It's not a typical scene in Malaysia - friends and family digging into plate after plate of one of the world's most decadent breakfasts for dinner. But then again, the Wicked Pancake Parlour isn't your average restaurant.
A little sister of Asian-fusion restaurant The Yellow Brick Road, Wicked has staked its claim on KL's food scene from the snuggly upper corner of Jalan Batai barely three weeks after it opened. And though it's not an obvious spot to head for dinner, KL-ites have been abuzz over its quirky interior that's modelled after a witches' den, complete with wood-panelled ceiling and walls and faux-gas lamp chandeliers.
The menu, while limited, is just as fun and imaginative, with double and triple-stacked pancakes served eight ways. Whether savoury or sweet, jazzed up with curry leaves or infused with a pandan flavour, the pancakes here are tricked-out and full of potential. The coffee is well-made and the floats also echo the same sense of culinary adventure.
Such chutzpah could only stem from a bunch of spunky twenty and thirty-something year olds, Wicked's co-owners. One of them, Jason Loo, won the Malaysian Barista Championships back in 2013 and this year.
Loo, who was working at a hipster cafe called the Red Beanbag at the time and saw how popular its pancakes were among customers, shared the idea of starting a new restaurant which specialised in these dishes with his bosses, Lee Hai Lin and Lee Yew Kheong, a young husband-and-wife duo and their mutual friend Shaun Liew. The foursome set to work immediately - a creative designer by profession, Lee came up with the artistic blueprints for their new restaurant. Opened in May, Wicked was a headlong dive into the unknown for these gourmet entrepreneurs.
Wicked, according to Loo, is supposed to "denote something sinful." And there's nothing quite as wanton as Wicked's fashionably-attired chef de partie Shannice Toh's creations.
Toh, who has racked up several years of waffle-making experience for a specialty restaurant, is now doing the same thing with pancakes. She makes them from scratch, mixing the batter with her hands instead of a blender. "A blender makes it gooey, not fluffy," says Toh.
The most important aspect of her job, however, is "to know which flavours work together". True, her creations aren't exactly a stroke of genius - at just 21 years old, she still needs time to develop that side of her - but, with her spot-on intuition and youthful knack for experimentation, Toh is all set in that department.
One cannot go wrong with Twisted, the restaurant's rendition of a popular Eggs Norwegian dish served by YBR. Its ingredients - smoked salmon, avocado and feta cheese - are the same, but Wicked swaps the potato rosti base with pancakes. A drizzle of crackling curry leaves and creamy curry-flavoured hollandaise subtly work their magic, transforming an otherwise ubiquitous dish into something quite lovely and exotic.
"Everyone loves pizza," declared Toh, who then proceeded to create Let's Salsa in an effort to thrill the masses. Less pancake and more free-form pizza, it features generous slices of pineapple and turkey ham, all enveloped in melting hot mozzarella. The dish, however, would've tasted just like your average Hawaiian pizza if not for guacamole, salsa and crushed nachos scattered like a train wreck underneath - certainly not the prettiest pancake around, but it works for some strange reason.
As for dessert, you won't find any chocolate-banana pancakes here. That's because Toh goes by her diner's preferences, and most of her diners - though regular Joes and Janes themselves - were in search of something unusual. They would no doubt be impressed with Apom Terbalik, which is essentially - yes, you guessed it - a deconstructed version of this traditional Malaysian snack. A triple treat of crushed nuts, sweet corn and gula melaka, this nostalgia-ridden dish is made even more indulgent with a scoop of coconut ice cream.
Toh gives another old-fashioned Malaysian ingredient - pandan - a new lease of life with her pandan-infused pancake. The Peter Pandan - a haphazard scatter of caramelised fresh jackfruit, salted caramel ice cream and gula melaka atop a bed of pancakes - borrows from several culinary influences, including Filipino (Toh, who's half Filipina, got her recipe for sweetened jackfruit from her mother).
And if these are not sweet enough, try washing it down with a Salted Caramel Popcorn float. A positively diabolical concoction of popcorn, butterscotch, salted caramel ice cream and, of course, root beer, it's sweet enough to send you straight to diabetic heaven.
Despite these minor triumphs, Wicked is not resting on their laurels. The co-owners participate in food tastings twice a week to give their feedback on which creations of Toh's will or will not work.
As a result, several new dishes like the Takoyaki (pancakes with bonito flakes, Japanese mayo and shrimps) and a yet-to-be-named pancake with Tabasco sauce and calamari rings will soon see the light of day.
If these don't bewitch fans of pancakes, we don't know what will.