The charismatically robust flavours of Spanish cooking seize centre stage at Basil Tapas Bar, PJ's new top spot for sharing plates & paella, a pop-up kitchen that runs six nights a week at The Great Beer Bar in Damansara Uptown. The name should sound familiar - Basil Tapas is helmed by the folks behind Kuchai Lama's popular Italian outlet Basil Pasta House, whose head chef Alven Tan is skilled, versatile & experienced enough to tackle a motley of European cuisines with pizzazz & personality.
Basil Tapas Bar's menu is surprisingly extensive & ambitiously elaborate, with no fewer than 20 types of tapas. To start with seafood & meat, the ideal introductions might be the slow-cooked octopus with spicy marinated duck fat potatoes, vegetable confit & sweet paprika (RM26) & the four-hour-grilled lamb skewers with capsicum, onion & garlic aioli (RM26) - both full-bodied in taste & textures (there's nothing timid about Basil Tapas' fare), the result of honest, painstaking preparation. If you're into rich, creamy recipes, check out the braised razor clams, served in a pan in a sauce laced with saffron, white wine & duck ham (RM22) & rustic house-made beef balls soaked in saffron almond sauce with toasted ciabatta for deep dipping (RM26).
Fans of paella might like to hurry over here; Basil Tapas Bar offers multiple variations of paella - comprising elements that range from braised oxtail to duck confit - at lower-than-expected prices. We couldn't resist trying the foie gras paella, a hearty serving of moist bomba rice with chicken, peas & a luscious blob of pan-seared duck liver for only RM48, easily enough for two to share as a main course. Other heavier offerings rely on meat - you'll find slow-roasted beef short ribs, sous-vide lamb loin & pan-seared chicken ballotine, but the most distinctive bet is the oven-baked boneless turkey roulade, stuffed with roasted paprika capsicum & goat cheese, accompanied by Vichy carrots, pumpkin puree & foie gras jus (RM50). All the dishes can be interestingly paired with The Great Beer Bar's top-drawer selection of craft beers - there's a beer for everybody, whether you want to experiment with varieties that showcase a tart fruitiness, a carrot cake-inspired earthiness (!), or - as befits the Spanish kitchen here - insinuations of saffron underpinned by an oak-aged warmth. Many thanks to The Great Beer for having us over.
Basil Tapas Bar at The Great Beer Bar
86G, Jalan SS21/62, Damansara Uptown, Petaling Jaya. Tel: 019-882-1855
Basil Tapas opens Mon-Sat, 5pm-11pm. The Great Beer opens daily, 3pm to late.
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