Ecole P @ Damansara Uptown, Petaling Jaya

A cafe that harkens back to our childhood days, Ecole P certainly scores high marks for its unique ‘back to the school’ theme. A brainchild of Steven and his co-partner, Ilrene, the dynamic duo have created a place that brings back a lot of fond memories from the yesteryear. Wooden school desks, blackboard, a signage with declaration of our national philosophy or ‘Rukunnegara’, batu seremban, tikam, speak takraw and scores of other memorabilia are befittingly found at every corner of this quaint cafe worthy of a handful of Instagram posts. “We are lucky to get approval from a primary school to cart away their discarded furniture,” Steven said.

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Relating the story on the story behind the cafe, Steven said that they were scratching their heads thinking how the cafe should look like. “Although we had several ideas, they were not feasible to be implemented. All of the sudden, I had this thought of going back to my childhood days where everything was simple and care-free. This is where the idea of having an ‘école primaire’ (primary school in French language) cafe theme came about,” he smiled.

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While the entire theme revolves around a fun and light-heartedness concept, the menu is certainly no child’s play when it comes its line-ups. A far cry from the forgettable fares that are served in school canteens, Ecole P’s impressive fusion offerings will catch many by surprise, pairing its unique concept with the distinctive ambiance. Steven who hails from the hotel management certainly knows a fair bit about cooking. “I am not a chef but I can consider myself a cook,” he said. Much like his back to the school cafe, Steven has done a whole lot of homework in experimenting with different combination of ingredients. “Fusion food is a tricky affair. We want to preserve the authenticity of its flavour but at the same time create something new that will excite our customers,” he said.

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Serving their Pumpkin Soup (RM 9.90) in a metal tiffin carrier for a touch of sentimentality is certainly imaginative, going hand in hand with their cafe theme. The inclusion of sweet dried cranberry, savoury egg yolk and meaty beef bacon brought about an intricate flavour to the oven roasted soup worthy of an A-grade distinction. “The garlic bits on the bread are slow roasted in the oven for an hour as I personally dislikes the pungent smell that emanates from raw garlic,” he added.

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Ecole P’s flair for fusion cuisine is evident in their Chicken Tandoori Schnitzel (RM 17.90), a showcase of the ubiquitous German food with a splash of Asian influence. Using a boneless chicken meat, Steven said the chicken breast is marinated with tandoori sauce and coated with breadcrumb before being pan fried. “To give flavour to the otherwise bland chicken breasts, I decided to brine the meat using a mixture of honey and salt water,” he explained. He also added that that tandoori sauce is made in house as he prefers to have his own recipe tailored to his liking. Even the Raita sauce is home-made as well. “We know that Tandoori and Raita go hand in hand so we included it as a dipping sauce for the meat.

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The Ecole Burrito (RM 11.90) is a marriage of East and West with our Malaysian flatbread (roti canai) stuffed with smoked chicken breast, vegetables, homemade sauce. While the combination may sound rather unorthodox, the entire dish was put together surprisingly well with the soft and airy texture of the roti canai being a better substitute for wheat flour tortilla. The intermixture of ingredients was extended to their dhal salad which again intermingled in the most unusual manner.

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A not to be missed dish at Ecole P, the Fish a la Laksa (RM 16.90) combines a thicken version of asam laksa broth served with spaghetti and pan fried tilapia. Borrowing from his mother’s recipe, Steven decided to add a twist to the dish by using Italian pasta instead. Rest assured, as the fragrant prawn paste mixed with onions and cucumber are still present albeit with a richer flavour. “We cook the broth from scratch using fish bones and mackerel,” he explained.

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Ecole P’s homage to the primary school theme extends to their tea series. The Art TEAcher (RM 9.00 – single pot / RM 15.00 – double pot) was ingenously assembled together using osmanthus, lychee, raspberry and goji yielding an interesting mix of flavour. A self-confessed tea drinker, Steven’s background in mixology proved to be an asset as he was formerly working with a reputable beverage company which requires him to come up with new concoctions every now and then.

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Ecole P’s Hot Chocolate (RM 11.00) was served with an old-style kopitiam cup and milk in the guise of a baby bottle. While the appearance seems deceptively simple, Steven uses his own mix of premium Valrhona chocolates to give it a rich tasting flavour.

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Steven also went to great lengths to explain about the Nasi Lemak Creme Brûlée (RM 10.90). Elements from our ubiquitous local dish are cleverly infused in this French dessert while combining the best of both worlds. The rich custard base was soothingly tasty while the fragrance of coconut was present as well. The ikan bills and salted fried peanuts were more than just cosmetics as they provided another layer of savoury flavour that contrasted with the sweet custard base. While perfecting the combination of ingredients took many months (to a point where Steven was about to raise the white flag), his persistency certainly paid off handsomely. He also went to the extent of creating his unique chilli berries sambal sauce thus completing the ‘nasi lemak’ dessert. “The sauce is made from sambal bawang mixed with our own concoction of berry sauce comprising of fresh raspberries, strawberries, cherries,” he explained. The taste was playfully sweet with a tinge of tangy and spicy flavour that augurs well with our tastebuds.

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For many of us who are born in the mid 70’s to early 80’s, Ecole P certainly evokes many nostalgic memories. The tribute to primary school extends to little details such as their menu replicating the school exercise book. For many of us, it will be a fun dining experience at this cafe, feasting our eyes on its creative interior decor and delighting the tastebuds with their culinary creations.

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Ecole P
No. 19m Jalan SS21/37
Damansara Utama
47400 Petaling Jaya
Selangor Darul Ehsan

Business Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m / 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Tel: 03-7732 9711

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ecole.p/timeline

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