Salads often get a raw deal from the meat-preferring public – ‘rabbit food,’ some folks scoff – but a fresh set of salad bars is sprouting to change that. Our favourite in the Klang Valley so far: Chai Bar, planting itself this week in Oasis Ara Damansara.

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Mix & Match Combos

Chai Bar is helmed by friendly young entrepreneurs Dennis & Edward, who aim to serve meals that can be simultaneously satisfying & wholesome. Customers looking to turn over a new leaf currently have a selection of 75 ingredients & 15 types of dressings to mix & match for seemingly infinite combinations.

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‘Superfoods’ Salad

One of the challenges for salad bars is ensuring that each offering tastes like a cohesive recipe – not simply random leaves & toppings slapped together – but Chai Bar has a solution, offering 10 tried-&-tested recommended combinations. Our favourite: ‘Superfoods’ (RM16) – rocket leaves & spring greens with sweet potatoes, beets, avocado, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, quinoa & peanut dressing. Add RM6 for smoked salmon.

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Each salad we bought was absolutely worth the price, packed with irreproachably fresh ingredients. Our sole regret: We probably should have eaten at the outlet instead of ordering take-out, since these salads might have looked much better composed properly & photographed in bowls.

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‘Chicken Rice’ Salad

Another thoughtful twist: Many of Chai Bar’s recipes are playful interpretations of classic Asian favourites – we’re fans of  ‘Chicken Rice’ (RM14), a minimal-guilt creation that showcases the outlet’s own-poached chicken breast with crunchy red rice, bean sprouts, onions, cucumber, baby spinach & a soy sauce dressing.

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‘Bibimbap’ Salad

Korea receives its due with ‘Bibimbap’ (RM18) – thick, hearty slices of slow-grilled lean beef with hard-boiled eggs, carrots, mushrooms, kimchi, Korean anchovies & gochujang sauce – an illustration of how a nutritionally complete lunch or dinner can be enjoyed here. Plus, Chai Bar makes its own dressings daily – no Thousand Island, thankfully.

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The ‘California Girls’

Stick a fork in it: A Japanese influence is woven through ‘California Girls’ (RM23), which pairs kaori-hako sticks with the likes of butterhead lettuce, red coral leaves, pickled seaweed, cherry tomatoes, capelin roe, roasted seaweed & creamy wasabi mayo.

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The ‘Porntip’

Think Thai: The lightly piquant, mercifully-not-too-spicy ‘Porntip’ (RM19) mixes glass noodles with springy boiled prawns, young papaya, roasted peanuts, dried shrimp, som tam sauce & more. Could go well with the kaffir lemonade, ‘berrynana’ smoothie & other juices & teas that Chai Bar expects to serve eventually.

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The ‘Sombrero’

Amid all the Asian sensations, this Tex-Mex ‘Sombrero’ (RM20) might seem out of place, but it still manages to hold it own with a three-bean mix, peppers, grilled chicken, tortilla chips, corn, tomatoes, onions, cheddar cheese, avocado dressing & salsa.

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Convenient hours: 11am-9pm daily. Seek Chai Bar beside Pacific Coffee on your left after you drive into Oasis Ara Damansara.

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Location and Contact Details

Chai Bar

G31, Oasis Village, Oasis Square, No. 2, Jalan PJU 1A/7A, Oasis  Ara Damansara, Petaling Jaya

Tel: 013 209 9189

Daily, 11am-9pm

View: Chai Bar directory page here.

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