If you weren't looking for Sitka, you might not notice it. The restaurant is quiet in its surroundings, nestled under a large, faded sign that reads 'Super Gym 5', amongst a row of 30 year old shoplots. The restaurant is newly opened (they opened their doors in April 2014), and offers a fresh take on modern cafe cuisine.
I love the interior here. Cool and clean, Sitka has a very industrial look to it with its bare cement surfaces and naked bulbs. Slender tree trunks in black and white make up the feature wall, while a fresh bouquet of flowers sits on the counter.
Each table comes with its own small jar of greens. I've visited twice, and they are different every time. So refreshing!
This is a self service restaurant, so while the servers will greet you with a menu, you have to go to the cashier to place your order. Water is on the house, and available just next to the flower arrangement on the counter.
You can choose to sit indoors or outdoors, but in the Malaysian humidity it's no surprise that the former is more popular. Lunch hour is very crowded here, but rest assured you can make reservations for a table. Both times I've been here, there have been tables set aside for people who have reserved in advance.
Sitka has a variety of salads to choose from - great for vegetarians. If you're a meat lover, you do have the option of adding on chicken for an additional fee. The one salad I've tried here is the aubergine and portobello salad with miso, honey and millet. For an extra RM4, you get a deliciously runny 63 degree egg on top. I had never tasted millet before, so it was a little unfamiliar to my tastebuds. The dressing on this is very delicate, so the focus is more on the different textures and flavours of the salad itself. I liked the fresh bursts of tomatoes and coriander interspersed with the mushrooms and millet, but the overall impression was kind of bland for me.
Soft tacos come in four different flavours, namely beef, fish, lamb and mushroom. Pictured above is the lamb shoulder taco with crushed peas and mint. All soft tacos come served with a light salad, crisp with fresh veg and thinly sliced apples. I think I liked this particular salad a lot more than the aubergine and portobello. The taco itself was alright - the lamb was very tender and tasted good with the mint, but I'm not a fan of peas.
If you're looking for some comfort food, the buttermilk fried chicken is the way to go. Like the soft tacos, this comes with a lovely side of salad. The chicken itself was delicious. Very juicy, with a crunchy batter that wasn't oily. The entire dish is half a chicken, but not a very big one. Enough for one without feeling too full.
Bao platter (RM30).
The baos at Sitka also seem to be quite popular, and you should definitely get the platter if you're keen on trying all three fillings. The texture to the Korean brisket is similar to that of the soft taco's lamb filling, and the taste itself reminded me very strongly of beef rendang. The fried chicken bao tastes just like the buttermilk fried chicken in miniature, with a tasty sriracha aioli. My personal favourite was the softshell crab, with pickled cucumber and tamarind sauce. The zesty sauce went really well with the crispy crab. I kind of wish I had gotten a whole set of softshell crab instead. This dish was good for the variety, but kind of expensive. RM30 for three small servings? It's cheaper if you go with just one kind of filling though.
The desserts here aren't listed on Sitka's main menu. But you won't be able to ignore the collection of sweet treats displayed next to the cashier counter. The range offers some options of tarts and cakes, and there are some savoury quiches on display as well, which I didn't get to try. The first cake I tried was the chocolate raspberry mousse crumble; a sugary sweet dessert with crispy meringue sandwiched between layers of raspberry and chocolate. I loved the smoothness of the dark chocolate contrasting with the sharp raspberry jam. But the meringue was way too sweet for me.
The chocolate cake is definitely my favourite of the two. It's deliciously moist, and the chocolate is rich and smooth.
Overall, Sitka has a very intimate atmosphere, and it's a good place for lunch if you're looking for something different. They also have Test Kitchen sessions for dinner, serving up a much fancier (and pricier) range of dishes. The great part is the fact that chef Christian Recomio sources all of his ingredients locally where possible, lending support to small farms.
While I enjoyed the setting and love the farm to table concept, I don't quite agree with a lot of online reviews calling Sitka an affordable lunch destination. The prices are very steep for the small servings you get, and while I enjoyed the cakes, I don't feel that they were worth RM15 for a slice. Feel free to go and check it out for the experience and artfully presented dishes, but I think I'm content with just visiting twice.