The man who gave us the well-loved Delicious chain, Benjamin Yong, has been hitting the KL food scene with many new openings since breaking out on his own. Within the last six months, we’ve seen the launch of Plan B, T Forty Two and more recently, Ben’s in Pavilion and KLCC by his new outfit, the Bright Ideas Group. And lets not forget Canoodling which has been operating since 2010.
While his efforts and enthusiasm for introducing new concepts have been much heralded and welcomed, I have often felt that his outlets suffered in giving an overall good dining experience. Take Plan B for instance, while they have the food and ambience down to a tee, the same could not be said about their painfully slow and below average service despite having 20-odd staff hovering around the dining room. Or T Forty Two, once again while the interior is a sight to behold, the food has left many feeling rather lukewarm.
So, when a friend of mine spoke highly about Ben’s General Food Store, his latest concept-restaurant which opened in Bangsar Village (where else?) less than two weeks ago, I took it with a pinch of salt. A BIG one at that too.
Being a visual person, it was given that I was going to love the store’s concept and interior. This time it is styled in a modern-country-barnyard-cafeteria which serves a quick selection of no-frill dishes. Once again, very well done. One could also draw similarities to his previous projects, D’lish and Delicious Ingredients. For now the cafe bit is up and running, and I’m sure foodies alike are just waiting for the grocer side of the store to be in business. I hear they will have an in-house butcher, a fine cheese and fresh gourmet food deli section.
A colourful array of fresh salads greet customers as they enter the restaurant. Here you can choose to order them as individual portions or a combination platter of up 3 different salads. I’d admit that I’ve always been a fan of his green creations, and here I was wowed again by choices like the Panzanella Bread Salad, Orechiette Pasta with Baby Peas, and even the simple Greek Salad was scrumptious.
What sets this new restaurant apart is the spotlight on pizzas as their headliner. Here you would find rustic, fluffy flat bread (think Indian na’an) with all kinds of toppings on the top. So far, I’ve tried the simple Napoletana consisting of tomatoes, mozarella, anchovy, olives, roasted garlic, capers and fiery chili paste, which I absolutely adored. If anchovy isn’t your thing, opt for the Giamberi Piccante which is similar and fiery as well. The Funghi pizza topped excessively with mozzarella, fresh wild mushrooms, mascarpone and truffle oil, was also a quick favourite around the table, but one can only have no more than a slice and a half before calling it too much. I would have also liked it better if the truffle oil was more fragrant to cut the creaminess of the melted mascarpone. Meatlovers should not miss the Il Carnivore! A pizza here could easily feed 2 people.
Don’t forget to try the sweet pizzas as well, which comes in half the size of a regular. I have to say that the Chocolate, Banana and Mascarpone was really good and indulging. They also have a selection of daily desserts on display next to the salads. I’ll recommend to try the Chocolate & Walnut Brownies à la mode and Peach Cobbler with a cup of coffee or T2 tea from Australia. I was told to give their Tiramisu and Carrot Cake a go too. Perhaps, I’d just do desserts on the next visit.
Ben’s General Food Store isn’t the kinda place for you to enjoy a slow lunch at. The seatings here aren’t the most comfortable and music is rather loud. If you wanted a place to catch up with your friend’s topsy turvy life stories, you can always do that on Facebook in the comfort of your own home. What it is, is a place you head to for a healthy quick bite which most fast food chain restaurants are not able to provide.
That said, it has great potential and I would really like to see it flourish. While the servers were excellent in their rounds and food came quickly, I wished the bill came breezily too. It’s not so much of a problem for us, but what is the point of rushing us through our meal and then takes forever with the bill. It really doesn’t help with the fast turnaround of tables, if that’s what they are after. During my second visit, the coffee and cake took a good 15-minutes to come when the place was clearly just 1/3 filled. I hope these are just teething problems for now and be rectified in time because I really enjoyed the food here and I might have just found myself a nice place to frequent for pizzas. Here’s hoping.
Ben’s General Food Store
Lot G 17, Ground Floor, Bangsar Village I,
Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 9am-10pm daily