More restaurant than cafe- but still delivering chilled out, as promised.
What was once Hot & Spicy Nasi Lemak Family Restaurant, has been rebranded, revamped and turned into what is now Hidden Yard Cafe.
Hidden Yard advertises themselves as a cafe, but I would consider the place more of a laid back restaurant because of their focus on the food more-so than the coffee. The cafe/restaurant serves up a classic mix of straightforward, local Malay dishes, perfect if that’s what you’re in the mood for.
(Note, when we visited, Hidden Yard was also in the final stages of receiving their halal certification).
With the owner’s background in construction and penchant for design, the interior of Hidden Yard is a beautiful blend of authentic Malaysian, Indonesian and Singapore decor. Most of the artwork and furnishings are locally sourced, right down to the old sewing machines used as tables.
The coffee drinks at Hidden Yard are free-flow, but it comes out of an automatic dispenser. The value for money here mainly depends on ones level of coffee snobbery.
Not going to lie, I was a little disappointed in the ‘hidden yard’ portion of the place. It was a little anti-climatic considering it’s the restaurants name-sake. The outside area seemed seldom used and didn’t appear overly comfortable for eating or taking coffee.
We kicked off our meal at Hidden Yard with the Ayam Penyet Set ($6.50). I was very pleased with the quality of the chicken breast. The meat was precisely moist and had a nice ratio between the interior and outside layer of fat and skin. The side of hot chili sauce complimented the chicken well. I highly suggest giving the Ayum Penyet a try.
The Nasi Lemak Crispy Chicken Wing Set ($6.80), one of their most popular dishes, was filling and had an assembled presentation. The coconut rice was excellent and complimented the other items on the plate well. Overall, the dish was exactly what one would expect when ordering Nasi Lemak.
In addition, we ordered a plate of Crispy Chicken Wings ($1.80 per wing) from the sides menu. The chicken was moist and the batter was flavorful and had a good crunch. I liked the convenience of being able to order the exact number wings that you desire.
We also tried the Sambal Sotong ($7.00). The squid was a touch rubbery, but the sauces had a nice, balanced amount of sweet and spice.
The fish cake, Otah ($1.50) was as expected. The flavor was good and the texture had large chunks of mackerel in it, which made it enjoyable.
We finished off our meal with a couple of slush drinks. The Milo Slush ($3.50) and Bandung Slush ($3.00) are the only dessert-type items on the menu and made for a refreshing finish.
While the bandung rose flavor is classic Asian, I was partial to the milo. I dominated the entire thing and didn’t share.
Overall, I would consider the food pretty predictable local fare with the taste and presentation to match. I do however give Hidden Yard bonus points for its locally sourced antiques and well thought-out interior design.
The food and vibe were pleasant, but nothing to write home about, no real wow factors. In my opinion, Hidden Yard makes for a nice lunch option if you live or work in the area and are craving some familiar foods. This is not a place I would spend time traveling to get to if I wasn’t already in the area – but would be a welcome stop if I ever happen to be in the neighborhood.
Expected damage: $7.00 – $12.00