Mandarin Grill is back, with a renewed burst of vim & vigour: After 88 days of hosting 2015's Aziamendi88 pop-up sensation, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur's flagship restaurant has now reopened, returning to its roots as a classical steakhouse, looking more ravishing than ever, spruced up with splashes of elegant contemporary artwork that'll evolve every two or three months. With the grill helmed by German-born Chef de Cuisine Benjamin Halat, this tops our recommendations if you're seeking a steak meal to splurge on, one that succeeds in consistently satisfying, from a sumptuous start to a polished finish.
Mandarin Grill takes traditionally beloved steakhouse recipes, refining & reinventing them for a 21st-century clientele, putting its own sophisticated spin on starters like the prawn cocktail, partnered with rock melon powder, thousand island dressing & mustard greens in a colourful & compelling presentation with fresh, sprightly flavours (RM88 nett). The house salad is also ideal for rousing the appetite, light but confidently nuanced in taste & textures, formed with layers of quinoa, cress, sprouts, heirloom tomatoes, vegetable chips, butter head lettuce, mango caviar & lemon dressing that furnish crisp, perky bites (RM74).
Beef is where the thrills & action are at - key temptations include cuts of Sher Wagyu produced by the award-winning Sher family in Victoria, Australia, prepared on Mandarin Grill's Josper charcoal grill; choose a 400-day grain-fed tenderloin, rib-eye or sirloin (BMS 8) or - if you're sharing among two to four heavy eaters - the colossal Tomahawk bone-in rib steak (BMS 6-7).
A 1.5-kilogramme Tomahawk (cooked medium-rare & French-trimmed) is a sight to behold - lust-worthy meat, convincingly rich with bold flavours to relish, featuring full-bodied protein & gelatinous-sweet fat, yielding a muscularly pleasurable chew.
Each steak is typically served a choice of side dish & sauce; there are 12 possibilities among the former, with highlights like Alsace-style French fries topped with crispy beef, gruyere cheese & onions; lovely lovely tempura fries or onion rings; creamy spinach; green asparagus with butter; or wild mushroom ragout with garlic & parsley, plus 10 of the latter, including bearnaise, calamansi butter, tamarind-coriander butter, fresh horseradish cream, green peppercorn, red wine or lemon gremolata. For our Tomahawk, an additional surprise was a side plate of fried beef trimmings from the gigantic cut, a robust & smoky indulgence.
The Tomahawk is RM928, but If you're looking for a more regular-sized steak, no worries - there's a 150-gramme tenderloin (RM338), 200-gramme sirloin (RM388) & 300-gramme rib-eye (RM398), which we enjoyed mightily - immaculately tender, complete with the coveted char. Steaks are also accompanied by a box packed with intriguing condiments - nora peppers, truffle salt, raisin mustard, smoked fleur de sel & more - showcasing how Mandarin Grill takes everything to serious heights.
Be sure to save space for desserts, which illustrate a dramatic, sensuous flair with fire & smoke - Mandarin Grill's rendition of the Baked Alaska is one of KL's finest, with smooth yoghurt ice cream blanketed in soft Italian meringue, set alight with whiskey (RM42). But for an especially unique creation twinned with top-drawer liquor, the smoked dark chocolate cigar with single-malt whiskey on the rocks makes us swoon, swirling with intoxicating aromas that foreshadow pure, melt-in-the-mouth bliss (RM78). And if all that still isn't enough, chocolate petit fours will send you soaring into the night on a giddy, genuine high.
For Martini fans, Mandarin Grill is now also the place to be - you'll find 12 variations of the cocktail (RM42 each), from the Classic, Perfect, Gibson, Manhattan & Aviation to newer versions that include ingredients like house-infused pepper vodka (it works effectively & memorably), ginger or fresh chilli & bay leaves. Each Martini is customisable; choose Gordon's gin or Smirnoff vodka for your base, or opt for a RM10 upgrade to Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Belvedere, Grey Goose or Ketel One. Enjoy before your steak, then pair the main meal with a house-pour wine - our favourite's the Esprit de Pavie 2009, Bordeaux, plush & bright (RM78 a glass). In the six long years since we first stepped into Mandarin Grill KL on its opening evening in February 2010, we've always had terrific meals here; thanks to the Mandarin Oriental team for having us back.
Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur. Daily for lunch & dinner, 12pm-230pm, 630pm-1030pm. Tel: +603-2380-8888
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