more cafe than coffee bar, this three-month-old outfit is owned and run by community organiser and social activist (and president of human rights ngo, komas) tan jo hann and his japanese wife, kayo sunazawa. jo hann manages the kitchen while kayo handles the front of house, with the help of one staff, as well as the coffee machines. it's their first f&b outlet, motivated by a coffee-growing hill tribe the pair had met and worked with in indonesia through the course of their community work, who supply the organic beans that 5 cups takes pride in serving. so named because apparently research has found that 5 is the magic number when it comes to the maximum cups of joe one can have in a day without affecting one's health.
kayo, who is from the indigenous ainu tribe in hokkaido and has been living in malaysia for the last decade, contributes recipes from her hometown, including dishes she learnt from her mother, an ex-chef and restaurateur. the 5 cup signature, the hokkaido souffle cheese cake, however, is her own, perfected through years of baking.
located at the end of a quiet row in the still largely untenanted plaza damas 3, the simply-furnished 5 cups doesn't offer much in terms of ambience but the service is personable and friendly - if a bit slow, as jo hann manages the kitchen all by himself. and we had a couple of wrong orders, but the mistakes were quickly rectified.
highlights the panfried salmon with spaghetti in cream sauce was well-flavoured with pepper and chilli (you can select the level of spiciness) and enjoyable, though not flawless. the fish was oversalted but the skin was crisped to perfection. the pasta was softer than al dente but not mushy, while the sauce was creamy yet light. a good amount of shimeji mushrooms balanced out the carbs.
we also enjoyed the grilled teriyaki chicken wrap, moist and tender slices of chicken layered over grated cheese and butterhead lettuce in a wholemeal tortilla. the menu actually described it as 'toasted' and with 'melted cheese'. it didn't come that way, but it was a satisfying, wholesome meal. the chicken is definitely, and rightly so, the star - well marinated, grilled and basted in their lovely homemade teriyaki sauce. the cheese gave it a mild salty boost.
we didn't take long to polish off kayo's souffle cheese cake, although we don't quite get the souffle reference - it's too dense to be one, and doesn't rise as one should. on the other hand, as a cheesecake it's on the lighter side with a spreadable texture, and is rich without being cloying.
we also tried the grilled teriyaki chicken salad, essentially the same chicken slices as the wrap, served with slices - yes, you can actually count how many - of lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes with a small bowl of lemon-olive oil dressing. the chicken is lovely, the dressing gives it a nice zesty lift but the salad is truly a misnomer. and to think we had actually ordered the just salad (sans chicken), but they got our order wrong. and that turned out to be a good thing, or else we would have been grazing like cows on a diet.
the coffee was hit and miss: we had no complaints over the long black, but the flat white fell flat. never mind that there was no coffee art to admire, there was also no micro-foam. it was, simply, a long black with milk poured over.
overall for such a young and cosy outfit, hiccups are inevitable and the couple, along with their staff, make up for it with their friendly demeanour and good food - aside from the salad and the disappointing flat white, that is.
coffee 5 cups no b-0-17 plaza damas 3, jln sri hartamas 1, kl tel +603 6206 5451 opens 11am-7pm, tue-fri; 11am-9pm, sat-sun; closed mon coffee5cups.com/
find it coming off the pedestrian link bridge from hartamas shopping centre, turn left immediately and walk along the quiet row of shoplots facing the main road. 5 cups is right at the end. alternatively, from the ground level of plaza damas 3 (there are some outdoor parking lots on that level, and some just park along the side of the main road), take the lift at the end of the block and head up one floor and you will see 5 cups.