KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — Fried chicken, meet waffle! Perfect partners, just like Pun's Ice Cream founders — Tan San Eu (or Euwie), 27 and Beh E Laine (Elaine), 26. Throw in artisanal ice cream made in-house and you have a winner... as served at their newly-opened space, The Puntry.
The Puntry is everyone's happy place. What's not to love when you have ice cream served the whole week.
There's even a tasting session on Fridays where you get to try all of their 21 flavours! There's cookies and cream, rum & raisin, S'mores, vegan chocolate and the list goes on.
Some have whimsical names like Rabbit & the Turtle, a tribute to White Rabbit milk candy with a chewier texture. One look at the ice cream names — Sakit Kelapa, Eh, Matcha, etc — and you'll know why they are called Pun's... the founders are really into them.
On weekends, a petite menu of sweet and savoury bites is served (menu details are unveiled on Thursdays). Mainstays are The Chiffle (fried chicken and waffle), Hot Dayum!! (spicy chicken sandwich) or their Moochi Mochi (mochi waffle with matcha ice cream).
Random dishes are also thrown in, a surprise to keep you returning again and again. One week it was Wagyu beef don. Another week it was handmade pasta with a tom yum sauce. Next week's dish is anyone's guess.
It's all in the hands of Euwie who had trained in Michelin starred restaurants like In Situ at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Amass Restaurant in Copenhagen and Le Cinq in Paris.
Since he was 5, Euwie had always wanted to be chef. His fondest memories include watching chefs like Gary Rhodes cook on television with his mother.
Growing up with Asian parents meant that a career as a chef was frowned upon though. The dutiful son got his business and management degree from University of Leicester but his heart was in the kitchen. As he juggled his studies, he even worked part time as a butcher cum fishmonger.
"Once I graduated, it was like I got a free hall pass. I went to Paris and worked in a few places," he said. He enrolled in Ferrandi Paris, one of France's leading culinary arts school.
Work stints took him to Le Cinq and Pierre Herme. Then it was off to Japan where he did a stint at Narisawa in Tokyo. That may be a Michelin starred restaurant but what made Euwie prouder instead was his work at a ramen shop in Japan.
"There's something about making and eating your own ramen. It's very whimsical like eating chocolate and you're like Willy Wonka."
He also worked at In Situ under Corey Lee, a Thomas Keller protege. In the early days, Euwie's dream was to open a fine dining space here. But a stint at Copenhagen's Amass under Matt Orlando shifted his outlook to create a place with a zero waste outlook.
When he returned home, he started up a home catering business known as The Gathering about two years ago. "We will go to people's houses to serve them family shared meals."
Their Peking Duck was legendary; Euwie describes it as "ridiculously crispy" skin paired with juicy meat cooked medium well — giving you the best of both worlds.
In May last year, they decided to start Pun's as people clamoured for their ice cream after tasting them at their catering gigs. "For The Gathering, ice cream was a big part of our likes," said Euwie.
They kickstarted Pun's at APW at a pre-loved market. When they first started, they got a friend, Vanessa Ma, to design their logo featuring a blue Yeti happily eating ice cream. It's an oxymoron of sorts since the abominable snowman lives in super cold weather!
"I love making ice cream and I have been making it since I was 13," explained Euwie. His uncle had brought back an ice cream maker from Perth which was what got him started. His first ice cream was cookies and cream. Nowadays, he still churns it up for Pun's.
For their ice cream, Euwie cures the milk and cream base for a few days, allowing the flavours to develop that creaminess. "Time for us is an ingredient," he said.
The turning point for their business was Elaine. When they started, they churned small amounts and would stick their logos on the tubs of ice cream.
One day, she invested in 1,000 of their logo stickers — an affirmation that Pun's was definitely here to stay!
The two have a perfect partnership. Euwie generates the culinary ideas while Elaine, who is still in the banking and finance industry, is the important taste tester, giving her opinions on what will appeal to the local palate. She also picks up administration matters: "I do everything he doesn't."
Anchoring their tiny menu is the Chiffle aka insanely good fried chicken on waffles with maple syrup. As a child, Euwie fell in love with this quintessential American offering when he visited Las Vegas during his family's annual holiday. He was 13.
For Euwie who loves rap, he was fascinated when Snoop Dogg brought up chicken and waffles from Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles. "It was something cool."
Later, he got a chance to visit Paris' Gumbo Yaya that serves fried chicken and waffles. Its unique pairing of Southern style food with French quality ingredients blew him away. "It was rich, decadent and soak up everything and she'd make her own butter," said Euwie.
His version is brined and dredged just before it is deep fried. The juicy pieces are perfectly seasoned to make you want more. Add a crispy sourdough waffle with buckwheat and maple syrup for a winner. We guarantee that you'll ask for seconds.
For sweets, try the excellent Moochi Mochi — a crispy waffle with a slight chewy texture. You'll be surprised but there's even good-for-you oats inside it. The inspiration for this waffle is Euwie's sister Lin who runs Rubberduck; she serves a buttermilk mochi cake at her cafe.
And there's also their version of banana split with fried bananas with their sweet centres paired with ice cream, called Let's Split Up The Gang.
Behind the scenes, Euwie has a deeper purpose though as he intends to make this place a zero waste restaurant. "It's all about being sustainable and a respect for ingredients."
If you look around The Puntry, you will find various plants like Thai basil, Vietnamese mint and lemongrass. There are plans to utilise all this. So far, Euwie also practises with his ingredients. "Either we preserve or give it away," he explained.
For things he cannot use, he will ferment it and make their own pickles. He is also looking for someone to recycle the oil they utilise too.
Joining Euwie is his team, a young but enthusiastic one hence Pun's tagline of "Seriously Fun." He tells us it's an oxymoron. "We take it seriously but we have fun doing it."
For instance, there's their "Juice Master" or Lim Eng Seng who is very into making juice with different flavour profiles. That fun also sparks creativity as they hold creations evening where they whip up all kind of dishes.
Next up, the duo are looking into incorporating more local but uncommon ingredients into their offerings. Who knows, you may be eating tuhau, a Borneo ingredient at your next meal here.
They will also be holding their first tasting menu with eight plus courses from March 22, 23 and 24, so try to grab your seat as it is limited. In July and August, look forward to pop-ups at the space: collaborations with foreign chefs who will present bread and tasting menus. We can't wait!
Good food. Great vibes. Seriously fun. Love The Puntry.
* The Puntry by Pun's Ice Cream, 5, Jalan Robson (Opposite Robson Heights Seafood Restaurant), Kuala Lumpur. It's open from 11am to 5pm for coffee and ice cream (Wed to Fri), 11.30am to 10pm (Sat) and 10.30am to 4pm (Sun). Savoury items are only available during the weekends and they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.