p Picks and Pecks: review: cilantro

Thursday, February 14, 2013

review: cilantro

Address: MiCasa Hotel, 368-B, Jalan Tun Razak
Tel: +603 2179 8082
E-mail: cilantrosvr@micasahotel.com
Website: www.cilantrokl.com

There are not that many fine dining restaurants in KL, what more ones which are reliable in their food and quality of service. Sometimes its hard to think of a place to entertain friends and family, so that they will not be disappointed!

With that, we went back to Cilantro for dinner, where the chef and staff were kind enough to let us customise the menu to suit the tastes of our guests, and include some favorites of ours.

First course was a carpaccio of hirame with sea urchin or uni. Unlike when it is served as sushi, here the hirame and uni are pounded until nearly translucent, much like you would treat a piece of beef carpaccio. Instead of plump uni pieces, what you get is the flavor of uni, mingled with the white fish along with a touch of soy. It tastes like you are eating wisps of the ocean because it is so delicate and briny.

Next came capellini pasta with abalone, with a petite quenelle of sevruga caviar on top. This dish was served cold and I think this heightened the sweet taste of the abalone. The capellini paste was cooked al dente and was coiled below the slices of abalone, which had been cooked to eliminate the toughness of the meat. How they do it is beyond me, but the toothsome-ness of this shellfish is perfectly matched by the bite of the pasta. The saltines of the caviar served to elevate the dish by providing a mild salty contrast to pasta and abalone.

Lobster souffle with asparagus followed this. Well, only half a souffle, and a good thing too! Despite the souffle being light and airy, the bisque-like broth beneath it added heft to the dish. I used the souffle almost as a sponge, to soak up the soup, which seemed to have been made from concentrated stock from lobster shells. So light, yet so satisfying! 

After this was sablefish with bottarga, which is essentially a dried, pressed fish roe. The closest comparison to the sablefish I can come to is cod, which has the same flaky texture. It was seared, and then the bottarga was grated on top, which added a bit of grainy contrast to the fatty fish. 

The most hearty of the appetisers (yes, we're not even at the main course yet!) was roasted foie gras with perigueux sauce. This really might be the dish that would feature in my last meal on earth. The fatty lobe of goose liver was seared, and served with a sauce made from madeira and truffles. It was so rich and decadent, yet not over-poweringly so since the acidity of the wine mellowed it somewhat. On top of the liver were two of the thinnest potato chips I have ever seen, perched precariously to provide texture to the melt-in-your-mouth fatty liver.

Stop. Pause. Breathe. That is what this granite was supposed to do, after the sinfulness of the foie gras. The zing of the lime zest livened up the lychee granita, and below was a raspberry sorbet to provide a cleansing and refreshing sour note to the tongue.

Onward we go!

For my main course, I selected the grilled Blackmore wagyu. As I ordered it medium-rare, I recieved four deep red slices, crusted on the outside from searing and full-bodied, meaty in the middle. Cutting through the well-marbled slices was as easy as cutting through butter. Four slices might not look like a large serving, but each mouthful was full of flavor, especially when paired with the smooth, butter-rich whipped potatoes, and mushrooms below. The umami taste of the mushrooms boosted the wow-factor of the meat and the hint of soy in the sauce pushed it over the edge.

Honestly, for me - the meal could have ended here and I would be perfectly happy. I am not much for sweets, so I did not have very high expectations for the dessert which would follow.

However, thankfully(?!) for me, this dessert catered well to my tastebuds. The almond praline on the top had been made with a dusting of salt, which balanced out the sweetness of the fondant. Once I cut into it, the centre of the cake oozed out, thick, dark and rich. The warmth of the molten chocolate, combined with the cold chill of the caramel ice cream was delicious and I ate the entire thing!

What I have come to realize about Cilantro is that they pace their dishes very well so that there are no long pauses in between, but yet, there is enough time between courses that you do not feel like a complete glutton at the end. Servings for the degustation menu are small, but they allow you to sample a board range of luxurious ingredients without too much guilt!

Address: MiCasa Hotel, 368-B, Jalan Tun Razak
Tel: +603 2179 8082
E-mail: cilantrosvr@micasahotel.com
Website: www.cilantrokl.com