Akar Dining, Kuala Lumpur

I heard about this up-and-coming fine dining restaurant from a few food enthusiasts for a while now. But I wasn’t the type that easily swayed by popular opinion. Perhaps having dined at some world-famous restaurants like Sukiyabashi Jiro and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, I have rather high expectations.

I study the restaurant menu and even follow the chef on social media before deciding whether I want to carve out my precious hours and dollars on it. Raved or expensive is not necessarily good.

Especially being a supporter of Malaysian food – ‘Modern French’ was not a plus point for me. Alas, I was looking for an interesting place to dine with a dear friend and thought it’d be fun to check out somewhere new.

Thank goodness, ‘Locally Driven’ was also part of what they described themselves on Instagram. I came without expectations but was impressed not just by the food and service but also by the inclusion of local-produce like toddy (palm wine) and raw fish from Terengganu.

Serving locally-sourced food was why they could offer a dining experience at a fair price. Priced at RM 150 for such an exquisite 5 coursed menu, it’s almost unbelievable.


1: RAW

What is it? The first course was something raw, golden snapper dressed with coriander sauce, pickled onion, and spring onions, and coriander cress.

How did I like it? I was surprised to hear that the star of the dish is the seasonings instead of the fish. The first taste of the coriander sauce made me understand why; it’s concentrated with flavour.

As I’ve always liked sashimi, which is usually air-flown from Japan, I’m so impressed that our local fish tastes equally good.

The onions and soy sauce complemented the raw fish well. I enjoyed seeing it plated in the open kitchen and then topped with delicate coriander cress, one ingredient that I just got to know.

If I have to sum it up in one sentence, I would say it’s an elegant dish that is easy for Asian palate to accept.


2: FISH

What is it? Grilled barramundi, yuzu foam, fish maw congee.

How did I like it? The subtle scent of kaffir, one of my favourite tropical herbs, enticed me even before tasting it. 

“Always try the star ingredient first,” the sommelier-cum-host suggested. So I used the sago chip as a spoon to scoop the foam.

One bite and I knew I’d love the dish already. The foam gradually disappeared into my mouth to reveal the fish maw congee made from Japanese rice in Hokkaido called ‘nanatsuboshi’, a cultivar with a chewy texture. I’m not sure if the slight yet pleasant chewiness comes from the rice or the fish maw.

I liked that there is edamame inside that gives a different crunch to the dish. The green beads are slightly browned as it’s pan-roasted, giving a light caramelised taste that I enjoyed on charred vegetables. While it’s not mentioned on the menu, I loved this unexpected addition.


3: PLAT

What is it? Aged duck with curried pumpkin, coffee kombucha juice.

How did I like it? While my dining companion took the more expensive beef that he preferred more than this, I like it more. Perhaps that’s because I always have good beef but rarely duck. This aged duck has a rich flavour and cooked to perfection – just the right redness and texture. It was easy to like.

What stood out to me was the coffee kombucha juice with caramel consistency and deep smoky flavour.


4: LIVER

What is it? Lanaudie foie gras with plum gel, mandarin crystals, mandarin rind, and filo pastry.

How did I like it? I’m not a fan of foie gras, and I almost chose the 4-course menu instead. But after taking a bite, I was glad that I didn’t make that mistake. I even said to my companion, “I can’t believe I’m going to say this: this might be my favourite dish of the night!”.

The texture is like ice-cream. The plum gel, orange rind, and mandarin crystals – with their natural sourness – balances the liver’s richness. The thin pastry that separated the soft liver and the crust gave the dish a light, crisp texture. Slicing it was pure joy.

I believe that the mark of a good restaurant is one that changes my mind towards an ingredient I usually do not enjoy. A Sukiyabashi Jiro, I though it octopus taste like that all the time, I could like it. And at Akar, savoured its every bite.

I didn’t think it could be better. Then the sommelier suggested to pair it with port wine.

It was divine.


PALATE CLEANSER

What is it? Calamansi lime and mint sorbet on sliced cucumber.

How did I like it? Perhaps it’s just a dish to prepare me for my next. I would have preferred to have more lime juice in it.


5: DESSERT

What is it? A chocolate dessert with roasted almond sponge and topped with hazelnut mousseline. 

How did I like it? Apollo, a chocolate waffle in a golden packet that I used to have as a child, inspired this dessert. Perhaps the liver was so good that it almost reminds me of ice-cream, this chocolate didn’t excite me as much. Though it reminds me of really good Ferrero Rocher.

It’s a generous piece of dessert with crunchy and spongey textures from roasted almond sponge, feuilletine (crispy crêpes) and, chocolate swirl. While I enjoyed it, I wasn’t wowed by it.


DETAILS: Booking, Location, Timing

  • I made a booking through their Whatsapp which I found on their Instagram
  • Opens from Monday to Saturday
  • Dinner Seatings:
    1st seating: 6:30PM
    2nd seating: 7:30PM
    3rd seating: 8:30PM

  • They offer a 4-course and 5-course menu. The former is without liver
  • You could switch the duck to beef instead an additional price of RM30 (which I did for one of our choice)

  • The restaurant is a shoplot at TTDI right next to KGB
  • Parking may be a little challenging to find. I would suggest taking a taxi so that you could also do wine pairing (If you drink, I highly recommend doing the wine pairing as well)

If I have to make an analogy to fashion, this restaurant is not avant-garde. There is fashion that is beautiful but not wearable. Like there are a few good fine dining restaurants that I would only go once. But this one feels like wearing tailored made clothing; the menu is of quality but not too over the top. I would be pleased to come back to dine again.


IN A NUTSHELL

  • FOOD: Palatable dishes with the inclusion of interesting local ingredients that are cooked French-style. 
  • PRICE: RM 150 for 5-course meal. Wine pairing at RM 250.
  • SERVICE: Friendly, attentive, and the staff will go the extra mile to make sure that you have a good time 
  • AMBIENCE: Quiet. Good for conversations
  • RATING: 7/10
  • WIL I COME BACK? Yes

LOCATION
Address: 109, Jalan Aminuddin Baki, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur 
Phone: 018-277 0597

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