Planted in the middle of a row of shops adjacent to Damansara Jaya’s Atria Shopping Gallery is Li, a cosy contemporary neighbourhood restaurant. Cosy because it’s a shop lot eatery with somewhat limited dining tables but mostly because it exudes a convivial old-time kopitiam atmosphere within. Décor is simple and features primarily wood flooring and cupboards adorned with knick-knacks, retro radios and such. Wall fans are the sort you’d find in olden day coffee shops with a wall partition fashioned from vintage grills emblazoned with the giant Chinese character of ‘li’. Charming.
Flowing over from its casual setting is the equally unpretentious food that somehow manages to morph old-time coffee shop classics into contemporary comfort food. Take for instance the humble homemade sourdough bread. It is as simple as it comes, two thick, crisp slices of toast on a wooden board. Taken with the mouth-watering homemade sous vide kaya and butter with sea salt, every crunchy bite is a trip back comfort food memory lane.
On the opposing scale would be its savoury cousin, the pork toast. Harking back to the traditional roti babi, Li’s version sees lean pork hash fused to one side of a sourdough bread, sliced into four pieces and then drizzled all over with sesame seeds and luscious chilli mayo. It is hearty and tasty and more than earns its signature dish status.
For mains, the house rice bowl will bowl you over. Beautifully arranged with succulent, boneless chicken pieces, sliced cucumbers and a runny egg sitting atop a mound of fluffy rice, the taste of this dish is as fulfilling as its looks. Thanks to hours of brining and pan-frying, the chicken has a salty-sweet taste to it with a crispy skin that gives it extra bite. Break the yolk, mix it with the chilli mayo sauce over the briny chicken and take in a mouthful with the rice.
Another worthy bowl meal is the tagliatelle with slow-braised pork. The mixture of scallions, sesame oil, cured egg yolk, pickled green chilli and pulled pork over the soft-textured pasta looks simple yet tastes anything but; flavours and textures interplay deceptively well in this dish.
The pan seared boneless chicken thigh is the same brine-soaked chicken as the one found in the house rice bowl, only that it is served with sautéed potatoes, carrots, cucumbers over gravy.
It’s not all meat though as vegetarians should find the charred spiced cauliflower a unique vegetable dish. Charring on the cauliflower produces a great aroma that goes well with the house-made dukkah and yoghurt. Add a dash of lemon to it and you’ll soon forget that you’re eating bland cauliflower.
There are only two dessert options here and both are try-worthy. For the all-sweet option, it’s the soy milk panna cotta with pineapple jam and gula Melaka sago. Its smooth texture and mouthfeel resembles tau fu fah or egg custard, and its bland taste is given a boost by the tart pineapple and the richly sweet brown sugar. The lychee bowl, on the other hand, gives out contrasting flavours. Shaved iced lime provides a sharply sour taste that is balanced by thick coconut milk over sweet lychees. Meringue wafers add additional bite to this invigorating dessert.
Aside from a handful of selected beers and ciders, LI serves up organic tea, various coffees and soft drinks as well. But the best find must be its handcrafted refreshments; the homemade fizz drinks are refreshing and go down a treat with most, if not all, of the dishes.
In one word: Excellent. Led by Lee, diners get literally service with a smile from the attentive floor staff. The bubbly lass cheerily explained the menu and gave recommendations whilst energetically bounce from table to table and to the entrance greeting and ushering newly arriving guests.
Three adults were well-fed on RM156. For the portions, high taste factor and the irreproachable service behind every dish and order, that is very good value for money.
TUE-FRI: LUNCH: 11:30 AM-5:00 PM; DINNER: 6:30 PM-9:30 PM
SAT: LUNCH: 10:30 AM-5:00 PM; DINNER: 6:30 PM-9:30 PM
SUN: LUNCH ONLY: 10:30 AM-5:00 PM