PETALING JAYA, April 15 – One of my favourite experiences while backpacking in France years ago was finding a crêperie or two in every town I visited. Usually mom-and-pop shops, these crêperies would serve fluffy French-style pancakes with crispy edges that are made to order. From simple, sugar-laced sweet crêpes to savoury galettes, the possibilities are endless.
So imagine my joy to discover a down-to-earth neighbourhood crêperie in Petaling Jaya’s Section 17 recently. Cosy and colourful, with a friendly yet fuss-free ambience, Strangers at 47 is located at the busy Jalan 17/45 where Kanna Curry House draws banana leaf rice fanatics daily.
Expect the now-default café décor accoutrements of concrete walls, exposed light bulbs, and furniture shaped from rescued wood. What sets Strangers at 47 — the brainchild of twentysomething co-founders Sean Ooi and Lim Sing Yi — apart from other cafés is a single-minded focus on its menu.
In other words: crêpes and plenty of them.
Classic crêpes, as traditionally eaten in Brittany in the northwest of France, are made from wheat flour (sweet crêpes sucrées) or buckwheat flour (savoury crêpes salées). Good Breton crêpes ought to be light, tender and crispy at the edges. The crêpes at Strangers at 47 check all of these boxes and more.
Eschewing done-to-death combinations such as butter and sugar or strawberries and whipped cream in favour of more fusion crêpes, Strangers at 47 emphasises recipes using Malaysian ingredients. The menu features both sweet and savoury crêpes (the former from recipes by Ooi’s mother; the latter created by Ooi himself), just like any honest-to-goodness French crêperie.
Begin with the “BBC” or Big Breakfast Crêpe. This savoury wholemeal crêpe – with chicken chorizo, smoked chicken ham, butter-sautéed Portobello mushrooms and spinach, golden hash brown, a sunny-side-up, caramelised onions, and baked beans – is a substantial meal on its own. Brunch fry-ups no longer need to be boring on the weekends.
For something with a touch of the sea, try Shore to Please, another savoury crêpe. This comes with Cajun-style tiger prawns, crispy battered squid, spinach, caramelised onions, roasted cherry tomatoes, and nuggets of salted egg yolk. As its name suggests, it is indeed sure to please even the most jaded of palates.
Indulge your sweet tooth by ordering Adam’s Sin, a sweet crêpe that aspires to be an apple crumble, albeit a prettier, more delectable one. Consider the flavours and textures presented: aromatic cinnamon apple, crackly wholemeal crumble, juicy blueberries, and moreish salted caramel. The final dollop of vanilla ice-cream seems almost overkill but trust me; it completes the dish.
Enjoy a local twist with the Purple Rage, a sweet potato crêpe that pairs Japanese sweet potato with coconut sago, and finished with a light drizzle of subtly pandan-infused gula Melaka syrup. If only the neighbourhood cendol vendors had an equally delicate touch!
While Strangers at 47 is predominantly a crêperie, they serve very good espresso-based coffee drinks too. Head barista Lim’s cappuccinos, in particular, are divine. Her perky smile usually accompanies each cup; yet another reason to linger at the coffee bar as she foams the milk.
Another barista specialty isn’t even coffee but a matcha latte that’s not too cloyingly sweet, unlike some of the green tea lattes that are served in franchise cafés. Velvety smooth with enough of matcha’s leafy flavour, Strangers at 47’s version reminds me of the matcha latte at the Japanese-style Wa Café (now closed). Good to know there’s another spot in town to get my milky matcha fix.
Sit back and relax. There are happy faces all around me and it’s easy to see why. Fresh flowers in water bring a touch of Nature into the crêperie. Quirky murals by freelance illustrator Hsulynn Pang decorate the walls: a bear and a fox on a date here; coffee and crêpes adorn another.
Every neighbourhood should have a crêperie filled with fusion flavours and a bounty of genuine smiles. Strangers are transformed into friends, the way the mantra “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met” assures everyone.
Enjoy a slow weekend brunch at Strangers at 47. All you need is a good book, someone whose company and conversation you enjoy, and a delicious crêpe (or more) to share.
Strangers at 47
47, Jalan 17/45, Section 17, Petaling Jaya
Open Wed-Mon 11am-10pm; Tue closed