healthy pop art

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a dark pink lorry, with fabric dolls hanging from its front frame and soft printed cushions to lean against on its bench, sits against vibrant green and turquoise wall. it's certainly a memorable first impression, and for a moment you think it's a cafe for children but then you see that some adults have happily parked themselves on the lorry bench. never mind its cheerful palette and whimsical touches, fru-t-pop is meant for anyone who cares about what they're really putting into their stomachs and where the food comes from.

fru-t-pop's star product and namesake began as a mother's labour of kitchen love for her own brood: not wanting to feed her children the usual all-sugar, high-cream concoctions and yet not wanting to deprive them of icy treats, giselda parkin took to making her own popsicles, using fresh fruits sourced from local organic farms. then she started selling them at markets and bazaars, before turning part of the space that houses her central kitchen into this colourful, whimsical cafe that's all about healthy, freshly-prepared hot food made using organic ingredients from suppliers and farms in or near the klang valley. among them are top malaysian organic company justlife, titi eco farm in negeri sembilan, mr tan's of cameron highlands while the tempeh is homemade by a lady in seremban, who makes them for cancer patients and survivors. at fru-t-pop, it's all about using produce that do no harm to either mother earth or our bodies. like the three bold paintings that hang on their feature wall say: 'it's not what we put in, it's what we don't'.

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fru-t-pop's menu is fairly extensive, offering wholewheat wraps, salads, cakes (including raw cakes, all made by giselda), no-bake cookies, fresh fruit juices, coffees and teas, and of course those fun, fruity popsicles. besides the cafe, the fru-t-pops are available at six international schools in the klang valley. at the back of the menu is a series of unique recipes, many of them featuring tempeh (ever considered a tempeh smoothie?) and posters encouraging good nutrition and healthy eating. you can also purchase organic vegetables and fruits, delivered directly from the farms weekly. a list of available produce is displayed on the wall next to the cashier's counter, or you can order a pre-selected bag of mixed goods. 

with a background in niche catering when she was living in england and a keen interest in nutrition, giselda focused her menu on not only the produce that's available - which changes as organic production, unlike commercial farms, cannot promise a fixed type or amount as crops are vulnerable to environmental elements - but most importantly for diners, on creating good clean flavours . 

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the gado-gado illustrates that well: strips of cucumber, carrots and long beans - all raw, naturally sweet and crunchy - served with an aromatic, chunky peanut dip. from the globally-inspired wrap section, we tried the well-flavoured the greek, which had mashed chickpeas rolled up with almond cream and mixed vegetables. it came with a zesty, slightly spicy chilli-spinach-garlic dip and a beautiful salad of quinoa, fruits, cabbage and a generous sprinkle of toasted pine nuts. we didn't even bother with the passionfruit dressing as the reddish salad was perfectly fine on its own - crunchy and refreshing. we washed it down with a glass of joie de vie, a blend of orange, apple and spicy-with-a-nice-kick ginger.

everything is prepared freshly and made from scratch as much as possible in the small kitchen behind the pink truck, where the cook, kavitha, whips up hot dishes while her colleagues use the bigger kitchen behind to make fru-t-pops. kavitha is also the guardian and gardener in charge of fru-t's mini herb garden in front of the cafe, set up like a little park with wooden tables and seats shaded by a large umbrella. the herbs grow in pots placed around the seats and are fertilised with natural compost and kitchen wastes. kavitha harvests whatever herbs she needs for the dishes on the menu. and if you need any herbs for your own cooking, or to grow at home (ask and kavitha will share her tips), just take from the pots; giselda means for it to be a community service. 

farm-fresh vegetables and fruits, good flavours, fun and whimsical settings to chill out in and who can resist that huge pink truck? fru-t-pop is certainly doing us all a great service.


fru-t-pop 22-g jln sri hartamas 8, sri hartamas, kl tel +6010 213 5400 www.frutpop.com  facebook