SUBANG JAYA, June 28 — What’s so special about a waffle?
Sure, this one is square rather than round, but that’s not unheard of. Perhaps the rolled rosettes of salmon at each corner?
The garden of salad leaves encircling the snow-white orb at its heart, waiting for an eager fork to puncture and spill its molten gold treasure...
Perhaps a waffle is special enough, if it is the Egg Hollandaise Waffle with Salmon at Three Plates Full in SS15, Subang Jaya, where co-founder Roy See observes that "the more unique dishes like [it] draws in a good brunch crowd on the weekends.”
Other dishes include their new Nine-Spice Rice Pilaf — basmati rice perfumed by spices, laden with ingredients (pumpkin, pickled onion, almond flakes, cashews, black beans, cherry tomatoes) and served with a mint raita.
Classic French flavours abound with their Black Mussel Bowl, served with white wine cream sauce and sourdough bread, and the rich and crispy Duck Confit.
For desserts, one could be awed by the delicate beauty of the Wantan Cheesecake Dessert and the Rosewater Cheesecake... a wonder of flavours, textures and colours.
See, a former writer at a local daily, and his business partners have been in the food and beverage (F&B industry) for a while now, yet have remained relatively low profile.
He explains, "Our approach to business has always been to focus on the brands we create rather than ourselves.”
As a brand, Three Plates Full is positioned as an all-day dining café-restaurant that serves creative brunch dishes and single-origin coffee.
The classy, minimalist interior allows for a morning-to-evening transformation. See says, "By night we become a diner, serving homely dishes for a family to gather around.”
The eatery started with the founders wanting to build something that could provide a complete dining experience.
See explains, "In the end, for a meal to be complete, we need a starter, main and dessert. That is where the name ‘Three Plates’ first came from — the 'Full' part was our (misplaced) optimism, which was immediately, gruellingly tested by the second lockdown.”
And so it was with many F&B businesses that launched during the pandemic; Three Plates Full first opened in March 2021.
See says, "Coming out from the then unprecedented lockdown, there was already a dine-in itch the public wanted to scratch badly.
"We enjoyed brisk sales for a whole month, despite the many hiccups a new food & beverage outlet can encounter, the overall reception was positive.”
However, a single month was not enough time to establish a brand. See recalls, "Whatever advantage we enjoyed being the new kid on the block quickly became an Achilles heel when the second lockdown rolled in.
"We simply could not compete with older brands who already have established their takeaway/delivery presence throughout the first lockdown.”
Such challenges are part and parcel of every business, particularly those in the F&B industry where margins are razor thin and employee attrition is high.
Once you factor in opening during the pandemic, it can all seem an uphill battle.
See recalls, "There was a real danger of failing before we even had a chance to start. Worse was when our products did not survive the journey to our customers' homes, let alone the dinner table.
"The anxiety we felt every time we packed a pasta, or steak, or our fried chicken was very real.”
To ensure they could deliver a product that was unique (to stand out from the pack, as everyone had pivoted to food delivery), could survive the transit from restaurant to the customer, and most importantly, was a joy to eat, Three Plates Full came up with their lockdown-era Pork Pie.
See explains, "Since it was a life-or-death situation, each pie was crafted by hand, using the best ingredients we could afford. Each one of those pork-collar cubes, gravy-filled, puff pastry capped pies acted as our brand ambassadors, and represented our commitment to bringing something distinctive to the Malaysian food scene.”
Those baked-to-order pork pies became Three Plates Full’s delivery-only hero and helped the restaurant stay afloat.
See says, "Profit was not even considered at the time; just something that can help us stay relevant. We did not want our café to be old even before it had the chance to be new.”
Fast forward to today and some of their customers, who first knew them through food delivery, have now visited Three Plates Full in person to try their offerings... the way the founders meant them to be served.
Every customer has their own favourite at Three Plates Full, from the Bacon and Mushroom Alfredo pasta to the homemade Meatball Bolognese.
Their newly launched US Pork Schnitzel, See notes, is currently leading the sales in the restaurant’s dinner menu.
But perhaps what most of their guests come for is Three Plates Full’s Crispy Fried Dark Chicken. Moist and tender meat, with crackling-like skin.
The chicken tastes good enough on its own but you can choose from three sauces: a Tunisian green harissa, a Vietnamese Nuoc Cham dip and a Red Salsa — or try them all, why not?
As See had put it earlier, this is emblematic of their ethos — "homely dishes for a family to gather around” — and there’s no better reason to rejoice.
Three Plates Full
57, Jln SS15/4E, SS15, Subang Jaya, Selangor
Open daily 11am-10pm
Tel: 03-5613 3315