#7 My Best Friend’s Cafe

Subtitle: Jaslyn Cakes. Yup, I am namedropping!

Have you been to Jaslyn Cakes, a one year old bakery located in Bangsar Telawi serving decadent cakes with a homemade feel? If not, I think you should. It’s run by my best friend since primary school, and I remember our first baking experience together: we baked some oatmeal cookies to sell at a booth at our school’s swimming gala. But today, while the only baking I’ve done in the past couple of years were microwave baking with 2 or 3 ingredients, Jas has gone on to way more sophisticated and delicious things ↓

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At an even more sophisticated place ↓

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Photos stolen from her official Facebook page

So, some of the write ups or foodie articles online have described Jas as talented and ‘soft-spoken’. Talented, of course! But the latter? Jas may be soft-spoken to people she just met, but today I will share with you guys the things that only people like me who have best friend privileges can find out.

Please note that I have paraphrased and written out the ‘interview’ below in proper written English. It’ll be funny if we talked like this irl at an afternoon chat over coffee lol.

Q: What do you enjoy most about going into work everyday?
A: I like seeing the regular customers coming in to the shop. We have the Chocolate Chip Cookie Guy who later became the Blondie Guy who I later found out his name was Izmir. We also have the Cheesecake & Latte uncle, Financier Lady, etc. They all have their own favourite food from our shop. Some of them hardly try new things so that’s kinda cute. We also have people from the shops nearby visit us quite regularly, like our friends from Sanifix, Lash Lab, Cziplee and others. Although I do love Jaslyn Cakes, it’s still a full time job and can get quite tiring so it’s hard to be super cheerful 24/7. Mornings are especially hard but seeing my diligent coworkers makes things better!

Q: Sounds like you know your regulars quite well. Do you like chit chatting with the customers?
A: We like to have a friendly environment in the cafe but I think we only start ‘chit chatting’ with a customer after we notice him or her coming in a few times. That’s one of the ways I get to know them better.

Q: Sometimes I like the music at your shop…but sometimes you play songs like Hello from Adele which is overplayed on the radio to the extreme that I can’t stand it anymore. Whose playlist is it?
A: I like to play my slow ‘low-tension’* music but sometimes one of my bakers, Faizal likes to change it to his annoying upbeat and mainstream music.

*Low-tension is an English word made in Japan i.e.’wasei-eigo’ or 和製英語 that has been introduced and since, incorporated into our vocabulary. It refers to a low-energy, slow, or relaxed ambience or a quality of a person. Its antonym is ‘high-tension’, a relatively more commonly used word which means the opposite — a high-energy, hyper atmosphere or mood. For example, Sam Smith’s songs would be low tension and Nicki Minaj’s would be high tension.

Q: Faizal? you mean this guy? I heard he likes reading manga online too.

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Kekekeke. Yup, he’s so tall  we had to make an extra long apron for him.

Q: Do your bakers / staff get to eat free cake sometimes?
A: Sometimes to make the cakes look more perfect we need to trim them, so the trimmings are free for all. Also when we get some down time, we try new recipes and we need to taste test them before releasing them into the world so yes, occasionally my staff and I like to munch on our own sweets, too.

Q: Yup, the last time I visited, I got to try some yummy salted caramel macarons fresh out of the oven. They were dee-licious! Are there many Japanese customers at the shop? I ask this because this interview will probably be translated into Japanese and if there are any Japanese people out there reading, I’m sure they would be interested in this.
For now, not a lot but you never know, maybe they’re just good at blending in with the Malaysians. Although, there was one girl who came into the shop and tried to speak Japanese to us but none of us could understand her! She also left us a brochure completely written in Japanese. Until today, I still wonder what she wanted. I do hope more Japanese customers will come, though. The cakes in Japan I saw were soo kawaii. In fact, the Japanese pastry chefs are also a big fan of French baking, which is what Jaslyn Cakes is inspired by. One of my favourite pastry chefs is Sadaharu Aoki, who trained in France. 

Q: Do you see any interesting trends about the things happening in the shop, e.g., some cakes are more popular at certain seasons, etc.?
Not that I can remember but an easy one I observed is that people tend to order cold lattes on a hot day and vice versa.

Q: Let me play the annoying person’s advocate here and ask a stupid question. What do recommend people order when they’re on a diet?
Ermm, orange juice?

Q: A professional question now: do you have any advice for young people starting out a cafe or F&B business?
Don’t think so much, just do it. There are so many things to worry about but if all you do is worry you won’t be able to get anything started. Try, then overcome the hurdles one by one along the way. Also be realistic. Be prepared to give up most of the time, especially the first few months up to a year because running a business hands-on is almost like having a baby. There’s no quitting so it’s crucial that you persevere. Even after the business gets stable, it’s still running and you still have to continue taking care of it. Lastly, do something that people might want. Everyone can have a good idea, but if nobody buys that idea except you, it’s not going to work.

Jas working to feed everyone with yumminess. Featuring my sister, oranges, and a tired Vana lol ❤

Q: Did you have a solid support system like family and friends when you first started?
Yes, I think if it weren’t for my boyfriend, Kenneth, Jaslyn Cakes wouldn’t be what it is today. In fact, I don’t even know if it would exist! I’m also very grateful to my family and friends who helped me out and supported me greatly from the start. Thanks, everyone!!

Q: Want to share any other lessons you took away from this experience so far?
Hmm, I would say this was a very humbling experience overall. I get lots of constructive criticism from customers and I am grateful for them. And I learned to not react at not-so-good reviews. By taking a step back, I actually realised that these feedback are extremely valuable for how I can improve on my baking and Jaslyn Cakes in general. I have learned to take things with an open heart and own these criticism to move forward more positively.

Q: Lastly, as this is a blog about language / culture, do you have any funny anecdotes related to this subject matter?
Sometimes some aunties ask for the wifi password and when I tell them ‘Sugar and Spice’, they say, ‘What? Chicken and Spice?!’. Maybe I will consider changing my password to that next time.

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Another best friend privilege, free cookie samples! Best lab-rat job ever! February 2014.

 

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The early days: Accompanying Jas for her ‘homework’ — bakery hopping in Paris. Trying some brioche from Laduree @ Champs Elysees! Summer 2012.

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Flashback: Humble beginnings @ Bangsar Telawi Lot 7A. October 2014.

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