Tucked away down a side street in Headingley, the Kuala Lumpur Cafe is an unprepossessing building.
A simple facade stuck on a bright blue brick wall, didn’t really inspire confidence. Looks have been known to be deceiving, however, and we’d heard good things about this fledgling cafe.
I’ve travelled extensively in Malaysia as has my dining companion and over the years we’ve eaten everything the country has to offer from tasty morsels from street vendors to six-course banquets in high-class restaurants - so the benchmark was high.
The co-owners, one of whom is Malaysian, recruited a top-class Malaysian chef with an impressive pedigree and launched their venture in Leeds earlier this year. Until then the city had no Malaysian restaurant so the potential for success was high.
The interior is clean, bright and minimalist and the welcome from the two owners cheery and most welcoming. There are a few tables downstairs but we are shown upstairs where two other couple are already dining.
What’s the menu like?
The Lunchtime Express menu we sampled is available weekdays Tuesday-Friday 12pm-2:30pm and includes a small selection of traditional starters, mains and drinks.
Now onto the food
The cafe is not licenced - diners can bring their own alcohol - so we ordered mango juice and then glasses of teh tarik - hot sweet milky tea - to go with our starters of vegetable spring rolls. The rolls came simply presented resting on a slice of banana leaf and accompanied by a sweet chili sauce. They were absolutely divine - light, crispy and hot, cooked to perfection and we both agreed they were better than any we’ve tasted before.
Mains included one of my favourite Malaysian dishes, coconut rice with Beef Rendang, a slowly simmered curry infused with galangal, lemongrass and chilies, and tofu gulai spicy coconut milk curry with star anise and pandan leaves, also served with coconut rice. Again, they were both superb. The beef in the rendang tender, the coconut rice fluffy and the tofu gulai just the right side of spicy. The dishes were beautifully presented.
Although Roti Canai (paratha bread served with mild curry sauce) is not normally available on the lunchtime menu we had a hankering to taste it again. The chef indulged us and agreed to make some just for us. They were every bit as good as we remembered.
Room for dessert?
There are no desserts offered on the lunchtime menu but we had had plenty to eat anyway so didn't mind one bit.
And the drinks?
Plenty of soft drinks on the lunchtime menu with more variety in the evening
How much was the bill? Was it value for money?
Two courses are a mere £6.99 with an extra £1 for a soft drink and it represents excellent value for money.
Including all the extras we'd ordered, the meal came to £28.96 which was more than good value.
Address: 2-4 Bennett Road, Leeds LS6 3HN
Telephone: 0113 345 5770
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday noon-2.30pm/5-10pm (Friday 11pm); Saturday noon-11pm; Sunday noon-10pm.
Byline: Julie Marshall