May 7, 2019
It's past three p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, but the neighbourhood is still flocking into Ahh-Yum for appetising rice platters, ambrosial noodle bowls and alluring teatime temptations. This cheerful cafe is scarcely a year old, but it already has the makings of a culinary institution in Bukit Damansara, bringing time-honoured Malaysian classics to the table for generations of food enthusiasts to rediscover and fall in love with anew.
If you're seeking comfort fare that's bursting with vibrant local flavours, painstakingly prepared in the kitchen without MSG, artificial preservatives or colouring, Ahh-Yum lives up to its lip-smacking moniker, pouring plenty of passion into hearty, soulful nourishment that Mom would spiritedly endorse.
So far, customers can find Ahh-Yum in Bukit Damansara, but expect see several more outposts across the Klang Valley in the coming months. The brand, launched in October 2018, is the younger sibling of the Kampong Kravers cafes, known widely for curry puffs and pastries alongside nasi lemak, mihun, chicken chops, toasts, roti canai, cream puffs and cakes. Ahh-Yum expands that selection exponentially, with more than three dozen dishes in its repertoire, freshly cooked and assuredly halal.
Ahh-Yum was born out of its founders' love for ayam berempah, the ideal introduction here. The recipe takes no shortcuts, marinated with 18 herbs and spices over at least 48 hours, deep-fried to that distinctively golden crisp, with every ounce of savoury flavour sealed in its moist flesh for pure poultry pleasure.
Order the Nasi Basmathi Ahh-wsome! for a sampling of Ahh-Yum's ayam and more, with a hefty portion of leg meat showered with rempah crumbs alongside kambing bakar, sambal sotong, telur masin, acar and sambal merah, all surrounding the rice hued naturally blue with butterfly pea flowers. The platter includes your choice of kuah - asam pedas (spicy tamarind), lemak cili padi (turmeric and cili padi), kari kampong (14-spice curry) or kung pao (sweet soy and sesame).
The basmathi rice is worth the carbs, fragrant and fluffy with a relatively lower glycemic index, but if you prefer individual portions of the protein, the chicken, lamb and squid are all also available on their own.
And if you crave chicken with fries instead of chicken with rice for a change, check out the Ahh-Yum Chop, originally launched this past Lunar New Year for its vibrantly auspicious colour - it's an indulgent chunk of chicken chop, taking us back nostalgically to the memorable chicken chops we've loved in the past three or four decades, with luscious extra buttermilk sauce on the side.
Ahh-Yum's single-bowl rice meals were originally crafted for children, petite enough for lighter appetites but still balanced and sufficient for an adult's workday lunch, especially if you're on a tighter budget. Brighten up your afternoon with the Nasi Ahh-Mah Golden Butter Chicken or the Nasi Ahh-Mah Kung Pao Chicken, with creamy onsen eggs that blend beautifully with the succulent chicken and steamed rice - no chicken-or-egg dilemma here, since you can have both in these fun, fuss-free bowls.
For occasions that call for slurp-worthy noodles, Ahh-Yum's variety hits the spot too: Nyonya Laksam surfaces with a choice of mee hoon or laksa noodles, prepared with tuna instead of mackerel for a full-bodied brininess, plus some pineapple for a lively splash of tropical sweetness; the cheekily named Ahh-Yum Hor "Very Fun" relies on velvety Ipoh-made kuey teow, served in the naturally sweet chicken-and-prawn soup that has long been the pride of Perak; and the can't-fail Mee Rebus is a familiar staple immersed in a chilli-laced gravy that's thickened with sweet potatoes for a creamier feel, imbued with another Ahh-Yum twist of chicken stock instead of beef (the chicken stock is made from scratch in Ahh-Yum's own kitchen). Kopitiam essentials, reinvigorated for 2019 and beyond.
Munching is made merry with Ahh-Yum's arsenal of traditional snacks: Tofu Ahh-Yum is tofu pok that comes stuffed with mashed potatoes for a moreish snack, rounded out with a sambal hitam of deep, dark dimensions, and the Cekodok Pisang blends fresh bananas that are mashed in Ahh-Yum's own kitchen for homemade authenticity. Can't get enough of cekodok? We also relished a preview of Ahh-Yum's unmistakably aromatic Cekodok Cempedak, launching for Ramadan.
Ahh-Yum also bakes its own cakes, reflecting a well-honed mastery of desserts, from the delectably decadent Moist Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream to cherished treats like Pineapple Sugee Cake (made with sugee flour from East Malaysia, served with ice cream) and Banana Cake (with ice cream), the kind of cakes you can't - and shouldn't - say no to. Pass us a slice!
Even after the food is finished, feel free to linger in this lovely space over conversation and ultra-rejuvenating coolers like the Blue Pea Flower and Lemon Soda, Bunga Roselle Soda, Homemade Lemongrass Pandan Ginger and 4 Sekawan Soda, each shimmering and sparkling with nuanced notes of natural ingredients. It's worth also sipping on some Teh Tarik while taking in the blasts from the pasts that could spark the curiosity of younger customers, like old-school thermos bottles and 555 notebooks.
This was our first visit to Ahh-Yum and it assuredly won't be our last - we'll be back for the Ramadan buffet, which is happening now until 4 June (adults at RM55.90; below 12 years old at RM39.90; book your spot three days in advance to enjoy 10 percent off).
More than 30 dishes are available for the Ramadan buffet, from Ahh-Yum's own kambing bakar to its increasingly famous ayam berempah to lamb masala, sotong goreng berempah, pasta, curry laksa, samosa, karipap, bubur manis and more. No worries about feeling cramped, since Ahh-Yum accommodates up to 130 persons; the space also boasts a designated ruang solat (prayer room) so you can stay after buka puasa without needing to eat and rush off for Maghrib prayers. There's even a Teh Lepas Terawikh session (930pm-11pm) for light bites like cekodok cempedak, cekodok pisang and bubur pulut hitam. Check back for our review of the buffet soon!
Many thanks to Ahh-Yum by Kampong Kravers for having us here.
Ahh-Yum by Kampong Kravers
73, Jalan Setia Bakti, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 8am-10pm. Tel: 03-2011-2530
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