Tuesday, February 13, 2018

BETA Restobar, KL - Innovative Modern Malaysian Cuisine

Sexy, polished interior with clever, modern interpretations of Malaysian cuisine - BETA Restobar is the place to be. Tucked away in the corner of Fraser Place lobby, this newcomer to the KL dining scene is a breath of fresh air.

Brought to your by the same team as Skillet @ 163, BETA means number two (2) in the Greek numeral system and is also the second letter in the Greek alphabet, which is representative of the team's second outlet. In the Malaysian context, BETA is the royal salutation for kings or sultans, and at BETA, they want you to dine like kings (and queens).

The Restobar occupies a relatively large space, which has been cleverly zoned into several distinct areas comprising of an open kitchen, a dining area with an eye-catching mural as its centrepiece, a well-stocked, gorgeous bar, stage and lounge. Very Instagram-worthy, we felt totally relaxed in this space. Even before the food has arrived, I'm already in love with this place.

Embracing the diverse flavours of Malaysian cuisine, BETA travels to four different regions in Malaysia - North, South, East and Central Malaysia, for inspiration. The menu is divided into five different categories - Ringan (light bites), Earth (vegetables), H2O (seafood), Land (meat and poultry) and Manis (dessert).

Most of the dishes at BETA are designed to be shared, as food sharing is a quintessential eating culture in Malaysia. Our meal here was faultless, thanks to the exceptional execution by the kitchen team and the unique dishes with distinct flavours concocted by Executive Chef Director, Raymond Tham.

It is obvious that presentation plays a crucial part here at BETA as plate after plate of the most beautiful dishes were placed before us. Chef Raymond has definitely taken his interpretation of Malaysian cuisine to the next level and has highlighted local ingredients beautifully.

To start, we had three dishes from the Ringan section - Sago (RM30), Ox Tongue (RM27) and Inverted Karipap (RM30).

Sago - inspired by the cuisine of Sarawak, this dish pairs exotic produce of the forest and treasures of the sea. Did you know that Sarawak is one of the largest Sago producer in the world? Sago tinted with squid ink is dehydrated, to give it a crispy, cracker-like texture and is topped with deep fried shrimp and a laksa aioli (inspired by Sarawak laksa) and calamansi zest. A combination of savoury and spicy flavours, delicious!

Inverted karipap - curry puff is one of the nation's most loved snack. Usually you will find a deep shell pastry shell filled with potato and curry. At BETA, they did a very cool interpretation of this local snack and what you get is an inverted version, a crispy potato cylinder filled with curry cream with edible gold for a luxurious touch. Brilliant!

Ox tongue - inspired by the Negeri Sembilan's Minangkabau's masak lemak, this sees braised oxtail served on a crisp toast, along with lemak cream and belimbing buloh. This had quite a spicy kick to it and definitely woke my tastebuds.

We travel North, for one of the most quirky, unusual salads I've had - the Spicy Garden (RM32). Northern cuisine is characterized by its strong, piquant and tangy flavours. A medley of vegetables such as cucumber, ulam raja, herbs, cherry tomatoes, baby corn, turnip and rose apple (jambu air) is topped with a granita, made of cincalok (fermented shrimp paste), salted fish and pickle. I really like the addition of the rose apple which gives this dish the sweetness it requires and balances the tangy, spicy granita.

Scallop (RM60) is another dish inspired by the North, ie the Penang-style sotong kangkung. Instead of sotong (squid), Chef Raymond has replaced it with the more lavish scallops. Plump and juicy, the scallops are seared and served in its shells, along with a spicy, pungent peanut and sesame sauce. Topping the scallop is yet another scallop element - scallop cracker, which has been dehydrated and fried to give it a crisp finish. Kangkung dust is sprinkled over the scallop crisp. Major love!

Chicken is usually the last thing I would order from a restaurant as it is usually ordinary and boring, but not the one here. Tasting very much like my favorite Cantonese-style poached chicken, this refined version sees the chicken being cooked sous vide and then seared, skin side down to finish, resulting in the most lusciously smooth chicken. It is beautifully paired with an Asian pesto made from Bentong ginger, spring onion and coriander and crispy fried lotus root. One of my favorite dishes at BETA!

Chicken (RM45)

Love chilli crabs, but not so much on the tedious peeling? Crispy soft shell crabs (RM45) is used, so you can eat them whole, with the delicious, thick chilli crab sauce (made using lots of crabs and love).

The Duck Leg (RM60) is inspired by the Peranakan pongteh dish. The duck leg is first confit, and then before serving, given an oil bath to make the skin crispy. This is served with a thick, caramelised dark sauce made of fermented black beans. You can enjoy the duck meat with some roti (RM8), like a wrap.

Just when we thought Chef Raymond has no more tricks up his sleeve, he wowed us with his dessert creation, particularly the Bird's Nest (RM80) complete with theatrics. Inspired by the Chinese's double boiled bird's nest served in a coconut, this dessert features a sphere made out of coconut milk, slow cooked with pandan and is filled with lychee granita. Bird's nest, highly prized for its health benefits, is cooked sous vide along with red dates and served with water chestnuts, gingko and goji berry.

Equally as pretty is the Banana (RM38) which reminded me of apam balik, thanks to the peanuts and sesame in this dessert. Bananas are pureed and dehydrated and form to resemble a rose, and is topped on rich, creamy condensed milk ice cream.

BETA is also proud to have on board renowned bartender, Alvin AuYong, to push the boundaries of bar experience in KL city to another level. Classic cocktails are given a unique twist, inspired by the different culture and history of regions in Malaysia.

Journey to the East - Harvest Sour (RM40) - Genever, rice wine, rambutan, grapefruit, curry leaf, egg white. My favorite cocktail here at BETA as it is easy to drink and is lovely and fruity.

Journey to the South - Jungle Colada (RM40) - toasted coconut cachaca, pineapple, lemongrass, allspice, CO2. Tropical and aromatic.

Journey to the North - Eastern Stew (RM42) - Calvados, duck fat washed brandy, spiced wine, rice malt, lemon, coriander. This is pretty unusual as it tastes quite savoury, with a tart finish.

Journey to the Central - Hybrid Brew (RM42) - jujube gin, coffee vermouth, fernet branca, Islay whisky, lapsang souchong tea. Hubby's kind of cocktail, combining his favorite tea and Scotch whisky for a smoky finish.

We enjoyed every minute of our meal here at BETA, it was simply amazing. Although the food is adventurous and playful with a modern presentation, there is no denying the distinctive local flavours in each dish. Definitely my favorite meal of 2018 so far! Service is also commendable - special mention to Shaun, our server who patiently explained every dish to us.

Beta KL Menu

Opening times: Lunch 12pm-3pm; Dinner 6pm-11pm. Bar open from 5pm-1am. Closed on Mondays.

Location: BETA Restobar, East Wing, 163 Fraser Place, 10 Jalan Perak, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tel: 03-2181 2990

Website: https://www.facebook.com/betakualalumpur/

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