on Selangor's Carey Island, tossed in a house-blended medley of herbs and spices for the Red Palm Salsa Prawns (RM18).
It's a playful Malaysian reinterpretation of salsa, vibrant and lively with rich, perky textures, plumply succulent with fresh crustacean flesh, paired with Staple Eats' own-baked keto toast for crunchy dipping, crafted with almond flour instead of wheat.
Staple Eats takes pride in produce that spans organic-certified vegetables to free-range, grass-fed beef, 100% free of gluten, GMO ingredients, MSG, sugar and preservatives.
But it isn't afraid of healthy oil - the restaurant recently began experimenting with ELAIESE red palm oil by Sime Darby Oils Nutrition, rich in carotenoids, Vitamin E tocotrienols, phytosterols and other nutrients that wellness geeks will appreciate.
ELAIESE's red palm oil - a premium superfood to add to Staple Eats' arsenal of balanced, beneficial recipes - is now also part of the restaurant's red palm oil salsa, served with corn-free chips, melted cheese and house-made sour cream for a tantalising twist on a Tex-Mex classic. ELAIESE's palm fruit is collected and processed within 24 hours of harvest for maximum freshness and minimum oxidisation, preserving all its nutrients for these modern nachos.
If you've been a fan of Staple Eats over the past year, you'll know the kitchen constantly tinkers with fun ideas. You might find the red palm oil in future dips such as tomato-chilli sauce or kombu cream sauce, with deep, dynamic colours and flavours that work wonderfully with toasted bread and chips.
For protein enthusiasts, Staple Eats' main meat is beef - Danial and Mimi's father loves beef, savouring it with eggs for breakfast, steak for lunch and liver soup for dinner. Incredibly, his children reveal that he remains one of the healthiest people they know, staying fit with chiseled six-pack abs instead of a dad bod.
Inspired by Dad, the Grass-Fed Beef Rendang Rice (RM30) is a full-bodied family effort. The rendang is robust, with tender strips of beef cooked in a lightly spicy paste conceived by Danial and Mimi's mom, complemented by a choice of fragrant cauliflower rice, low-GI ponni rice or wild rice. Mimi makes the acar, jazzing up this platter with a crisp, juicy tang, keeping true to Malaysian culinary traditions.
Burgers might embody decadent cheat-day gluttony, but the Staple Cheese Burger (RM38) is sustenance that's only seemingly sinful, more virtue than vice.
The roughly one-inch patty is built with grass-fed beef, more primally satisfying than commercial, filler-mixed patties, layered with melted cheddar, caramelised onions, lettuce and tomatoes in keto buns baked with almond and coconut flour and plenty of eggs, with shaved jicama chips on the side.
It's a bold refashioning of a conventional diner burger, with all the bite we expect from a brilliant burger and the flavour-packed chew that keeps us munching merrily to the finish.
Offal buffs, bookmark Staple Eats for your fix of beef lungs and liver.
The Grass-Fed Sambal Beef Lungs are an addictive deep-fried delight, crisp-textured and meaty-tasting, lemon-marinated and mixed with organic turmeric and pink Himalayan salt (RM11).
The Aromatic Beef Liver Soup (RM33) lives up to its name, with lots of lovely liver that's beautifully brined to mellow out its gaminess, swirling in a broth potently enhanced with lemongrass and ginger, a complete hearty meal on its own. We hope it'll endure on Staple Eats' menu for a long time, especially since liver is so densely packed with potassium, iron and Vitamin B.
Staple Eats' first-time patrons are sometimes surprised and skeptical to see street food on the menu, spanning prawn noodles to pad Thai.
A taste of the Chilli Pan Mee (RM22) puts any persistent doubt to rest. The konjac noodles, mingling with organic mushrooms, bak choy, anchovies, a free-range poached egg, house-made chilli shrimp paste and a side of umami-rich, anchovy-based soup with baby spinach, are a lip-smacking, slurp-worthy triumph. All the pan mee essentials are represented with top-quality respect in the bowl, a bevy of diverse ingredients brought together in delicious harmony, soaring beyond the blah blandness that health food often evokes.
If you have a sweet tooth, you shouldn't hide it at Staple Eats. Mimi makes desserts that you can relish regularly, with sugar substituted with Lakanto monkfruit sweeteners, zero-calorie and all-natural.
We'd be nutty not to fall in lust with the Keto Brownie, baked with almond flour and garnished with walnut bits, heaped with dairy-free vegan ice cream, tasting as moistly scrumptious as Reese's cup with ice cream, and the Pecan Tart, with soft almond flour pastry, creamy and buttery, potent with pecans.
Coolers (RM18 each) keep us high on hydration, revivingly quenched with the Watermelon Punch (pure fresh watermelon juice with Lakanto and a whole lime's worth of tang), Cucumber Cooler, and the Virgin Mojito (minty and herbaceous without a drop of rum).
For an eatery that's less than a year old, Staple Eats has swiftly matured into something truly special, a distinctive destination that succeeds in channelling its thoughtful philosophies to tasty effect. Many thanks to the team here for having us back.
D-1-8, Block Davidson, Plaza Arkadia, Desa ParkCity, 52200 Kuala Lumpur. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-6pm; Sunday, 10am-4pm. Tel: 016-331-2548