Written by @Lan (Photos by curiostraveller.com and credited source)
Thought of the day-” To become successful and outstanding at something, we don’t have to come up with something new; we need only find ways of doing it better.”- Earl Nightingale
Weeks ago, we read about Alif Satar opening up a new Cafe in Kota Kinabalu. We did discuss about the possibility of visiting. We did not go, until recently. We searched high and low for some information about A’S Cafe. With minimum information, we contacted Mukhriz (the Manager) and told him that we’re coming. We’re about to visit a cafe that we know very little about. We initially did not have any expectation or even ably to imagine the outcome. Nothing. We went and this is how we saw and experienced things at A’S Cafe.
When celebrities decide to venture in F&B business, they will always opt for high-end cafes or restaurants. It’s always about that trendy eateries with floor to ceiling glass panel, strange menus, not everyday foods, that one will have difficulty to pronounce the name of the dishes and many more weird stuffs.
Alif Satar and his family chose to do it differently. They opted for one acceptable keyword, simplicity. They opted to serve food that people want to have on daily basis. Yes, we were surprised to see the structure of A’S Cafe. It’s about that open space and one large container. Interesting!
With help from his friend (Farish Aziz), Alif Satar found the perfect spot to visualize his business vision and at the same time giving his dad, Uncle Satar, the opportunity to get serious in his culinary adventure. Uncle Satar is one passionate man when it comes to cooking. A’S Cafe is about family business.
While Alif Satar is busy with his work, Uncle Satar, Auntie Fiza and their team, will manage the cafe. Their food concentration; delicacies from Peninsular Malaysia such as Nasi Lemak, Ayam Goreng Berempah, Curry dishes, Penang Laksa and many more.
A’S Cafe is located at Yayasan Sabah soccer field that is currently being upgraded to become one perfect spot for people of all walks of life. The vision is to create a playground, space for casual sports and even outdoor events such as Family Day. It’s not a cafe that is located inside a mall or in the city. The location is about that creative and open environment.
In the long run, A’S Cafe will become one great cafe as it will offer that needed F&B venue for those coming to have fun at the field. Uncle Satar told us that the cafe is capable of handling catering for larger groups. Imagine this, Family Day at the field while food and beverages at the Cafe, that’s one brilliant idea!
The modified container is divided into 2 sections. One is the Kitchen and the other half is an air conditioned dining area with enclosed and adequate space to perform Solat/Prayers. The inside dining area has about 3 dining tables and this section is perfect for those wanting to escape the heat outside.
There’s one large open space dining area with many tables, suitable for duo and even larger groups. According to Uncle Satar, there’s a plan to extend the Cafe, enlarging it a little bit. For now, it might looks like a moderate open air Cafe (in size) but in the near future, this place will have greater space and more interesting things for customers.
The vision is about keeping that simplicity factor that is ably to create relaxing and casual dining atmosphere. It’s not to create high-end environment. It’s about fostering strong relationship between diners, great foods, recreation and outdoor fun. There’s no massive traffic jam to see as in the view from city’s eateries. It’s about that green space and yes, two tall buildings.
The menu is straight forward. There are no fancy or unknown names inside it. There’s no strange food as in spelling or pronunciation. It’s about Malaysian delicacies. Food that people are looking for on daily basis. We came for Iftar during Ramadan Month therefore we’re not so lucky to try their Nasi Lemak. We were made to understand that more food options will be made available after Raya Holiday.
For Iftar during Ramadan Month, they are serving A’S Combo on top of the options in ala carte menu. This particular A’S Combo will still be served after Raya Holiday with slight changes and upgrades to its presentation, options, size and price. As mentioned, there will more options in the ala carte menu and that will be introduced gradually after Raya Holiday and we are looking forward to their new dishes.
We’re a bit surprised to see the price range for food and beverages at A’S Cafe. In average, it’s absolutely cheap in comparison to the prices at other Cafes in the city. It’s one cafe that we best described as ‘wallet-friendly’. For Iftar, we tasted 3 dishes as recommended by Uncle Satar. Those dishes were Tom yum (Seafood), Sotong Sambal and Butter Chicken.
Having the opportunity to live in Thailand for one full year gave me that ‘A-Z lesson’ about Tom yum. Generally, there are 3 types of Tom yum. The white (clear broth), the red (due to the use of red paste) and creamy version (for the presence of coconut milk). Some ambitious and creative sellers serve Tomyum inside a real coconut. The basic ingredients are always lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, fish sauce, lime juice and bird eye chilies.
The red paste consists of that basic ingredients. Omit the chilies or anything red in color (for the paste) and it will be white Tom Yum. Tom yum (of all types) is supposed to be pungent, sour and spicy. Whatever proteins and greens being put into it are optional and will be up to diners preferences. Consuming Tom Yum is about that combined authentic flavors of fresh ingredients, giving you that spicy and sour taste.
The A’S Cafe Tomyum did not disappoint us. In fact, it’s uniquely different as what Sabahans are having in Sabah. It’s the Peninsular Malaysia version of Tom yum. It’s quite spicy (though one can ask for less spicy broth), thicker and yes, it’s almost identical to the Tom yum that I had in Bangkok for million times. The Tom Yum here is not that watery, generous amount of paste are being used for each serving.
The seafood (Prawns and Squid/Cuttlefish) inside our Tom yum were fresh. Not the grandest in size but then it’s worth the price tagged to the dish. It’s only RM7.00 for a bowl of Tom yum. It all came down to the taste of the broth. It’s one particular dish that deserves the praise. We wouldn’t mind paying RM10.00 per bowl if more proteins are in it as the broth or soup was amazingly delicious.
It’s one dish that is so memorable. Both our brains somehow told us that there’s a big connection between Tom yum and A’S Cafe. A’S Tom yum is indeed a contender to the same dish in one eatery that we frequently visit all the time. The advantages of the Tom yum at A’S cafe; the price and quality. Without doubt, we are recommending this dish for you if you come to A’S cafe.
The Malay people especially those in Peninsular Malaysia loves cooking proteins with their favorite sambal, a paste that is made of dried chilies, garlic, shallot, onion and tamarind (Peel or Paste). It’s all blended together and later being stir fried, adding generous amount of sugar and little salt. Some people even use Shrimp Paste to enhance the taste of Sambal. This slowly stir fried Sambal is then being incorporated with preferred protein, by mixing it all in a hot wok (stir fry).
The squid (Sotong), fresh and tender. Combine that with the sambal, it’s one spicy, sweet and sour dish. The sambal texture was not watery, it’s thick. There’s onion and red chilies as garnishing. It’s a bit oily at the edge of the dish but it’s supposed to be that way as the sambal itself was stir fried in generous amount of cooking oil. That’s the only way to cook it properly. It might not be a healthy dish but it’s delicious and it’s not a sin to have dish such as that, once in a while.
The Sotong Sambal by A’S Cafe really depicts the food of the Malays in Peninsular Malaysia. While Sabahans do have similar dish, it’s less spicy here. It’s a bit different. We both love the texture of the sambal. It went well with the white rice. What we love most is the price. It’s only RM6.00 per serving. One serving is good for 2 pax. Share the cost and that’s RM3.00 per person. It’s not only delicious, it’s cheap at the same time.
By its appearance, A’S Cafe Butter Chicken looks almost the same as at any other eateries. It’s one common dish. However, it’s one of the best that we had so far. It’s creamy, flavorful and mild, as in the original version of Murgh Makhani. Well, not the color but at least in its taste. There’s no excessive use of curry powder as in the original version. It’s in between the original and the fusion.
We emptied the plate. It means the dish was extremely great, at least for us. Same as the Tom yum and Sotong Sambal, it went well with the white rice. The aromatic curry leaves gave that pungent taste. It created that contrast between creamy and spice taste. The Chicken meat are fried prior to the final cooking process. Though being ‘flooded’ with that buttery creamy gravy, it’s still crispy and inside, tender.
It’s another dish that we recommend if you do come here. Again, the price factor wowed us as it’s only RM6.00 per serving. It’s good for 2 pax. Spread the cost evenly with your dining mate and you get one way reasonably priced dish. Simply put, it’s cheap. It’s one of their best option in their ala carte menu.
For the beverage, @joehairie chose to have Sirap Bandung. This is not that typical Sirap Bandung. It’s one special Sirap Bandung as it comes with Soda Water, mimicking that Soda Gembira, the Indonesian Mocktail. The price? RM2.00 per glass whereas it’s between RM3.00-RM4.50 in other eateries. For the same quality of Sirap Bandung Special (with Soda Water), you pay less at A’S Cafe.
A’S Cafe is still new and we believe that it has the potential to become one of the best cafes in Kota Kinabalu City. Uncle Satar will gradually reveal more great dishes after Raya Holiday. We tasted 3 dishes of theirs. All three were of high quality. Most importantly, the price for each dish are way super reasonable. The presentation might be simple but who cares if the taste and price are great already. The future plan to incorporate the venue with the soon to be completed playground/field is adding value for customers. It will contribute towards customers satisfaction.
For now, it’s a just a cafe but in the near future it’s going to be more than a cafe. It’s going to be a cafe that will not only be serving great food but gives casual, fun and creative dining experience. When we chose to visit this cafe, we initially had no idea about what to expect. On our way, we thought it’s going to be another same experience in a cafe that is owned by a celebrity. We were wrong.
This cafe is not about Alif Satar’s fame. Alif Satar is not going to be here all the time anyway. This cafe is about great dishes, a new concept of casual, fun and creative dining experience. It’s about that flavorful dishes, cooked with love. It’s a cafe that will soon be the main contender in gaining attention from food hunters in Kota Kinabalu City. That’s how we see things at A’S Cafe.
Time will tell if we’re writing genuine thoughts of ours. In months to come, some people will start copying the same business model. Only those with courage and perseverance will succeed and we do see that in Uncle Satar thoughts and characters. Was there anything particular that we least like during our visit? Nothing and we hope it will be that way in our next visit. We believe it will.
Padang Kompleks Sukan Tun Adnan, Yayasan Sabah
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Mobile: 012 924 4624 (Mukhriz) / 019 662 9629 (Uncle Satar)
Facebook : @ascafepadangkontena or Click HERE
Alif Satar Official Instagram : Click HERE
(Note for International Readers: Alif Satar is a Malaysian Actor/Singer)