Food

Go green with the dirty matcha and ‘ondeh-ondeh’ cake at Penguin Specialty Coffee in Bandar Menjalara


KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 — The saying goes: A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. Yet coffee served in a different vessel might taste better or worse, depending on how it is presented.

They also say manners maketh the man. In this case the volcano shaped cup that the Dirty Matcha at Penguin Specialty Coffee is served in is a perfect fit: the shot of espresso that is poured on top of the chilled milk whisked with matcha flowing down slowly like lava down Mount Vesuvius.

Even before a single sip, visions of natural phenomena suggest a tremendous, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The entrance to the café and coffee roastery is framed by natural greenery.

The entrance to the café and coffee roastery is framed by natural greenery.

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Whether that promise is delivered, well, more on that later.

Penguin Specialty Coffee is located in a quiet enclave of Bandar Menjalara, KL. There is ample parking; trees in abundance too around the area. The entrance to the café and coffee roastery is framed by natural greenery.

Consider this a prelude to a specific colour theme though we weren’t aware of this when we first arrived. Inside, the shop is brightly lit with a minimalist washed concrete décor. Not too different from a multitude of cafés in the Klang Valley.

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What caught our eye was over a dozen clear containers of different single origin coffee beans, each with colour coded labels: red, orange, yellow, green, violet and peach.

Choose from different single origin coffee beans for your filter brew.

Choose from different single origin coffee beans for your filter brew.

Nearly every coffee-growing continent is represented: Africa (Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Oromia, Rwanda Huye Mountain), Central America (Guatemala Santa Rosa Finca SHB, Nicaragua Strictly High Grown SHG) and South America (Colombia Supremo SKN, Brazil Minas Sul De Mirco Carmo).

There are even beans from Asia, and not only the usual suspects of Thailand and Vietnam. We clock an Indonesia Sumatra Mandheling TP G1, a China Yunnan Lujiangba Arabica Baoshan, and even an India Giris Chikmagalur Ngin.

Most of these beans get a light or medium roast, though some go as far as medium dark roast such as the Tanzania Ihombe Mbeya Mwankumbi.

Ethiopia Guji Shakisso, available as pour-over coffee.

Ethiopia Guji Shakisso, available as pour-over coffee.

Which can be quite a lot to take in, so do chat with the barista to discuss different profiles before selecting one from this veritable odyssey across the renowned Bean Belt for your filter brew.

We opt for an Ethiopia Guji Shakisso for a hot pour-over coffee. Washed process, light roast, heirloom varietal. Floral notes, with hints of passion fruit and lemon peel. Seems a lifetime ago when such descriptions would sound alien to our ears; now they are commonplace.

There are different brewing methods to choose from too: V60, Chemex, Aeropress and the less commonly found Delter Press which employs an injection method of brewing for greater control and reduction of bitterness in the resultant cup.

For those who prefer a faster hit of caffeine, Penguin Specialty Coffee offers the usual espresso-based beverages too, from classics such as long blacks and flat whites to house specialties with intriguing names.

Sweetheart Latte (espresso, milk, honey, with an oat milk finish) or Citrusy Barista (espresso, lemonade and sparkling water), anyone?

Espresso or filter — take your pick.

Espresso or filter — take your pick.

Espresso or filter — take your pick. Our choice for the former is the Dirty Matcha, of course.

Honestly, while the texture is smooth and lovely, the temperature of the chilled milk could have been colder, to counter the shot of hot espresso.

This is an ailment with Dirty Lattes, with or without matcha, at many cafés in Malaysia, I have found. (Helpful note to fastidious baristas: No one enjoys a lukewarm first sip.)

The ‘ondeh-ondeh’ cake goes well with the Dirty Matcha, and not simply due to the identical colour scheme!

The ‘ondeh-ondeh’ cake goes well with the Dirty Matcha, and not simply due to the identical colour scheme!

Yet any disappointment quickly dissipated when we paired the Dirty Matcha with a slice of the café’s ondeh-ondeh cake. Beyond the nearly identical colour scheme, the cake’s not-too-sweet gula Melaka, fragrant pandan and coconut flakes make for a match made in heaven with the drink.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, you see.

For those who fancy something heartier, Penguin Specialty Coffee also offers pastries (the Black Pepper Chicken Pie and Smoked Duck Pesto Danish sound comforting) as well as a newly introduced hot menu; one may try the Penguin Signature Dry Ramen, with handmade noodles, minced chicken, crushed seaweed, bonito flakes and Japanese green onions, topped with a raw egg yolk.

Before leaving, take some time to peruse their shelves of packaged coffee beans. At prices ranging from RM30-RM36 per 150g bag, these are some of the most affordable single origin coffee beans available in town.

Brightly lit interior (left). Pastries are available too (right).

Brightly lit interior (left). Pastries are available too (right).

A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, so the saying goes (it’s William Shakespeare, of course). Penguin Specialty Coffee appears to have found the right mix of wide selection, surprising food-and-beverage pairings and aggressive pricing to make their coffee smell all the sweeter.

Penguin Specialty Coffee

76G, Jalan 3/62, Bandar Menjalara, KL

Open daily (except Wed closed) 9am-5pm

Phone: 011-5429 5686

Web: https://www.penguinspecialtycoffee.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/penguin.coffee.kl/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/penguinspecialtycoffee/

*This is an independent review where the writer paid for the meal.

*Follow us on Instagram @eatdrinkmm for more food gems.





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