In a setting that harkens back to Oriental opium dens of yore (with a bed & lamps, but no pipes), Changkat Bukit Bintang's latest hotspot surfaces without a whiff of smoky sleaze so far but with a wealth of fusion food & curiously addictive cocktails.
The menu's a mishmash, with Wagyu beef rendang (accompanied by steamed lotus-leaf buns, RM38++) sharing space with other East-meets-West creations including tuna sashimi pizza, five-spice duck with cranberry jus & prawn curry spaghettini.
What lies beneath the lids? Opium's selection showcases snacks galore, from crispy popiah-skin samosas stuffed with three cheeses & raisins (paired with apricot chutney, RM18++) to regular old-fashioned dim sum. Opium is a no-pork establishment, so the siu mai features a mix of chicken, prawns & mushrooms (RM12++).
Intriguing desserts include the banana fritters topped with strands of aged cheddar, coupled with banana ice cream. The combination works well enough to leave a positive impression.
Something cool & refreshing for these heat-ravaged evenings: Shaved ice mixed with (deep breath!) grass jelly, water chestnuts, basil seeds, peanuts, corn, mung bean paste, coconut milk, gula melaka & coconut ice cream. RM18++.
What makes Opium worth visiting: Cocktails, crafted in relatively novel presentations that underscore the restaurant's theme. 'Traders Vic Heads East' (RM32++) comprises spiced rum with mangosteen (subtle), orange curacao & Dutch almond syrup; other options boast names like Forbidden City, Genghis' Poison Chalice, Tea Trader & Shanghailander.
Peking Man (vodka, puer tea, longan, lime juice, orange bitters, egg white) & Mojito with a five-spice twist. We'd like to try the ASEAN Daiquiri (with calamansi, asam boi & kaffir lime leaves) & Red Lantern Margarita (with pomegranate seeds) someday.
Even the wine is served in a memorable fashion that's elegant & evocative. Service is pleasant too, a hallmark of the Changkat watering holes run by Werner Kuhn of El Cerdo, The Steakhouse & Dining In The Dark.
Many of the outlets at Changkat thrive on alfresco areas, bustling on weekend nights; Opium is no exception.
A lion dance to celebrate Opium's launch, fitting in well with the Far Eastern flavour here. This address has housed a series of ever-changing eateries in recent years, including Werner's & Ten On Changkat. In this era of no sure bets, Opium has its work cut out to satisfy a steady flow of customers & show more longevity.
Opium: Eat Drink Man Woman
50, Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
Daily, 4pm-1am (2am on Fridays & Saturdays). Tel: 03-2142-5670
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