Metal Box @ Empire Damansara

October 8, 2014

From the Beanbag to the Box: Chef Ryan, formerly a familiar face for fans of The Red Beanbag, has left Solaris Dutamas' pioneering cafe - in a amicable exit, he assures us - to spearhead his own place, partnering with fellow Taiping-born chef June to open Metal Box, which could become for Empire Damansara what RBB has been for Solaris Dutamas.

The menu here is a crafty one; casual customers won't be confused by what's available - Eggs Benedict? Big Breakfasts? Pesto Pasta? all present & accounted for - but consummate cafe visitors will observe that Metal Box tries to infuse its own trademark twists into every recipe, even if they're relatively subtle choices like inserting edamame & a red wine glaze onto a plate of Eggs Benedict (renamed The Red Benedict here).

Ryan has likely made hundreds of baked eggs in recent years - the hours of practice ensure near-perfection; Metal Box's baked eggs (RM18.90) are beautifully creamy, thick with potatoes, eggplant, cannellini beans & smoked chicken breast in lightly tangy tomato coulis, crowned with freshly grated gruyere cheese. Certain to brighten up any morning, but customers can even order this at night - Metal Box serves brunch fare right until closing time.

Metal Box bakes its own croissants to sandwich its interpretation of Eggs Hemingway (RM17.90), which come with salmon that's smoked here & hollandaise sauce made from scratch in the kitchen. The bonus: Bonito flakes & seaweed seasoning - not a total surprise, considering Ryan's penchant for Japanese influences (remember The Red Beanbag's seaweed risotto?).

Different textures & delicate flavours mingle playfully for buckwheat soba, served cold, tossed with a tomato-heavy vierge sauce (with elements of olive oil & lemon juice) & topped with avocado tempura - a lovely vegetarian option. RM15.90 - it's worth noting that much of Metal Box's menu clocks in below RM20 per item.

Customisation is possible if the kitchen isn't too busy. On the menu, beef ragout is paired with penne, but we recommend swapping the pasta for potato gnocchi, combined with a mushroom sauce & grated parmesan cheese for pure comfort food.

No lack of enticements for the sweet tooth - from chunky-soft French toast that's pan-fried with Nestum & sprinkled with roasted pistachios, served with berry coulis, diced peach & Gula Melaka (RM14.90) ...

... to perked-up Bircher Muesli, soaked overnight with orange juice & mixed with toasted almonds & cornflakes (RM13.90) ...

... to our personal favourite dessert at Metal Box - scrumptious filo pastry wrapped around sweetly luscious banana, baked with Nutella & served with super-smooth ice cream (RM15.90) ...

... to a stack of fluffy pancakes, expertly executed, glazed with Guinness for a bit of bitterness & bolstered by a syrupy shot of Gula Melaka for a lot of sweetness (RM14.90) ...

... to a bowl of crunchy almond crumble slices cushioned by juicy salted caramel apples (RM14.90), supplying a satisfying finish to a Metal Box meal. Special mention for the cafe's warm, efficient service.

Coffee isn't an afterthought here - Metal Box's general manager (also named June) is the mom of Pablo, the barista behind Brass Boiler (the caffeine counter inside Solaris Dutamas' Fahrenheit 600).

One more reason to recommend Metal Box? There's no wine on the menu, but there's no corkage fee either.

Metal Box Restaurant & Cafe
G12, Empire Damansara, Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tues-Thurs, 10am-10pm; Fri, 10am-11pm; Sat-Sun, 9am-11pm

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