Café Review: Doma Korean Café
Café Review: Doma Korean Café
Words and Photos by Adam Jeffery
Blue Skies and Revived Creativity
Dare I say it? The curse of Everlasting Haze has been lifted! At the very least, that’s what I (and, perhaps all Malaysian residents) hope the case to be. Imagine the excitement I felt when I woke up from my slumber to be greeted by a sky so blue and clouds floating effortlessly through the clear horizon; I was absolutely ecstatic. A feeling of renewed vigour swelled inside me as though the Muses that have been kept at bay by the haze pushed me onward and outward with the warmth of the sun beaming through the wide opened windows. I took a nice quick-ish shower, slathered on some sunscreen, picked up my camera and tripod, and set off to drink some coffee and perhaps capture an inspirational moment for Ma Vie Umami (My Delicious Life).
This will be La Vie Umami’s first “Review” post featuring various products, restaurants, food, and events, among other things. As I am currently based in Malaysia many of the reviews will center on the Malaysian Lifestyle. However, La Vie Umami is not something only Malaysians can attain but it is a way of life that I hope many people will try to incorporate as their own regardless of who you are or where you’re reading this from. So, what I’m trying to say is that you’ll find many international product reviews here too~.
Savour La Vie Umami’s first Review: Café, featuring South Korean fusion restaurant/café, Doma Korean Café.
Doma Korean Café
Nestled between Mont Kiara Pines and Palma, on top of “Mount Kiara” situates the relatively new café, Doma Korean Café. As the name of the café suggests, it is a café that focuses on a certain Korean café je ne sais quoi with a fusion of western and eastern cuisine. Taking their focus on cusine and décor into consideration one could not help but think that it is an ideally located café. Why? If you’re not too familiar about the area or perhaps you’re not even Malaysian (in that case, hooray~ thanks for reading my blog…not desperate at all, am I?) then let me enlighten you. The simple fact is that Mont Kiara is fairly known as an area where a number of expatriats (expats) tend to congregate. More specifically, it is a watering hole for many Japanese and Koreans in particular (though I myself live amongst them). So it is not surprising to see that a majority of the café goers here were Koreans.
Late Beginnings & Later Endings
The café itself opens fairly late in the day at 11:00 am and closes later than the usual café with a closing time of 12:00 am. If we were to consider only their operation time then it makes an ideal café for anyone who doesn’t want to hang out in a mamak store (a typical hanging spot for Malaysians where they indulge in Malaysian Indian cuisine while watching a game of football, the British kind not the Amerian version, on the tele) but rather opt for a certain kind of flair while retaining your casualness.
When Modern Korean Meets 90’s Style
What makes or breaks a café can probably be broken into 4 areas: coffee, food accompaniment, service, and décor. Asia being a coffee-crazed region means that there is an overabundance of coffee shops from international franchises such as Starbucks and O’Coffee Club to more homegrown cafés like Caffe Crema and 8oz Coffee. Malaysians, therefore, are spoilt with a multitude of cafés to choose from so it becomes a battle royale for the café to ensure they come up with the best coffee, snack/food, customer service, and décor. So how is Doma’s décor?
Doma is separated into an outdoor patio and an indoor air-conditioned area. Before we talk about the space itself I’d like to point out the entrance that they’ve designed for the café. As I pass by Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Palmier Patisserie Café I am greeted by a shift from stone gravel like floor to a wooden bridge that separates the café from the rest of the Shoplex and Mont Kiara. To me, it provided a sense of separation from the “rest of the world.” In other words, the café seeks to envelop their café goers in a feeling of caffeinated bliss.
The Outdoor Patio is where the cashier and kitchen is located and littered here and there are wooden tables that vary from two-seaters to four to eight. Fans keep the area cool (with the sun finally out I couldn’t last long outside but it’s ideal for night time hangouts as Malaysia begins to cool slightly). The café is filled with various plants that soften the cool modern edges of this café.
The Indoor Area is air-conditioned (a very important feature!) and is minimally decorated with modern and pop artwork, a mishmash of chairs giving a 90’s vibe to it, and more plants in pots, coke cans, and cinder blocks, the space itself is a cool gray polished concrete giving the space its general modern feel. As you can see, the décor itself is modern, chic, cool, hipster, with a hint of 90’s. It is a space that is clean, simple, and not overly gimmicky.
What I love most about the space has to be their use of natural lighting. With huge windows and a revolving door that separates the outdoor patio and indoor space the café successfully brings natural light in (an aspect that is fairly absent in many cafés in Malaysia) as well as bringing the outdoor in. Doma carefully balances the separation of the two spaces while ensuring they are not utterly separated. Does that make sense? No? Well, I believe that if it were not for the hot and humid weather in this country Doma could, essentially, be an outdoor café. However, air-conditioning is necessary here and so this space was created. Looking through the photos don’t you feel as though you’re having coffee outside surrounded by plants, flowers, and natural light? I sure did.
When In A Korean Café, You Eat Korean Food
While the café had a lunch offer for 25 Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) which includes their special of the day (Fish and Chips), a selection of any coffee or soft beverage, and their Ice-Cream on Sticky Rice Pancake for dessert I thought I’d try their Korean dish (we are in a Korean Café after all), their 100% Fresh Cold-Pressed Juice (it’s what people have been raving as the café’s best), and their Sticky Rice Pancake (I had it before and was enamoured)…oh, and my usual 11:00 am cappuccino before lunch.
In my attempt to become more “mature” as a coffee drinker, I am trying to drink coffee without the added sweetness of sugar, especially in my cappuccino. Hence, I judge the umami of a café’s cappuccino on how they balance the bitterness of the coffee (ideally, I would not need to add any sugar and enjoy the mature taste of coffee) and the amount of coffee:milk ratio (I want a cappuccino not coffee-flavored milk). The cappuccino came in a clear coffee cup, which fits well with the café’s modern and minimal approach. I can’t give him any points for coffee art as it looked like an abstract of a heart of some kind. Well, coffee is not determined by its appearance (though as a photographer having some good design would make it more sharable on social media). My verdict: Umai~! Delicious~! I did not require any sugar (not that it was provided… a sign of confidence in their craft?), it wasn’t the size of a grande Starbucks latte (which many seem to be making for a cappuccino), and the milk did not overpower the taste of coffee. C’est bon~!
My tongue was set. I will not walk out of this café without having some Korean food. The Korean flair used in the décor is one thing but you can’t eat décor can you? Well, at least, not without getting some indigestion. I scoured through their limited lunch menu (a decision made perhaps due to the lack of traffic during lunch hour?) and chose the Kimchi soup. If you’ve not had kimchi soup, or just kimchi, then you should probably try them out. The kimchi itself is an interestingly intense flavour of spicy and sour smothering the fermented cabbage. If the kimchi itself is something that you fear to be too intense then have it in this soup.
The various ingredients used in Doma’s kimchi soup waters down and decrease the intensity of the kimchi. The soup’s pièce de résistance is the kimchi itself but it also includes silken bean curd, scud chilli, enoki mushroom, and scallion. It tastes spicy with a slight sour tang to it from the kimchi itself but the spiciness was not overpowering thanks to the soup, tofu, and mushroom. Overall, the soup’s texture is not “boring” in that it contains various textural interest from the chewy texture of the enoki mushroom, the crunch of the cabbage (kimchi), the soft yielding tofu, and the liquid soup. I assure you that my reminiscing of South Korea have not swayed my verdict: C’est delicieux~! Absolutely tasty! I have not been to a café where I can enjoy the complex flavor of coffee with the savouriness of Korean cuisine (not at the same time of course).
Juice: Pineapple (Slow Pressed, 100% Fruit, No! Sugar or Water)
The cold pineapple juice was the perfect accompaniment to go with the heat from the Kimchi soup. It was sweet with a slight sour undertone which highlights the freshness and ripeness of the fruit used to make this juice. A testament to their eye towards quality! I can see why people recommend their juices very highly.
Ice-Cream on Sticky Rice Pancake
Well the name doesn’t leave much to the imagination but the fusion dessert itself is not to be taken lightly! From a variety of five options I chose their “Nutella Chocolate” and the resulting creation is a traditional Korean Sticky Rice Pancake, slathered in Nutella, topped with powdered nuts (I think), cold creamy chocolate ice-cream, and desiccated coconut. This may be my first time eating a Korean sticky rice pancake but it is texturally different from the pancake that one normally associates with in the West as it is, as the name clearly states, “sticky.” That being said, it is far from being “gooey” or “chewy” as it has an interesting crispness to it that adds a certain textural contrast that I love to see in my food. That interesting sticky-yet-crispy pancake, crunchy peanut and desiccated coconut, smooth Nutella, and creamy chocolate ice-cream makes this dish a textural delight! You can probably guess what I‘ll say~ C’est parfait~! Brilliant.
If you’re hankering for some quiet alone time then this may be the spot for you! Tucked away in a residential area is a cool, modern, Korean hipster, and chic fusion café/restaurant. Come enjoy a fresh cold-pressed juice, a well-crafted coffee, fusion cuisine, and the slower lifestyle of Mont Kiara. Well, after you’ve gone through the somewhat hellish traffic that funnels all of the condominium residents to the rest of Kuala Lumpur but I assure you that the minutes spent in that traffic is worth it~! Feel free to drop me a message if you’re in the neighbourhood!
Doma Korean Café is the first of many that represent La Vie Umami!
Live Life Deliciously.