Ryan Yeoh and Chef Malcolm Goh: Get to know the dynamic duo behind Define: food
For too long, the busy strip between MidValley Megamall and The Gardens Mall had been dominated by chain outlets the likes of Tim Ho Wan, Starbucks, and further down the boulevard, Brotzeit, Chilli’s and Delicious.
This October, a new independent player is about to stir up some excitement in the form of Define: food, brought to you by the same guys behind Hacha Mecha and Ikki bar at TREC KL.
Combining the adventurous tastebuds of Ryan Yeoh, the culinary know-how of Chef Malcolm Goh and the F&B business acumen of Bryan Loo, the new all-day dining restaurant aims to redefine the landscape of casual dining in KL with its own take of everyday comfort food.
“The devil is in the details,” tells Yeoh. “It’s the small things that we do differently that will stand us apart.”
"This is our version of what good food should be.”
That’s a high claim and no easy feat right there especially since on the menu will be the familiar staples of pastas, pizzas and pies accompanied by a small section of local delicacies.
“We will cover a wide range of cuisines, a lot of Western influences but with a bit of Malaysian flavours here and there,” he elaborates. “It’s all day comfort dining. It is food you can find anywhere, but made differently with our own touch.”
Said touch falls upon the shoulders of Chef Malcolm to materialise, something he intends to make a signature at the restaurant when it opens end of this month.
“The menu is a lot of input from myself, Bryan and Ryan,” reveals Chef Malcolm. “A big part of the flavours here is a result of what Ryan and Bryan liked from their travels. They share it with me and I recreate it what I have and know best. This is our version of what good food should be.”
Unpretentious, laidback and underlined by, according to Chef Malcolm, “wholesome food done the right way”, the two are seeking to steer the casual dining identity to one with more appreciation for quality over prices.
This begins in the kitchen with a team that truly knows food. “We only hire proper chefs to work the kitchens,” says Yeoh. “We have open kitchens so you can see what everyone is doing. Everything is made in house from the ketchup and mayonnaise.”
This is complemented by a bar in the alfresco dining area as well as a private dining area where bespoke menus can be tailor-made to suit your requests. Despite the frills, prices are kept low by the employment of local ingredients where ever possible.
“Good food shouldn’t be available only to a select few – it’s everyone’s right.”
“The quality lies in the preparation method,” shares Chef Malcolm. “From the thawing of food to the cooking of it, we do it the right way. We have no qualms about using frozen and canned food – I know everyone thinks only fresh is good – but if you prepare it well, it can be good too. We are an all-day dining place in a shopping mall; accessibility to only fresh produce may not always be there, so we make do with what we can get and we make the best out of it.”
Adding to that is an ever-evolving menu, one that the duo are seeking to change up every 6-8 months. There’s more to it than just variety and novelty on the front end, as Chef Malcolm reveals:“It’s not just for the guests – it’s for our kitchen staff as well so they can grow. We want them to learn and practise their creativity.”
Plans are already in place to introduce an ‘Off The Menu’ option where new dishes from the kitchen can be introduced omakase-style based on the availability of the day’s produce. “This way, the staff can try their hand in creating something of their own and if it does very well, we’ll add it to the menu,” shares Chef Malcolm.
Having set the bar high with Hacha Mecha with an equally steep price point in terms of casual fare, the duo isn’t afraid to now eye the more middle-tier.
“Good food shouldn’t be available only to a select few – it’s everyone’s right,” Yeoh explains. “We want people to feel relaxed when they come in. No candles, no fancy stuff. Just comfortable chairs, casual ambience and really good friends over good food.”
This is reflective of both his and Chef Malcolm’s humble but gracious approach to food.
“I love to eat, I love to cook. Cooking and eating isn’t something to be taken for granted – it’s not just an act to provide your body with nutrients,” Yeoh says. “It brings to mind wholesomeness, love and friendship. Everything is built through food; it’s the fastest way to build a relationship. That’s what I’m trying to translate with Define: Food.”
Define: Food opens 20th October at Lot 29-1, The Boulevard, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City. Follow them on the official Facebook page here for more updates.
On the other side of town, Greyhound Cafe continues to push the parametres of modern Thai cuisine.