Venture into the winding alleys of the Muntri district for a rewarding taste of the urban bistro opened in April 2014 by two young men. It has established a certain reputation in a short period of time— five minutes wait for a good pint of Guinness.
“I don’t miss KL that much,” said Ben Ng, the co-owner of Mish Mash — a bistro for those who live on the street, who travel widely, who want to eat and drink well. It’s not exactly avant-garde, but dare I say it will ensure you a good time. In Ben’s words, “it is a place where you can sit in without a sense of time”.
Ben has just officially moved back to Penang, in the midst of detoxing the quotidian bustle of KL bit by bit. “At the end of the day, it’s home.” Fifteen years ago, he took a job in an Irish bar, where he first learned bartending; Today, he’s a well-respected mixologist and does consultancy work for some of the biggest brands. “It was hard to learn.” Mind you, resources was limited during the pre-Youtube era. Ben worked and saved money to buy bartending books & magazines.
The F&B entrepreneur also talked about drawing inspiration from watching hawkers at work, in fact, he grew up watching them. “That is true craft to me. It gives me a very different understanding in flavours.” The fascination has also made him realize one key point — things don’t have to be complicated to be good.
Ever-earnest and transparent about the business he’s running, he confessed that it’s not for everyone. “We want to serve you but it has to be a place that you yourself choose to come in by natural liking. You come in, you like it, you understand it — it’s your place.”
Honestly? It’s hardly a bitter pill to swallow.
It is a spare, welcoming room — with happy yellow walls, warm lighting, smooth wooden tables. The murals and Chinese calligraphy on the wall added a bit of off-kilter element to the cozy venue. “It used to be a chinese medical hall,” Ben added. The whole process of conceptualising only took three months, of which one month for the construction work. It was all spontaneous but they brilliantly nailed it with a little help — drinking lots of whiskey along the way.
Ben and his college buddy turned business partner, Simon planned on introducing the ‘kitchen bar’ concept because the demand far outpaced supply. Once implemented, how people order food here will change drastically. They have also embarked on a 5 months menu development, where a new menu is expected to come out by February.
At the end of the day, Ben and Simon are all about building a meaningful business, regardless the amount of effort it might take. They aim to work with a number of local farmers and artisans to produce the best ingredients. “It’s going to take us years but we intend on making it happen. It’s one of the reasons why I’m back here,” said Ben.
Small island, many tastes.
Warm bistro food with asian influences, marked by strict yet humble preparation.
Flavour, without the fuss.
Straightforward drinks that are rich in flavours — a lot of cocktails, whisky and a good pint of Guinness!
As we draw to a close of the year 2015, why not celebrate the new year at Mish Mash? Onwards to 2016.
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