A casual restaurant that prides itself on its affordability, but some dishes bear the brunt of this stress on cheapness.
Update: Uncle Don’s at Publika is now permanently closed, but there are still many outlets around KL to enjoy. The nearest one is the location in Desa Sri Hartamas (10, Jalan 22a/70a).
The restaurants at Publika (that aren’t nasi kandars) are not particularly cheap, but this place is proof that you can serve inexpensive food without coming off as dodgy. Uncle Don’s is like that little place where you know the owner so you enjoy a discount every time you go there. Their slogan “Dine like a Don every day” is a catchy way of summing up the brand’s mission statement: to provide an affordable dining option while still exceeding expectations in quality, ambience and service.
Click on menu pictures to enlarge
This is definitely the place to drink. Uncle Don’s boasts that they serve up the “coldest ever” draughts with their frozen mugs. There is an entire page of beers and spirits and over twenty cocktails. Even in KL, it’s hard to find a bar menu with this much variety. The non-alcoholic section is nothing to sneeze at either. If you’re the sort of person who is friends with a bunch of thirsty drunks but doesn’t imbibe personally, you can still feel like you’re drinking with the gang with the restaurant’s selection of mocktails.
Uncle Don’s voluminous menu covers everything, whether you’re here for a quick weekday lunch or hangover food. From simple Maggi noodles to upscale pork knuckle, from healthy chef’s salads to literally a plate of bacon. A wonderful sight for those of us who eat homemade lunches during the workweek and never get to take advantage of lunch deals, Uncle Don’s lunch sets are available every day – even on weekends.
I got their Strawberry Surprise (RM7.80) which was very sweet but typical of a mocktail. It arrives with the puree settled at the bottom of the glass, so make sure to stir it and enjoy some alchemy before drinking.
Mark got their Classic Pork Burger (RM14.80) from their lunch set menu. We were able to customise the meat, bun and spiciness level. We can’t tell the difference in flavour between regular and charcoal buns, but charcoal makes for a cooler picture. One choice that did have more thought behind it was the decision for pork as the meat as Mark felt it was the best choice to match the pineapple slice. The meal came with about ten fries, but with a burger this massive, it’s kind of forgivable. I’m not sure how anyone is expected to fit a bite into their mouths when the burger is almost as tall as a human head.
Nonetheless, this was actually a great tasting burger for the price, whether it’s bundled in a lunch special or not. The meat was juicy, and we got it with the spicy sauce for an extra flavour kick. It’s messy as hell, though – wet tomato and a pineapple slice make everything slide around constantly. Expect drippy hands, a soggy bun and ingredients falling out of your burger while eating this.
The German Pork Steak (RM14.80) was, quite honestly, not what I was expecting. One reads the word “steak” and expects a hunk of meat cut from the animal. Since this was pork, I figured it would be something like pork chops, but what came instead was ground pork that they had shaped into a slab.
It’s most evident in this dish how Uncle Don’s can price their food so low. It seems like, where possible, they will cut corners or use lower quality ingredients. The cheese was very obviously a processed slice instead of real cheese, which looked unappealingly plastic-like when melted over the meat. This also came with a choice of sauce; I chose BBQ, but it did not taste anything like the BBQ sauce you would find on ribs, chicken, or even from a squeeze bottle. Uncle Don’s sauce is a barely flavoured brown liquid that didn’t do much for my “steak.” It was like a gravy that had been watered down so much that you could barely call it a sauce anymore. I can confirm that all of their “sauces” are like this. They had accidentally brought me black pepper sauce to start, and it was the same tasteless, watery brown stuff.
The disappointment of my steak was a shame, but everything else met or went above our expectations. We will still come back to Uncle Don’s again because I have no doubt that some of the dishes are a great value (like the burger) and there’s just so much variety that we can try something new each time. I think the strategy here is to keep it simple and order items that seem like they are worth the advertised price. Chicken rendang with keropok could reasonably cost RM14.80. Lamb chops for only RM22.80, though? I’ll likely stay away from that!
Price for 2 Pax: RM39.65
Strawberry Surprise: RM7.80
Pork Burger Set: RM14.80
German Pork Steak w/ BBQ: RM14.80
6% Service: RM2.24
D2-G4-2 (second floor), Publika Shopping Gallery, Jalan Dutamas, Solaris Dutamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
Daily, 12pm – 1am
Alcohol Served: Yes