I've wanted to blog about J's Cafe for the longest time but never did it because I lost the photos and then when I took a second batch of photos, I was too upset with the cafe to bother writing a review on it.
J's Cafe is probably about a year old and their best seller is their Penang assam laksa. As you know, I LOVE assam laksa but I've never really eaten a really good assam laksa in KK or KL that's as good as those in Penang, with the exception of home-cooked assam laksa made by Penangnites. I do have a good assam laksa recipe but I can't get the slight syrupy thick soup that they do in Penang. Cooking assam laksa is a big deal for me so I've only cooked it about once every 4 or 5 years! I think because I always make tons of assam laksa each time, I am stumbled by the thought of preparing all the ingredients.
You can imagine how happy I was when I ate my first mouthful of J's assam laksa early this year. J's assam laksa is not exactly like the regular versions of assam laksa in Penang. It is more refined but yet it tastes/tasted awesome. Yes, the toppings are spare, there's no bunga kantan and the pineapple strips are cut so long it's hard to shove them into my mouth, but generally the soup is awesome. It just made my days whenever I ate a bowl of J's assam laksa, which was about once every week during May and June, and I've brought more friends there than I have to any other cafes or restaurants. Everyone I've brought to J's Cafe agrees with me that it's very good laksa. However, since June this year, I've noticed the change in the laksa. The noodles have dwindled to half their usual portion. You may get that piece of kembong fish fillet, or you may not. You may get the prawn paste sauce, or you may not. The soup can sometimes be too sour. In the last few weeks before I stopped going to J's Cafe, I complained to the owners each time (about 5 times by now) about the small portion of noodles but the reaction went from "Okay, next time we'll make it a bigger portion." (how about this time and of course the next time they didn't, except for one time when I was absolutely upset) to "Some customers don't finish their noodles so we have reduced the amount rather than waste the noodles." Right. Half the amount of noodles at the same price. Clever.
I've stopped going there after my last bowl of assam laksa came full of cucumber strips. Little noodles + lots of cucumber strips = strange mouthfeel. On top of that, J's cafe now gives a choice of fresh or reconstituted dried noodles. Take it from me, the extra ringgit is not worth paying because the 'fresh' noodles are very chewy. But customers really don't have much choice because the waiter will tell you that the dried noodles will break and are rougher. (It's like a steakhouse waiter telling you "Take the ribeye because our sirloin tastes like leather.") Should anyone from J's Cafe be reading this, here is a photo of the best dried assam laksa noodles in the country. The noodles are from Servay (or Giant?) and they taste really smooth, fine and have a chewy bite that's just right. No nasty artificial machine-made flavor. In fact, if you don't know, you'd think these are fresh noodles. Unlike other laksa noodles, Twenty's noodles do not break or disintegrate even after they're cooked and chilled and recooked, due to the combination of rice, sago and tapioca flours. Just don't soak them in hot water. They are more work than fresh, because they need to be soaked in room temp water and then blanched in hot water before using but trust me, these are very good noodles. They can be cooked like regular noodles, not just for assam laksa.
J's assam laksa is delicious but with a half a fistful of noodles, not worth the RM7.90/8.90. Many times I have to stop myself from driving there and I've managed to keep away for about two months. Now if only I can stop thinking of J's assam laksa...like now...
Hilltop Shoplot fronting the main road, opp end of Dr Elaine Yong's clinic,