KUALA LUMPUR: It’s refreshing to walk into a location as posh as Bangsar yet know that tucked away on the first floor of a block facing the main road, is a quaint little café serving some of the most heartwarming comfort food that tastes just like mom’s – some even better, but don’t tell her.
Sheila Philip, who runs For Goodness Cakes! with her partners, is a breath of fresh air, personable with a great sense of humour and a cheeky smile. But if there’s one thing she’s dead serious about is the food she puts on your plate.
Speaking to FMT Lifestyle, Sheila says, “We are very, very fussy about what we make here. Granted other business owners are too but we are really going for home-cooked, home-baked stuff.
“It’s not going to be pretty or beautiful. It’s not going to be fancy but it is going to be serious comfort food. If I had to sum-up what we stand for it would be ‘homemade goodness on a plate’.”
She said the business started when six women with a great love for cooking and baking, decided to open a restaurant that would serve the kind of food they wanted to eat – healthy, wholesome and delicious.
They operated in Desa Sri Hartamas for five years but when an opportunity to open in Bangsar presented itself, they jumped at the chance.
“Absolutely no regrets,” Sheila says of the move to Bangsar, adding that it has been a mishmash of emotions – “interesting, exhausting, challenging”.
Catering to a mostly Malaysian crowd since mid-May of this year, the café’s bestseller is Nasi Lemak Chicken Rendang. One mouthful and you’ll know why. The rendang and sambal are the stars on the plate and paired with the santan-rich rice, makes for a scrumptious meal.
The Laksa Johor is fast becoming a firm favourite, with some regulars pledging to try new items on the menu but succumbing to the addictive flavours of this dish time and again. This version has a thick, flavourful gravy poured over a bed of noodles accompanied by the usual suspects that make up an authentic Laksa Johor dish.
Also lip-smacking is their Asian take on pasta. This twist on an Italian favourite is risky, refreshing but right on the mark. You might think twice about trying it, but throwing caution to the wind is probably the best move you’ll make. Spicy and bursting with flavour, the prawns topped with crispy garlic bits are to die for.
If you’re the kind that simply must have “Indian” for lunch, you’ll love the Lamb Curry with rice, raita and papadom. Tender, tasty and delightfully spicy, the aroma of this dish alone will make you want to dig in with gusto. And you won’t be sorry you did.
What’s surprising about For Goodness Cakes! though is that despite the location, a hearty meal will set you back by just under RM20 – something quite unheard of if you’re going by typical Bangsar prices.
Sheila says, “If I’m going to make this cafe a place where everybody in the community from whichever age range, whichever salary range can enjoy, then I must offer them something they can afford.”
She said it was important that office workers in the vicinity could look at the menu and say, “I can afford that… and that… and that.”
“In fact, if you drop by at lunch time, you’ll get a cup of Nescafe Gold or Boh Cameronian Tea on the house. It’s not so much a kind gesture as it is acknowledging that not everybody can afford to splurge.”
The café also sells a wide range of speciality teas. And what best to go with a cuppa than a sinful slice of cake.
Sheila served up a medley of Butter Cake, Sugee Cake, Ginger Cake and a gluten-free brownie for the FMT Lifestyle team to sample.
While the Sugee Cake is what regulars of the café clamour for, the Butter Cake is a delight too – light and airy while the Ginger Cake is heavier but moist and flavourful with the added thrill of ginger preserve bits in it. The gluten-free brownie was gone in the blink of an eye.
Speaking about the café’s cakes, Sheila says, “Every recipe here has been modified. Even those found on the internet and those given by friends and family. The only recipe not modified is the butter cake recipe.”
Sheila also refuses to give in to pressure to decorate fancy cakes as many high-end bakeries do. When told by some that her cakes weren’t pretty, she shot back saying, “I’m not going for pretty. But they’re all really nice tasting.”
All their cakes contain less sugar and there is no trace of preservatives or taste enhancers. “When you eat something here, you’re actually tasting the food – you’re not tasting the sugar in the cake. You’re tasting the cake – the butter, the eggs, the vanilla.”
And they’ve obviously got the winning formula as every cake the café bakes sells out by day end. With a sparkle in her eye, Sheila says she’s introducing a new hashtag. “No one else has it. It’s #goodnessivebeencaked”.
Learning to bake at the Academy of Pastry Arts in Malaysia, Sheila bakes the most feather-light scones these days and even teaches scone-making. Classes are priced at RM75 per person and covers all the ingredients you’ll need. Students are also given a meal at the cafe and take home the scones they bake.
“I love the precision of baking. It suits my sense of being orderly and I like the way I can measure clearly and cleanly.”
So the next time you find yourself in Bangsar, drop in for some seriously good food, For Goodness Cake!
Two RM50 vouchers up for grabs!
Two FMT readers stand to win a RM50 voucher each for a meal at For Goodness Cakes! Simply go to this post and answer these simple questions. Contest ends Sunday, Sept 22.
View this post on Instagram
1. What is the café’s bestselling dish?
2. Name one type of cake that For Goodness Cakes! sells.
3. Complete this sentence: “I absolutely must go to For Goodness Cakes! because…”
For Goodness Cakes!
64-1, Jalan Maarof
59100 Kuala Lumpur
Business hours: Daily, 10am-10pm