Amid the ever-changing food landscape of bustling Bangsar Baru, there are a number of stalwarts that have outlived changing dining trends and eating habits — Alexis Bistro is an example, and at the other end of the spectrum are Devi’s Corner, Pelita Nasi Kandar and Rocky Restaurant. Delicious, located at a choice corner of Bangsar Village II, enjoyed a good run for a number of years, both when it was owned by restaurateur Benjamin Yong, and later on, after it was acquired by E&O Group.
However, once E&O managing director Datuk Terry Tham began to spend more time abroad with his children, the Delicious trio of eateries — the branch in Bangsar as well as the other two in St Mary Place and 1 Utama Shopping Centre — were not getting the attention they deserved. It was time to sell, and when Tham was approached by his old friend, chairman of food service company Envictus International Holdings Ltd, Datuk Jaya J B Tan, he did just that.
“Delicious was so iconic once, with queues of people wanting to get in. At the point Datuk Terry wanted to give it up, it was in the doldrums and not doing that well. So, we asked him if we could take it over as we were in the F&B and food service industry already. And that’s how it all started,” Tan begins, armed with an afternoon cuppa.
The start that Tan is referring to is the rejuvenation of the Delicious brand, resulting in the reopening of the eatery in all three locations. The takeover was not a difficult decision — Envictus already had some experience in food services with Texas Chicken and San Francisco Coffee, apart from its wealth of experience in food manufacturing.
And then, there was the appeal of the Delicious brand itself. “I have always liked the Delicious brand — whether you like the place or not, everyone has heard of Delicious. So, for me, it was how we could best revive the brand and make it relevant again. People are knowledgeable about food ... they want something that’s tasty and healthy, and, of course, they want it at the right price. We thought that we could achieve all this with Delicious,” Tan says.
Upon signing on the dotted line, the hard work of reworking the brand identity came next. Even before ruffling through the new menu, the changes are evident — the décor is brighter and more contemporary, and it’s also warmer and more welcoming. There are different kinds of seating to cater for a wider audience, too — the outlet in Bangsar Village boasts plenty of indoor seating, a bar for anyone in the mood for an evening beer or postprandial drinks as well as a comfortable al fresco dining section.
“We came up with the new identity as a team,” says Delicious marketing and communications representative Tan San Hui, who is Tan’s niece. “We painstakingly got input from everyone, including friends and family, on what they liked about Delicious and what could do with a change.”
The team of consultants that Envictus worked with included designer Lisette Scheers, who interpreted the Tan family’s vision quite beautifully. The old Delicious green has gone from a light turquoise to a brighter and richer green to mark the brand’s maturation, for example, while the gilded birdcages that the old Delicious was known for have been replaced with arresting images of birds in flight — expect to see this in a great many Instagram posts in the future. The other three elements that are replicated in each outlet comprise the incorporation of locally sourced plants and flowers, cosy and comfortable seating, and a library — in Bangsar Village, the shelves stock music records; in 1 Utama, it is books; and at St Mary Place, it is nature-inspired collectibles.
The biggest change is in the menu, however — Envictus has not been afraid, quite literally, to put its money where its mouth is. “We took into account old favourites at Delicious, but also updated the menu — I’d say 90% is new. We worked together with the head chef to create a new line-up that would resonate better with a modern audience,” San Hui explains.
“I remember the duck confit pasta from before, and it was such a hit, so we’ve kept it. There are a lot of brunch dishes because that has become such a trend here. It’s something I noticed during my time in Australia, and it’s the case in KL too, so we’ve included really popular comfort foods like smashed avocado on toast.”
The duck confit makes a repeat performance in a sumptuous Duck Pomelo Salad, which is tossed with fresh Thai herbs and greens. Local dishes that get an emphatic thumbs up include the Nasi Kerabu Ayam Percik and Mee Goreng, while standards like soups, salads and pastas that feature simple recipes are done remarkably well. In the Bangsar Village outlet, pizzas are also available.
Meanwhile, the bar menu offers an elegant selection of classic cocktails, draught beers and wines — perfect for sundowners, if you are already in the neighbourhood.
The obvious next step is expansion, but Tan and San Hui are not quite ready yet. “I think that right now, the goal is to focus on the three outlets and get them to their maximum potential. As far as expansion is concerned, we don’t have any plans yet, but if a good opportunity were to come by, we would be open to it,” San Hui says.
“We want to protect the brand, so with the new Delicious, we want to take our time with introducing it to people and seeing what they think,” Tan says thoughtfully. “Once it has become stable, we can think about the next step. Location is key, and we will only open in a new location when we think it is really ideal. Until then, we are focused on perfecting the formula of what we have now.”
That formula seems pretty good already, we have to say, and how nice it is to have yet another great dining spot to add to our list of choice eateries in KL.
This story first appeared on Jan 15, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.