Monday 20 January 2014

Ben's General Food Store, Bangsar Village, Kuala Lumpur

Bens is a popular chain here in KL serving largely Asian/Western cuisine. When Erin and I were living in Korea, we came to KL on holiday and ate in Bens in KLCC. We were really impressed by the quality and price of the food compared to the Western food we had been eating in Seoul.

Come to think of it, the price/availability of good food was quite an influential factor in us making the switch to KL, so I suppose we owe a lot to Bens.

Ben's General Food Store is slightly different from its shorter-named counterpart (Bens). It is slightly more causal, contains a deli (Halal) and serves what could generally be described as comfort food.

When we walked in, I already had made up my mind that I would be having the salt beef sandwich - a previous favourite. However, to my dismay, the menu has changed and my plans were scuppered by the absence of the salt beef. In a panic, I ordered the cheeseburger. Erin went for a trio of salads RM30 (approx $10).

I have been strictly instructed to review these salads individually, but they all arrived on the same plate.

The salad at the bottom is the panzanella bread salad with capsicum, tomato, capers, basil and anchovies.

The bright colours stood out on the plate and the flavours mixed together well. The basil and capsicum combo was good, while the anchovies added a saltiness without causing too much fishy mischief.

Overall - 3 / 5

The darker salad is fried eggplant (aubergine) and sliced chicken with french beans, soy sauce and garlic dressing. This was probably the heaviest of the three but also the most flavourful. The eggplant was soft and fell apart when picked up with the fork. The chicken was sliced finely but was tender, and the French beans brought a brightness to proceedings.

Overall - 3.5 / 5

The final salad was probably the best of the three - an orecchiette pasta salad with baby peas, rocket, and parmesan. In terms of flavour, this was probably the most subtle of the salads, but there was plenty of parmesan and rocket to keep it interesting.

Overall 3.5 / 5

As I mentioned earlier, I 'panic ordered' a cheeseburger RM24 (approx $8), mainly on the basis of being impressed by the look of one that went past me as the waiter arrived to take our order.

The burger came with fries which tasted like they had come from McDonalds, which isn't necessarily a bad thing...

A pet peeve of mine is when restaurants put condiments on your burger/sandwich without mentioning it in the menu. As you can see from the pic above, there is already mustard and ketchup on this one. Not a major deal but potentially irritating if you don't like ketchup and/or mustard.

As you can see from my unfortunately blurry picture, the burger was very thick. The meat was nicely spiced and was cooked well (they didn't ask how I wanted it cooking). However, I would have preferred it if the meat was slightly wider; it felt like I was eating a giant meatball in a bun.

Overall - Not a bad burger but could have been better - 3 / 5

Bens General Food Store is a good casual lunch/dinner option. We've been a few times before and had pizzas and pies that have been really good. Although the burger wasn't great, it's a restaurant I'd recommend to anyone who lives near Bangsar Village.

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