KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Something “wicked” this way comes – “wicked good” pancakes, that is. The quartet of Lee Yew Kheong, Hai Lin Lee (also co-founder of Smooshie Juice), Shaun Liew, and Jason Loo, the current Malaysia Barista Champion, behind Jalan Batai’s Yellow Brick Road is set to launch their latest venture serving fusion-flavoured pancakes.
The wittily-named Wicked Pancake Parlour is located on the floor above Yellow Brick Road. Its bright green signage is already up but the parlour will only open for business on Monday, May 18, 2015. Given that Yellow Brick Road itself only opened a little over a month ago, one would be forgiven for wondering if it’s too soon to open another outlet?
It’s a case of striking while the iron is hot, and there’s no hotter address than Yellow Brick Road these days. Even the owners were surprised at the overwhelming response when they first opened their doors.
Yew Kheong recalls, “Honestly, we didn’t expect such a huge crowd on the first day, and it’s been that way ever since. Operations-wise, it’s the same as our first café, The Red Beanbag, but the environment is clearly different — not only the space and the décor but also the presence of our brew bar.”
The brew bar is where Jason showcases his award-winning coffee-making skills, making believers of coffee novices and where he trains young baristas. He notes, “The customers are different — it’s more of a neighbourhood crowd. We have regulars returning, some even daily. One customer drops by every day at 4pm for a long black. Another customer is an avid jogger; an Italian, he stops for his espresso with sugar during his run.”
The food at Yellow Brick Road is another big draw. Favourites include “I Wanna Be Kaya”, French toast with poached pears, coconut mascarpone cheese, and caramel kaya sauce; and “Balik Kampung”, ayam percik (grilled chicken thigh marinated in herbs and spices), turmeric rice, a poached egg, and mango kerabu salad.
“So we knew we had to come up with something quite different from The Red Beanbag and Yellow Brick Road yet familiar for our third outlet,” says Lin Lee. “We had to figure out what to do with the space, the ambience and what we wanted to serve.”
The roomy, wood-centric interior of Wicked Pancake Parlour is lit by natural sunlight. As day turns to night, lamps decorated with strands of “witch’s knots” light up the space.
“Our original concept for Wicked Pancake Parlour was to recreate a witch’s den or attic,” says Yew Kheong. “We were wondering what we could do with the space above Yellow Brick Road. Ideas included turning it into a bar to serve cocktails and even plated desserts.”
Ultimately the team decided they knew next to nothing about alcohol as most of them hardly drink. So the bar idea was abandoned. Jason says, “We did more R&D and realised that at The Red Beanbag, our pancakes are very popular with the weekend crowd of families with children. So we decided to stick with what we are comfortable with and understood best.”
While the Red Beanbag menu only has two pancake items, including the best-selling Skyscraper (a stack of wholesome and fluffy flapjacks), the idea was for Wicked Pancake Parlour to offer more unusual pancake concoctions that taste “wicked good” (hence the name).
Their resident pastry chef is Shennice A. Toh, whom Shaun had trained for a competition back when he was lecturing at Berjaya University College of Hospitality. Lin Lee adds, “I realised later that Shennice also used to work part-time at Smooshie Juice’s kiosk at Berjaya back when we first started years ago. So she has worked with me twice… but for two different businesses!”
Half Malaysian and half Filipino, Shennice is young, passionate, and eager to demonstrate her creative chops. She says, “My bosses have given me free rein to experiment, which is not something other employers generally entrust you with. I appreciate this freedom to play with flavours and come up with something new and different.”
New and different is a great way of describing Shennice’s pancake creations. So far, everyone’s favourite pancake is an apom balik-inspired pancake made with Hawaiian coconut and sweet corn in the batter, garnished with crushed coconut and served with coconut candy ice-cream and gula Melaka syrup.
“I love eating apom balik since I was young,” says Shennice. “So when I was challenged to do a pandan-infused pancake, I went to Ipoh for a makan trip. There, I got inspired by some apom balik I had by the roadside. These were the real local flavours I wanted to showcase.”
Another as yet unnamed sweet offering is a sea-salt peanut butter and roasted almond pancake with salted caramel ice-cream. The crunch of the sea salt adds another layer of texture already provided by the peanut butter and roasted almonds. Slices of fresh banana and strawberries help to mellow the dish a little.
There will be savoury pancakes too, but to discover what flavour pairings these will come in, you’ll have to head to Wicked Pancake Parlour when they open on Monday.
Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is whether there will be a blue, indigo or violet-themed café next? After all with three eateries under the belt that feature red, yellow and green in their logos, it must be tempting to complete the set with a full rainbow spectrum.
The team laughs in unison and shake their heads. Yew Kheong says, “Three is more than enough for now. We have got our hands full!”
Yellow Brick Road
8-7, Jalan Batai, Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur
Open daily 9am-6pm
Tel: 03-2035 5922
Wicked Pancake Parlour
Same address as Yellow Brick Road, upstairs
Open daily 3-11pm, starting from Monday, May 18, 2015