Note: This shop is now closed.
Workers in the city centre, here’s a new place you can visit for lunch (and dinner) – especially if you’re craving a warm sandwich with gooey cheese. Melts is a locally founded sandwich shop modelled after the classic American diner of the 1950s: it’s got the customary bright red vinyl upholstery, black and white tile floor, vintage posters on the wall, and the pièce de résistance – a jukebox in the corner playing oldies. Of course, anyone who’s been to Johnny Rockets won’t be too blown away by the retro diner concept, but it wasn’t Melts’s intention to create another Johnny Rockets. The founders just wanted a fun, American-style space to match their signature dish: the Philly cheese steak.
If Melts rings a bell, that’s because it’s not completely new – at least not to the residents of Hartamas anyway. Founders Wira, Zakiral and Zaki first opened Melts in late 2013 at Plaza Damas; they also set up booths at various festivals and food markets around town. According to Wira, the big move to Avenue K was mainly for a change of scenery and greater foot traffic.
And what goes into a Philly cheese steak? It’s not as simple as stuffing a long roll (or ‘sub’ as they call it) with grilled beef strips and topping it off with cheese. To make a good Philly cheese steak, Wira and Zaki explain that you need beef sliced really thin (they use New Zealand rib-eye at Melts), really good bread and properly melted cheese. The masterpiece is created by placing the cheese on top of the cooked beef, sautéed onions and capsicum before spraying some water on the griddle and covering it. The mixture is then scooped into the bread, and what you get is a hot sub with gooey cheese evenly spread across the meat.
While most major sandwich chains focus on cold sandwiches, hot sandwiches are the name of the game at Melts. Other than the Philly cheese steak (RM16.80), you’ll find subs (available in six- and 12-inch), sandwiches and burritos with fillings like chipotle chicken or beef, chilli con carne (in the sloppy Joe), sweet chilli chicken, mustard beef steak and grilled eggplant. Take note that these are all cooked fresh upon order (they actually have a kitchen), so expect a longer wait than usual for your sandwich. As Zaki explains, ‘We believe there’s value in cooking; not just microwaving everything and using processed meats.’
As for sides, there’s the usual basket of fries. But if you have room, get it with the chilli and melted cheese (RM12), or swap fries for nachos. Wash it down with a milkshake (from RM10), ice lemon tea or Coke. There’s even latte and cappuccino here by Italian brand Lavazza, a rather unusual touch for an American-style diner.
Those who have visited the Plaza Damas outlet may notice that the menu is smaller here, but that’s because Melts at Avenue K is still in its teething stages. In future, we’re told that there will be more items added to the menu, including beef ribs and even seafood sandwiches. In the meantime, you really need to taste the Philly cheese steak.