After a brief hiatus preparing for an exam, I finally got some time to write up some recent restaurant reviews. I’m still consolidating and coalescing my thoughts about restaurant Bord’eau and De Librije in the Netherlands, which will come after this. But for now, I would like to broach the topic about fine dining restaurants in Malaysia.
I’m of the opinion that fine dining restaurants in Malaysia are incredibly overpriced and not necessarily great value for money, well so is Singapore I suppose. One would argue that Malaysia has a better sense of “terroir” than our island neighbours, but still we have a long way to go before we might get proper notice with Asia’s best restaurants or even the Michelin guide, if that’s indeed our aspiration. One of the most well established fine dining establishments in Kuala Lumpur is Restaurant Darren Chin, helmed by the restaurant’s namesake and trained at Le Cordon Bleu in France. His food appears to be primarily French and with strong Asian influences. I had avoided it for the longest time, mostly due to the price tag and possibly fear of disappointment. But after my friend had a very positive experience there, I reckon it’s finally time to give it a proper go.
We were the first to arrive at the restaurant, and were greeted with a refreshing lemongrass based, welcome drink. Soon after, we were brought upstairs to the dining room with the typical white table-cloth and finery.
We started off with some local tomatoes from Cameron highlands, served with Basil, Olives and drizzled with olive oil and salt. The tomatoes were meaty and had good flavour, and a naturally good combination with Basil. Great and simple way to start the meal.
Some freshly baked bread for the meal. I must admit the croissant was absolutely magnificent, which was crisp yet had a feathery light and fluffy interior. Arguably one of the best croissants around and you’ll be hard pressed to find one of similar quality.
We were also served some garlic bread, which was also very decent.
Next, were a selection of Amuses that started off with Irish oysters with Ponzu and Ikura, as well as some sea grapes. It was a great bite of food with some proper acidity from the Ponzu, and a burst of the flavour of the sea from the Ikura. In addition to that, we had a pumpkin croquette and lobster amuse that were okay but not particularly noteworthy.
The last Amuse was a local Sole served with pesto, which also had good flavour.
Moving on to the first course, which was seared Bonito (or Katsuo) served with sliced white asparagus, rosemary mustard sauce, and fried leek. The seared Bonito had a lovely rich and unctuous flavour. There was also a dab of Yuzu kosho chilli paste on the side, which added a nice touch of heat to the dish. Didn’t quite get much of the white asparagus, and the fried Leek felt disjointed from the overall dish.
The next course was definitely something else. Takao cold somen with Bafun Ogawa Uni (not associated with the massage chair), and truffled celeriac cream. The flavour combination was on point with the flavour of the sea from the Uni, the chilled Somen noodles, the creaminess of the celeriac cream, and the hint of Truffles to bring it all together. I would say this qualifies as a one Michelin starred level dish, and was particularly memorable for me.
Following that was an additional dish of snow crab consomme with Lemon balm-fennel infusion, served with a rice cracker. The consomme had good flavour, but not sure what’s the point of the rice cracker which had disintegrated very soon after the broth was poured into the dish.
The subsequent course was Japanese snow crab with white asparagus, Culantro “nam jim”, and seafood emulsion. I felt that the dish was a over-salted, and the delicacy and sweetness of the Snow crab was unfortunately overwhelmed by the Nam Jim sauce. Also, didn’t get much of the white asparagus, which felt like an afterthought.
For the last of the savoury courses, I had ordered the more premium option of Japanese A3 Wagyu and seared Jean Larnaudie Foie Gras, which was served with some veggies, meat jus, and another dab of Yuzu kosho chilli. Despite using high quality ingredients, the dish didn’t quite sing for me and lacked refinement. Perhaps I’m a bit biased by the magnificent Japanese Wagyu I had in French Laundry (Read Here), but then that should be the benchmark. If the cookery had been a bit more tighter and focused, then I believe it could be a much better dish.
For dessert, I had opted for the two part course which started off with a Wild honey and milk ice cream, coffee croquettes, salty caramel with black olive tapenade, and Dulcey pearls. The flavour of the wild honey really shined through, and the addition of the salted caramel and black olive tapenade was a nice touch to add some saltiness to the dish. Not bad for a dessert to say the least.
Part two of the dessert course was Almond milk pannacotta, roasted pearl barley granite, almond cookie crumble, and salty gula melaka. The pannacotta was a bit too dense for my liking, but overall had good flavour.
Despite my initial reservations, I actually enjoyed my meal here. Service was polished and on point, and the food was generally decent and well seasoned, particularly with the Somen with Uni dish, which I felt the chef had knocked it out of the park. Unfortunately, the subsequent courses started skewing towards mediocrity and lacked the necessary finesse.
That said, Restaurant DC is arguably one of the best fine dining restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, and a great place for a date if you’re willing to fork out the dough. In terms of the Michelin guide benchmark, I would probably argue that it’s a bib Gourmand restaurant for the moment, albeit the price point is not necessarily great value for money. Overall, I’m glad that the local restaurant scene is improving especially with restaurants like DC and Dewakan, albeit there’s still a lot of work to be done before we make it to the same league with Bangkok or Singapore as fine dining food capitals in Asia.
Location: no 44 Persiaran Zaaba, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur. +60 3 7731 0502. Website.