There is a small hidden treasure of a café cum restaurant in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, nestled in between the glitzy bars and offices, named Mukha café. After close to 10 years of serving a unique menu of traditional Middle Eastern cuisine, namely Yemeni food and drinks, Mukha café had evolved into being a part of the community surrounding it, unwittingly becoming a part of the KL café couture with its own loyal legion of fans and friends.
Competition Creates Its Own Identity
Taman Tun Dr Ismail itself is a location well known for unique artisan cafes, namely Artisan Coffee (located just behind Mukha) , Wood & Steel, Dough and Dolce, The Other Half (just 3 days away), Thursdays, Common Man Roasters, FR Copper, Little Bourke, just to mention a few and that’s not even the exhaustive list! Thus, competition is high for cafes to survive in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, maybe even more competitive between the bars in Bangsar. However, the distinct personality and face of Mukha throughout the years ensured its growth though not exponentially but suffice to say, one of continued determination in its own inimitable ways.
Mukha’s menu, contrary to most easy made Western dishes by its contemporaries are complicated and hard to find anywhere else. For example, its Gulf Rice comprises of Arab spiced chicken, biryani sauce, fresh cucumber, garnished with fried curry leaves and onion, a delicious Middle Eastern cuisine only found in the most authentic of restaurants.
Try Gahwa coffee, a symbol of generosity and hospitality to the Arabs, where it is mixed with cardamom, also with cloves, saffron or with ginger and other herbs. It is used traditionally by the wise men Yemen in to provide energy to last through the night in their reading of the Quran or to observe supplications to the Almighty. This is the drink that brought Middle East philosophers and thinkers to achieve great success of the Islamic Golden Age.
Origin and Ambient
Mukha, named after Mocha in Yemen, where the oldest proof of coffee beverages understanding is written in history. It is owned and constantly managed by an unassuming young graphic designer who himself is a descendant from Yemeni origins. His wife adds the beautiful finishing touches to the cafe. Once inside the café, one can really feel the difference of ambient, the lighting from the lamps and the design of the inside deco slowly taking shape, the books on the shelf giving the place an academic cred, the setting and paraphernalia oozing out an Arabian nights yet Asian vibe and the silent, almost inaudible sounds of Arabic chants permeates the area, all coming together to create that unique Mukha experience.
Its sister, Souka, is a bakery that provides fresh high-quality desserts. Many swears by its red velvet and some others by its berry pavlova. The cakes here obviously complements the lattes and cappuccinos that are made by the ever-friendly yet self-effacing baristas. The simple yet helpful style of customer service that is practised in the café ever since it was set up, providing a warmth that doesn’t tinge of overselling.
Mukha is frequently booked for private events as many are interested with its tone and setting. There are increasing demands from organisations to have a pinch of that feels, for talks, short courses and personal events. Everyone wants to share a piece of Mukha in their social media feeds, a secret that is not-so-secret.