Kuala Lumpur - Acme Bar & Coffee, Ampang
Acme Bar & Coffee which opened last Dec must be one of the coolest spot for a meal or a cup of coffee in KL at the moment.
This evening, we had:
- "Bacon" (non-pork)-wrapped escargot, with coco beans and parsley-garlic sauce. Tasteless "bacon" and over-cooked escargot. Didn't like the green-colored sauce which didn't enhance the dish at all. Please avoid.
- Grilled watermelon and crab-meat salad, with soy-mirin dressing and toasted almond slivers, topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano. The grilled watermelon cubes were sweet. Loved the crisp fresh lettuce leaves and the toasted almonds. Fairly generous crab meat. But somehow, the whole concoction did *not* come well together. Forgettable.
For entrees, we opted for the more "exotic" sounding Asian options:
- "Juicy dry fish curry", described on the menu as deep-fried garoupa with Nyonya-style curry, served with rice. Personally, I didn't quite like "fried" fish, subsequently cooked in a curry sauce - why the frying beforehand? It simply dried out the fish fillets unnecessarily. There were also slices of fried aubergines, which were nice though - an added textural dimension. The overwhelmingly turmeric-accented "Nyonya"-style sauce did not taste like anything which I'd associate with Nyonya curries. This was borne out by my dining companion who's a Malaccan-born "bibik"; And served with just plain, steamed white rice? Come on! A nicce "nasi lemak" or aromatic "pilaf" would had been a vast improvement over the half-hearted attempt by the chefs here.
- "Peppery White Laksa", described on the menu as rice noodles, served with lots of fish, onions and cut chillies in soup - turned out to be Kelantanese laksa, and a very nice version at that: a truly pleasant surprise, and was the *best* item we had this evening. The soup was actually a coconut-enriched spiced gravy, thickened with flaked fish-meat, spiced with galangal-ginger-lotsa onions, then given a sourish spike with tamarind. It was served with raw onions and cut chillies on top, but could have been vastly improved had they added (as traditional Kelantanese are wont to do) shredded torch-ginger ("bunga kantan"), shredded cucumber and Vietnamese mint ("daun kesum"), and if they'd provided "sambal belachan" as a condiment. But I guess this may be asking for too much as Acme aspired more towards Manhattan than Kota Bharu in its ambitions ;-)
- Chempedak cake - terribly over-rated. It was a dry-ish sponge cake layered with old-fashioned cream filling & frosting with a lighter-than-I'd-desired "chempedak" taste. Failed to understand what some folks were raving about here;
- Pina colada cake - this one actually fared much better. I quite liked the pineapple topping. Again, overly dry sponge cake. Would prefer a simple pineapple upside-down cake anytime.
Service here deserved a special mention - friendly, polite and efficient. Probably consider coming back here for that, plus its bright, airy ambience. But the food - a *LOT* more work needs to be done there. Very, very surprised to read that ex-Frangipani Chris Bauer was one of the partners here - I *loved* his cooking. Maybe he did not contribute to the kitchens at the current moment?
Acme Bar & Coffee
Ground Floor, The Troika
19 Persiaran KLCC
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Interesting read. Everything you had did sound like an "Asian-y Fusion-y" dish, and your comment about your feeling that they "...aspired more towards Manhattan..." was both telling and probably correct.** I wonder if the folks who eat there and rave about it might, just might, be trying to think they are eating it *in* Manhattan?
The watermelon/crab/parmesan salad you had *did* sound like a clash of ingredients. I personally wonder if it would have been immediately improved for my taste if the parmesan had been left off. Even then - watermelon and crab...ehh. How about avocado and crab [OK, maybe that is too "routine"] or jicama instead... :-)
**Yes, I know it's a Zagat blog (:::rolleyes:::) but take a look at the THIRD slide in the slideshow on this just-posted Zagat list of "New York's Best Restaurants": http://blog.zagat.com/2012/03/new-yorks-greatest-hits-best.html . Asiate is "Most Awesome Asian" ? Take a look at the menu: http://www.zagat.com/r/asiate-manhatt... .
Advertise in their magazines (Singapore Tatler, Wine & Dine, etc who publish the "best restaurant" guides to Singapore) and treat the food editors e.g. Wong Ah Yoke of Singapore Press Holdings like an emperor :D
In Malaysia, probably helps if you know some Datuk who and who. With (political) connections, everything is possible in Malaysia. A bit of under-the-table money doesn't hurt, too, I guess.