The Wok Cafe is a newly opened restaurant at Kota Damansara serving home-cooked authenthic Penang Style Nyonya Cuisine. If you’re from Penang, The Wok might sound familiar because their first branch – Hot Wok is indeed located in Penang along Burmah Road (previously at Tanjong Tokong).
Opened only about a month ago, Mervyn the head cook and owner extended an invitation to me to their restaurant to try their Nyonya cuisine and Penang hawker food. Being an avid fan of Penang hawker food, I was eager to find out if The Wok could live up to the standards.
It was a surprise visit because I happened to be at Kota Damansara for dinner and suddenly remembered about Mervyn’s invitation. After meeting the owner himself and got ourself seated, he presented us with The Wok’s menu, which was extensive and had almost all the Nyonya food I’ve ever known. But I was actually more interested in the Penang hawker food listed in the last page, lol.
Anyway take a look at the drinks, can you guess what are they? No they are not teh ais and sirap bandung but soya milk mixed with gula Melaka and rose syrup respectively! I think I have openly expressed my dislike towards gula Melaka before but when combined with soya milk, it was a great and refreshing drink for me. This is so simple you can try making one yourself!
A serving of Otak-otak (for two persons) cost RM5. Under the soft and squishy fish paste was a layer of fish meat. I enjoyed it but I might have loved it more if only it was spicier.
Since Mervyn stressed that they have retained the original Penang cooking style when it comes to their hawker food, the easiest way to verify this claim was to order a bowl of Hokkien Mee (Prawn Mee) @ RM6.
And truthfully enough, the Prawn Mee was of Penang style with light and sweet tasting soup packed with prawn flavor. Interesting enough, some nice and crunchy lard was present in the noodle. Ah.. it has been a long time since I last tasted a good bowl of Prawn Mee like this in KL.
Char Koay Teow, the iconic Penang hawker food @ RM7. There’s simply no other food that can represent Penang better. I particularly ordered this because I had been deprived of a good Char Koay Teow for months, lol.
If you feel RM7 is expensive for Char Koay Teow, well don’t be because that’s the standard price for any restaurants here. Besides, the price is justifiable by the big portion and the four huge, fresh sea prawns. My god those prawns were so meaty and juicy.
The Wok included sliced fish cakes into their Char Koay Teow, which is not a norm in Penang. And one of my favorite ingredients, cockles was missing too. When asked about the cockles, Mervyn explained that the cockles were not fresh that day so they were omitted from the dish. An acceptable explanation. I wouldn’t want any unfresh ingredients in my Char Koay Teow that would spoil the whole dish or, worse still, cause me food poisoning later.
To be honest, it tasted nice for a plate of Char Koay Teow especially those yummy prawns.. simply heavenly. But if compared to the real Penang style Char Koay Teow, I found the authenticity to be lacking due to the lack of the special fragrance and ‘wok hei’. I feel I am very picky, lol.
Just to be fair, it’s not easy to be a master in all Penang hawker food. Even Penang hawkers themselves are specialized in their very own food only. You won’t be able to find a stall selling both great Prawn Mee and Char Koay Teow, would you?
Mervyn then suggested that we give their Penang Hokkien Char a try. Hokkien Char is a fried noodle (usually yellow mee mixed with vercimilli mee) with dark soya sauce and meat, prawns and vegetables @ RM7. Sometimes liver is included as well.
Like the Char Koay Teow we had earlier, The Wok wasn’t stingy with the ingredients. Huge juicy prawns and generous strips of meat were given.
If eaten on its own Hokkien Char seems like a very normal noodle, which is why sambal is so important for this dish. Sambal is like the soul of Hokkien Char, to provide the desirable spicy and slightly sourish flavor to this noodle. Even just a hint of sambal would make all the difference in the taste and open up your appetite.
But not all sambal would make the cut yeah, because only authentic Penang sambal is qualified for the task. Well, I am glad to say Mervyn has managed to cook the Hokkien Char and sambal very faithfully according to Penang style.
Then it was time for desserts. First up was Cendol @ RM3.30.
And followed by Sago Nangka @ RM3.30 too. Both SL and I preferred this to cendol because the jackfruit bits and sago were just much enjoyable compared to starch noodles and kidney beans. This is highly recommended for desserts.
The father and son team of The Wok Cafe has put in a lot of effort decorating the restaurant to give it a 50-60s feel. With many Nyonya decor, antiques, photos around, dining at The Wok Cafe felt like being sent back to the past.
Round marble tables and old coffee shop chairs will bring out the nostalgic feeling in you. Provided if you’re born before or around the 80s lah, else I doubt you would feel a thing lol.
I know Penang Hokkien Char is not easy to find in KL after being here for some time. So, if you’re curious about how Hokkien Char tastes like and not visiting Penang anytime soon, do head to The Wok Cafe to try it. The Nyonya cuisine looked pretty interesting as well and I won’t hesitate to return to sample it. And if you’re staying near Kota Damansara, do know that I am pretty jealous of you because you have easy access to great Penang food cooked by a true Penangite lol.The Wok Cafe
Authentic Penang Nyonya & Local Cuisine
26, Jalan PJU 5/21
The Strand, Kota Damansara
PS* – The Wok Cafe is located at the newer shoplots across the road from Kayu’s Nasi Kandar. After turning into The Strand from the traffic light, keep left and you will notice a big electrical shop and Alliance bank. The Wok Cafe is just behind.
If i have one plate of char kuey teow like this in front of me, i’ll surely eat d whole plate within seconds (^@^)..hungry..
Thanks for coming over VKeong and thanks for everything.
Mervyn Yeoh Chin Aun’s last blog post..Our very own Famous Malaysia Food Blogger VKeong visited me!
u sounded very biased in ur review. kthxbye
vk: judging from your comment i know where you are from. anyway, I don’t think I am biased at all.
the CharKueyTeow looks nice in the photo, but i agree with you, “Wokhei” is very important!!
Looking at your hokkien mee picture, I guess that they do retain the original Penang style from the bowl they use and also they serving size. As I observed normally a bigger plastic bowl will be used for hokkien mee at KL and the serving size would be bigger though.
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Hey vkeong, I heard about this restaurant before in Tanjung Tokong. I didn’t know they’ve moved! Anyway, I think they specialty is more on the nyonya cuisine rather than the local dishes. Please do a review on the nyonya food next time ok! :)
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vk: Sure thing :) I am such a sucker for Penang Hawker Food lol
Those were my hit list for my next revisit to The Wok. I have done some paid food testing on their ala carte home cook dishes. Those were really good but lil dissapointed with the laksa taste that day. Will put my post up soon.
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I like the decor. It truly feels like you’re in a traditional Baba Nyonya house! I’m definitely going there for a bite someday.
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vk: I hope you like the food :)
Oh fabulous! The ultimate place to hit up once the homesick blues kick in! Soy milk and gula melaka sounds like a great combination… I think I might try to do it at home myself :-P
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I like the deco in there too! Antique feel! The dishes look pretty much like Penang too!
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I’m different with u, I love gula melaka :)
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vk: For me, depends on how it’s used lor hehe
Thanks for the post. Anytime my wife or I crave for Penang food we will be there. My wife a Penangite thinks the sauces, gravy and the soup are very important. For me its the shrimps. Very attractive!
vk: Yeah, I feel the soup and gravy are the most important too. Too bad I am staying so far from Kota Damansara :(
oh I definite will drop by this place, was recommend too by Food Poi! I would love to try the otak2 as I am lazy to make my own for the moment! lol!
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Everything, from deco to food looks similar as those found in Penang. I think it would be much better if the otak comes wrapped in leaves…more authentic and this gives additional flavor too.
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is this place served halal food?
vk: Hi ita, this place is not halal because lard and pork are on the menu :) I have categorized this restaurant under “Non Halal”
Hey vkeong! I had a chat with the owners Mervyn and Robert from the wok, both real nice guys…
I also really liked the food there, very fragrant dishes. As one of the people in our group was Robert’s old time school mate and because we are food bloggers (well we try to be anyway…), he really went all our to show us his best foods… haha. (The perks of being a food blogger eh?)
And I know what you mean… his shop really is quite in a new area which most people won’t be familiar with. Check out my Google map: http://feedmelah.com/restaurant/KotaDamansara/Nyonya/TheWokCafe/791#resultFocus it’s not even shown as an ‘area’ yet! haha…
Nice pictures dude!
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Even the Famous Chef from Hong Kong praise the Penang outlet nyonya food is the best.
Will be air on astro in May
Hello Chin Aun,
Has hot wok moved to KL? Any more branches in Penang? I missed your food very much.
They have another outlet in Penang on Burmah Road opposite Auto Bavaria BMW showroom. Next to the Penang Plaza Giant Supermarket
Is really a fantastic food…hope you all can promote this delicious food to your friends and relatives.
My cousin,mervyn.Is really a great cook…continue go on,bro!…we know you can make it. All of us will give fully support.
wow seems like a good find! a gem near me, must try :)
met with really really bad service, and waited ages for the waitress to come take the order.
the owner of the restaurant is one heck of arrogant fellow. wouldn’t even want to help out the staff, as they were lack of it
he just sat there, and barked orders
and they couldn’t just notify the customers earlier when one of the dish is not available anymore, until i needed to wave my hands to death, asking for the waitresses to come over and asked about where is the dish that i ordered, as i have already finished my rice!
and talking about rice, they served the dishes before the rice, and left them cold on the table, before i had to shout my lungs off to ask for rice.
the worst thing is, instead of impressing my in laws with a new place i found on the net about how good is the food, turned out to be a farce.
i had but no choice to tell the waitress when the bill came, that she should quit her job, because her boss is an arrogant, selfish man, and wouldn’t care less about his staff, let alone offering decent service
to his customers
i told her not to waste her life there..
this is the first time and the last time tat arrogant fellow of a boss, who don’t know nothing about running a business where he fails to realize that customers are gold, is ever gonna get one cent of my hard-earned money ever again
one of the worst dining experience of my life.
i was fuming when i left the place
this place gave me a vy bad experience during my’visit in kota damansara. me and my friend saw that the waitress actually dig his nose and serve us. He did n’t even wash his hand. Please Becarefull of the hygiene in this outlet. :(
Becarefull of this outlet, they are not serving halal food. I ask the boss to recommend me their best recommended dish. He ordered for me hokkien mee and I tasted the pork oil after that. I mention to the boss but he denied it cuz maybe I report it to the authority. This is unacceptable….my wife vomitted after that afternoon.
Hi Halim, I thought you should have noticed that this outlet is indeed NON-HALAL simply by looking at the food they serve
Do not go to this outlet as the i had witness that the staff “spit” on to the other customers food. I notice this after I saw one of the staff is quite fustrated at a customer because the customer demand for another bowl of rice during busy period. I saw it on the way to the toilet and on witnessing this, the staff just smiled to me.
If that’s true then it’s really bad, I hope you are telling the truth
Hi vkeong and everybody, what i mention as above is true. I was with my family on that day and i don,t feel appropriate to let the boss know as you know people in earning a living. The boss also looks very ununderstanding as did not even lift a finger to help as the situation in the rest is busy or not. I will not get a single cent by letting prople know. I just want people to be carefull espeacially rest. that have a lots of foreign worker. If i were to be their shoes, boss which is not understanding and with the busy situation, i myself will feel stress.
It is pity for those that became the victim and as for me, if i were to let the person know about this, i am sure he will be angry. Things will get complicated as people argue, i as a third party will not feel nice and the most i think that is wise to do is to share at this blog. I hope people understand…
Wei Singh.Pls stop insulting my friends father.He had stroke and what do you expect from a sick person to be? How I wish you or your parents or maybe your son or kids get hit by stroke then you will feel the pain.It is not good to critize people.If you not happy just don’t go.I don’t think he also welcome you as a customer who say bad about people.Yeah i got a good joke for you.
When orang Cina fuck sama Bai comes out=CIBAI..
overated place to eat in….normal food with no consistency in food quality….over charged price!
food is nice but the place is dirty…..
saw some cockroach running around and my gf found cockroach egg in her drinks…….
Wow…cockroach….thought wanted go to…..now decided not to go liao^^,