By Shahida Sakeri on July 17, 2017
“This is not a hipster cafe; never have and never will be.” And I couldn’t be more than glad to hear that.
Located in Section 3, Shah Alam, there is no doubt that Spiced Pumpkin Cafe & Bakery faces strong competition in the local gastronomic scene, especially amongst the plethora of eateries within the area that mostly project ‘hipster’ vibe (read: Instagram-worthy décor but mediocre food). Spiced Pumpkin Cafe & Bakery, on the contrary, indulges its customers with remarkably satiating menu that makes the best dining experience, minus the hype or Instagrammable decor. This didn’t come as a surprise considering the owners – Mas Zuhairin Zubir (Mas) and Nur Azizarin Kusyair (Nur) who fondly dubbed themselves ‘pumpkins’ – have years of practice in hospitality and catering services respectively before opening the restaurant in October 2016 so that more people can enjoy food rather than fad.
The dishes are definitely the reason to go to Spiced Pumpkin Cafe & Bakery. Its interior, which is bright and spacious with quirky pieces adorning its white walls, feels casual and comfortable. There is also a children’s corner where ‘little diners’ can appreciate the dining experience, further enhancing the friendly feel of the space.
The menu mainly consists of Palestine-inspired dishes, with some interesting local and Mexican exceptions. During a recent visit, my dining partner and I tried the Pita Nachos with Cheese (RM15), Pumpkin Soup served in French bread bowl (RM15) and Couscous Salad with Roasted Chicken (RM12.90) for appetisers. They were all delicious: strong, hearty and comforting flavours. But I particularly loved the silky textured soup, which was mildly spiced and contained pumpkin flavour that shone above the rest – a meal so comforting that having it on the menu truly does the cafe’s name justice.
But since Spiced Pumpkin Cafe & Bakery prides itself as the go-to place for Palestinian-inspired cuisine, I reckoned the Maqlubah is another must-try. It’s a traditional one-pot Palestinian meal based on Nur’s late husband’s recipe, who was an actual Palestinian.
If you ever heard of how food can be a symbol of love, then this would be a great example because it is made with the best attention and care that every mouthful is a loving glory. When Maqlubah is fully cooked, the pot will be turned upside-down over a big pan resulting in a beautifully presented layered dish of tender lamb (or chicken if you like), light and fluffy basmati Pulsa rice (Grade A), vegetables and crowned with generous toasted nuts. It goes well with Daqqus and the restaurant’s signature Raed’s hot sauce; so when all of these are cleverly combined, they stroke our pleasure receptors with waves of spicy-then-sweet flavours and soft-then-crunchy textures. But be mindful that Maqlubah is a gala meal that can feed at least three or more people, so choose your portion wisely. At Spiced Pumpkin Cafe & Bakery, there are four portions available (mini, small, medium, and large) with prices starting from RM50 per pot for chicken, and RM70 per pot for lamb.
But if I were to tell you, honestly, on the one food that has kept me pining for weeks, it would be the Kunafa (RM8.90): a multi-textured happy ending treat of shredded pastry and Nabulsi cheese, all soaked in orange blossom syrup and top with crushed pistachio, served warm, soft and with the right amount of sweetness – I swear I could be salivating just by remembering the taste of it. This, my friend, is a showstopper.
Other desserts like Tres Leches Cake (RM15) and Bubur Sum Sum (RM5) are also delicious, but probably won’t keep you awake at night remembering them. And of course, if you prefer to go light and healthy on your meals, opt for the salads in jars that can last up to five days if stored properly in the refrigerator; including homemade cold pressed juices made from the freshest organic ingredients with no added sugar.
So come here and bring the whole family with you, because after all the things I’ve said, the unique aromas, flavours and spices of the dishes, in the end, are truly something that you will need to experience yourself. By the way, the ‘pumpkins’ still take catering orders if you were thinking of having Middle Eastern meals for your next party.
Spiced Pumpkin Cafe & Bakery opens Monday-Friday (10:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.) and Saturday (11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.). Closed on Sundays.
2.0 Kompleks KPPMS, Lot 291
Jalan Ru, 3/9A, Seksyen 3, Shah Alam
40000 Shah Alam, Selangor
T: +6 019 272 8317