If you live in Malaysia, the struggle of eating clean is a real, real thing… Going out with friends and family, or going out at all, will definitely end in a food adventure of sorts. Wouldn’t it be great if you could still eat clean outside without looking like the weirdo with the lunchbox full of healthy food (steamed chicken breast and vegetables, fruit and nut as snacks and sweet potato, don’t even deny it).
Enter Awesome Canteen, Klang Valley’s first paleo-promoting cafe. Walk in with your friends and family and fret not about what you’re going to order to keep to your clean-eating diet. Awesome Canteen has a generous selection of paleo-friendly dishes you can pick from, which makes it a popular haunt for CrossFitters in Malaysia. But you don’t have to be a CrossFitter to do the paleo diet. We talk to Raymond Chang, one of the nine founders of Awesome Canteen on their unique menu.
First things first, Raymond, tell us a little about the paleo diet.
Ray: The paleo diet primarily focuses on meats, vegetables, fruits and nuts. We don’t believe in taking legumes, grains or sugar. We avoid all processed foods. But paleo is very subjective, it depends on how strict you want to be with it. Some people who are on the paleo diet don’t believe in taking dairy, but we include that in our meals.
Why paleo for Awesome Canteen though?
Ray: People are starting to be more conscious about their health – in terms of exercising and diets. In fact, there are so many health-food delivery options popping up in the Klang Valley. When we started Awesome Canteen two years ago, I was still actively doing CrossFit and it was a large part of my regime. But there were no restaurants or cafes that we could go to that were paleo-friendly. Hence, we came up with a range of paleo dishes to fill that gap in the market.
So, where do you source your paleo ingredients from?
Ray: All our ingredients are locally sourced from suppliers and artisanal brands. For example, our cold pressed juices are sourced from a local vendor who I used to do CrossFit with, Upbeat (located in Avenue K). That is how the CrossFit community works. We tend to support each other.
Tell us about some of your more popular dishes.
Ray: For our paleo menu, one of our earliest dishes – the paleo burger – is one of them. Instead of burger buns, we use portobello mushrooms. We also find that people like to order the Niku Stack because it looks great in pictures. Outside the paleo specific dishes, our pastas and sandwiches sell well. Our customers also come in for cold pressed juice and coffee.
Is paleo for everyone?
Ray: No. I run Cross Muay Thai (a Muay Thai gym in Jaya One) as well and the fighters train for many hours in a day and burn their food intake very easily. For them, they need the carbohydrates that the paleo diet cannot provide. But anyone can try the paleo diet if they just want to cut down on carbohydrates.
For Awesome Canteen, we have both paleo as well as non-paleo dishes. So it is not just CrossFitters who come in to eat. When people come in and they don’t want paleo dishes, we have that option available for them too. But it is good for those who are on the paleo diet and want to still go out to eat with friends.
What have you learnt from running a health-food place as well as a Muay Thai gym?
Ray: Fitness and nutrition go hand in hand, you need to do both. But then there is this vicious cycle of eating to work out, then having to work out from eating too much. Just do everything in moderation and based on what your goals are.
Check out some of their Awesome Paleo dishes!
Presenting the 240 Paleo Beef Patty (RM26.90). It is your classic beef steak topped off with chopped onions, accompanied by a side of sauteed broccoli and cauliflower, drizzled with leek, basil rosemary infused balsamic sauce.
If beef is not so much your thing, the chicken patty is one of the recommended paleo dishes to try. The 240 Paleo Chicken Patty (RM24.90) packs as much punch as its beef counterpart, if not more. It is both a delight to the eyes and the tastebuds. You’ll find more depth to the taste of this dish because of the cherry tomato and avocado pesto salsa.
To appeal to the pescatarians, Awesome Canteen’s Paleo Butterfish (RM26.90) is a fulfilling dish.Sink your teeth into a tender and juicy grilled butterfish fillet paired with a fruity honey dew sauce, atop a bed of sweet potato slices.
Of course, the mother of all that is paleo – the sweet potato wedges (RM8.90). They come with a specially made sour cream sauce that will leave you wanting more.
Awesome Canteen is located at
19, Jalan 20/13, Taman Paramount,
46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Open from Tuesdays to Sundays.
Its second branch is located in Sekeping Victoria in Penang.