MCO delivery: Miss cafe hopping? 'Tapau' coffee, scones and Japanese 'sandos' plus 'bentos' from Taman Tun Dr Ismail's Neutrals

Get the fish 'katsu sando' delivered for lunch with a bottle of cold brew coffee to keep you awake. — Pictures by Lee Khang Yi
Get the fish 'katsu sando' delivered for lunch with a bottle of cold brew coffee to keep you awake. — Pictures by Lee Khang Yi

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 25  — It's been hard for cafes with the lockdown, let alone a brand new entrant to the scene. Technically not a newbie, Neutrals which opened at the end of May is by The Roast Things. They also run Cream at Dataran Prima and tgt in life at Tropicana Avenue.

Located at Taman Tun Dr Ismail, I welcomed this place with open arms since it is the nearest of their cafes to my place.

Maybe that is why I ordered from them almost every week. With this new venture, they have partnered with Stand by Sunbather for the food element; you can also order the sando and bento from Sunbather Coffee at Sphere, Bangsar South.

If you prefer rice, they offer various 'bento' like this marmalade grilled chicken with 'kinpira gobo', potato 'mochi' ball, 'tamago' and spinach salad.
If you prefer rice, they offer various 'bento' like this marmalade grilled chicken with 'kinpira gobo', potato 'mochi' ball, 'tamago' and spinach salad.

I managed to sneak a peek at the place one Sunday when I did a self pick-up. It's really lovely — an oasis of calmness — with all the green plants and cool grey tones. A perfect place to chill when the lockdown is over.

What I really enjoyed in each of my takeaways was their coffee that is smooth and not too acidic. I usually pack a bottle of cold brew coffee (RM14) to keep in the refrigerator.

If you prefer, they do have the milk version. There's also one with oat milk. If not, go for their coffee, mocha, chocolate and matcha drinks in a takeaway cup. You also have filter coffee with various coffee beans.

They also have kombucha and a variety of tea options, if you're not into coffee.

I usually get a variety of food items to keep at home. One day, it could be sando for lunch. Or maybe their bento. They also have quiche which keeps well. Of course, every takeaway must include their scones.

Spiced mushroom sando may be meatless but the mushroom & carrot fritter is incredibly flavourful.
Spiced mushroom sando may be meatless but the mushroom & carrot fritter is incredibly flavourful.

For the sando, or what the Japanese call their sandwiches, there are six choices to select from. Unlike the Japanese ones that use white bread, they use their own baked rye bread for their sandos. I find them incredibly substantial; one sando can feed me for two meals.

There's the popular Ajitsuke Tamago with egg, Maple Chicken and their Tofu Katsu, that were first offered at Sunbather Coffee. With the opening of Neutrals, they have introduced three new sandos. There's the Fish Katsu (RM35), a riff of fish and chips minus the fries. Instead, it's a pretty substantial fried battered perch fillet sandwiched with gribiche, a minty edamame paste, cheese and cucumber slices.

If you love eggs, try their Scotch Egg (RM28) that has a soft centre hard boiled egg wrapped with minced chicken. This is accompanied by a rosemary carrot and beetroot fritter and wafu sesame mayonnaise. My favourite is the Spiced Mushroom (RM25). I find the mushroom & carrot fritter to be so flavourful that I don't miss the fact it's meatless. It's got a spicy kick too and there's also tamagoyaki, togarashi mayonnaise paired with shredded cabbage and torched cheese. Prices start from RM20 for the sandos.

If you're looking for a complete meal, there's a selection of bentos. Select from beef chizu hambagu, marmalade chicken or teriyaki chicken patty. Prices range from RM25 to RM27.  Each bento has a different flavoured protein and is also served with steamed Japanese rice, tamagoyaki cubes and a salad.

Smoked salmon and potato quiche makes a nice treat for lunch or tea time with its layers of potatoes, fish and egg on a flaky crust.
Smoked salmon and potato quiche makes a nice treat for lunch or tea time with its layers of potatoes, fish and egg on a flaky crust.

Sip on tea or coffee with their 'matcha' or buckwheat scones.
Sip on tea or coffee with their 'matcha' or buckwheat scones.

I had the grilled marmalade marinated chicken thigh bento. It was the vegetables I enjoyed since kinpira gobo made with burdock is a personal favourite. I also liked the Japanese spinach salad with its sesame sauce that is paired with imitation crab. A fun thing to eat is their potato mochi where you get mashed potato with a hidden cheese centre.

Don't forget their quiches too. They're great for any time of the day. As they keep well, I'll get a slice to heat up whenever I need some comfort food. You have a mix of flavours from the classic quiche lorraine using beef bacon, and a flavourful smoked salmon layered with potatoes. I also liked the unusual pairing of unagi with leeks and potato quiche. Prices for a wedge of the quiche range from RM19 to RM21.

For the scones, you can play around with the various flavours. There's the signature scones for RM12 that are served with various flavour combinations. My favourite one is the buttermilk scone paired with butter and red bean paste. The creamy butter goes well with the not overly sweet red bean paste.

If you love matcha, there's a matcha scone topped with mascarpone, matcha cream and strawberries. Other flavour combinations include hojicha scone with kinako glaze and a soft, chewy mochi, or the Earl Grey scone with caramelised banana, whipped chocolate ganache and mascarpone.

Or just buy the plain scones, and mix and match with various jams. You will also get their own clotted cream, which adds a nice creamy element to the scones. This arrangement gives me more flexibility too as one can store the scones longer and reheat before eating. It's RM8 for the single scone and if you order the double scones, it is priced at RM15.

The crumbly buttermilk scone is delicious paired with red bean paste and creamy butter (left). You can mix and match various jams like this blackcurrant coffee one with clotted cream and your favourite flavour of scones.
The crumbly buttermilk scone is delicious paired with red bean paste and creamy butter (left). You can mix and match various jams like this blackcurrant coffee one with clotted cream and your favourite flavour of scones.

Choose from buttermilk, Earl Grey, matcha and hojicha caramel scones. The latest two flavours that were introduced last week are buckwheat treacle and lavender yuzu. Pair them with their blackcurrant coffee, strawberry shiso, golden kiwi or tangy passionfruit jams.

My favourite combination is the buttermilk scone with the blackcurrant coffee and clotted cream. The addition of coffee to the blackcurrant jam gives it a slight bitter edge that goes well with the cream and the crumbly scone.

Another combination I keep going back for is the Earl Grey scone with strawberry shiso jam and clotted cream. The lavender yuzu scone is also good to enjoy on its own as the scone has a subtle lavender taste followed by that slightly tangy yuzu icing on top.

Just remember to heat up the scones before you eat them as they taste better warm. You also need to eat it with jam and clotted cream otherwise it will be too dry.

You can order food to be delivered to you via Beepit. There's also a self pick up option. Just note that their kitchen is only open from 9.30am onwards.

Neutrals, 30A, Persiaran Zaaba, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, KL. Tel:017-8702627. Open: 8.30am to 5pm. (Thursday to Tuesday). Closed on Wednesday. Instagram: @neutrals.ttdi Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/neutralsttdi-102600242036684

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