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Eat & Drink

Wednesday February 4, 2009

The perfect place for healthy food

STEP into Little Ben Cafe in Kota Kemuning and you would almost immediately feel at ease.

After all, its natural theme and concept is about promoting well-being, from the entire interior of the place down to its food menu.

The eco-lifestyle cafe is part of the HerbaLine Beauty Square building, which is touted as the first of its kind beauty and wellness centre under one roof, opened by the HerbaLine Group.

For breakfast: The mini Nasi Dagang

The two-storey centre is intended to offer guests a holistic approach to experiencing lifestyle activities in a calm and conducive environment that promotes healing, self-empowerment, harmony and balance.

So other than the cafe, the centre also houses a beauty spa, a hair and manicure salon, a meditation centre and tri-yoga centre.

HerbaLine executive director Simon Ooi said they conceptualised the Beauty Square after the beauty centres of Japan's famous Ginza district in Tokyo.

"The owners wanted to provide this kind of service and convenience to Malaysians which is not available here yet.

"Guests could actually spend a whole day here to be pampered, and after they are done, they could visit our cafe for healthy wholesome food," said Ooi.

The cafe manager, Brandom Chong, said Little Ben Cafe served well-known traditional food that Malaysians were familiar with.

"Our food contains no MSG, preservatives or colouring. They are also prepared using fresh, natural and herbal ingredients, in keeping with the philosophy of Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS), which Beauty Square advocates," said Chong.

Popular: The Soybean Milk and Twisted Cruller.

He said Little Ben was inspired after the term Bento which referred to the cafe's serving style in wooden trays just like the Japanese.

At present, the outlet serves just breakfast and lunch.

"While I was slightly apprehensive initially as to how healthy, natural food may taste, trying it is the best litmus test," said Chong.

The signature dish is the Sailor Mee (Pan Mee), whereby the noodles are handmade from flat flour and pulled in the water, which give it a smooth and springy texture.

There are seven options available for the Sailor Mee, but the must-haves, according to Chong, are the Original Soupy, Sailor Mee (Dried) and the Curry.

For breakfast, he recommends another signature the Mini Nasi Dagang, served with reddish brown glutinous rice and chicken or fish curry.

"It's called mini as we make the portion smaller than normal, yet sufficient for breakfast.

"Also, it has no MSG. we cut the coconut milk by half and use less oil. The taste is slightly different but it is healthier."

Those who fancy plenty of greens can opt for the Nasi Kerabu, which is cooked with more than 100 combinations of fresh herbs juice and served with finely-sliced cucumber, green beans, bean sprouts, lemongrass, banana flowers, shallots, grated coconut, mackerel fish and crackers (keropok).

Signature dish: The Original Soupy Sailor Mee.

Only a limited amount is prepared daily as apparently, some ingredients are difficult to source.

"Our cooks start preparing this dish as early as 7am and the ingredients are blended before the juice is poured over the rice and steamed," said Chong.

The Soybean Milk and Twisted Cruller (called yau char kwai in Cantonese) is also a breakfast favourite, whereby the soybean milk is homecooked, thick and nutritious.

Hot Homemade Lemongrass is also on the menu, since lemongrass is known to detoxify and calm a person.

Cooked with ginger and rock sugar, this beverage is fragrant.

Clean lines: The Beauty Square in Kota Kemuning.

For coffee, the Little Prince and Little Princess are the mini versions of the cappucinno.

And every Friday a dish called Vegetarian of the Day is served.

"Every item on our menu is also affordable, all priced under RM10," said Chong.

The cafe, reflecting its natural theme, features materials like wood, rope and stones with clean lines that are casual yet stylish.

It is also equipped with WiFi computers where guests could surf the Internet.

Pork free. LITTLE BEN CAFE, HerbaLine Beauty Square, 28, Jalan Anggerik Mokara 31/47, Kota Kemuning, 40460 Shah Alam. (Tel: 03-5121 5055). Business hours: Tues to Sun; 8am to 5pm. Closed on Mon.

Eat Right to Stay Healthy

Do bigger plates make bigger hips?

Have you realized, the bigger the plate, the more we fill it? Next time try picking a smaller sized plate for your meals. bit.ly/nEPvNE

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