Sunday, February 17, 2019

Brixton 23, Sultan Ismail Road

By EDKL Writer A.A.

Tucked beneath a bespoke menswear tailoring house is the secret lair of a covert team skilled with wielding knives and weaving seductive potions. Couture, cuisine and cocktails come together at KL's new Brixton 23, a devilishly dapper establishment inspired by the Kingsman spy-caper films. Enter through the real-life tailor's shop, descend via a discreet staircase, and a remarkable restaurant-and-lounge space opens up, promising intrigue and impassioned cooking.

When we visited on a weekday afternoon, the kitchen was only serving set lunches (which come with a choice of coffee, tea, orange juice or mango juice), but thankfully, these are more ambitious than KL's typical set lunches, offering inventive interpretations of recipes that take cues from both East and West (available 12pm-3pm, Mondays through Fridays).

The Chicken Paitan Risotto is our best bet - irreproachably executed grains, firm to the bite and creamy to the chew, saturated in a richly balanced tori paitan broth (the Japanese-inspired chicken equivalent of tonkotsu for ramen) that brings a revelatory perspective to risotto, crowned with French-style chicken roulade that makes this set lunch a brilliant bargain for RM20.60.

If you favour Asian-esque fried rice, the Salted Cod Fried Rice is a solid order, showcasing jasmine rice stir-fried with squid ink and simmered salted cod - the salted cod is also mixed with crispy anchovies to add further umami atop the rice, rounded out with crunchy-fried chicken on the side for a full-bodied ensemble of carbs and protein (RM18.80 for the set).

Prefer pasta? The Seared Tuna Bagoong puts a Southeast Asian spin on that; layered atop our angel hair pasta with a marvellously mellow tang (the pasta is perfect enough even to eat on its own) is lightly seared tuna that's gently tinged with bagoong, the Philippine fermented fish condiment, for an extra depth of flavour (RM23 for this set with beverage).

From Baguio to Bali: The Braised Balinese Beef brings a taste of Indonesia to close this chapter, featuring fleshy cuts of tender beef brisket, buoyed by a thick, textured sambal-evoking sauce that channels a mild heat (RM26; usually served with steamed rice, but Brixton 23's very friendly crew obliged our request for kuey teow instead).

Drinkers will be delighted to hear that Brixton 23's midday happy hours coincide with lunch, with a Buy One, Free One selection of house-pour wines, beers and other liquors. So while the bar may not be fully open for a Kingsman-loving martini or Statesman whiskey, you can have two glasses of Hendrick's gin for the price of one (RM35) and double the Aussie Tempus Two, a bold, berry-strong Cabernet Sauvignon (RM32), to pair with lunch.

Dinner is available daily, with a much more extensive and elaborate repertoire that aims to dazzle with playful imagination. The evening's potential highlights include the Wagyu Moonlight Noodle, an upscale rendition of the kopitiam favourite, endowed with Black Angus tenderloin and wagyu beef lard, and the Foie & Chick Kerabu, which melds crusted duck liver and chicken karaage with daun kesom and ginger flowers.

We did manage to sample one dessert from the dinner menu, The Rocher, a multifaceted creation that reinforces the impressive bona fides of Brixton 23's culinary team. If you like plenty of complexities in your sweets, this interplay of Valrhona chocolate and roasted hazelnut mousse with house-made mascarpone gelato, roasted bananas, caramelised nuts, and honey and hazelnut tuilles is an admirable ambassador for desserts with deft dynamics and delectable dimensions (RM48.80).


Brixton 23
23, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2303-4765
Open Monday-Wednesday, 12pm-3pm, 5pm-1am; Thursday-Friday, 12-3pm, 5pm-3am; Saturday. 6pm-3am; Sunday 6pm-1am.


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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Tarma Iraqi Street Food, Bukit Bintang

Tarma brings a twist to the typical Middle Eastern restaurant in KL, serving street fare specific to the less-visited nation of Iraq, offered in a colourful setting that might look more Bohemian than Baghdad, complete with contemporary hipster emblems.

Most Malaysians will have never set foot in Iraq, so while assessing the authenticity of Tarma's menu is awkward, the restaurant's crew assures us that its founders are indeed Iraqi. 

Start with a sandwich, prepared with slightly chewy samoon bread, similar to pita (or lafa, as it's known in Iraq), baked in Tarma's own brick oven, wrapped around a stuffing of chickpea falafels, rounded out with fries and an amba pickled mango sauce - an interesting meal that's well worth the RM10.

Pizza-like manakeesh is also available, freshly baked too, with toppings like ground lamb, herbs and spices (RM16). If you prefer a sweet treat, try the datlee deep-fried donuts with syrup (RM10), washed down with a shinena yogurt beverage (RM7) and cardamom-laced Iraqi chai (RM10).

Tarma Iraqi Street Food
83, Jalan Berangan, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 12pm-11pm. Tel: 03-2110-4747


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