g. by Forest Bean, Kota Kemuning

August 9, 2020

Good friends, great ingredients, generous cooking with graceful Japanese inspirations: g. by Forest Bean is barely six months old, but it has the right stuff to earn a loyal following in Kota Kemuning and beyond, run by four companions who've long shared a dream of opening their own neighbourhood cafe.

Direct access to seafood is a pillar of the kitchen - one of the friends has a history of supplying Japanese produce to respected hotels across KL and Selangor. A fresh batch of seafood is sent to g. by Forest Bean three times a week, ensuring top-notch fare for fans of everything from mackerel and salmon to shrimp roe.

The chef makes imaginative use of the produce, harnessing more than two decades of professional experience in Japanese cuisine. He brings a bit of Kyoto to Kota Kemuning, having trained in Japan's former capital as well as Osaka and Yokohama for at least a month every year from 2005 through 2012, mastering genres like yakitori, soba, tempura, and even omakase multi-course meals.

After opening in February and working to find its footing amid this year's uncertainties, g. by Forest Bean is now ready to be discovered, debuting its full menu of hearty temptations that range widely from rice bowls to noodles, pizzas to steaks, all done with a special g. flourish that makes this venue worth venturing to from any other area in the Klang Valley.

Wafuhamburger garlic rice bowls? Udon asam laksa? Pizzas crowned with plum sauce chicken and lotus roots? Onsen tamago Eggs Benedict? Count us in!

Japanese-influenced rice bowls make for the ideal introduction to g. by Forest Bean, many with an aromatic base of garlic fried rice, blanketed with a protein of your choice. Some of the bowls come with beautifully runny onsen tamago, relying on kampung chicken eggs sourced daily from a Selayang farm.

Set sail with the smoky Mackerel Don, featuring firm and flaky grilled fish, made earthy with crispy lotus root chips, scallions roots and  (RM28), or the pure, pristine Norwegian salmon don, a full fish steak that's thick and tender, showered with ebiko for lovely bursts of both flavour and texture (RM28; this comes with white rice to put the full focus on the fish).

If meat is your preferred protein to pair with rice, get grounded with the Wafuhamburger, embracing Japan's yoshoku Western-inflected cafe favourite with a chunky, fleshy Australian beef patty, hidden beneath a fried egg (RM28), or grilled with the teriyaki chicken, a terrific tori don, Japan's version of chicken rice, layered with succulent, umami-rich chicken (RM26).

Customers who crave creamy comfort can indulge in the tori karaage curry - this showcases two crowd-pleasers in one serving: bite-sized Japanese fried chicken with crunchy batter, plus a mellow Japanese curry that blends two imported Japanese curry pastes for a distinctive sweet-spiciness (RM25). Dunk the chicken lightly into the curry to savour the best of both together, with some yolk to boost the pleasure further, or relish the chicken and the curry separately - it's completely up to you.

Next up, noodles: This is where funky fusion fun might kick in, particularly for the udon served in reinvented contemporary fashion.

The Sanuki Udon has a gentle Italian twist, marrying Tokyo and Turin on one plate in an aglio olio preparation that's garlicky and tomatoey but also equally Asian with seaweed and dried chillies (RM20). It might sound unconventional, but the flavours combine harmoniously and satisfyingly.

It also makes sense for g. by Forest Bean to create the unique Udon Asam Laksa, submerging the thick, bouncy noodles in a house-made laksa broth that speaks clearly of Penang, its pronounced tang accentuated by pineapple slices. This is a memorable Malaysian-Japanese hybrid, with onsen tamago and tempura-battered tenggiri for a bowl you won't find in George Town or anywhere else (RM20).

Pastas also hit the spot, with plenty of Asian touches to keep things very interesting. The mentaiko pasta is a mouthwatering marvel, with a shoyu cream sauce that borrows from French techniques, tinged with ultra-luscious cod roe for mentaiko maniacs, balanced out with parsley and nori (RM28).

The salted egg pasta alone merits the visit to g. by Forest Bean - it's much more nuanced and delicate than normal, with subtle hints of cili padi amid a drizzle of curry leaves, showered elegantly with strips of smoked duck and grated parmesan for a well-rounded pasta (RM25).

We're also instant fans of the truffle mushroom pasta, prepared with a house-made truffle paste whose fragrance wafted immediately over the table; this is a vegetarian-friendly delight, with kale and Cameron Highlands shiitake mushroom tempura for a bright, buoyant crunch (RM25).

If you love pasta with an Italian-Japanese flair, bookmark the three pastas above to try here.

Where there's pasta, can pizza be far behind? g. by Forest Bean does justice to oven-baked traditions with tasty toppings over thin, slightly fluffy crusts.

These reasonably priced pizzas are as intriguing as everything else in the kitchen's repertoire. Forget the cliched Hawaiian chicken pizzas and pick g.'s Jidori instead, with chicken that's flavoured with Japanese plum paste and mixed herbs, crisped up with lotus roots (RM25), or the Traditional Ayam Rendang, featuring a deep, decadent chicken rendang recipe handed down two generations by the chef's own grandmother (RM25).

Other vibrant topping styles include the Kaisan (RM28; seafood with ebiko, teriyaki sauce and bonito flakes), the perennially popular Smoked Duck (RM28; jazzed up with rocket leaves) and the mixed mushroom pizza (RM20; with spinach for extra fibre).

If you're here for a weekend brunch, g. by Forest Bean also boasts several playful concoctions.

The FB Eggs Benedict is a medley of border-hopping inspirations, crowned with onsen tamago instead of the typical poached eggs, over English muffins with not only spinach and hollandaise sauce but more of the chef's family's Perak-style chicken rendang for a spicy kick (RM20).

If you favour a sweet punch instead, check out the KK Crispy Toast, fundamentally a fluffy brioche that's specially coated in crushed cereal for a childhood-evoking treat, coupled with coconut mascarpone cheese for a wonderfully inventive reinterpretation of French toast (RM20).

Here for a fuss-free lunch? g. by Forest Bean has you covered with a classic, its juicy chicken chop that's marinated with thyme, rosemary and olive oil for two hours, completed with a button mushroom cream sauce, plus potato mash and mushroom saute to lift your spirits on any workday (RM25). Again, we love how the kitchen takes an ordinary dish, like chicken chop, and genuinely elevates it to become something to talk about. Salmon steaks and beef steaks are also available.

With its welcoming vibes, we can envision lingering at g. by Forest Bean all day long. If you need snacks to accompany your time here, there's so much to munch from.

Meaty morsels include the crackly-skinned chicken wings, marinated for 24 hours with fresh milk and garlic, deep-fried and delivered to your table with taru-taru sauce (RM15) and the chunky meatballs, saturated with a textured tomato-based sauce, partnered with baguette slices (RM20).

Parmesan-sprinkled truffle fries (RM12), truffle mashed potatoes (RM15) and cheesy nachos, featuring corn tortillas with meat sauce and mozzarella (RM18), are also perfect for the peckish, ensuring no one leaves this cafe hungry.

Modern-minded, vegetable-based highlights also also available for wholesome meals - the onsen tamago salad is bolstered by the chef's own wafu dressing, with a spicy shoyu mix that's laced with garlic, onions and carrots (RM15), while the kakiage takes the time-honoured Japanese style of batter to coat shredded vegetables and shrimp, paired with a Malaysian-style peanut sauce for a charming cross between tempura and satay (RM15).

Finally, we reach dessert: g. hits the sweet spot with its house-baked crunchy cream puffs, French-style choux pastry that's made fresh everyday, filled plumply with exquisite cream in flavours of matcha (RM6), vanilla (RM6) or Musang King durians from Raub (RM10).

If you like warm-and-cool combos, check out the sundae brownies, built with 70% Belgian Callebaut chocolate to lure us irresistibly to the dark side; remarkably even the ice cream is constructed from scratch in-house, in flavours like vanilla, matcha or black sesame (RM12.90).

Beverages also nail all the required marks. You'll know this cafe is serious about its caffeine, with burlap coffee sacks by the entrance. The baristas mix things up to keep it all fresh and exciting - you might find Brazilian beans in the hopper one month, followed by Colombian or Indonesian beans the next month. A dirty latte offers a layered experience, from the heat of the coffee to the cold of the milk (RM12), while the Australian iced coffee is a journey Down Under, topped with ice cream, a delight to share with your mates (RM13).

There's something for everyone: Keep things simple with the iced matcha espresso, with concentrated green tea goodness, courtesy of pure matcha powder (RM13), and iced lemon tea, with English breakfast tea, lemon and kitchen-made sugar syrup, to hide out on a hot afternoon (RM10), or make it a more elaborate escapade with the G Special, an ice-blended chocolate milkshake that soothes you with its cocoa smoothness, made frosty with crushed ice and matcha ice cream (RM15).

All in all, g. by Forest Bean is an impressive cafe by any measure, with food that's crafted with passion and prowess. Many thanks to the team here for having us.

Photographs are by CK Lim, exclusively for g. by Forest bean.

G. by Forest Bean

Lot 1-9-1, No 14, Persiaran Anggerik Vanilla, Sinaran 1, Kota Kemuning, 40460 Shah Alam.

Open Monday, Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-10pm. Tel: 019-322-0978

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