Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Food Review: Medifoods Lifestyle Café


 
I have been eating very well for a very reasonable sum these days, thanks to KindMeal.my. It is also thanks to them that I discovered restaurants and cafés serving exceptional food that I would not have otherwise discovered on my own.

Medifoods is a chain of retail outlets, restaurants and lifestyle cafés with a strong emphasis on natural, organic food prepared with the advice and endorsement of nutritionists and dieticians. It currently has outlets in SS18 Subang Jaya, Sime Darby Medical Centre, Sri Damansara and SS2 Petaling Jaya. While it is not vegetarian/vegan, its menu does have a commendable variety of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices, and these are clearly marked with colour codes and symbols for ease of reference. 
 
My friend Karen and I dropped by the outlet in SS18, Subang Jaya, one rainy weeknight after downloading the discount coupon from KindMeal.my. Karen had skipped her yoga class to join me, and we arrived around 8.30 p.m., half an hour before closing time, yet the restaurant staff treated us with nothing but courtesy and patience. At no point did they hurry us or do the usual rude-Asian-restaurant-thing of switching off the lights or sweeping up a dust storm around our guilty munching faces.


The restaurant from the outside.
 
The outside of the restaurant is warmly-lit and welcoming, with an entire ecosystem of tropical plants to provide shade, privacy and oxygen. There were many younger professionals and college-age patrons in the outer dining area, while a gaggle of senior citizens filled the inner dining area, joyously singing a series of classics and thus providing us with dinnertime entertainment.
 
The retail section offered a large selection of organic and natural products, including non-toxic, biodegradable household cleaners and personal care products, dry food, fresh fruits and vegetables and locally-produced eco-friendly goods.
  

A wide range of organic foods and household products.


Fresh local produce for sale.
  

Ever the frugal consumer, I spotted several bargains and stocked up on organic goods and household products while waiting for our food to arrive. As I was waiting to pay for my purchases, I noticed that the lady next in line was holding merely a carton of organic eggs, and so I asked the cashier to let her go ahead of me. The said lady thanked me, paid for her goods and was about to leave when she overheard me replying to the cashier that I do not have a membership card. She then offered to have my purchases rang up under her membership account to entitle me to a 10% discount, for which I am very grateful. While this incident might not have its place in a food review, it does indicate the kind of clientele Medifoods has, and the sense of community it fosters and encourages.
  

Stocking up on organic and local products.
 

For our entrees, I ordered the Curry Mee Hoon while Karen ordered the Vegetable Mushroom Herbal Soup (i.e. vegan Bak Kut Teh), as the Hakka Lei Cha was sold out before our arrival. For our appetiser, we ordered the Thai-Style Bamboo Fungus Salad.


The Thai-Style Bamboo Fungus (RM8.50) is a cold appetiser prepared with onions and chillies in a spicy, sweet-and-sour Thai sauce. The mouth-feel of bamboo fungus (whose unfortunate scientific name is Phallus indusiatus, and I cannot even say it without cringing or grinning) is uncannily similar to chicken feet or fried pork skin, both common ingredients in Thai salad. It has the same puffed, chewy, rubbery texture, and this would have made me shudder in fright after years of plant-based eating, but the fungus tasted reassuringly light and lacking in any gamey smell or flavour. It also soaks up sauces particularly well, and as a whole, this dish is successful in reflecting the tangy, spicy complexity of Thai cuisine.

  

The Curry Mee Hoon (RM13.90) arrived next in a bowl big enough to swim in. Rice vermicelli, eggplant, long beans, tau pok (fried hollow tofu puffs) and enoki mushrooms were steeped in a fragrant santan-free curry that was surprisingly spicy and thick. It was clear from the first bite that the curry base did not come from a paste or boxed mix. It was like South Indian curry, with all the pieces of cinnamon, cardamom and star anise still sitting in the bottom of the bowl. The vermicelli and tau pok were a good foil for the spiciness of the curry, and the vegetables added flavour and crunch. Karen found it too spicy, so I polished most of the curry off, as it didn’t have the heavy, cloying effect of coconut cream-based soups.
  


The Vegetable Mushroom Herbal Soup (RM13.90) is an almost clear broth of herbs, cabbage, spinach, carrots, mushrooms and tau pok, served with a bowl of signature Medifoods rice, which is basmati cooked with lentils and millet. The soup tasted significantly milder and lower in sodium that the vegan bak kut teh I am accustomed to from the food courts. If you are not a fan of the overpowering herbal flavour of the average bak kut teh, this is the soup for you. The natural sweetness of the cabbage and carrots really shone through in this soup. Personally, however, I find that this soup does not have the depth of flavour of most bak kut teh soups, although it is still admittedly very palatable and wholesome.
  

What Karen and I liked about the appetiser and both entrées is that we obtained our five-a-day of vegetables in each dish, and all the dishes are low in fat and sodium, but packed with nutrients and flavour.


Karen's herbal sugarcane drink.


My ABC (Apple, Beetroot, Carrot) shots in a bucket of ice. Looks deceptively like watermelon juice, doesn't it?

To wash it all down, Karen had the sugarcane herbal drink (RM3.50), while I had the ABC shots (RM9.50). My drink came in shots of unsweetened and freshly-blended apple, beetroot and carrot juice in 3 glass test tubes chilled in a cup of ice. Beetroot formed the dominant flavour, which I have no complaints about since I do like beetroot. (I love all vegetables, so this really isn’t saying much, is it?) The apple and carrot provided a hint of tart sweetness, and the drink was altogether very refreshing.
 
We used the KindMeal voucher to obtain a 30% discount, and were pleasantly surprised to find that our bill came up to merely RM34.50, less than what we would have paid for a less satisfying meal in another restaurant.


I took a photo of the interior of the restaurant at closing time, which does not do it justice, as it was virtually packed at the time of our arrival. Apart from ala carte meals, the restaurant also has a buffet of dishes to go with rice, i.e. mixed rice.
  

With a name like ‘Medifoods’, I had expected the food to be blander and milder-tasting than what I am used to, but thankfully the use of spices, vegetables and natural plant ingredients made up for this.  
 
 Verdict:
 4 stars out of 5.
 Worth skipping yoga class for.
 
 Medifoods Lifestyle Café and Store
 SS18, Subang Jaya
 
5, Jalan SS 18/6, Subang Jaya, 47500 Petaling Jaya
 Business Hours: Mon - Sun: 7.30am to 9pm
 Phone: +603-56325714, +603-56365338

11 comments:

Bookface said...

Oh my word, that all looks fabulous! I wish MediFoods would open a Phnom Penh branch... :-/ Enjoy!

Serina Rahman said...

food looks yummy! when you do a vegetarian somtam review let me know :) - serina

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thanks for coming over, Amanda! I don't think they have any plans to expand their operations to Cambodia at the moment ;) but we can go over for dinner the next time you visit KL!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thank you for coming over, Serina! Food was pretty good! Will call you if I get to review Thai food!

LeenaPaloma said...

Yummy... would love to try the vegan bak kut teh, the amount of vege and mushroom makes me drooling...

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Oh good, Leena! You are a mushroom fan, just like me! Thanks for coming over!

Pat said...

All the food looks super yummmmm!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Yes, it was both yummm and healthy, Pat! Thank you so much for stopping by!

Julia said...

Good review. Nice pics. Would be beneficial to the reader,if you included the price of the food and drinks as well,so they roughly know the price range of the place. =)

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Oh yeah! I forgot! Thanks for letting me know, Julia! Will update with pricing ASAP!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Done! Updated with pricing! Thanks again, Julia!