It is said that stories are shared over a good meal. And it couldn’t be more true at Dapur Mekwa, because not only are we sharing stories with new friends, but every dish had its own story to tell.
And as soon as we arrived, we didn’t feel like strangers. At Dapur Mekwa, we felt like friends. We even felt like family.
We were immediately welcomed into CJ and Hisham’s home with big smiles and a warm heart. Considering we were about to have dinner with a group of strangers, it was not awkward. Instead, it felt like home.
Run by Hisham and CJ, Dapur Mekwa is a supper club and it is the first of its kind here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Table of Contents
So Dapur Mekwa is a Supper Club… What the Heck is a Supper Club?
The supper club idea might be new here in Malaysia, but worldwide it is not a new concept. In fact, it’s a loved and cherished trend found in many parts of the world including around the USA, Europe and Australia.
Put it simply, a supper club is a restaurant meets dinner party that is held at someone’s home, and guests from all walks of like come over to enjoy a home-cooked meal together. All guests pay a small fee to the host who puts the dinner together.
A supper club is a great way to make new friends and experience new foods, all enjoyed in a cosy environment.
In terms of Dapur Mekwa specifically, this supper club is an excellent way to sample delicious Malaysian food and learn more about the history and culture of this beautiful country.
Dapur Mekwa – what does it mean?
The name “Dapur Mekwa” has actually existed for as long as Hisham was able to start cooking. In fact it actually translates to Hisham’s kitchen.
Curious still? Ok let me help to break it down for you.
You see, family and friends have actually nicknamed Hisham “Wawa.”
Then in Kelantan, they would call a lady “Mek,” and as old traditions would have it, the kitchen used to be associated with a lady…or “mek.”
And finally, in the local Malay language, the word ‘dapur’ means kitchen.
And so when you have an awesome cook like Hisham, family and friends back home in Kelantan would usually joke to him and cheekily say “Dah lamalah, tak makan dekat Dapur Mek Wa” (It has been a while since (we) ate at Lady Wa’s Kitchen).
And this is how the name Dapur Mekwa was born.
The Dapur Mekwa Experience
It was early in the evening. Around sunset time, and my friend Vicky and I drove out to the burbs’ of Kuala Lumpur. Upon reaching the location, we register ourselves and make our way up to CJ and Hisham’s home.
I was a bit nervous, not knowing what to expect. But I was also excited because it was going to be my very first supper club experience.
We ring the door bell and it’s not long until CJ opens the door with a big smile and a warm welcome. And as soon as we enter, we are faced with a long dining table which has been beautifully set with a lovely Malaysian batik dining cloth and napkins. Hisham pops his head from the kitchen to say a big hello and advises that he’s adding a few more final touches to the dinner.
During ‘cocktail hour’ we are served a delicious assam boi fizz which uses local sour-salty plum, cranberry, lime juice and sparking water – so refreshing. We are also offering a small snack to warm up our tummies, along with an array of local candies that CJ and Hisham used to have during their childhood – some not easy to find these days.
Their home is sparkling clean and very much reflects CJ and Hisham’s personalities. They both love to collect art and frequently travel to Bali to buy artwork. Also along their living room wall is a huge bookshelf filled with books. A library of knowledge covering all topics including one of their favorite genres being cooking!
A Kelantanese Dinner – Traditional Malaysian Food in Kuala Lumpur
The menu at Dapur Mekwa is inspired by the history and culture of Kelantan, Malaysia.
Originally hailing from Kelantan, Hisham learned how to cook traditional Kelantanese food from when he was very young. Growing up, he cooking for family and friends who all loved his cooking…so much so, as shared earlier, that’s how the name “Dapur Mekwa” came to life. And today, Hisham shares his love for cooking with guests from all walks of life.
Kelantan is a state located in the northeastern part of Malaysia. Kota Bharu is the capital of the state and is the gateway to some of the most beautiful islands in Malaysia including Perhentian Islands.
Whilst Kelantan is quite rural and may not necessarily be on the main tourist map, it is a state filled a colorful and rich history. With its borders touching Thailand, there is also much influence from Thailand and even Vietnam. Nowadays Kelantan being quite a conservative state in Malaysia, I was surprised to learn from Hisham that Kelantan is home to the longest Sleeping Buddha in Southeast Asia. The Sleeping Buddha is found in Wat Photivihan in Tumpat and stretches across 40 meters.
Once all guests arrived, we all slowly made our way to the dining table. The supper club officially begins!
On every place setting is a card, and each card shares a different story about Malay princesses that existed in history. It’s a great way to learn more about the colorful history and rich diversity that exists in Malaysia. And it is in these stories that Hisham takes inspiration from to create each of his dishes on the menu.
Upon sitting, Hisham joins us for dinner. And during dinner not only does he take on the role of Head Chef, but he is also our “Tok Selampit” which is a traditional Kelantanese storyteller. Hisham explains to us that his father used to be a Tok Selampit, and so Hisham is using his father as inspiration to host the Dapur Mekwa Supper Club.
First Course: Sup Udang Paduka Jembal
This is a love story between Tom Yum soup and prawn curry.
And remember when I shared that each dish was inspired by a princess? Well this first course was inspired by Puteri Saadong, which was the queen regnant of Kelantan between 1663 and 1667. She was kidnapped by King Narai of Siam (now Thailand) who forced her to become his concubine. During her capture, she was forced to cook and created her own version of tom yum – a twist between Thai tom yum soup and Kelantanese prawn curry.
And so, this dish is what Hisham envisages that Puteri Saadong’s soup would have tasted like. It’s a beautiful combination of herbs and spices including kaffir lime, lemongrass, nutmeg and cayenne pepper.
Well balanced with a hint of spice, this soup was the perfect introduction to our 4-course dinner.
Second Course: Mak Yong Salad
This dish is inspired by the historical Makyong Dance, and is one of the most traditional Malay dances found in history. The purpose of this dance is to call upon the spirits to help heal someone who is sick. It has Hindu and Buddhist roots and dates to pre-Islam times in Malaysia. Today unfortunately the Makyong dance is banned to be practiced ritually, however you may be able to see it in cultural performances.
This salad uses over 16 ingredients including Thai and Vietnamese herbs and spices. Ingredients includes cashew nuts, dried shrimp, ginger torch, and kaffir lime. And the star of the dish is a cured snapper. The salad almost has a resemblance to ceviche but is not as saucy as a cerviche. It’s actually a “kerabu” which is a Malaysian style salad.
The Mak Yong salad was just delicious – it had quite the bite from the chili, but wow the flavours were so colorful.
Third Course: Ayam Percik Bonda with Inderapura Rice
This dish was made with love using Hisham’s mum’s recipe. Ayam percik is a type of BBQ chicken and is usually served on special occasions. The supper club is definitely a special occasion!
The chicken is brined overnight, and then marinated during the day of the dinner. It is then baked in the oven and served with a pilaf style rice, salted anchovies, and a very special type of Kelantanese seaweed.
The Kelantanese seaweed is very special because it is not easy to get and also not easy to prepare. Basically you need to carefully wash the seaweed then dry it over several days, before blanching it to be used for dinner.
Fourth Course: Lompat Tikam
“Lompat Tikam” literally translates to “jump & stab.” According to Hisham, this is quite a fussy dessert because it has 4 different textures – the pandan cake, coconut milk, glutinous rice and palm sugar. It is not easy to get the balance in terms of texture and taste so the best way to approach this dessert is just to do it…or as he says “jump and stab.”
I enjoyed this desert – the palm sugar was deliciously sweet but it was well-balanced against the slight saltiness of the coconut milk.
This was such a beautiful experience. Even for myself being part Malaysian, I truly learned so much about my country. Hisham & CJ are so passionate to share the Malaysian culture with all of their guests. They are extremely humble, friendly and brilliant hosts. The food was amazing and delicious, and there was plenty of it.
To book Dapur Mekwa, Hisham and CJ will set dates each month mainly falling on a Saturday. If you are looking for a particular date and have a big group of you, you can also contact CJ and Hisham to enquire. It is about RM139 (A$45 | U$33) per person for the meal.
Each supper club dinner at Dapur Mekwa consists of 4-courses. Non-alcoholic beverages is including, and guests are welcome to bring their own wine along for dinner. The dinner can host up to 9 guests and starts at 7pm.
So if you find yourself in KL, I totally recommend having dinner at Dapur Mekwa.
No compensation was received for this review, however we were guests of Dapur Mekwa. All opinions remains my own and I only promote products/services that I love.
This article contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase items through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog by using these link. These commissions help reduce the costs of running this site. I only recommend products & services that I personally love and use myself.