Humble Chef & Chef Diary

February 28, 2012

Will too many Chefs spoil this block? We headed to Plaza Damansara to find out, seeking snacks at The Humble Chef & a full-blown dinner at Chef Diary.

Most might know The Humble Chef from its van that parks at night in Pusat Bandar Damansara & dishes out RM5 pasta. This year, it opened a cafe in Bukit Damansara, where customers can eat in a partially air-conditioned setting adorned with local artwork.

Lamb-stuffed omelet. Hot & fresh, with an eggy-cheesy texture that's both fluffy & milky. Sure, the lamb's a little too gamy, evocative of mutton, but for RM2.50, we can't complain.

Lamb-filled pita bread (RM4.50). Why try this even if you're ordering the omelet? One reason: The Humble Chef's own zingy mustard sauce, which really complements the minced meat.

Spaghetti is sold in a myriad of preparations: pesto, aglio olio, carbonara & bolognese, with choices of chicken, beef, lamb & meatballs. The chicken pesto is flavorful in a blended herb sauce; could nitpick that the meat comes in sparse slivers, but it's still only RM5.

The crowds head here fast & furious, causing some items run out before the night is over. The Humble Chef opens for lunch & dinner starting 7:30pm, but by the time we arrived at 9pm, it was out of beef & noodles (Mee Kondo & Fried Laksa). Thankfully, service is speedy & smiley.

Next up, revisiting Chef Diary, which has maintained high standards & survived 30 months now.
Earlier entry on Chef Diary: September 23, 2009.

Tapas are a treat here; arranged to look like butterflies, this duck pate with black truffles & smoked paprika is worth admiring. The pate might have hailed from a can, but for RM18++, it's far from a rip-off.

Air-dried beef, drizzled with truffle oil & stuffed with piquillo peppers & Manchego cheese. A delicious combo with complicated flavors & textures _ meaty, savory, oily, earthy, peppery, chewy-crumbly & nutty. Something to savor slowly & silently.

More truffles, in piping-hot potato croquettes, crisp on the outside & creamy-soft within.

Air-dried tuna with avocado, mascarpone & pomegranate dressing. Another textural triumph, reminiscent of recipes that Millesime's Max Chin might whip up.

Boquerones with vine-ripened tomatoes in brown butter & white balsamic sauce. Can't say the unusual mix of crisp anchovies with such tangy accompaniments was an unadulterated success, but it was an intriguing interplay of ingredients.

Oxtail braised in Madeira wine. You can taste the liquor _ reason enough to recommend this.

For main courses, Chef Diary's should-try is the Spanish Carbonara, featuring fettuccine with duck pancetta (similar to Chinese siew yoke in both appearance & flavor), Manchego cheese & egg yolk. Forget those salmonella poisoning fears & dig deep into this richly sumptuous dish.

We can't thoroughly endorse the beef paella though; while it came with muscularly hearty chunks of meat to justify its RM70 price tag, the rice lacked any scent of saffron.

Complimentary dessert: flourless chocolate cake, warm & moist, accompanied by whole figs.

Sangria is available, a refreshing, thirst-quenching version with lots of chopped fruits.

Marques de Caceros Crianza, a Spanish red that's perfect for partnering with the food. And as we finished the wine, we reached our happy conclusion: as far as Plaza Damansara is concerned, two Chefs are better than one!

The Humble Chef & Chef Diary,
Plaza Damansara, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.