THE GOOD CO, BANGSAR: HELPING BUSY MALAYSIANS EAT HEALTHIER,
ONE NASI LEMAK IN AN INSTAWORTHY MASON JAR AT A TIME
"These maxi skirts are the only thing that fit me right now..."
One fine morning in Mont Kiara, Michiekins - my best friend and self-appointed 'life coach' - climbed into my car. Peering at my jersey-clad legs she scrunched up her face in that adorable trademark frown and asked, quizzically, "How many of these maxi skirts do you own? Do you wear anything else?" I look down at the expanse of grey, form fitting yet flattering cotton that travelled all the way down to my ankles: "Actually, I have three pairs in black, grey, and a lighter grey - these are my Malaysia bottoms."
I want to say that my sartorial choice is born of a higher and nobler calling; like a uniform driven by a minimalist circle-jerk of capsule-wardrobe curating, Kinfolk-reading trustafarians who hand spin their own clothes from, I don't know, their own smugness. But the fact of the matter is that ala Regina George-post Kälteen Bars, "these (maxi skirts) are all that fit me right now." My shorts and culottes let out a collective scream: "You can't sit with us!"
Here's the thing about Malaysian food: it's cheap, it's fast, it's easy, and it's filthy (like OP's mum). Is pork lard a carb? No, but it seems to be a compulsory ingredient (along with burnt-wok bits) in Chinese street cuisine. And that makes up just a third of the ethnic melting pot that is Malaysia's unique food culture - we haven't even talked about Indian roti canai nor Malay nasi lemak. This culinary diversity aided by its ridiculous cheapness and widespread availability - we all know that the best nasi lemak costs RM3 and comes from a plastic folding table out of the back of some enterprising makcik's van parked by the side of a road - is both a proud and shameful legacy of the Malaysian lifestyle: oh-so-good but oh-so-unhealthy.
Now you know why I always return from month-long holidays in my native Malaysia several kgs heavier and why I have maxi skirts in different shades of monochrome - it's far easier to buy a packet of chicken rice from my local hawker then to, I don't know, not clog up my arteries on a daily basis...
Enter Levy Li (pictured here with my life coach Michiekins) - founder of the new Bangsar eatery that's making the rounds on all your favourite social media influencers' feeds. The vegetarian masterchef of The Good Co. - a former Miss Universe Malaysia and also grower of the most lustrous, jet-black mane you'll ever see - is trying to advocate and educate against falling into the trap of eating fast food.
For those not in the know, it's easy to miss The Good Co. This bijou gem, situated as it is opposite Bangsar Shopping Centre is tucked inside Bon Estates Gallery opposite, hidden from plain sight by rows of lush vegetation that climb the building.
Both content curators leaping on that oh-so-current #cleaneating craze (best, or at least most beneficial bandwagon ever!) and genuine advocates of healthy eating alike flock to The Good Co. for their rainbow-like salad pots, cold-pressed juices, colourful smoothie bowls, and artisan sandwiches. The menu is catered to the Malaysian 'Touch N' Go' lifestyle, yet is relatively affordable - about 20% cheaper than eateries of a similar calibre. Amazingly, the menu is entirely vegetarian with plant-based meat-alternatives such as shredded oyster mushroom which was just as satisfying in texture, flavour, and fullness as its meat-cousin 'pulled beef'.
A healthy, organic version of that favourite Malaysian food-to-go - nasi lemak - is given the #cleaneating treatment with lighter, meat-alternative ingredients and packed in a mason jar for that grab and go convenience. More salad pots heaving with greens and grains - grilled eryngii mushrooms, pesto quinoa, cauliflower rice, tempeh; to name a few - wink tantalisingly at the office worker on a hurried lunch break, but for those with the luxury to sit down and eat, the eating experience is a decidedly languid one what with the gilded, upscale surroundings. Being ladies who lunch - tai tais 4 lyf - Michiekins and I took our sweet time getting acquainted with the menu.
Or at least that was the plan. We erroneously assumed that healthy = light and underestimated just how filling the generous portions were - a refreshing change from the rabbit food that some establishments charge you a (slender) limb for.
Between the two of us, Michiekins and I just about managed the Hana Bowl - a delightful mix of berries, bananas, mangoes, granolas, sunflower and chia seeds, and dessicated coconut - and the Curried Ems, a sandwich with organic bread dyed vibrant yellow from turmeric and stuffed with homemade eggless curry mayo, pickled beetroot, and batavia lettuce.
We washed it all down - well, Michiekins did, I was too engrossed in my iced latte - with a seasonal special, Sakura Bulb Tea, created to coincide with Spring and cherry blossom season. It was all delicious, hearty, and just as exciting for the taste buds as it was visually stimulating.
Look, I'm not saying that I'll give up my maxi skirts or that I'll miraculously morph into a international-stage beauty queen. But as far as trends that have come and gone in Malaysia (do you remember Gangnam Style. DO YOU) the health-craze is a timely one, if not for the collective carb-guzzling nation, then at least for my expansive posterior. Thankfully, The Good Co. looks to be more than a flash in the pan (pan! Geddit?) thanks to their founder's commitment to wellness - you can read more about Levy Li's story here - and also because the high-quality ingredients and their thoughtful menu is relatively affordable despite occupying a rather premium location in Kuala Lumpur. Find THE GOOD CO. at 184 JALAN MAAROF, BANGSAR 59100, KUALA LUMPUR.