Mission

Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

DC Restaurant - seriously good...


DC Restaurant in Taman Tun
July 25th 2015 - Must say upfront that I thoroughly enjoyed this dinner. This was the rare occasion when the restaurant and its food transported me from Taman Tun to somewhere in the world where culinary skills and fine dining are properly respected and exercised. It could have been a bistro in Paris or Lyon, a restaurant in Florence, or a modern style eaterie in New York. Seriously good food and space and decor. 

We had been hearing good reports of the DC from our IWFS and when Texas circulated an email wondering who might be up for giving it a try we figured it was the perfect opportunity. We have a general policy of looking to try new restaurants early in their lives, because experience suggests that within a shortish time the prices will go up and the portions will go down or the chef will leave for pastures new. Following some schedule reshuffling, eight of us (four couples) confirmed and the thing was on. 

The DC in the restaurant is Darren Chin who is the French culinary techniques trained son of Mr Dave of Dave's Deli fame. Dave's Deli is legend in the food scene in Malaysia, offering up tasty Western style soul food at fair prices at a couple of outlets in the PJ area. Lenglui and I were occasional patrons when our shopping expeditions would take us within range, but we hadn't seen the name for a while and assumed it had gone the way of its contemporaries. So it was heartening to hear that Dave's Deli was indeed alive and well with an outlet in 1 Utama and operating franchises elsewhere in Selangor and Penang. His Roast Chicken and gravy were consistently good and the website shows he is looking to develop the franchise side of the Deli. Every best wish in this! 

And son Darren is clearly following in father's footsteps (or should that be foodsteps?) though taking a more refined line. He trained for two years in France and has developed a passionate belief in "young cuisine" which he sees as stripping food down to its unpretentious bare essentials and presenting it in its purest natural form. He recognises that this requires a degree of open mindedness on the part of patrons, but feels that those who do follow him and his staff on their gastronomic trip will be well and pleasantly rewarded.

Our wines
DC restaurant is a three storey shophouse located in TTDI, Kuala Lumpur. The website says that each of the three floors offers a different dining experience, though all are "inspired by the same spirit of innovation." On the ground level is "Le Comptoir" where patrons can enjoy a swift or slow aperitif before proceeding upstairs to the first floor "La Salle" for dinner. It looked closed as we entered the place, so after our dinner, I nipped in to take a look - it was a long winding bar where people could gather and either sip or sup with various tidbits. Indeed, the night we were there Chef Darren and staff were preparing to welcome a cast party. Seems there is a concise a la carte menu and dishes will vary from day to day depending on what is good at the markets. 

As said, first floor is La Salle and is the main dining area with space for a total of probably around twenty five patrons. The upper floor above La Salle will be a playroom for chefs to experiment and hold weekend classes for all you Masterchef wannabees. The menu changes pretty regularly, though it seems to remain a standard 5 or 7 course fixed price degustation tasting menu. Wines are available, though the blogs were suggesting that the DC wine list was not really up to the standard of the food so for our session it was decided to allocate vinous responsibilities between us all and pay the RM50 corkage. Seems that this is partially why many restaurants will not carry the high end wines - they become difficult to sell because the target buyer will normally bring their own to sup and stand the corkage. Fair enough - no point to have big wines sucking up the electricity for their storage when they won't pay their way. Sommelier Jan shared that the DC wine list was being upgraded and a swift look at the winelist-to-be showed good offerings of Bordeaux Second wines and other European delights. Nice to see, but we'll probably still bring our own. The glassware at the DC was excellent.

Chef Darren explains a dish
We all arrived pretty much within five minutes of each other and got greeted with some crispy sweet fruit juice mocktail in a shooter glass before getting escorted upstairs and to our seats. Chef Darren greeted us at the top of the stairs and Sommelier Jan discussed the order of our wines once we were seated. The ambience was very tasteful and nicely subdued. Very French and refined, with light Jazz piano music lending an air of easy sophistication. And white starched tablecloths. Don't know what it is but there is just something…   they make such a statement of expectation, that somehow at the mere sight of starchy white you just know it's going to be good. The butter dishes were also a nice touch, reminiscent of Paul Bocuse in Lyon. They were very cute. And the truffle butter inside them would prove wonderful with the DC Bread Service - it just sang with the home baked croissant. The combo of egg, salt, butter, light crispy croissant crunch, truffle and bubbles was just - ahhhhhhhh…….  totally brilliant way to relax into the evening.

Bread Service and Truffle Butter - awesome!
The fizz was already cool but we gave it an extra five minutes on ice before it got popped. It was worth the extra wait. Lovely drop of frisky cold bubbles. Felt a bit aged with big yeast bread on the nose and meaty fruit in the mouth which, when added to the chunky bubbles and lemon acidity made it a belter to suck on. It really stoked up the salivatories, if there is such a word. And really set the tongue off for that heavenly truffle buttered bread. Om. 

The fizz was still bubbling when the Amuse reached the table, though the Macon Verze had been poured. The Amuse was a beef tendon open sandwich and a fish crispy rice ball, er, open sandwich. Two bites apiece to consume. The Beef Tendon was pretty much pureed into a smooth mush which had a soft creamy texture and not much else at first blush. Though once the crisp flakey crunch of the crusted bread kicked in, the whole was brought into better taste focus. Got a strange toro belly sashimi feel in the mouth (though with a beefy tickle on the tongue) to which the paprika gave a slight burn in the cheek. The Yellowfin Tuna had more body and naturally a more traditional tuna mouth feel, and the Peppered Rice Krispie ball on which it sat gave a wonderful starchy carbo layer to underpin and elevate. Very very nice and a belter with the Macon Verze Puligny which was proving a real star and a table favourite. Creamy golden apples and lemon zest with a clear spring water feel, all in excellent balance and leading to a clean flinty finish. The peppered rice zapped the acidity and let a big hit of something akin to dragonfruit to show through. 

Amuse Bouche
Our table seemed to be showing surprisingly remarkable restraint in its drinking, and there was still sufficient Macon Verze on the table to greet the Oyster. This was served with crouton and caviar and slightly poached, presumably in its own juice because there was a tremendous brine taste on it, as if the poaching had enhanced the natural juice which the little fellow had once breathed. Total taste of the sea. Peasant that I am, I tried the Basil Hollandaise and Lime mix with the Oyster and got a lemon yuzu kind of pop with the brine cutting through the cream. Very nice. The Charcoal tempura frankly looked like a lump of week old dogdoo and not entirely appetizing from this viewpoint. Clearly taking a leaf from the Mugaritz handbook of "make food look like something else". But it was a cracker - soft shell crab texture mixed with burnt toast to give a dry carbon mouthfeel that was light and dreamy and kicked the throat with a matchbox rip that the Macon Verze washed away perfectly. Such a good versatile Burgundy and great value too - shame it was the last of our batch. Trying the dogdoo - sorry, tempura with the Basil Sauce softened the black crust and paired nicely with the crabmeat, but somewhat neutralised the wine. 

Oyster and Charcoal Tempura
Third course was a choice between lobster or pigeon. I have yet to get pigeon - dark, dry, gamey meat and not much of it. Much prefer chicken. So lobster it would have to be. And a spiny one at that, though not many spines were evident when it came out looking like a green Ferrero Rocher chocolate drippled with gold leaf. Cute, but a bit visually strange - almost like some deep seaweed dim sum. Tastewise, though, it was excellent - fresh, and slightly undercooked which gave it a sashimi-like quality though remaining firm enough to chew and satisfy. There was a great blend of tastes coming through. And not overpoweringly "lobster-ey" - sometimes you get that slightly aged tinge to the meat when it has been out of water for a while. Not today - this puppy felt as if it had just been potted. Totally excellent. 

Spiny Lobster - scallop rouelle
And the Leflaive 2012 Clavoillon was the perfect accompaniment - grace, power, elegance, finesse; take your pick because it was all of these and more. Full on whack of sweet nectarines and lemon in the mouth, and finishing like a freewheeling Rolls Royce - in its own sweet time. Stood up well to the lobster, with both the food and the drink showing the best that each had to offer. Yum. Will bring the Leflaive back here - stunning match. Uncle Teng at our table shared that winemaker Anne-Claude Leflaive had recently passed away (April 5, 2015 age 59 apparently of cancer), which left me sad. A serious pioneer of biodynamism, and a maker of some stunningly beautiful wines. Honoured by Decanter magazine in 2006 (where she was named the world's top white winemaker) and the Institute of Masters of Wine who named Anne-Claude "the winemaker's winemaker". One of the true modern day greats. Au revoir Mme Leflaive - may there be grapes in heaven for you. Obituary at 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11532551/Anne-Claude-Leflaive-viticultrice-obituary.html

Lenglui and bubbles
Talk moved to overseas and we got given tips for great Chinese food at Hakka San in Tottenham Court Road and Duck + Rice in Soho. Normally we never touch Chinese when overseas - it has been unfailingly disappointing. But we got these tips from Food Sifu Lim who knows his food so we will give it a go next time we are there. 

We were presented with an Earl Grey and Lemongrass sorbet which was a cute mix of tannin and pepper and had the texture of a Durian. Not the usual slushie gunk one gets elsewhere. Chef has good skills. 

We were poured both the Vosne Romanee and Bonnes Mares together because Uncle Teng (who had brought them from his Barrique cellar) wanted a side by side comparison. No argument here. The VR at first was a bit off balance - potent pepper and spice nose, cheek pinching acidity, black cherry fruit and firm grip in the throat on the way down. As we worked our way down the bottle and it got a bit of air in the glass, it started to show its class and a great balance came more into focus. Lean and clean, a solid workmanlike wine. Given that it was a Vosne-Romanee, I came off slightly disappointed. As one of the pinnacle wines of our drinking careers, the VR should have been godlike and somehow it wasn't. Perhaps my expectations were a bit inflated - I was expecting to be stunned and I wasn't. But still hugely glad to have had the chance to taste it. Thank you Uncle Teng.

The Bonnes Mares was lighter and all sweet ripe cherries and with a fair hint of jam. Clean, clear, light and frisky, lot of finesse and elegance in the mouth and on the finish. A slight cheek puckering acidity which was like a delightful kiss from a Cinderella. Total princess of a wine - the one you would marry and bring home to your mother. Real treat drinking these wines...

DC Signature seafood medley
I had opted for the Seafood course and it came out looking excellent. Scallop was full on, though feeling slightly aged at first. You know that hard rind you sometimes get around the edge? That was the initial feel with this one. But as you worked your way through it you found it to be an awesome little chap - all sweet, fresh bite and that little bit of crunchy give on the chew. Perfecto. And stellar with the remains of the Leflaive, with the bisque-like sweetly salty emulsion taming the lemon whilst remaining sufficiently understated to let the honey and fruit sink into the scallop. 

The Razor Clam was a bit on the tough side in bite and chew, but tasty enough. Some leaves of Rocket gave a cute bite on the cheeks. It was the fish that let the dish a little bit down. I think it was a Kurau and though it was far from bad it somehow felt a bit… ordinary in comparison to the other seafood. I get the idea that local produce is necessary, and on its day Kurau can be excellent. For me, this was not its day - didn't quite stand up to the company of the magnificent scallop.

The emulsion was a shade sweet, though soft and delicate in taste. Needless to say, I sopped it up with the bread and truffle butter - as regular readers will know, I am a total peasant at the table. It was magnificent. Where else can you soak up bisque sauce with bread and truffle butter? 

14 spiced Black Angus Fillet
I had a taste of the beef and it was all tender and lean with light pepper and I got a hint of some mustard season. There was a herb in there somewhere, may have been sage but my nose and tongue were pretty tired by this time. Sometimes is better to just shut up and enjoy what's on the table. The Bok Choy baked in walnut pesto felt texturally like salted cabbage with a grilled cheese topping and pretty much tasted like it. I didn't quite get this one - again, full on green iron in the cheeks, but not quite sure why one would go to such trouble to puree and pesto the walnuts. But as said the senses were way overwhelmed at this time in the evening. Will have to try the beef and walnut pesto again and a bit earlier in the night. 

The Canon-la-Gaffeliere Bordeaux had been decanted and was a brilliant example of a classic left bank wine. Full and ripe, with earth and mineral and a hint of mint and green pepper on the nose. Smooth and full, rich and velvety in the mouth with a long lustrous finish. Definitely what friends in the industry might describe as "silky tannins lorrrr". Certainly reminiscent in both texture and taste of some lovely Leoville-Barton at its best. Was wonderful with the cheese, of which I have no notes. Too busy enjoying this lovely Bordeaux. 

Cheese and crackers
Throughout the evening, both the food and wine service had been noiselessy and unobtrusively excellent. It was pleasantly refreshing to be gently asked whether a glass could be cleared rather than having some arm trying to annoyingly sneak in and whisk it away. Only things I could pick up on were the occasional tendency for the men to get their wine before the ladies and getting asked for feedback whilst still waiting for dessert - usually best to leave this until all plates are cleared. Other than these minor points, service was superb.

Lychee Parfait
As said, it was difficult to remember that this was Kuala Lumpur. We have had this kind of quality and service in Michelin restaurants in France, and at Cilantro and Sage and many moons ago in Lafite. DC is real standard which can definitely compete with the fine dining culinary world on its own terms. And the concept of utilising the best that local markets have to offer and preparing the produce with traditional and classic French techniques sets DC on a different road than the competition. Other writers have praised DC as a game changer for Malaysia. Well, and yes and maybe, and DC will probably win many of the Malaysian awards. But if the context becomes global and DC will get compared with established eateries and chefs in Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong, perhaps the game changer viewpoint is a bit strong at this time. It's great to see Chef doing what he is doing, and KL foodies should support him and his visions. For sure I will be back. With friends who know their food. And wine. We now have little bit of France in Taman Tun - c'est magnifique, TRES magnifique!!

Cheese Trolley
Restaurant DC
44 Persiaran Zaaba
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
60000 Kuala Lumpur

03-77310502
info@restaurant-dc.com
www.restaurant-dc.com

5 Course South-East Asian inspired Tasting Menu
RM298.00+/pax includes GST & subject to 10% service charge

Bread Service
Freshly baked bread from our bakers Marc & Christophe Gros With Pamplie unpasteurized truffle butter (Poitue-Charentes)
1st - Amuse
Crispy beef tendon "chicharrones": Sour dough bread cream: 
Hungarian paprika Yellowfin tuna "Larb": Rice puff: Colantro
2nd - Petit entrée
Sabah soft shell crab, Charcoal tempura: Sweet basil hollandaise: 
Kaffir lime & Poached Irish oyster Cucumber-belimbing salad
3rd - Choice of main entrée
Spiny lobster - scallop rouelle
Jellied lobster consommé
Or
AOP Anjou French Pigeon
Slow roasted pigeon: Crusted Sweet breads: Celeriac: Shaved black truffles: Mentaiko mushroom: Sauce perigord
4th - Choice of mains
DC signature seafood medley
Catch of the day: Hokkaido scallops: Razor clams with confit garlic (Pulau Ketam, Klang): Mizuna: Watercress-almond purée: Seafood emulsion
[Supplement - 1/2 Brittany Blue lobster - butter poached: Lobster emulsion - add RM168]
Or
14 spiced Black Angus fillet
Garlic cream: Baked bok choy with walnut pesto: Jus
[Supplement - for each add on RM60.00
a) 10gms freshly sliced black summer truffle and / or
b) Pan seared 50gms Rougié foie gras ]
5th - Choice of Dessert or Cheese
Dessert
Lychee (Chiang Mai) Parfait
Rose sorbet: Lychee stuffed with caramel cashew & tamarind
Or
Cheese from our Cheese Trolley
Selection of farm fresh cheese from France & Italy: Fresh salad: Crusty bread

Wines
Taittinger NV Champagne Brut
2010 Leflaive Puligny Montrachet Macon Verze
2012 Leflaive Puligny Montrachet "Clavoillon" 1er Cru
2007 Bouchard Pere et Fils Vosne Romanee "Les Suchets" Premier Cru 
2007 Domaine Arlaud "Bonnes Mares" Grand Cru
2000 Ch Canon-la-Gaffeliere St Emilion Grand Cru Classe

3 comments:

  1. Great post, Brian; the menu's changed a fair bit since my visit, and I am constantly amazed at how often Darren changes it over

    I'm very glad to have found your blog - a refreshing blend of honesty and a real sense of authenticity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Julian, thanks for stopping by! Been enjoying your writings very much too, but have to pray for Ringgit to go back up before being able to eat in Singapore haha! Warm regards, Brian

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