KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — Step into Thirdwave in Nexus, Bangsar South and you'll be treated to a delicious menu of feel-good food with a mix of European and local influences.
The cafe has built up a stellar reputation for its innovative menu with items like homemade beetroot gnocchi paired with crispy kale and spinach, Scotch egg and Danish smørrebrød or open-faced sandwiches.
The cafe is run by the Beh siblings who hail from Pangkor Island – Kok Boon, Chewyeng and Kok Aun. Recently, the menu has been given a spring clean with some less popular dishes removed.
A slew of new items have also been slowly introduced, doubling the size of the menu. From June 20 onwards, diners can expect all the new menu items to be fully implemented.
According to Chewyeng who was mainly instrumental behind the design of the dishes, she wanted to balance the menu's offerings between comfort foods and inventive items to cater to their diners' varied tastes.
A lunch special for weekdays has also been introduced for RM25+ to cater to the office crowd. It comes with a choice of main dish (pasta, salad, sandwich, fried chicken or Moroccan lamb burger), homemade soup, a scoop of ice-cream and a drink of your choice.
Eagle-eyed regulars would have spotted new items slowly popping up on the menu from a month ago. They're labelled as daily specials with a discount to encourage diners to give them a try.
Rather than unveiling an entire new menu in one shot, Thirdwave decided to slowly introduce the items so their kitchen can cope and also to get feedback from their customers. So far, the response has been good especially for their vegetarian items like the green burger (matcha bun, mushroom and carrot fritter and crispy kale) and the monster egg, which is a vegetarian version of their Scotch egg with a black sesame crust, sweet potato filling and served with a risotto made from healthier barley grains and mushrooms.
"Even customers who don't fancy vegetarian food like it," said Chewyeng. Other fast favourites include their fried rice; one with peppery arugula pesto, avocado and the wobbly 63 degree egg, and another served with kombucha marinated grilled mackerel, asparagus and a sunny side up.
Fans of their Danish smørrebrød were disappointed when Thirdwave decided to stop serving the weekend special. They could not find a home baked dark rye loaf that fitted their requirements. Now their smørrebrød series is back as an everyday item with four choices — avocado sprinkled with matcha, herbed poached chicken with apple, poached chat potato topped with crispy onion rings, and grilled honeyed fish with burnt leeks. All the smørrebrød orders include a poached egg paired with a delicious mix of toasted nuts and crumbled feta cheese.
The reason for the delay in re-introducing the sandwiches was because they needed the time to conduct their own R&D on the dark rye bread. Now to cater to their needs, the malty tasting bread, which is low GI is baked in-house.
The grilled honeyed fish is also Thirdwave's version of a Pangkor style sugar and soy sauce cured fish often prepared in their hometown. The villagers prefer using ikan kembung since it's found in abundance at the fishing village but Chewyeng uses sea bass and honey instead.
There's a balanced sweetness to the fish that makes it extremely tasty especially when paired with burnt leeks and their homemade tartar sauce. "It's a very familiar taste as we grew up with it," said Kok Aun.
There's a slight Japanese touch to some of the menu items with the use of matcha or green tea powder. Chewyeng managed to source for an importer who brings in the premium matcha from an artisanal green tea purveyor, Marukyu-Koyamaem in Kyoto.
It appears in the Hanako hotcakes filled with vanilla custard that is paired with a strawberry compote and topped with matcha ice-cream.
You can also order a hot or cold matcha tea or latte to complement the brunch item. For a simple dessert, they also have a cold matcha kanten with houjicha and matcha ice-cream.
Look out for the Old Fashioned – a rarely-seen baked ginger loaf paired with apricot compote and vanilla custard. The ginger loaf is a personal favourite of Chewyeng's who laments how no one makes cakes using ginger here.
This healthy less sweet-tasting cake is made in-house using aromatic Bentong ginger. Play around with the apricot compote and vanilla custard served on the side, as each item gives the ginger loaf a new taste dimension.
With our hot weather, it makes sense to partake in chilled soups to beat the heat. With this in mind, two cold soups have also been introduced in Thirdwave's menu. The first soup is called Summer and it's an Instagram-perfect dish with the house-cured salmon and asparagus spears arranged in a pretty flower shape, and served with the refreshing honeydew gazpacho.
Enjoy the cold green gazpacho on its own and you will find a tangy note just at the end from the use of jalapeno.
My favourite is The Blur Island – an addictive combination of Ajo Blanco or Spanish cold almond soup with pan-fried squid cakes. It's hard to stop drinking the creamy soup, which is dotted with chilli butter, dill oil and halved grapes.
This is one dish that may see you throwing your manners to the wind, as you will be tempted to lick up every drop of the smooth almond soup with a hint of garlic. Don't worry as there's not a drop of cream in this soup; it gets that creamy texture from an emulsion of ground almonds, olive oil and vinegar.
This dish proved to be a big challenge for Chewyeng to get right. It took her many tries to ensure the squid cakes had the right bouncy texture where you can taste small pieces of the squid that are bound lightly together with fish paste. Initially she had thought of introducing the squid cakes in a burger form but later she decided to use it with the cold almond soup.
Their Love in Provence dish is on the same level of addictiveness. It's a simple but well executed roast lavender honey with lemon chicken that you can't stop eating. The juicy chicken is paired with a bright pink beetroot risotto, which uses barley grains to make the dish less guilty.
Thirdwave has also upped the ante for their desserts making them look worthy of a fine dining restaurant. With the help of their barista, Heng Xin Min who is also their in-house baker, they will be introducing two beautifully plated desserts.
Taking a page from Shakespeare's love struck couple, the sweet treats are named after Romeo and Juliet. Hey Romeo, the masculine version comes in green and dark brown shades from a creamy matcha dacquiose and matcha meringues paired with chocolate sponge and hazelnut soil.
Refresh your palate with the tangy lemon and lime sorbet or nibble on their elderberry tuiles. Invoking a sense of romance, Julie's Dream is dressed up in pretty pink elderberry rose shaped meringues, raspberry sorbet and a creamy elderflower pannacotta with white chocolate soil.
On the side, you have a blue pea flower and passion fruit gel. Chewyeng prefers a softer texture for the pannacotta, which uses very little gelatine.
Other menu additions also include a healthier polenta porridge with a choice of two toppings: truffled eryingi mushrooms, and maple candied beef. Diners at Thirdwave are no strangers to polenta, as a popular brunch item, the Darling's Egg uses crispy polenta.
Keeping to the healthy trend, they will also be introducing a no carbs noodle dish; The Hipster's Noodle uses zucchini noodles served with grilled mackerel, kombu and Asian pear broth and 63 degree egg.
Don't forget coffee too at Thirdwave; you have choices of handcrafted brews with single origin beans from their special Brew Bar or just your usual cup of Java. Last month, Thirdwave achieved a milestone when their barista, Joanne Lee, picked up the first runner-up prize in this year's Brewers Cup after intense tutelage from the Thirdwave owners.
Thirdwave, Unit 1-11, Level 1, Nexus, Bangsar South, KL. Tel:03-2242 2126. Open: 10am to 7pm (Monday), 10am to 11pm (Tuesday to Friday, Sunday), 10am to 12pm (Saturday). https://www.facebook.com/thirdwave.my