An Italian Experience @ SSTC (Spaghetti Sweet Tea Cafe)October 15, 2008 | 9,776 views
I’ve read about this particular cafe way back then, when they started business a year or two ago, at Greentown Nova. Subsequently they relocated to this current premise at the new row of shoplots near to Tesco in Medan Ipoh Bistari, Ipoh Garden East. But what’s keeping me so long from giving this restaurant a try? Hmm, let’s see … the lack of publicity and rave reviews from friends and acquaintances for one, and paired with the prospect of fine dining in a relatively-unknown restaurant was holding me back.
Out of ideas on where for lunch on a weekend, we found ourselves driving in circles around Jusco/Tesco. Bumped into this cafe, AGAIN (Serai Sate Kajang is situated a few doors away), hence shortlisted our options to either McD Drive-Thru, Kizuna (which is nearby as well), SSTC (Spaghetti Sweet Tea Cafe), or satay for lunch. And why not go Italian? 🙂
The place was miserably empty on a Saturday’s afternoon. We had our doubts, but still trusted our instincts. And the screaming hunger pangs kinda let rationality bypass our brains.
The attentive and cheerful staff were perky and proceeded to serve us with such gusto, explaining the items on the menu and their specialities, as well as giving me a rundown of the restaurant’s history in one breath. OK, so I exaggerated, but she was really informative in more ways than one.
Seems the chef learnt from his mentor in Las Vegas, a celebrity chef by the name of Wolfgang Puck, supposedly a Michelin Guide‘s 3 Stars chef, the highest accolade one can achieve in the kitchen. I meant, recognition of his work in the kitchen. (=P) Gee, at least that was reaffirming.
The menu’s simple, separated into various categories, ranging from several categories of spaghetti (normal-160g (smaller serving), special-200g (regular serving), and signature ones), risotto, soups, salads and sandwiches, as well as desserts. No lasagne and pizzas, as she claimed those are “fast food”, and deviate from their principle of serving ONLY fresh food from the freshest of ingredients.
We picked the Panini as an appetizer, listed in the “Herbed” segment. Panini is a type of Italian sandwich, made from ciabatta bread, and toasted with fillings of ham, cheese and rocket leaves (Arugula). Served with sides of fresh lettuce drizzled with a tangy, citrusy lemon dressing, the sandwich fared well in our books, the soft bread lightly buttered and highlighted by the creamy, melted cheese and ham. Quite a portion, and sufficient for light eaters.
But the best dish that afternoon went to their pasta. The spaghetti was supposedly from the best quality batches produced by Barilla, a world’s leading pasta manufacturer. And glad to say, SSTC cooked them to perfection, al dente, and did not skimp on the portion nor the ingredients. Though the turkey ham slices may be slightly saltish (expected from cured meat), the addition of fresh rocket leaves lent the pasta a refreshing, mint-y flavour, and off-set the creamy, “guilt-inducing” white sauce. Btw, you can opt for other sauces such as tomato paste, brown sauce, and Asian brown sauce (spicy).
With no pizzas or lasagnes in sight, I was torn between the risottos or the grilled meats. I was rather apprehensive when it comes to risotto, as Italiannie’s version was a letdown, too soggy and lacking in flavour and texture. But still, after the waitress reassured me that they had feedback from customers, stating that they did not wish for soft, squishy and soggy risottos. Hence, she proceeded to explain how good risottos should NOT be too soft or overcooked, and must retain the rice’s (usually Arborio) natural flavour and texture. SSTC import their grains from Milan, Italy, or so it seems.
And I was pleased to bite into the plump, rounded & short rice, each grain providing a slightly firmer bite and yet remained creamy enough to be differentiated from local produce. The accompanying chicken in brown sauce was nothing to shout about however. Should’ve gone for the seafood risotto in white sauce instead.
Desserts selection comprises of three items, the Chocolate Cream Cake, Rice Pudding or the perennial Italian favourite, Tiramisu. No Creme Brulee though, a French dessert of egg custard with caramelized sugar, one of my favourite sweet treats of all time. I love anything with eggs, mind you. LOL.
Tiramisu’s their signature, as in the case with most fine dining restaurants, especially Italian ones. The creamy, light and spongy Tiramisu at SSTC was rather delightful, but I’d prefer mine with the coffee syrup laden with heavier alcoholic tone, like Suchan‘s version. Or with a twist, with creamier mascarpone cheese and served in a cup.
Overall, a rather pleasant dining experience. And the friendly yet classy ambience was akin to fine dining, but not as strict as to impose dress code on its patrons. I was there in short pants and slippers. Hehe …. A disgrace, I know. But there’s always redemption in future visits.
Location : Spaghetti Sweet Tea Cafe @ 19A, Jalan Medan Ipoh 1E, Medan Ipoh Bistari, 31400 Ipoh, Malaysia. Tel : 05-5488832. Same row with Serai Sate Kajang, refer that post for directions.