Written by @joehairie (Photos by curiostraveller.com)
Thought of the day-“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.”-Francois De La Rochefoucauld
It is a cafe located on the roadside, not belonging to any of 5 star properties. We were here twice, this is our third visit. We’re here to break fast or to have our Iftar. Yes, we were invited but as most have known already, we are two stubborn writers. We do stick to our honest opinions and we write things, as we see it, not by what others have seen. This is Garage Kafe, a cafe that is increasingly becoming quite popular among diners in Kota Kinabalu city. Our break fast session at Garage Kafe was one of the best Sungkai in Ramadhan Month 2017.
Garage Kafe has now doubled its size which means more people are able to come in and have their meals. For Ramadhan Month 2017, they are serving buffet spread of more than 30 dishes from appetizers, mains to desserts, on top of that already extensive ala carte menu. We were here twice but not during previous Ramadhan month. This was our first Iftar experience at Garage Kafe.
Inside the cafe, there’s this long buffet table with mostly mains and some sides. The mains are a mix of local and international selections. On the evening that we’ve visited, the mains were Spaghetti Carbonara, Crab in Coconut Milk, Sweet Sour Fish, Butter Prawn, Fried Chicken in Pandan Leaves, Grilled Fish, Beef in Soy Sauce, Beef Stew, Chicken Curry, Shepherd Pie, Jack-fruit in Coconut milk and there are more!
Outside, there are two buffet sections, one is for the beverages, Malaysian ‘Bubur Lambuk‘ and ‘Bubur Ubi‘. The other section is for the Malaysian ‘Kueh-Mueh‘ and ‘Agar-agar Cendol‘ (best translated as Cendol Jelly). It’s a buffet, so diners are free to have as much as they want too. Apart from the buffet, diners may choose to have meals from the ala carte menu. We were made to understand that the ala carte option is available for Sungkai as well.
Accompanied by @Lan, we came about 30 minutes before Iftar time. Already, there were many people coming in to grab the best table in the house, nearer the mains, perhaps. There are several dining tables available outside for diners, the late comers and smokers will definitely be dining here. We were happy to be seated outside as it will help us to see the happenings inside out while enjoying our Iftar. We started our Iftar by opting for some Dates and Desserts before queuing for the mains later. That’s our typical strategic move at any Ramadhan Buffets.
10 minutes before Sungkai, diners were everywhere to get their preferred dishes. Some people were seen coming in, probably caught in traffic jam or something. Some preferred to hang out outside and had great chat with friends. It’s that scenes that one will normally get to see during Sungkai buffets.
To those planning to come here for Sungkai are advised to make an advance reservation. Walk-in is alright but you may find that there will be no table at all to accommodate you and your family/friends. Aidilfitri is 2 weeks from now and it’s time for most Diners to have their Sungkai outside home. There are some dining tables inside the cafe and each table can be combined to cater larger groups.
Back to the main buffet station, there are numerous interesting dishes being presented on the table. The dishes will be replenished so diners do not have to worry, the owners and their Chef are constantly monitoring. Those seating inside may smell the nicest aroma coming from the kitchen. The combination of Asian and International dishes is indeed one great idea of the owners as that is what Sungkai Diners are looking for.
Of all that great dishes, we love the Ayam Pandan or Fried Chicken in Pandan Leaves. It’s so aromatic and the spices really penetrated inside the Chicken Meat. The marination process takes some time and that enable the spices to go deep into the Chicken Meat. The meat, tender and delicious. Making this Ayam Pandan is not one easy task. It needs time and perseverance. It’s because of that factor that diners rarely see this type of dish in a buffet. In ala carte, it’s something common but not in a buffet. It’s available here at Garage Kafe, in their buffet. That means you can have as many pieces of Ayam Pandan, it’s your choice!
The Crab in Coconut Milk was amazing as well. We tasted this dish and the gravy was creamy but not salty nor sweet. It had just the right taste and texture. The Crab’s meat was delicious, naturally sweet and it’s worth the effort to ‘crush’ that Shell. Do it using your hands, it’s going to be a bit messy but the ‘return’ for your hard work is just amazing! You can always wash your hands later.
The Rosemary Lamb with Potatoes is a dish that you should not miss if you have your Sungkai here. The Lamb was tender and cooked perfectly. The main flavor is of course the Rosemary but not that overpowering the overall flavor. Potatoes were tender as well and we recommend you to get some of the gravy on top of your rice! It’s so amazingly delicious.
Jack-fruit in Coconut milk is one typical Malaysian dish. The gravy is creamy and the use of turmeric makes it yellowish in color. We tasted this dish as well and it’s so tender as the jack-fruit had been properly boiled for some time. The coconut milk and other elements inside the gravy gave that distinct taste to that jack-fruit. It’s not a spicy dish, don’t be fooled with that chili as it is meant for garnishing. This is another dish that we recommend you to try if you come to this cafe for your Sungkai.
Perhaps this mix vegetable is another typical dish for you but once you have the Garage Kafe version, you probably be lining up to get more of it. It’s cooked perfectly but not that too long to ensure its freshness. It’s indeed one healthy choice and that baby corn was our favorite. It’s crunchy, naturally sweet and most importantly, fresh!
Spaghetti Carbonara was also our favorite dish. It’s indeed one awesome Pasta selection. For us, it’s a dish that’s so comforting and normal, with a flavor that’s not pushing the boundary. The pasta was cooked perfectly, the taste, creamy, it’s supposed to be that way. We did a mix and match thing actually whereby we consumed this pasta with the other dishes available in the buffet. For instance, we had the pasta with that Ayam Pandan, sounds weird to westerners but the combination went well actually. That’s how Malaysian eat their meals, mix and match.
There’s one particular dessert that we love most. It’s Bubur Ubi. We had 3 bowls! It’s amazingly delicious and the best Bubur Ubi we had so far, not only in Sabah but in fact, the whole Malaysia. Bubur Ubi is identical to Bubur Cha-Cha, Malaysian favorite dessert, inside there’s bunch of sweet potatoes (in yellow, orange and purple color), cook in coconut milk. Pandan leaves is normally being used to enhance the overall flavor. Garage Kafe Bubur Ubi is red in color and it was extremely great in taste. The sweet potatoes were tender. The whole thing was not sweet nor bland. This is the dessert that we really recommend to all those who plan to come to Garage Kafe.
Garage Kafe also serves Bubur Lambuk in its buffet spread. Bubur Lambuk is similar to Rice Porridge but it has that special ingredients (spices) being incorporated into it, giving that unique taste in comparison to that regular Rice Porridge. It’s one particular dish that is popular during Ramadan Month as Malaysians love to break their fast with something sweet or something soft, to not strain their stomach after a full day of fasting. It is said that Bubur Lambuk popularity started in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur.
Agar-Agar Cendol was another dessert that we love so much. Apart from that delicious Bubur Ubi, we started our Iftar with this Agar-Agar Cendol as well! In general, Agar-Agar is a gelatinous substance obtained from various kinds of red seaweed and for scientific purpose, used in biological culture media and as a thickener in foods. At Garage Kafe, cendol is being used as the main flavor for the Agar-Agar. There’s generous coconut milk and palm sugar to make it a bit sweeter, but not that too much sweet.
Next to Garage Kafe is replica of typical Malay House complete with Eid or Hari Raya Aidilfitri decorations. The owner built this replica for fun and to create that feel of Eid celebration in Kampong/Village. It’s one smart idea we say. The replica though small, really gave us the Hari Raya feel.
Our Iftar at this newly renovated cafe was truly unforgettable. It’s about everything that we saw and experienced that made our Iftar unforgettable. We love the simplicity of the interior, the generous buffet spread and the dining atmosphere. Staffs and Owners were friendly and attentive. Most importantly, the foods were amazingly delicious and it’s worth paying. Garage Kafe is a place that you should consider for your next Iftar for it’s one of the best Cafe in Kota Kinabalu. Food are Halal as the owners themselves are Muslims.
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
Links to our previous review:
Garage Kafe @ Penampang bypass : As we see it-Revisited after 13 months
Published on May 25, 2017
Garage Kafe @ Penampang Bypass
Published on April 25, 2016