Monday, May 7, 2012

Fresca Mexican Kitchen @ The Gardens

As 2012 gathers speed, Mexican cuisine is setting the pace for KL's gastronomic zeitgeist, ensuring that fans of fajitas are not left behind.

Fresca Mexican Kitchen at The Gardens Mall in Mid Valley City is the city's second major Mexican restaurant to launch this year, hot on the heels of Loco at Changkat Bukit Bintang and potentially a month ahead of La Mexicana in Ampang's Terrace at Hock Choon.
Entries on Loco: March 26 and April 18.

Fresca opens today, but its management held a trial session recently to test its kitchen and servers. Thanks to Royce, Liz and Meng Jan for letting us crash the party uninvited and munch for hours on treats like tortilla chips with pico de gallo (tomatoes, onions, coriander and chili).

This friendly restaurant hits most of the bases, from enchiladas, fajitas and quesadillas to "sopes" _ the street snack originating from the valley city of Culiacan. Topped with tender chicken, refried beans, lettuce and feta, it should come with a "Danger: Addictive!" warning.

Fresca feels a little more commercialized than Loco, but it still strives for a measure of authenticity, having consulted a Mexican chef for a menu sprinkled with regional specialties like Veracruz-style fish, sauteed with tomatoes, onions, olives and jalapenos in a Mediterranean-influenced recipe popular on Mexico's east coast.

We haven't seen this in awhile: Pollo con Mole Poblano, chicken smothered in a thick sauce constructed with chocolate, chili peppers, nuts and more ingredients than we can remember after downing too many margaritas.

Tacos Ensenada. Flour tortillas with beer-battered fish, taking their name from a port city, served with house-made coleslaw. Fresca's prices seem fair _ this platter costs around RM20.

Avocado alert! Fresca's Sopa De Tortilla is a rich broth, subtly flavored with guajillo and ancho chili peppers, teeming with avocado, feta cheese and tortilla strips.

Tacos Dorados _ chicken-stuffed corn tortillas _ for simple but satisfying evidence of why Mexican cuisine merits a mention on UNESCO's "intangible cultural heritage" list.

Breadcrumb-coated jalapeno peppers _ fat, juicy ones, packing a spicy wallop and packed with a fist's worth of Monterey Jack cheese and minced beef, served with sweet mango chipotle salsa.

Poblano chili peppers stuffed with rice, mushrooms and mozzarella. Kinda like an Italian-Mex culinary hybrid, it whets our appetite for more Mexican meals in the future. Ay caramba!

Aguas Frescas are available _ traditional non-alcoholic coolers, flavored (on left) with hibiscus and cranberries, or (on right) with rice and cinnamon.

But the fun is in imbibing. Perfect for marking Cinco de Mayo, this cocktail _ sharing the name of the May 5 holiday _ comprises Reposado tequila, creme de cassis, clover honey, lime and orange juice. One of the most purely pleasurable beverages we've had this year.

For a fiery flavor: Jalapeno Margarita, served on the rocks.

Frozen Watermelon Margarita, made with Jose Cuervo Reposado and Cointreau.

Electric Blue Margarita, another mega-hit, featuring Tequila Reserva 1800 Anejo (100 percent agave, aged for over a year), blue curacao and fresh lime juice. Really refreshing.

Our only issue: the slow pace in which the kitchen churned out our orders, but we were notified of that in advance. If that's fixed, Fresca will be off to a flying start.

Fresca Mexican Kitchen and Bar,
G-242A, Ground Floor, The Gardens, Mid Valley City, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2201-2893
Check out EAT DRINK, a new F&B website jointly run by The Expat Group (TEG) & Eat Drink KL. This website features all of our up-to-date reviews, plus exclusive weekly articles & a searchable database on restaurants in KL & Selangor: EatDrink.my

52 comments:

  1. Oh it's finally opened! Another new place to try in The Gardens ;) Chocolate and chilli pepper sauce sounds intriguing.

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    1. Baby Sumo: oh yeah, check this place out during off-peak hours if you can, 'cos it could get easily packed, since it seats fewer than 120 people :D ya, that chocolate-chili chicken is one of my fave mexican recipes, but i've only seen it a few times in KL. most of those outlets that once served it have closed (sandias at damansara heights, bossa nova at parkroyal hotel) =)

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    2. Chocolate chicken is called mole (moleh)

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  2. Oh wow Gardens! Finally we'll have something new to try in Mid Valley / Gardens. They have a lot of catching up to do where food is concerned, especially compared to 1U. =D

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    1. Dropsofcontentment: true, Mid Valley/Gardens is one of those malls i only seem to visit once every three months or so, versus every month for 1U. but will definitely be returning to Fresca for their enchiladas, burritos and quesadillas :D

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  3. Hahaha...something tells me tat ur tolerance level for spiciness has increased after all the Mex food =)

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    1. Ulric: heh, well, ya, the jalapeno peppers here are spicy, but still not as fiery as thai and indian fare :D

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  4. There's also a mexican food fever in melbourne at the moment... although the authenticity is doubtful.. hehe. anyway, as long as it is good, it does not really matter, right?

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    1. Michelle: i guess there'll always be the debate about what's traditional mexican and what's tex-mex. but you're right, it's all delicious if done well :D

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  5. Interesting that they used a lot feta! because feta always reminds me of Greek flavours

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    1. Vien: good point! i was looking it up, and it turns out that feta is often used as a substitute for a similar crumbly mexican cheese called queso fresco :D

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    2. ahh that's interesting! learned something new today!

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    3. Vien: that's one of the fun things about the world of food, rite. there'll always be new things for us to learn! :D

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  6. chicken with chocolate and chili pepper sauce? Sweet, bitter and spicy? :P

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    1. CK: oh, it's creamy and quite complex. a bit of a dark cocoa taste, but not really bitter, and a bit of a nutty and woody flavor also. not very spicy though :D

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  7. Mole!
    I didnt quite get a hang of when I had it in frontera jaya one.
    Shall try again here :)

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    1. TNG: the perfect mole still hasn't come to KL, i think! or rather, i think the best folks to cook it will be true-blue mexicans. need to make some mexican friends and ask them to make mole for us! :D

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  8. Yay! Sounds like this place has potential.

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    1. The Yum List: here's hoping it lives up to that full potential! :D

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  9. The food here looks promising! Hurray to another Mexian restaurant! =)

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    1. Smitten By Food: so far, so good! let's hope all the mexican restaurants in KL will do well :D

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  10. in mexico... that's food for the drug lord...

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    1. Edi: heheh, that's an interesting way of looking at it! :D

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  11. i wished i am more adventurous towards other food genres. But mexican doesn't look like my cup of tea.

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    1. Eiling: ooh, no worries, but maybe someday you'll discover a liking for it :D

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  12. mexican food is hot and spicy...
    When I was in states ..
    i use to cook bak kut teh and we couldn't find small chili...
    but we found jalapeno .. and it was super hot....
    I use to go Taco Bell in the states ... nice...

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    1. Simple Person: ooo, that sounds like a fun, interesting experiment! Using jalapeño for Asian and Chinese recipes =) heh, I'd like to try Taco Bell someday. I wonder if they'll ever open in kl :D

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  13. I go to the Gardens and Midvalley quite often, but didn't notice this restaurant. Sounds like a nice Mexican place, will check it out when I feel like having Mexican!

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    1. Eat Only Lar: oh ya, this restaurant seems to be quite hidden. but it's worth hunting! ya, i think most of us don't usually have cravings for mexican food, but when it hits us, now we know where to head to :D

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  14. I have been seeing Fresca's poster everyday when I drive past The Gardens! Thanks for posting this so promptly! I kinda love Mexican food but there are not many in KL, so for me, this is definitely worth checking out! =]

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    1. Catherine: i truly hope you enjoy your meal here! i think this place has the potential to do well here, as long as it maintains its food quality and speeds up its serving of food :D

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  15. everytime i visit a mexican restaurant, i must try their nachos and this one seems really good there!

    Latest: Frog Addiction

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    1. Fish: ooo, i'm a fan of enchiladas and burritos, when it comes to mexican food. but strangely, i didn't order that this time. next time, definitely! :D

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  16. Hhm... Didn't know the existence of this restaurant although I go to MV almost 3 times a week. Haha. Where is it located at?

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    1. Chong: heh, if i got my bearings right, it was somewhere at the back, very near The Han Room :D

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  17. I'm definitely eyeing the margaritas! Go high and happy and speed around like Speedy Gonzales.

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    1. Missyblurkit: now i'm thinking of that '60s classic song ... with the lyrics, 'speedy gonzales, why don't you come home' :D

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  18. Oh finally mole, my fav mex dish!! Which are the opening hours?

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    1. Simone: i think it opens at 11am, and closes at 10pm everyday except fri & sat (11pm) :D

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    2. Thanks! Tomorrow I go trying it then :-)

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  19. Read your blog post last week and thought we would try Fresca. I am sorry, I completely disagree with your assessment. We ate there on Saturday and the food was utterly terrible. The menu stated "Tradicional" dishes, but there was absolutely nothing traditional about it.

    How is Italian rice, mushrooms and Italian cheese traditional Mexican Chili Relleno? The soup was unbelievably bland, the fajitas were so salty we couldn't even eat them, and the tacos were not tacos at all, they are taquitos.

    The most frustrating thing (besides being charged for something so awful we couldn't eat it) is that anyone can go online to YouTube or a host of other websites and watch videos of actual Mexican Chefs preparing the "tradicional" dishes on Fresca's menu... so why can't they manage it?

    To say we were disappointed is a huge understatement. I do not know who their "consultant" was, but someone should verify her credentials.

    Generally I like reading your blog, keep up the good work.

    Jimmy

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    1. Had to repost, realized too many spelling errors. Sorry about that.

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    2. Jimmy: sorry to hear that. i haven't been back to fresca, but i hope to at some point. a few of my other friends who've been here had mixed comments: some enjoyed the food, but others felt it tasted too ordinary. thank you for leaving the comment though, i appreciate hearing from you. maybe you could check out loco at changkat bukit bintang; that outlet had a full-time mexican chef, as of last month.

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    3. Thanks for the tip on Loco Sean. Will definitely give it a try and let you know how it fares. Have a good week.

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  20. This restaurant almost got it right. Perhaps they consulted someone who really knows about Mexican food. I order the Enchiladas Rojas, tacos de alambre, and sopes de pollo. The tacos were ok, except they put sour cream on them , that's a no ,no, no sour cream goes with fried tacos not with this type. The sopes were ok, but too smal, and they didn't served them as they are described in the menu: no beans, and no feta cheese on top. The enchiladas were almost fine, the sauce doesn't taste the way it's upposed to taste and the rice is too spiced up (Mexican food is not that complicated).. It seems like they are over thinking it, and that is lamentable because they could have an excellent product. Also some of the dishes are presented as "traditional" when they are NOT: like the BBQ ribs, (seriously?) and the Chile Relleno (I mean Chile Relleno IS a traditional but not with Fresca's stuffing).

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    1. Paulisima: thanks for the info. am looking forward to having more mexican meals and increasing my knowledge of this food =)

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  21. Sorry i wanna if it is halal? i want to try mexican foods but hard to find halal one. appreciate if u can help. :)

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    1. Asidah: it's pork-free, so I believe the food here is suitable to be served to Muslims. But the restaurant does not have a halal license because it still serves alcohol =)

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  22. This looks more like Tex-Mex than Mexican. Not there is anything wrong with it.

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    1. ChemiKaze: yeah that's true, it's definitely leaning more to tex-mex, but i think there are a few mexican dishes too =)

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  23. Ahhh...after spending time with my mexican co workers in the US last time, i hanker for some REAL mexican food. is it too much to ask for ?

    I suppsoe i shall try Loco first rather than this one.

    Thanks for the report.

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    1. Chocolalat: yeah, try Loco at Changkat or La Boca at Pavilion :D

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