PETALING JAYA, June 16 — There was a time when I used to have regular work trips to Penang. One of the things I most looked forward to was the late dinner near my hotel after work. Hot and crispy garlic naan fresh out of the oven. Tandoori chicken, slightly charred yet still moist.
And then there was the palak paneer.
What could be more rejuvenating than a dish of this textural wonder? The soft, velvety puréed spinach and the tender grilled cubes of paneer (a variety of cottage cheese), entirely perfumed by the scent of ginger and garlic, tomatoes and garam masala.
Given how much I love this, you’d not be surprised that I would seek out spinach and paneer regularly, perhaps in other dishes. Certainly it’s true for spinach, which I enjoy sautéed and stir fried, in soups and in smoothies.
Quality phone time while waiting for brunch.
But paneer was something I associated solely with palak paneer. Until now, that is.
At Superfine, a brunch café nestled away in Seventeen Mall, a residential hub in Section 17, PJ, breakfast seems the plat du jour, albeit every single day. (I say " a brunch café” but Superfine switches to pizzas and craft beers in the evenings.)
And it is in their big breakfast selections that I rediscover my beloved paneer, in familiar form but transformed nonetheless. Instead of cubes that melt into hot spinach stew, the paneer here comes in slices — nor does it come alone.
Besides the seared fresh paneer, Superfine’s Fresh Aussie Breakfast arrives with sautéed kale, sliced avocado, blistered cherry tomatoes, a medley of roasted mushrooms and two kampung eggs atop a thick slice of toasted seeded sourdough bread.
Sandwiches at Superfine come with a hearty salad on the side.
I ask for the eggs as sunny side ups; dipping a square of paneer into the yolk is a different way of enjoying the compressed cheese. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the sautéed kale and this is one brunch experience I wouldn’t mind repeating.
Fortune favours the bold... those bold enough to try new things, that is.
There can be a wait, especially on weekends. (Brunch is a more leisurely affair on weekdays, for those who have a day off.) No matter: we all know how to enjoy some quality phone time while waiting, though sometimes at the cost of an actual conversation.
Double the fun with the Superfine Burger (double beef patties and double cheddar cheese), plus chunky fries.
Sandwiches at Superfine come with a hearty salad on the side. My favourite is their Chef’s Cubano, perhaps inspired by the 2014 American film by Jon Favreau.
Originating in the Cuban communities of Florida, a Cubano is typically made with ham and roasted pork marinated with mojo, a sauce made with garlic, rendered lard and orange juice.
Superfine’s version does the original justice; besides the mojo roasted pork shoulder, the sourdough sandwich is layered with provolone cheese and pickled gherkins. A healthy slathering of coriander aïoli and yellow mustard ensures a well rounded flavour profile.
Another sandwich that does the trick is the Pastrami Reuben. This New York deli staple comes with thinly sliced smoked Australian beef brisket that is slow-cooked overnight, more provolone and sauerkraut on sourdough.
Buttermilk fried chicken and Belgian waffle, topped with a sunny side up.
The inclusion of poached beetroot might turn off some unused to its earthy notes but not me, fortunately.
What is brunch without burgers and fries? Double the fun with the Superfine Burger (double beef patties and double cheddar cheese on sesame brioche bun). A tangy tomato-chilli relish hits the spot; same goes for the chunky chicken salt fries.
Those who relish something more fiery can try their Nashville Hot Chicken Burger. The same sesame brioche but with a buttermilk fried boneless chicken thigh in between the buns, brushed with some Nashville-style hot oil.
As a matter of fact, that buttermilk fried chicken reappears a couple of times on the menu. I have had it with a Belgian waffle, topped with a sunny side up, as well with their house-made buttery cornbread. Everyone loves fried chicken, right?
But it’s their big breakfasts that remain a standout. Another stunner is their Full Breakfast. Here, as with their Fresh Aussie Breakfast, there are kampung eggs (I had these poached this time), blistered cherry tomatoes and roasted mushrooms. The same toasted seeded sourdough bread too.
The Full Breakfast with 'kampung' eggs, chipolata sausage, streaky bacon and chorizo beans.
This one is made for the more carnivorous amongst us though, with the addition of chipolata sausage, streaky bacon and sweet-spicy chorizo beans. Sometimes you just have to have some meat, no?
Yet I always make room for more sautéed kale and seared fresh paneer, if only to remind myself to eat healthier. If only to remember those long days and slow nights dipping crusty pieces of garlic naan into a brimming bowl of palak paneer.
L01-L02, Seventeen Mall, Jalan 17/38, PJ
Open daily 10am-5pm (brunch) and 6pm-9pm (dinner)
Tel: 03-7625 7715
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