They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In the Klang Valley dining scene, the Australian-style brunch menu has been flattered so much by imitation that were it a person, it would be a spoilt, self-involved diva by now.
This rise in Australian-style brunch spots is no fluke. It reflects the high numbers of Malaysians who have studied, lived and worked in Australia, imbibing the sights, sounds and food to such great effect that they’ve brought a little piece of it home.
But high numbers do not necessarily equal high quality, and often the hype outweighs the actual food. That is exactly what the good people at Urban Daybreak were looking to avoid when they opened their little brunch spot in Penang.
“We just thought, ‘Can we do the best Aussie breakfast in Penang?’ and we felt like we could,” says Mandee Yeap, one of the partners at Urban Daybreak.
The eatery was started by friends Aldrien Moh, Goh Ao Szi and Yeap, who had all worked together at Moh’s wine restaurant Georgetown Wines. Of the three, Moh is the only one who has studied and worked in Australia, so he knew what needed to be done to create good Aussie-style brunch meals.
Urban Daybreak Penang became a huge hit a few months after it launched, commandeered by word-of-mouth recommendations. The eatery was also inundated by requests to open an outlet in KL, a kernel of an idea that the partners began to take seriously after awhile.
“We saw an opportunity, so we took a risk to spread our name and provide our style of breakfast/brunch meals to people in KL,” says Goh.
And so Urban Daybreak opened in the popular Telawi stretch in Bangsar a few months ago. Moh serves as the executive chef, while Goh is the head chef and Yeap leads the front of house.
The menu is made up of a slew of Australian-inspired breakfast and brunch staples, and Goh and Moh place a strong emphasis on making as many things as possible from scratch. It is why the eatery produces its own sausages, ice-cream and peanut butter, among other things.
There’s plenty to whet the appetite here, but start with the hashtag-friendly avocodo smash (RM24.50). Here, a sourdough toast forms the bed upon which homemade guacamole, feta cheese, roasted cherry tomatoes and two perfectly poached eggs rest languidly atop. A smear of cider beetroot puree completes this picturesque tableu.
The jiggly orbs of poached eggs can be easily pierced, unleashing a stream of yolk that winds down the bread in golden rivulets. Having done that, indulge in a forkful of all the elements on the plate and wait for realisation to hit. It might happen after a single chew, or it could happen after a minute or two.
But either way, you will likely be confronted by the reality that this might just be the best avocado toast you’ve ever had. Because it is seriously good – rich and indulgent but cleverly tempered by the acidity of the beetroot puree, which helps ward off that cloying sensation.
Next up, give in to temptation and indulge in the stout pulled pork with poached egg (RM28.50). The pulled pork has been braised to perfection and retains both pliancy and succulence.
Poached eggs are a recurring theme at Urban Daybreak and rightfully so, because they do these eggs to perfection here – each one spilling out effortlessly at the slightest provocation.
The ingenious addition of crispy shallots scattered across the surface of the meal adds a lovely crunch to the meal and you’ll find yourself sighing with pleasure (repeatedly) at the simple joy this meal offers.
The signature French toast (RM23.50) meanwhile is made up of thick planks of brioche, torched bananas, homemade salted peanut butter, crispy bacon and a maple drizzle.
While the bread is delightful – pillowy soft in the middle, other elements aren’t quite as dazzling. The peanut butter for instance, is a little thinner than traditional iterations while the “crispy bacon” doesn’t quite have the advertised crispiness.
Then there is the continental croissant (RM23), a beautifully composed meal which features a croissant with spiced poached pear, mixed berries and vanilla mascarpone. This is a yummy way to start your morning – the fruits in the amalgamation add sweetness (although the pear could be a tad more tender) while the croissant acts as a buttery, flaky canvas for the ensemble cast here.
Perhaps the surprise break-out star at Urban Daybreak is the rather plain-looking ultimate steak sandwich (RM33.50). Here, slices of wet-aged ribeye steak are paired with tomato and chilli relish, grain mustard, fresh spinach and Swiss cheese in what is essentially the dictionary definition of ‘euphoria’.
Because how else to describe the sensation of biting down on tender slices of steak still pink in the middle? Or the fluid cohesion of steak, bread, spinach and cheese melding harmoniously like the Bee Gees in their prime? Let’s just say that there’s little that can ruin your day if your first meal is this sandwich.
If you’re after a brunch dish that really lives up to its portmanteau, try the fried chicken waffle (RM26.50) which is essentially fried chicken mounted on top of a sunny side up egg, barbecue flavoured baked beans and maple syrup with a thick waffle buttressing the entire dish. The chicken is perfectly crispy on the outside while retaining tenderness and juiciness inside.
A mouthful of chicken, baked beans, eggs and waffle will feature a wonderful interplay of tastes and textures that will have you holding up a hand to halt all conversation at the table so that you can to fully immerse yourself in the flavours that this meal has to offer.
Pasta isn’t often the No 1 choice for brunch, but it’s hard to fault the attributes of the chorizo pasta (RM32), which features pasta interspersed with chorizo, garlic, roasted cherry tomatoes, capsicum and sweet basil.
This is a meal built on lighter underpinnings than its more sumptuous menu companions, so you’ll discover plump pieces of chorizo mingling amiably with capsicum and sweet, blistered tomatoes in what proves to be a sunny, easy-to-love affair that doesn’t leave you feeling full to bursting point after.
For something sweet, opt for Jeremy’s slippery hotcakes (RM23.50). Named after one of the silent partners in the restaurant, the fluffy, thick hotcakes pair perfectly with the bacon jam, banana fritters and house-made salted caramel ice-cream in the mixture. The dish is a sweet assassin that delivers maximum pleasure on so many levels, that you’ll succumb willingly and easily to its wily charms.
Cap your nirvanic streak with a beverage that says it all: hazelnut divinity (RM15). A combination of dark chocolate mocha with a touch of hazelnut, the bewitching flavours of the chocolate will entice you from the get-go and.
It is clear that Urban Daybreak is in it to win it. The faults are few and far between while the soaring peaks are omnipresent everywhere.
And while the eatery may have started out trying to imitate Australian-style meals, tellingly, it has clearly evolved into something altogether more original.
Address: 11 Jalan Telawi 5, Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2303 0172
Hours: Wednesday-Monday, 8am-9.30pm