Make time for Fika Farmhouse

“Fika in Swedish is often translated as ‘coffee break’ but it is much more than that.

Signboard at the entrance to Fika Farmhouse
In fact, fika is a concept, a state of mind, an attitude and an important part of Swedish culture.

Many Swedes consider it essential to make time for fika every day, which means making time for friends and colleagues, to share time over coffee and something (homemade) to eat.

In fact, fika is like a ritual where Swedes pause from work to socialize. It’s about slowing down and finding time for friends and colleagues over a sip of drink and eating a snack.”

A quick search on the word fika turns up this interesting info and when I get there for a Fika Farmhouse experience, I discover that they have indeed embraced the fika concept!

Emblazoned on a simple wooden plank signboard stuck to the ground at the start of the footpath that leads to the entrance, these words are lined up one above the other, in this order:


Garden greenery on display for sale
I don’t have to pause to ponder upon these words because I’m already basking in bright sunshine and I’m quite sure I will have a good coffee and enjoy plenty of greens when I meet with my friend, Chef Dass, who’s leading the culinary team here!

Several years ago I met Chef Dass, short-form for Kalidass, while he was with another restaurant and from our chat, he struck me as a model of local youth who had worked hard to achieve his career goals.

I can recall how we “connected.” He shared with me about his culinary journey, how he was guided by strong mentors and trained in international brand hotels in Germany and Singapore, and then said he was from Taman Sungai Rinting!

It struck a familiar chord with me as this residential area was the site of a former kampung close to Masai, the town where my parents were based for work for 13 years.

In fact, during school holidays I used to go along with my dad when his mobile dispensary paid regular visits to Kampung Sungai Rinting.

Chef Dass [Centre] with his team
in the open kitchen
Now I’m at Fika Farmhouse with my family to renew my acquaintance with Chef Dass and have a dining experience of the cuisine he’s serving here.

From the entrance to the spacious barn-like dining area, I can spot the distinctive image of Chef Dass who’s busy behind the counter of the open kitchen.

He wipes his hands dry as I approach to say, “Hello!” with a handshake to congratulate him on this new venture at Fika Farmhouse.

Chef Dass remembers my mum from our Mothers’ Day dinner which he served at the restaurant where he used to work and likewise, mum also remembers him as the young man from Taman Sungai Rinting.

What follows is a short time of studying the menu to make our own picks while agreeing on a Chef’s recommended choice of food and beverages for a leisurely lunch tasted among my mum, my sister, her son and his wife (visiting from Perth) and I.

After a few weeks of their summer holiday in Europe – where they also attended a wedding – my nephew and his wife were on the final leg of their trip and in the process of adjusting their body-clocks back to local time.

Fresh fruits and granola in the Rainbow Yoghurt Bowl
This morning they woke up late (again!) because their bodies were still on European time. So a Rainbow Yoghurt Bowl is just right for them to kick-start their day.

I guess it is named Rainbow for the many colours derived from the fresh fruits and ingredients that top the granola and yoghurt in this bowl.

There are slices of banana, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi fruit, candied nuts, organic chia seeds, a sprinkle of coconut flakes, topped by cherries and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Mum and I picked two items to share: the refreshing Maguro Nicoise Salad made with pan-seared Maguro or tuna and ingredients like fresh avocado, red radish, cherry tomatoes, edamame, topped with a poached egg and flavoured by anchovy mayo sauce.

A serving of Maguro Nicoise Salad
And the other, a spaghetti dish of Soft-Shell Crab and Sakura Ebi Pasta where I will enjoy the crunchy bits while mum will savour the softer portions.

Then the next dishes arrive at our table, one after the other, rather quickly:

From his face and body expressions, I know that my nephew’s choice of Salmon Mentaiko Benedict meets with his expectations.

It comprises two poached eggs topped with Mentaiko Hollandaise sauce and asparagus sticks resting on split toasted English muffins spread with house-made Guacamole.

Two poached eggs in Salmon Mentaiko Benedict
I can see how he’s enjoying his gooey eggs that blends well with Mentaiko Hollandaise sauce and the way he’s wiping the plate clean with pieces of muffin.

Later he tells Chef Dass that his preference is for a firmer bread, maybe sourdough bread instead of a muffin, a comment which the Chef accepts for serious consideration.

His wife’s pick of Truffle Mushroom Toast is served with sliced mushrooms sautéed in truffle oil, a sunny-side up egg on a slice of sourdough bread with a side of alfalfa sprouts and the entire platter, garnished by grated Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and pomegranate seeds.

Truffle Mushroom Toast, using sourdough bread
She is also partial towards all things Korean (Read: K-pop!) so she also ordered a portion of Korean-style fried chicken, her choice – the spicy flavour.

When the chicken wings are served, they started on it without hesitation and find it tasty and very agreeable. Yes, they did leave one length of the wing for me to taste.

Meanwhile my sister wants to try their Kimchi Fried Rice, her pick instead of the other choice of flavours for rice, Mala (literally translated: spicy and numb!) or Olive Leaf, served with a grilled Pork Chop and a side of greens.

A portion of Korean-style fried chicken
To have on standby to put out any fire in our mouths, two choices of recommended chilled fizzy drinks are Yuzu & Rose Lemonade and White Grape & Cucumber.

As we share the food (for a taste of everything!), we also share a comfortable and convivial time of family bonding.

While munching on my soft-shell crab with yummy pasta, I’m thinking satisfying thoughts like, “Mmm…this is more than enough for our lunch.”

Then I spy a waiter serving a platter to the pair of diners seated at the next table.

Soft-Shell Crab Sakura Ebi Pasta
My surreptitious glance must have inadvertently turned into an open stare because the size of the portion of Iberico Spare Ribs with a side of Sweet Potato Fries, is simply impressive.

The thought that crosses my mind is: “Maybe the plate is too small or is the portion of ribs so large?”

Later I ask Chef Dass and he assures me that the standard portion is about 650 gm of pork ribs… large enough for two or three diners to share!

The man at the next table, who probably saw the way I was eyeing their serving of Iberico Spare Ribs, agreed with an amused smile when I politely asked if I may take a photograph of this platter.

Chilled White Grape & Cucumber [Left]
and Yuzu & Rose Lemonade [Right]
After I thanked him and returned to my lunch, I’m pleasantly surprised when he pops by and passes me a plate with a slice of spare rib for me to taste!

“Wow!” This is unexpected so I thanked him again as I accepted his kind offer.

When I sample a morsel of tender meat cut from the spare rib, I’m not only impressed by its agreeable taste but also charmed by our fellow diner’s random act of kindness!

Our leisurely lunch at Fika Farmhouse is indeed pleasing on so many different levels – from the fine food to the cool greenery in its garden center ambience, and with the gracious attitude of our fellow diner…

While we linger over coffee and the recommended dessert of Fika Poached Pear, almost all the diners have left and Chef Dass is then free to join us for a chat.

He is pleased that Fika Farmhouse has regular guests who enjoy their Happy Hours so he created some snacks or Beer Bites in tapas portions for them to savour with drinks.

The portion of Iberico Spare Ribs served at the next table!
With a wider range of quality products now readily available in the market, Chef Dass tells us about how he’s able to create an explosion of flavours in his menu using a creative blend of popular Asian flavours from China, Korea, Japan and India.

Telling us about it does not seem to be enough so Chef Dass excuses himself and heads back into the kitchen to whip up a portion each of popular Bites like Spicy Pork Skewers and Deep-Fried Mushrooms, for us to sample.

A taste of the Spicy Pork Skewers reveals that it’s both delicious but mighty spicy so I’m glad I can reach for a chilled fizzy drink to drown out the heat!

Deep-fried Mushrooms are among the popular Beer Bites
We all agree that this snack will certainly pair well with a mug or two of chilled beer.

My nephew, who is familiar with Indian cuisine, takes a bite of the deep-fried Portobello mushrooms in batter and soon recognizes the familiar South Indian flavours of idili and sambar in this serving of mild but tasty Beer Bites.

As we leave Iskandar Puteri for a breezy drive back to JB, I’m just pleased that Chef Dass and his culinary team are doing something fresh and exciting at Fika Farmhouse.

Meanwhile I’m already thinking about going again because I cannot be too busy for fika!

Fika Farmhouse [Non-Halal] is located within The Yard, at Y2, No.1 Jalan Hijauan 1, Horizon Hills, 79100 Iskandar Puteri, Johor.

Open daily from 11.30am to 3pm and from 6pm to 11pm. Closed on Monday.

For enquiries and reservations, Tel: +6011 – 1054 9166.

For more info, visit Facebook/fikafarmhouse.

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