GENERALLY, city folk avoid other cities in the region for their get aways. But if you are looking for a quick get away, hopping across the Causeway to Kuala Lumpur lets you enjoy a different pace of life at a much lower price point.
The benefits of a preferable exchange rate aside, one of the highlights of visiting Kuala Lumpur is the variety of food that is on hand. Not the processed fare from central kitchens we are used to in Singapore, or the haute cuisine from Michelin-starred chefs, but the personalised cuisines that help to keep the food authentic.
Not to say it’s all old-fashioned stuff since that spirit of innovation and ingenuity exists but not at the expense of human interaction.
Hans Gill and his wife Carrie Scully were inspired by the pintxos and tapas of Barcelona, they decided to bring bite-sized meals to Malaysia.
At Tiki Taka, located in a well-placed corner unit in Medan Damansara, the couple set up the cosy restaurant which rolls out a long list of small plates packed with incredible flavours and unexpected combinations.
Salted Egg Crab Bun, Wild Boar Pizza, Uppma (semolina) With Tomato Chutney, Chilled Nyonya Pasta, Chicken 65, Nutella Bacon… it takes a while to digest the menu.
After a while, you kind of give up because the options are so mouth-wateringly unexpected and you close your eyes and take a stab at the menu. Thing is, you can’t go wrong.
Each dish comes out oozing rich authentic flavours that are complemented by the drinks on offer.
The couple ran the popular D’Legends Bar in Taman Tun Dr Ismail before selling it. Looks like they’re on to another winner here.
138 Jalan Kasah
Kuala Lumpur 50490
Nobu Kuala Lumpur
Elevating the dining experience, you could head up for some posh nosh at Nobu. Following a series of cloak-and-dagger like elevator changes and discreet ushering, you find yourself in the rarified atmosphere on the 56th floor of the Petronas Towers, where you get a bird’s eye view of the neighbourhood. It’s not spectacular, so your gaze is soon back on the neutral interior and the lunch menu.
There’s a good spread of dishes to choose from, many familiar to those who like their Japanese food.
The lunch sets offer a good selection of the creativity of the kitchen, and the three-course fixed price lunch (RM165++) delivers the delicate flavours in enough quantities to satisfy you. Neatly compartmentalised in lacquer boxes, so too are the flavours, which are clean and distinct.
The recommendation almost everyone who has been to a Nobu has is the Black Cod With Miso. It didn’t fail to impress with its texture and flavour.
The sweet ending also offers a variation to expected flavours, adding that slight twist to further elevate the dining experience.
Nobu Kuala Lumpur
Level 56 Menara 3 Petronas
A Li Yaa
As you pick your way up and down the row of shophouses along the food street of Bukit Damansara, you get a sense of the mixed influences that shape Kuala Lumpur’s food culture. Modern cafes sit beside local eateries and Western diners.
Tucked in the midst of all of this is A Li Yaa a restaurant you might skip past if you didn’t know better. Being with the neighbourhood boys in the know helps, since this Sri Lankan restaurant is said to be one of the finest in the region.
While unspectacular within, the food that comes out is outstanding. The dips served with the slivers of pappadams add a variety of tastes to otherwise mindless chewing as you wait for the dishes to come out.
Once they roll out — and there isn’t much of a wait — it’s a sumptuous parade of flavours and aromas.
The appam is soft and moist with enough coconut milk to give it that creamy texture. The mutton is tender and rich in robust flavours, while the vegetables are, as ever in South Asian restaurants, generally overcooked, except that these are so finely spiced, it doesn’t matter.
With the right beer or lassi to complement, it’s a meal rich in flavour and tradition.
A Li Yaa Island Restaurant And Bar
48 G&M, Medan Setia 2,
50490 Kuala Lumpur