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
This restaurant is available for bookings under TABLEAPP, which enables customers to make instant reservations at Malaysia's top restaurants, while saving time and money in the process. Reserve your table at this restaurant by clicking here.
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