Sunday, 31 May 2015

Yummiest Cheesecakes in Kuala Lumpur

We do love our decadent desserts and you can't get a much richer ending to a meal, or more luscious accompaniment to a cup of coffee, than a plump sweet slab of cheesecake. Here's our favourites in our personal list of:

Best Cheesecakes in Kuala Lumpur

(Click on the title links for prices, maps and full details of locations)

Matcha Cheesecake - BEAM

best cheesecakes kl
Matcha Cheesecake - BEAM


Peanut Butter Cheesecake - Pickle and Fig

best cheesecakes in kl
Peanut Butter Cheesecake - Pickle and Fig


Rondaevoo - Classic Baked Cheesecake

best cheesecakes kl
Rondaevoo - Classic Baked Cheesecake


Gastro Sentral - Aunty Margaret Butterscotch Cheesecake

Gastro Sentral - Aunty Margaret Butterscotch Cheesecake



Coffee Société - Oreo Cheesecake

best cheesecakes kl
Coffee Société - Oreo Cheesecake


RGB Coffee at the Bean Hive - Mocha Cheesecake

best cheesecakes kl
RGB Coffee at the Bean Hive - Mocha Cheesecake

Kenny Hills Bakers - Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake

best cheesecakes KL
Kenny Hills Bakers - Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake


Where can we find your favourite cheesecakes?

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Interview with Shyue Chin, Founder of Roast Factor

specialty coffee, coffee roasters kl
Shyue Chin, Founder of Roast Factor

Interview with Shyue Chin, Founder of Roast Factor


What do you do and how did you get into the industry? 
I am a micro-roaster, certified barista, baking enthusiast, entrepreneur, wife and a mother to two wonderfully energetic boys. It all began when we lived in Panama and I fell in love with coffee, how easily accessible it is both in terms of price and the high quality of specialty coffee. I wanted to bring back Panamanian coffee into Malaysia when we returned home, but due to the non-existent political and economic ties between these two countries, it was a futile effort. Not taking no for an answer, I decided to learn coffee roasting despite facing many discouragements and hurdles because it was at a time when coffee roasting was unheard of in Malaysia and privy to only a few.


Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes. 
I started as a home roaster, roasting daily at my apartment's balcony with a simple set up - a small coffee roaster and a collapsible smoke duct positioned at the outward railings of the balcony to release any smoke from the roasting process, which at that time seemed like the most sensible thing to do. One day, my roasting profile turned a little darker than intended and within seconds I had burnt an entire batch of coffee beans causing heavy white smoke clouding my entire balcony including my upstairs neighbors' space. I had the situation under control but as I looked out of the balcony, some neighbors were panicking and pointing up to my unit. Within minutes, the Head of Security and a few security guards came up to my apartment to check on my neighbors' complaint of possible fire in the building. After a long explanation and multiple reassurances they left me in peace.


What's the best/ worst part of your job? 
The best part is when customers get what we do and keep coming back for more. The majority of our customers are regulars and we know them by first name basis and their order preferences. Some of them have become our dear friends.
The worst part is the long hours and it is dexterously taxing.


What's your personal favorite drink/ meal at Roast Factor?
Hand pour of Colombia Cauca Inza - a specialty coffee micro-roasted by us in small batches and brewed via Clever Dripper method. Grown in the altitude of 1500-1800m, this cup has a dried cherry aroma, light caramel taste, smooth brightness and a hint of tomato at the end notes with a honey cocoa finish.
My favorite meal is our Gourmet Danish hotdog. The 8" pork sausage has been laboriously engineered with our pork supplier and it took us six months to get the taste and springiness texture right. We bake our hotdog buns fresh and from scratch, even the cucumber pickles are homemade right down to 'remoulade' sauce, which is a capers and dill sauce popular amongst the Scandinavians..


When you're not getting your caffeine fix at Roast Factor, where do you go? 
I would brew from home with any simple tools I can find in my kitchen be it an old fashioned 'kopi tiam' sock or a non-fancy dripper from Daiso. When I am out and about, I would buy coffee from any café that roasts in-house or offers coffee roasted by Malaysian roasters as I truly believe in supporting, firstly our own local roasters to boost our country's coffee industry from within.


What's one of the most outrageous things you've seen behind the scenes?
A customer, clad in designer clothes and accessories (Hermes handbag) from head to toe, complained that our coffee is expensive (our coffee prices are actually at market rate and at times cheaper than some cafés within Klang valley). Same customer went next door to MyNEWS to buy a sachet of instant coffee powder, Nescafe then brewed it with free hot water provided by that newspaper agent and sat on a high stool/ table positioned against a wall glass panel browsing a new magazine from the racks while sipping the instant coffee from a Styrofoam cup before driving off in their brand new Mercedes E class luxury car.


The perfect day off ...
... would be anything that involves nature, spending time with my husband and boys, good food and coffee, nice bottle of wine and catching up with good friends.


A day in the life of a micro-roaster cum baking enthusiast is...
Feed our little pet monster 'levain' the night prior, perform an early morning check on the same little rascal and start our bread making process. While waiting for the levain-based dough to rise, do a temperature check on what our customers would like to have in our coffee hopper next week. Prepare a selection of specialty coffee beans for roasting and perform a cupping exercise of previous roast. Complete a log for each of these specialty coffees for future references and in the name of improving the next roast batch. By which time, the bread dough is ready for baking. Pop them in the oven and start preparation for baking our cakes and pastries selection. 
Brew myself a cup of specialty coffee to brush up on my hand-pour technique and to constantly ensure that the coffee is at its peak flavor to be served to customers. 
Do all the above while greeting customers, taking orders and being hands on in the day to day operations of the cafe.


What do you do for fun?

Trail running followed by good food and coffee hunting thereafter.


What's something you'd like guests to know about Roast Factor?
We are a micro roaster and gourmet eatery. Our focus is artisanal and creative originality in everything that we do and every single product is made at our cafe from the roasted coffee, cold brew to artisanal bread and pizza dough, cake and pastries to jams and artisanal ice creams. We hand roast our coffee beans on site and in small batches. We don't do preservatives and we loathe MSG. Good quality products and fresh produce is how we work it. When we say homemade, we mean that it is made from scratch!


What's your favourite (s) food and coffee pairing?
A cup of Panama Paso Ancho brewed by V60 method paired with our gluten free 100% almond dark chocolate cake or any of our espresso based drinks paired with our top seller salted caramel apple pie. Our hopper has a new blend of coffee beans every two weeks.


Favorite roast/ beans/ brewing method?
Our medium roasted Rwanda Inzovu coffee beans. What makes it so special is that it's produced by over 25,000 small holder coffee farmers where the majority of the farmers only have approximately 200 trees to each look after. This coffee showcases a lime and soft floral aroma, lemon thick body with candied grape-like sweetness and a long finish. We love it best as a cold brew and steep it for about 15-17 hours prior to bottling. We have been featured as one of KL's best cafes for cold brew at TimeOut KL March 2015 issue and Rwanda Inzovu is the star.


What's your view on the KL coffee scene?
It has come a long way from the an instant coffee culture to a surge of third wave coffee with cafes popping up like wild mushrooms after a rain shower in the span of two to three years. We are talking about double digits here, in terms of cafe openings every month. 
The exponential growth of independent cafes is driven by increasing urbanization and GDP per capita in Malaysia. Consumers who have lived or traveled abroad want similar coffee quality they have experienced in a more mature coffee market. There is a noticeable change of lifestyle where consumers use the cafe as a socializing or working space and is further spurred by the strong Instagram community in Malaysia that somehow connects 'being seen in a cafe' as hip and trendy, not to mentioned the crazy hype about latte art. 
It is encouraging to see that consumers are moving away from franchise giant coffee chains and supporting local independent cafes. But at the same time, it would be a shame to forget our country's unique heritage of 'kopitiam' style coffee which is a very enjoyable cup when roasted and brewed with the right parameters by experienced hands. I hope our consumers will embrace that culture and continue to enjoy riding the third wave surge, and in that process put aside the fluff of latte art and start to appreciate coffee for its taste and texture. 
I am a strong believer of an open minded approach when it comes to sharing and learning about coffee which I see as vital to further spur the growth of our coffee industry. Anyone with interest in coffee should be encouraged, shown and directed to the appropriate parties, be it individuals, cafes or coffee associations to take them to the next level in their coffee journey. The coffee market in Malaysia is sufficiently big enough for anyone interested, hence supportive and collaborative efforts from coffee professionals will move our coffee industry in the right positive direction.


What's in store for you in the upcoming months?
Something is definitely brewing and it will be a good surprise.

Read more about Shyue Chin's cafe, Roast Factor Glee here.

Friday, 29 May 2015

The Great Beer Bar, Damansara Uptown, Kuala Lumpur

The Great Beer Bar, craft beers kl
The Great Beer Bar, Damansara Uptown

The Great Beer Bar

By Sarah and Ross Jones
Photos by The Yum List (Monica Tindall)

Quality craft beer is more frequently creeping its way into Malaysia, and The Great Beer Bar is one of the unique places leading the charge. The environment of The Great Beer bar is reminiscent of many a small gastropub in Australia or the US. Long tables encourage open conversation and a small outdoor seating section for those that enjoy a smoke with their suds. The decor is minimalist: Ken speaks of adorning more, but we like the open Nordic style - it encourages one to focus on the beer and conversation. There is no proper bar, just open taps and a chiller on the wall, excellent for connecting the staff with the customer. This will be a feather in the Great Beer Bar’s cap.

The Great Beer Bar, Damansara Uptown, craft beers kl
The Great Beer Bar
As they have recently opened, they are still developing the final touches, but one aspect Ken will continue to focus on is the limited distractions (no TV, no loud music). This encourages interesting conversations to take place, guests can actually hear each other, and customers can even meander from one location to another to meet new people or join in the camaraderie of others. 

The Great Beer Bar, Damansara Uptown, craft beers kl
Craft Beer on Tap
The Great Beer Bar rotates its taps as frequently as kegs runs dry. This ensures for almost a daily change in its offerings and variety, while always ensuring the beer is fresh.  The selection on the day we visited was diverse: an IPA for the hop lover, a Strong Ale for the ones that like an extra kick, a Coffee Milk Stout for those who are after a full taste; and two medium body beers: a Pale Ale and a Hoppy Amber Ale. These taps change frequently, but this offers a glimpse of what to expect on a visit. Each beer had the perfect pour and was refreshing and cold - a key to success in the Malaysian jungle! Although we are not typically a fan of hoppy beer, both the IPA and Amber Ale offered flavorful crispness without the bite of the hops. 

The Great Beer Bar, Damansara Uptown, craft beers kl
Coffee Milk Stout
Ken knows that people are picky about their beers and having a diverse selection is a must. If one does not find their favorite style on tap, they will definitely find it in the chilled bottle section. There is also an option for carry-out - something we took advantage of in order to bring a few of our favs back home to enjoy. 

The Great Beer Bar, Damansara Uptown, craft beers kl
Draft Beer
The Great Beer Bar, Damansara Uptown, craft beers kl
Beer for Take Away
Ken admits that beer is the Ace of Spades for the Great Beer Bar. So, for this reason he has partnered up with a selection of local restaurateurs and food truck operators to provide some tasty, fresh eats to pair with all the great beer. Food changes almost as much as the beer does, so we recommend checking out their (frequently updated) Facebook page to see what they are serving. 

On our visit, Curbside Cantina (they are in the kitchen from Sunday to Thursday) was manning the kitchen, and they offered an excellent selection of food to be paired with our beers. The food portions were just the right size for a small plate style dinner or just to have a snack with a brew. Given the frequent changes in the kitchen hosts, freshness of food is guaranteed, as is variety. 

The Great Beer Bar, Damansara Uptown, craft beers kl
Chicken Quesadillas
The food we sampled was Asian infused with Latin favorites: Chilaquiles: homemade flour tortilla chips, salsa, and crumbled feta; Shrimp Quesa-Tacos: small tortillas topped with melted cheese, fresh salsa, shrimp paste, and fresh lime; Quesadillas (some of the fullest we’ve seen in KL): chicken, local beans, pickled ginger, cheese and fresh salsa. The homemade chips and tortillas are some of the best we’ve tasted; we even asked if we could buy some to bring home with us. Though we were initially unsure of the shrimp paste topping for the quesa-tacos, this ended up being the favorite for all three of us.

The Great Beer Bar, Damansara Uptown, craft beers kl
Chilaquiles
The Great Beer Bar, Damansara Uptown, craft beers kl
Shrimp Quesa-Tacos
We also sampled some not-so-Latin fare like Pate Toast with Condensed Milk and Dry Spicy Chicken Wings with radish salad. The wings were full of flavor, with the spiciness complimenting the beer without the typical mess and grease that can be typical of wings in many bars. As previously stated, the menu changes frequently - Ken was (greatly) anticipating some oxtail tacos coming in the next few days (and they popped up on Facebook a few days later). 

The Great Beer Bar, Damansara Uptown, craft beers kl
Pate Toast with Condensed Milk
The Great Beer Bar, Damansara Uptown, craft beers kl
Dry Spicy Chicken Wings
Food can be modified for vegetarians as well, just ask. Ken encourages them to experiment and innovate for his customers, something he enjoys possibly more than the customers.

Reasons to visit: craft beers, beer and food variety, freshness, and the possibility of interesting conversations

The Great Beer Bar
86 Jalan SS 21/62
Damansara Utama
47400 Petaling Jaya
Selangor, Malaysia
+60 3-7731 5946

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur

Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul

Foodlogy - Casual French Dining in Sentul

Words by Louise Miller
Photos by The Yum List (Monica Tindall) 

At the bottom of Viva Residence in the busy Sentul neighbourhood stands a laid-back, bright and welcoming French inspired eatery, ideal for casual grazing on Gallic fare with far lower price tags than those often incurred by such indulgence. The aim of sibling founders, Sandy and Lily, is to provide delicious French food at affordable prices in a relaxed setting that will appeal to locals and expats alike. The menu is extensive and in addition to offering a wide range of French favourites, features Italian inspired dishes, a few Asian staple items and some surprise clever fusion touches.

Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Foodlogy
I was delighted to see one of my all time favourites, French Onion Soup (RM18.90) on the menu. Strongly flavoured by the sweet caramelised onions and topped by a chunky slice of baguette enrobed in melted Emmental, this was luscious and comforting. 

Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
French Onion Soup
The Mushroom and Truffle Cream Soup (RM18.90) that followed had come highly recommended as one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. It was thick and creamy and packed full of flavour characterised by the unmistakable sweet earthiness of truffles.

Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Mushroom and Truffle Cream Soup 
Following the soup, arriving on the first of a series of quaint, pink floral crockery that momentarily mentally transported me back to afternoon tea at Grandma’s, was the Duck Pâté (RM15.90): intensely flavoured and coarse in texture, this was served atop fresh baguette slices and garnished with sharp, tangy slithers of pink pickled onion, a successful pairing as the acidity of the latter cut through the richness of the pâté.

Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Duck Pâté
Next before us was Apple and Walnut Cranberry Salad (RM15.90): a fresh combination of ingredients with the addition of crunchy croutons and coated in an unctuous warm hollandaise sauce. 

Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Apple and Walnut Cranberry Salad
Intrigued by the idea of Smoked Chicken and Truffle Croque Monsieur (RM19.90) I couldn’t wait to try this interpretation of the classic French sandwich. Generous chunks of succulent white, delicately smoked chicken meat coated in creamy truffle infused béchamel sauce were sandwiched between thick slices of toasted brioche bread and topped with melted cheddar. Accompanied by a leafy salad doused in a balsamic dressing and a little bowl of Parmesan chips, we all agreed that this was a top notch variation of the French ham and cheese staple.

Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Smoked Chicken and Truffle Croque Monsieur 
Now, we were ready to tackle the ‘Mains’ section of the menu. The first of its offerings was the Chicken à la Crème (RM25.90): juicy pan fried chicken fillet pieces were smothered in a creamy mushroom sauce flavoured with organic Dijon mustard and subtle notes of tarragon and were partnered with a side salad, Parmesan cheese chips and sautéed carrots. Caning quaffed an icy cold Kronenbourg 1664 with this whilst Monica and I enjoyed the house white: the light and crisp Chilean Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc 2013, available in 187 cl bottles.

Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Chicken à la Crème
Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Kronenbourg 1664
Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Next up was Seafood Pasta in White Wine Reduction Sauce (RM45.90): a heap of spaghetti served tangled up with mushrooms and grape tomatoes with succulent prawns, flakey white fish and huge scallops cooked to perfection. The white wine and squid ink flavours of the sauce were quite subtle leaving the rightful spotlight to the flavoursome and juicy pieces of seafood.

Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Seafood Pasta in White Wine Reduction Sauce
The last of the main dishes to be served was the heartiest - Steak à la Bleu, so named for the house made blue cheese sauce that accompanied our medium rare striploin. All three of us blue cheese fans, we took great pleasure in cutting off slices of the steak and dunking them in the sauce which was both deliciously piquant and creamy. The fruity and earthy notes of the the House Red, Santa Carolina Merlot 2013, made it a pleasant complementary partner to this dish.

Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Steak à la Bleu
Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Santa Carolina Merlot 2013
Finishing our savoury experience on the strong flavours of steak and blue cheese meant that we were more than ready to counterbalance our palates with a little sweetness. It was time for desserts and we had decided to start this final part of the meal with two French classics: Choux à la Crème (RM12.90) or Profiteroles were light and fluffy. The surprise element was that one of the three pastry balls was stuffed with vanilla ice-cream rather than whipped cream. Drizzled with chocolate syrup, this is sure to please most sweet toothed diners. 

Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Choux à la Crème 
Our second classic was Crêpes Suzettes (RM15.90): we found the pancakes to be thicker and more dense than classic French crêpes but they were good with the vanilla ice-cream and rich orange sauce that coated them oozing out of every fold.

Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Crêpes Suzettes
The final component of our trio of desserts was an Italian inspired Sago Panna Cotta (RM9.90). The fusion elements came in the form of the longan garnish, the use of gula Melaka syrup and the delicious sago that each deep plunge of the spoon brought to the surface. This really was a panna cotta with an Asian twist or two and worked very well indeed.

Foodlogy, Casual French Restaurant, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur
Sago Panna Cotta
We ended our meal at Foodlogy with a frothy cappuccino topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon. The beans used were Parisian brand, Cafe Richard’s Italian style blend, and the brew was sweet with notes of dark chocolate.

Foodlogy
Cappuccino
Foodlogy is perfectly located to stop in for a meal before or after a visit to the neighbouring KLPAC or worth a trip if you’re looking to feast on French food without breaking the bank! If driving, we would advise against circling the block in the hope of finding a parking space on the streets - drive around the back of the restaurant where you will find the entrance to Viva residence’s carpark which was free at the time of our visit.

Reasons to visit: excellent value for money, Smoked Chicken and Truffle Croque Monsieur and Sago Panna Cotta.

Foodlogy is open on Monday from 11:00am to 10:00pm, from Wednesday to Friday from 11:00am to 10:00pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00am to 10:00pm

Foodlogy 
B-01 Viva Residency,
Jalan Suppiah Pillay,
Off Jalan Ipoh,
51200 Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia
+603 4050 4636

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur

Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur
Panchos, Mexican Taqueria

Reliving University Days at Panchos

Words by Han Sen Hau
Photos by The Yum List (Monica Tindall)

None of my reviews so far have ever begun with an imperative but that’s about to change: go to Panchos. If you’re planning to skip lunch because of a busy schedule, don’t. Go to Panchos. If you’re tired of having popcorn at the cinemas and want to sneak in a little something special, go to Panchos. If you’ve studied in the United States or if you’re from there and you know what I mean when I scream “taco crawl!” then you have to go to Panchos. Of course, all of these scenarios are contingent on the fact that you’re actually in Mid Valley. So if you’re not, go to Panchos.

Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur
Interior
My appreciation for Latin American culture began subliminally and gradually ever since telenovelas began infiltrating Malaysian daytime programming in the early 2000s with titles like La Usurpadora, Rosalinda, and Yo soy Betty, la fea. I could never stand how frequently the women were screaming and crying, while the men always had an extra button unfastened on their shirts (usually white), even when it’s raining. It wasn’t until I travelled to the U.S. for my studies that I first came face-to-face with a piping hot quesadilla, melted cheese and all. I was an instant fan. If you can recall that euphoria when you first dipped tortilla chips into salsa or guacamole and realised how beautiful that combination is, well, that was how I felt when my dining hall started dishing out quesadillas (made to your liking!) on a weekly basis.

Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur
Virgin Piña Colada Slushie
To say that burritos, quesadillas, and tacos are all there is to it about Latin American cuisine is a fallacy, but at the same time, I can’t deny the omnipresence of these options as I sat in my room ravaging a taco salad while finishing the day’s assignment. It has been four years since I left the Corn Belt and four years since I had a decent quesadilla that didn’t arrive with a flaky (at times, powdery) tortilla shell and an abysmal filling, so imagine the rush of emotions that came gushing forth when I bit into one served at Panchos that arrived perfectly crisp, with the smell of picante chilli stimulating my taste buds and the dribble of mozzarella on the sides that I had to save with my fingers. 

… You have no idea how difficult it was to type that without a quesadilla in front of me. The amount of expletives running through my head could kill the Pope. But struggle I must if I am to inform about the joys of eating at Panchos, so let’s dive into that.

The taquería (Spanish for ‘taco shop’) is founded by power couple Thomas An and Jennifer Wong, both Le Cordon Bleu alumni, and is located on the mezzanine floor at Level 3 of Mid Valley (near where Golden Screen Cinemas is). If you ever catch Thomas, the one thing you’ll notice when he speaks is his accent, which gives away his Korean lineage, but start a conversation with him in Spanish and he’ll put your Spanish SAT score to shame. Born in Seoul but bleeds pico de gallo, Thomas spent a large part of his life in Latin America and brings with him an in-depth knowledge of the enticing culinary culture there to Malaysia. For a person who has had more churros in dulce de leche than chocolate dips, Thomas values authenticity in all of his recipes right down to the perfect pinto bean, and strives to recreate a bona fide Mexican street food experience as evident in the inclusion of Jarritos sodas on the menu that taste better than your average tongue-searingly and eye-wincingly sweet Fanta. 

Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur
Jarritos - Mexican Soda Pop
Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur
Hot Sauces - Medium, Hot, XX Rated - Add to your own liking
I haven’t even begun on the food and I’ve already waxed lyrical about the place, so let’s quickly begin with the Chipotle Beef Burrito. The way things work at Panchos is simple: you choose a ‘base’, and then you pick ‘a hearty protein’. Incidentally, a magnet for gym buffs. The burrito is densely packed with rice, cheese, beans, pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream, and slow roasted pulled beef that’s so tender, you wouldn’t think it’s beef. It comes wrapped in foil, so it’s perfect when you’re in a hurry. The best part happens when you take that first bite, and the steam pervades the olfactory with a fragrance that just begs you to have another. If you want to go the extra mile, you can opt for brown rice and whole wheat tortilla for your burrito, or even top it off with guacamole, which comes in an appetising green.

Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur
Chipotle Beef Burrito
If you wish to go gluten free, pick the burrito bowl instead, which is everything the burrito is without the wrap. I had this with the grilled chicken and it went fabulously with the chopped coriander available at the counter along with my choice XX-rated sauce. What I’d do is throw in a handful of chopped coriander into the bowl, toss it around a little, grab a spoonful, then dip just the tip of the spoon into the sauce for that XX-rated kick. Despite being the spiciest of the trio, the sauce didn't torment my tongue and was a welcome addition to the entire mix juggling in my mouth. But if it ever does become too hot to handle, order up a frozen piña colada to cool it down.

Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur
Burrito Bowl
Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur
Housemade Hot Sauces for Sale (RM7.50)
Heaven was definitely a place on Earth when the Spicy Chicken Quesadilla touched my lips. This is hands down my favourite item off the menu. No one has ever touched my soul the way the melted mozzarella did by simply oozing out of a tortilla pouch that’s prepared perfectly crisp. The spicy chicken was so good in this one, I’m actually hesitant to pair the quesadilla with any other meat available. Most interestingly, the quesadilla isn’t folded then cut into triangles like you’d expect, but wrapped in a manner similar to the burrito, which makes it highly portable and practical. Sigh… words fail me in times like this, so here’s a video that perfectly encapsulates my ardour for the quesadilla (pay attention to the lyrics): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ekr05T9Iaio

Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur
Quesadilla
Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur
Up Close on the Quesadilla
I have to confess it was difficult for anything else to top the quesadilla, especially when I realised the next two items I’d be having were Pan Fried Fish Tacos (Soft – Flour Tortilla) and Slow Cooked Beef Tacos (Hard – Crispy Corn Shell). The reason for my initial prejudice was because I’ve never had a profound experience with either and tacos were simply something I got when nothing else appealed to me. Panchos changed that. The tortilla wrap for the fish tacos was soft and warm (I can’t stress how important this is to me because of the number of times I had mine served unnervingly cold), and they were generous with the fish. 

Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur
Pan Fried Fish Soft Tacos
Hard tacos and slow cooked beef were an even BIGGER scare because I’ve long associated that combo with (I’m ashamed to say this) Taco Bell. If you’re unfamiliar with that name, they’re a major franchise in the U.S. with an amusing reputation (it just takes seven seconds to be enlightened: https://vine.co/v/eA0mKEMwxtx). I never understood the American obsession for minced beef tacos, but one thing’s for certain, they’ve never had Panchos’ Slow Cooked Beef Tacos. Like the Chipotle Beef, the slow cooked beef is incredibly tender and I daresay on par with what is available at swanky restaurants. This is where Panchos truly shines, by including high quality ingredients into hearty meals that are best enjoyed in a casual and relaxed environment.

Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur
Pancho's Slow Cooked Beef Tacos
Speaking of which, you can’t get any more casual than a bowl of Chipotle Beef Nachos that comes with pinto beans, pico de gallo and (hurray!) guacamole. This is the perfect movie night snack with friends—as long as you eat it with your mouth closed—and one you wouldn’t mind getting messy with just so you could lick the guacamole off your fingers when you’re done. 

Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur
Chipotle Beef Nachos
To wrap it up, go to Panchos. I could list down reasons for why you should eat there but they wouldn’t matter unless you’ve put down that order and take a big bite out of their burrito. When it comes down to fast casual dining, few have it nailed down as well as Panchos. The beauty of this place is that it doesn’t try too hard to be innovative where innovation was never required: Thomas and Jennifer simply took culturally significant recipes and afforded them the respect they deserved, by sourcing quality ingredients and retaining the essence of Mexican street food. So, to Thomas and Jennifer, thank you for re-introducing the joys of having great, casual Mexican food into my life and for reminding me of my years as a very hungry college student in the U.S.

Panchos, Mexican Taqueria, Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur
Set Meal Deal - add RM5 get corn chips and a soft drink
Reasons to visit: Quesadilla, ‘nuff said; actually, everything off the menu; perfect when you’re on the go (and for the movies if you have a bag); pork-free! That means you could invite more friends to come!

Panchos
T-041B, Level 3 Mezzanine, Mid Valley Megamall
Mid Valley City, 
59200 Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia.
+603 2201 8457