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Malaysian at heart

Cafe owners Najmi Rahim and Jezvynna Saini share the essence of national identity through their menu

04 May 2021 / 10:18 H.

LOCATED on the hilly side of Damansara Heights, Henry & Camille is the latest cafe to grace the neighbourhood of Bukit Damansara. With a leafy interior and a rich variety of furniture, the cafe has a way of putting its guests at ease and making them feel at home.

“Initially, I had the idea to setting up a vape lounge,’’ said co-owner Najmi Rahim.

“But as soon as we finished the interior, we felt a homely touch and a cafe vibe. So, we changed the business direction.”

Another factor that influenced the decision was the customers. As his wife Jezvynna Saini nicely puts it: “It was more families, children and professionals.”

The couple wanted the cafe to reflect the Malaysian element and serve the local community. Therefore, this inspired them to not only serve Malaysian delicacies but also promote food by local suppliers.

Malaysian at heart

What was the inspiration behind the cafe name?

Jezvynna: I got the idea from my clothing brand, Chinonetkita. There are two styles from the collection called Henry & Camille. And I thought it fit the cafe’s brand because we realised we had two sides and two different colours. The front of the cafe is light and the back of it is darker. The front gave off a more feminine feel while the back gave a more masculine vibe.

How did you develop the menu?

Jezvynna: The menu is ever-evolving.

Najmi: 80% of our menu is outsourced while 20% is done in-house. The reason for this is the pandemic. As we went along, our customers wanted more options but none of us are professional chefs.

So, I proposed the idea of helping out food suppliers affected by the pandemic. Our first collaboration was with a sandwich outlet called Sash Sandwich.

The owner was retrenched as a hotel chef. So, we brought in his products and the reactions were positive.

From there, we went on to work with various individuals who lost their jobs.

This is our way of giving back to the community. All of our staff were retrenched from their previous companies.

How do you choose the suppliers to work with?

Jezynna: We will try out their food first to see if it is in line with our customers’ tastes. Our customers love Malaysian flavours. Even the Nasi Dagang is the authentic kind and not the westernised kind. If it is spicy, it is spicy.

What would you order if you were a customer?

Najma: I think it would be our local Nasi Dagang breakfast. It is always sold out by 11 am.

Jezynna: Since we brought it to our cafe, it has been a favourite, especially among our non-Malays customers. They love it. Another one would be our Laksam dish. It is a Terengganu delicacy.

What are your future plans for yourselves and the cafe?

Jezynna: I would be helping out with my husband’s future projects and working on my other clothing businesses.

Najma: I intend to expand the Henry & Camille brand. One way of doing this would be through our upcoming lounge project, which would be on the next floor. This time, it will cater to our older guests. The next one would be our second outlet, the kiosk, which will be in the city centre.

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