I had wanted to do a food piece on Dave’s Deli when we popped into IOI Resort Mall, Putrajaya in May this year but somehow, I never got myself to get down to it. Well, better late than never I say so here it is. (Trust me ─ nothing much has changed since then.)
I remember Dave’s Deli as the place to go when they opened up a cosy little joint in Bangsar Shopping Complex way back in 1989. The dark wood, the muted lighting, it was warm and personal and the pies and sandwiches ─ and I think the foot-long sausage too if I remember correctly ─ were to die for. Dave’s Deli was the talk of town and the filler of many ravenous stomachs back in its day.
Fast forward to 2016 and we were ambling through IOI Resort Mall that day, hungry as usual and wondering where we could grab a bite when we came across the shiny new version of Dave’s Deli as we rounded a corner on the Lower Ground Floor.
Don’t ask me which corner though ─ IOI Resort Mall is HUGE! And that’s an understatement. And we were kind of lost. There were so many, many restaurants, so many, many stores…we were dizzy.
Before we saw Dave’s Deli though, we had walked ourselves into a corner with a row of teller machines. Ah! If you’re
ever short on cash, don’t worry, all the various banks’ ATMs are there and for the first time ─ and I kind of stared open-mouthed a little ─ there was a HSBC teller machine! You know, you don’t often see HSBC teller machines, it was a rare find. So we took a picture.
And then we turned around and there was Dave’s Deli.
At once, memories flooded back of the good old days when we would dine with gusto on their famous Roast Chicken, mopping up every drop of its rich gravy with bread. But this Dave’s Deli looked different. Gone was the cosiness and the muted lighting and in its place, was a kind of ‘fast food’-look with plenty of bright lights, waiters and rows upon rows of benches. Still, it wasn’t bad looking or anything, just…different and a lot more commercialised.
“Well, nothing like trying it out,” I said to my companion. 1989 was a long time ago. Besides, he was hankering for fries. (I don’t know what’s with these people craving for fried potatoes, personally, I can’t stand them).
We walked in and a glance at the menu above the counter looked promising.
I settled for the Chicken Parmigiana after deliberating between the Mac & Cheese and Dave’s Original ¼ Roast Chicken. Chicken Parmigiana had melted cheese on top. I felt like having cheese that day, it was going to be Parmesan cheese, I presumed ─ Just the thing to add that punch, I thought. Anyway, all the food looked so good on the menu, I had a hard time choosing. My companion ordered the Fish & Chips without much ado, and of course, an extra order of fries. (As I mentioned earlier, he was hankering for fries).
The food came in a jiffy and we were impressed with the speed.
Ding! Ding! Round 1 ─ 10 points for speed!
And Ding! Ding! Round 2 ─ 10 points for size!
The portions were Gigantic! I mean, look at the picture! One plate was enough to feed two people, seriously! My companion’s order was just as huge. Ooooh! We jumped right in.
And then, mid way through chewing …
“I think the food here is more for people on a low-sodium diet,” I remarked.
“How’s your end?” I ventured at my companion who was totally focused on his meal but looking a little perplexed.
“It’s a little bland,” he answered after a long pause.
“It’s big for sure, very filling, great value for money at RM20 but…”
“Yeah, they’re holding back on the seasoning,” I said.
“You know, that’s what happens when you mass produce, everything’s cooked on the same base,” he observed.
I took a forkful of his fish.
“Here, try a piece of my chicken,” I offered.
“My fish kinda ‘drowned’ in the sauce,” he pointed out, “it was soggy and the sauce didn’t do a thing for the flavour of the fish.”
I agreed. And he agreed my chicken tasted the same as his fish. Flat.
Even the cheese had no taste! It was meant to be pungent Parmesan. I mean like…wow. How do you do that? As in, make cheese have no taste?
We sat there non plussed.
But it was a hearty meal nonetheless and we were stuffed. Not satisfied, not fulfilled, just stuffed.
My companion didn’t like his fries either.
“They were dry and hard,” he complained. And even the fries lacked flavour, despite coming with its own dipping sauce.
But just because they gave such generous portions at such value-for-money prices, I thought of the hungry ones at home and ‘ta-paued’ an order of the same Chicken Parmigiana, plus some great looking pies I had earlier spied at the counter. Maybe I was wrong about the lack of oomph in my dish, maybe a second opinion might offer a different perspective and maybe the pies might redeem the culinary faux-pas of the earlier meal. Plus, they looked really nice and golden. I chose the Chicken Mushroom Pie and the Steak Mushroom Pie. They weren’t cheap though at RM14.90 a piece but you know, I can never resist food when they’re enticingly presented and I thought, oh why not ─ let’s just try them.
The takeaways came professionally packed though and I really liked the containers. (I still have them somewhere in my kitchen to this day!).
But Alas…when I brought the food home, I was spot on about its tastelessness.
The hungry horde at home confirmed my worst fears.
“The chicken is really tender,” they said at first bite but by the end of the meal, they reiterated what I had pronounced earlier: “No taste.”
And the pies?
“The test of a good pie is in the pastry,” critiqued the foodist-at-home. “The pasty should be thin, light and crumbly. These, as you can see, are thick and have a hard, almost indestructible rubbery shell!”
And as if to demonstrate the point, they gave the pastry shell a few pulls and squeezes. Sure enough, bending with the flexbility of Grade A industrial strength rubber, they bounced effortlessly back to shape.
“The filling too was, well…tasteless,” they added gently.
In the end, the final verdict fell like an axe: “Not nice”.
Sorry. And I had wanted to say something good. Maybe that was why I put off writing this review for so long.
Then again, tastebuds differ from person to person. Let’s have a heart. Dave’s Deli might not do it for us, but who knows, they just might do it for you.