Eat Drink KL: Canvass, Raja Chulan

Friday, November 6, 2020

Canvass, Raja Chulan

When a Copenhagen-origin chef and a Dhaka-born mixologist band together to open a Nordic-influenced restaurant with a genuine, generous heart for sustainability, the result is one of KL's best new eateries of 2020.

We spent five hours on a recent weekend at Canvass, relishing a parade of beautifully crafted courses and cocktails that tell a tale of tremendous thought and effort. 

Danish chef Nikolaj Lenz, who has lived in Southeast Asia for 15 years, and Bangladeshi mixologist M.I. Rony, a familiar face from respected bars, have poured their souls into Canvass. You'll find recipes that borrow inspiration from the men's cherished memories, ingredients sourced with an eye for ecological concerns, and culinary preparations that take weeks to bear results.

Step in and you'll see the harvest of the earth being fermented and pickled on the counter. Behind the scenes, composting is a routine. Used cooking oil is being shipped out for biofuel recycling. Solar panels will be installed for greener energy. Nikolaj and Rony go beyond lip service and reputation-burnishing strategies to create a remarkable restaurant that they're proud and enthusiastic to talk about.

Canvass currently relies on no fewer than 53 ingredients across an extensive Euro-centric menu that evokes bistro-style venues spanning Helsinki to Oslo. Prices offer very fair value for quality produce cooked with care, confidence and creativity, yielding bright, buoyant flavours and revivingly fresh, vibrant textures. Even cocktails and cakes nod conscientiously to what Canvass calls 'sustainable hedonism,' using cooking byproducts and swapping out sugar for natural sweeteners and syrups.

Try everything, including the Danish fiskefrikadeller fish cakes and the divine desserts that remind Nikolaj nostalgically of his late grandmother and the strawberry farms from his childhood, and let Canvass' team explain what makes each dish special.

Crispy-fried variety of multi-coloured sweet potato nuggets with sunflower seed aioli (RM21)

Heirloom tomato salad in a biodiverse pesto made from all things green in the kitchen (RM23)

Risotto of local barley and hato mugi (Job's tears) with pumpkin, edamame, sugar snaps, seeds and walnuts (RM24)

Beef tartare with slow-cooked free-range egg yolk, salsa verde and pickles (RM28).

Warm confit of salmon with sauce nage of cauliflower and spinach cream (RM38)

Chicken rillettes with rye crisps, lacto-fermented cucumber and mustard (RM25)

Wholewheat sourdough ravioli of chicken with Parmesan-seasoned dashi sauce, pine nuts and lacto tomato salsa (RM33)

Gnocchi with lamb sausage ragout, kale and Danish havarti cow's milk cheese (RM35)

Pan-seared barramundi cakes with parsley sauce and curried mustard seed remoulade  (RM31)

Free-range Angus beef cheek with potato mash, toasted potato peels and pickled beetroot (RM56)

Strawberry 'porridge' with white chocolate and cremeux (RM12)

Baked chocolate mousse with caramel, thickened cream and redfruit licorice coulis (RM19)

Compote of apple and fermented turnip with yogurt, sour cream, caramelised crispy oats and buckwheat (RM18)

Canvass Bistro & Bar
Old Malaya, 2, Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur. Currently open Tuesday-Saturday, 3pm-10pm. Tel: 012-329-2820

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