Written by @joehairie (Photos by curiostraveller.com unless stated otherwise)
Thought of the day-“Food brings people together on many different levels. It’s nourishment of the soul and body; it’s truly love.”-Giada De Laurentiis
(This cafe is owned and managed by Muslim owners)
Good food is cooked with love and soul. A great Cafe is not only about serving that good food but is also a place where people ably to sense that warm and inviting atmosphere. Being inside, it feels like almost being at home. Feeling comfortable is the keyword. In the long run, people will only return to cafes that they feel comfortable at. These are the qualities of a great cafe. Kota Kinabalu city is increasingly dotted with new cafes, not all have that ‘great qualities’ but Garage Kafe @ Penampang Bypass does. That’s how we see it, an observation of ours that took 13 months to reach that firm conclusion.
The Generic Qualities
Garage Kafe is not that mediocre and substantially empty as in many cafes in Kota Kinabalu city. It has its own beautiful ‘soul’ and moves ‘vertically’ towards success. While it’s not of a grander cafe as in high-end cafes, in terms of state of the art decorations, it’s actually on par with 5 stars rating when it comes to food, beverages and service factors. We have no doubt about that. We came here 13 months ago and came back. We were able to see greater transformation in those 3 areas. Most importantly, we felt comfortable, not a single second that we’re uncomfortable.
Sense of belonging is undeniably one important factor. When we recently visited Garage Kafe, we felt that we belong (we still do) to this place. We felt that our presence as customers were very much appreciated by both staffs and owners. We felt the same way during our first visit 13 months ago. Every single person that came in and out of that door were given utmost attention. The staffs and owners genuinely smiled and went farther to ensure customers felt being appreciated. It went that way until we exited the cafe.
We came in as a group of 7 people. A staff immediately acknowledged our presence and assigned us one large table. Smaller groups and duo diners were given suitable tables. Staffs were very attentive towards customers needs and tried their very best to personally assist each individual. The staffs are the important asset for Garage Kafe as they complemented the other outstanding qualities. They are all young but obviously ‘matured’ in their public relation skills.
The ambiance is simple. There are parts purposely left unfinished to give that ‘industrial’ impression. It’s similar to a ‘garage scene’ that needs no luxury touch-up. The name of the cafe itself indicates the concept. Nevertheless, it’s warmly accepted by their regulars. Newbies will be soon find out that everything including the ambiance are actually well connected as deeper thoughts have been put into the overall concept. Such simplicity gives diners the direction of the cafe. It clearly shows the owners characteristics of being easy going, bubbly and friendly.
Altogether we had amazing 10 dishes. All of that 10 dishes were spectacular and amazing in both taste and presentation. Most importantly, all of em’ are reasonably priced and each presented in great portions. There’s absolutely not a single flaw with the food that we had. We emptied each dish. All 10 are uniquely different in terms of origins and categories.
Soup/Broth based (Nusantara)
Available during weekends only
Sup Gearbox Meletup. Price: RM25.00
Sup Tulang Power. Price: RM12.90
Spaghetti Aglio Olio. Spaghetti sautéed with prawn, garlic, chili in extra virgin oil. Price: RM13.90
Spaghetti Butter Chicken. East meet west, spaghetti with spicy & creamy butter chicken sauce. Price: RM12.90
Salmon Steak and Pasta. Baked Salmon Steak with Pasta and Vegetables, topped with Mustard Cream Sauce. Price: 25.90
Meat Based (Western)
Chicken Chop Full Throttle. Deep fried breaded chicken thigh, served with coleslaw, fries and homemade black pepper, Mushroom sauce or garage special. Price: RM15.90
Grilled Lamb Chop. Moist and tender lamb shoulder seasoned with herbs, grilled to perfection. It is served with coleslaw, wedges and homemade black pepper, mushroom sauce or garage special. Price: RM18.90
Rock and Roll Baked Chicken. Boneless Chicken Breast, rolled and baked with cheese stuffing served with mashed potato. Price: RM17.90
Malaysian/Asean and Fusion Oriental
Nasi Lemak Chicken Curry. Served with anchovies, peanuts, egg, sambal and their homemade Chicken Curry. Price: 12.90
Add Ons: Extra Sambal (RM1.00) Extra Rice (RM2.50)
On the day that we visited, they ran out of Chicken Curry and the Chef substituted it with Lamb Curry. Lamb Curry will only be served in the event that Chicken Curry is not available and it cost extra RM2.00 to the mentioned RM12.90.
Ginger Beef Served with Rice. Price: RM9.90
All in all, we had 7 types of beverages. Each of them is uniquely different and the selections from ‘Garage Overload Drinks’ were extremely rich in taste. The size of the selections are just way too big, making the price tagged to it, smaller. The hot and blended selections were great as well and are priced reasonably.
From the ‘Garage Overload Drinks’ selections
Vanilla Caramello. Price: RM12.90
Cookies Crumble. Price:RM12.90
Strawberry Love. Price: RM12.90
From the Garage Kafe Hot, Ice and Blended selections
Blended Hazelnut Latte and Blended Hazelnut Chocolate (Each is priced at RM8.90)
Thai Coffee and Thai Green Tea (Each is priced at RM4.90)
We shared 2 types of desserts and for each type we ordered 2 sets. Both were so great in its presentation and taste. We love how creativity formed that Flower Pot Ice Cream. It might looks like a pot but inside it’s full of yummy and soft ice cream! The level of sweetness was moderate, which is our preference.
Volcano Chocolate Lava. Homemade warm chocolate lava served with vanilla ice cream. Price:RM8.90
Flower Pot Ice Cream. Price: RM5.90
Dining at Garage Kafe truly brings in that joy and happiness. Its not a fine dining cafe but its safe to say that the overall concept is more to Fun Dining. Garage Kafe is a place for people to eat, relax and have fun. The owners brings in homely dining experience where family members and friends gets to cherish every moment. There are board games and books available. Those board games can be played before, during or after your meals, on your own dining table.
It is kind of eating food of a comparable standard in a more relaxed setting. This is what common diners nowadays are looking for rather than being in the formal dining setting. While this concept is burgeoning in Kota Kinabalu City, not all cafe(s) managed to adopt it properly, few does and that includes Garage Kafe. Fun Dining concept makes customers stay a bit longer as they do enjoy being in that place. For them, it is family bonding time or having good times with friends.
The Ongoing Expansion
It’s getting bigger in size!
(Photos are from Garage Kafe Instagram Gallery)
Don’t be surprised if you come here and you get to see that Garage Kafe doubled its size already! They are currently doing it now, in fact, the renovation is almost completed. We’re happy to be able to track down their progress from the very beginning up to this moment. Realizing that more and more people coming to this particular cafe, the owners finally decided to double the size of the cafe. It’s also part of their preparation for the soon to come Ramadhan Month 2017.
Doubling the size of the cafe meant only one thing, the cafe has proven to be among the best in its surrounding areas and I personally think that in the future it’s going to outplay some big names in Kota Kinabalu city. While some cafes are ceasing or slowing down operation, this one is expanding its size. It took them 13 months to be in this position and I believe more great things are coming for Garage Kafe. It’s the trust that customers are giving, based on the owners capabilities in maintaining the overall qualities.
Ramadhan Month 2017
I was informed that Garage Kafe will be opening daily during Ramadhan month, exclusively for Breaking Fast sessions. In the first few hours, there will be a buffet spread and ala carte will be made available starting at 9.00 pm. We are looking forward to break fast at this cafe in the first week of Ramadhan and see for ourselves the completed expansion project.
Generally speaking, there is clear distinction and balance in between all that needed qualities, from food, service to the dining atmosphere itself. Quality (In Products, Service, Cleanliness), creativity, owner’s perseverance, ambiance and being in the right location are the keywords to success. Without doubt, Garage Kafe has it all. It’s not an easy task to write this particular review, producing unbiased article. We wrote honestly, directly from our thoughts without any input from the owners.
We were served good foods and beverages. All of em’ are of high quality. There was not a single plate left unfinished. Every elements that are edible were gone, leaving that shiny plates on the table. The same for the beverages as well. All dishes are reasonably priced, affordable for everyone.
We came in a group of 7 people and we had 10 dishes, 7 beverages and 2 desserts. While there are actually more selections from the menu, from that 10 main dishes alone, we already knew that the Owners, Chefs and Staffs are serious in giving customers the best. Food are cooked with love and soul here. That is obvious. Portions for both dishes and beverages are way big. Some are just so big that a petite customer might need help to finish his or her chosen dish.
The cafe’s clean inside and out. Spotless. Immaculate. Used tables were quickly cleared by the staffs. Service, excellent. We observed how other customers were being served quickly. It did not take long for their food and drinks to arrived on their tables. We’ve seen happy faces that night. The owners took the initiative to do rounds, greeting and had casual conversation with customers.
Though it’s no longer an actual open kitchen as in middle 2016, we did smell amazing aromas coming out each time the door to the kitchen was opened. Hot dishes stayed hot when being put on the table, being taken directly after it’s cooked, from the kitchen to the table, without any delay. Food were arranged nicely and neatly. Plates were free from any stain.
Board games and books are available, as well as that mandatory WiFi. The cafe is air conditioned, giving that cool air which is pretty much needed when it’s hot and humid outside. The owners came to our table and they told us about their coming-up new menus. It is that determination of theirs that actually brings this cafe to its present day success.
It is rare that in one visit to a cafe, we instantly are pleased with all elements we looked at. Surprisingly, Garage Kafe fits in all that criteria in being one great cafe. We were there when they started business and we were there again, recently. They have achieved things that they did not dream of. It is indeed a cafe that will have that X Factor in the near future.
Thinking of visiting this cafe and indulge in their yum offerings? Head to:
Jalan Pintas Penampang/Penampang Bypass
(Before the junction to Grand Plaza Millennium)
Tel: (6088) 732 377
Mobile: (60) 12 820 8290
Facebook: @garagekafekk or Click HERE
Instagram: Click HERE
Operation Hours during Ramadhan Month 2017
Operation Hours before and after Ramadhan Month 2017
Monday- Off Day
Weekdays- 11.00 am to 11.00 pm
Weekends- 11.00 am to 12.00 am
Link to our previous review: