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.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

IWFS KL with Katnook Estate Wines at OpenHouse - fair

Kudap Kudap - Malaysian Crackers
Katnook Estate Winemaker's Dinner at OpenHouse, Suria KLCC
February 21st 2019

The emailed notice for this event saw President May extending a very Happy New Year wish to all IWFS KL Members with an expectant hope for a year of good food, wine, company and memories for all. 

The notice also gave details of the February event to be held at the OpenHouse in Suria KLCC on 21st February 2019. It was to be an exclusive Society evening with Katnook Estate wines, and would be hosted  the Principal of Katnook Estate Ms Alison Hardy in partnership with AsiaEuro Wines. Seemed that this year marked the 20th Anniversary of the launch of the winery's flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, named Odyssey, and attendees were scheduled to enjoy the launch of the 2013 vintage along with a vertical tasting of previous Odyssey vintages with dinner. AsiaEuro are hugely supportive of the IWFSKL and offer access to wines that might not otherwise come available in the normal swing of wine dinners. Good discounts too.

Oxtail Soup with Garlic Toast
Katnook Estate is located on 180 hectares in South Australia's Coonawarra region nearly halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide. Katnook is rated 5-star in James Halliday’s Wine Companion 2019 whilst two Katnook wines are currently included in the prestigious Langton’s Classification V11 of Australian Wines. Katnook focuses on Cabernet Sauvignon and the webbie notes wine writer James Halliday in July 2018 describing the Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon : " A majority of the grapes grown in Coonawarra go into a making a 100 per cent varietal wine. Expect a medium-bodied style with a supple palate and balanced tannins. The range of fruit flavours in the wine is largely influenced by the vintage and winemaker, covering cassis, blackcurrant, redcurrant, blackberry and mulberry when the wine is young. With age, these flavours develop into distinctive earthy, savoury and spicy characteristics."

The webbie says Katnook "aims to make wines which show subtlety, intrigue and complexity. Reflecting the essence of Coonawarra’s terroir is integral to Katnook's winemaking approach.  Cabernet Sauvignon is the undoubted hero of the Coonawarra region. However other red varietals such as Shiraz and Merlot are equally impressive. White wines are similarly unique in character and world class in quality."

Garden Ambience of the OpenHouse
The restaurant itself is located at the heart of Kuala Lumpur city center KLCC, just up and along from the landmark Chinoz on the Park. I felt the signage could be better - it is a dark shingle above a channel in the wall and a bit easy to miss. The website holds that the OpenHouse is a "modern Malaysian restaurant weaving generational recipes, a delightful space and warm hospitality into a finer dining experience." It plays on the concept of Malaysians "opening their houses" to friends and family at Festive times and having loads of food to share with everyone. The webbie continues - "One of Malaysia’s most endearing and unique experience is of “open houses” during festive seasons. It is a celebration of welcoming family, friends and sometimes even strangers to our homes to partake in the festivities over food and drinks. Special dishes are prepared, the house is dressed up for the occasion and Malaysians extend their warm hospitality welcoming guests to our homes. It is this unique Malaysian tradition that is sought to be brought to OpenHouse."

Deep Fried Tiger Prawn - pretty, yes? Tasty too...
The Maitre D' is Effendie, an old friend of the IWFS going back to Cilantro, Soleil and a few other establishments of note. He welcomed everyone he recognised and it is always good to see a friendly face when you come through the door. Seems that our group was the first large scale the restaurant had to cope with. Outside of the lack of welcome glasses, I thought they did pretty well - the glasses got refills on request and the food came out as quickly as it could. Friendly and attentive and discreet - what more needed?

The Duo of Poultry - Chicken and Duck
The decor itself is warm and welcoming, though as said perhaps a shade dark at the entrance. The place sits 42 (just) and there was extra room in a bar area for people to presumably sit before being escorted to tables. 

The Duo of Red Meat - Lamb and Venison
Members were thronging around the entrance and tables and getting the booze flowing. Though none of it would flow my way for a good seeming ten minutes due to there being insufficient glasses to accommodate the new entrants. So whilst others were clearly getting a second refill, the new arrivals were being left to thirst. Not good planning here - I had to bark a couple of times to get the staff moving. Eventually the glassware surfaced and some of the pleasant and easy drinking first white soothed the aching and stressed out brow and the evening was back in decent sync. Very nice Chardonnay, tropical with banana and hazelnut notes in the mouth and with sufficient friskiness to titillate and slake. 

The Keria Churros - wicked good
The notice said that the kitchen has "rediscovered traditional recipes, and royal household recipes to create modern Malaysian cuisine. Recipes that have been passed down through generations, and respectfully renewed for today.  We have also foraged our rainforest for jungle produce. With a multi-cultural history, rich biodiversity and natural hospitality, OpenHouse weaves a magical modern Malaysian dining experience at the heart of Kuala Lumpur just below the Petronas Twin Towers." The place came well recommended by a number of the members and all were keen to repeat the experience. Fair enough. And the chef apparently was once with the erstwhile mentioned Chinoz On The Park but presumably set off for pastures new. Clearly the new pasture was not too far away.

(l to r) Dr Rajan, Stephanie, Mubina, Ajmal, May Peng and AsiaEuro's Michelle
Well and yes and I guess I got most of the concept. Traditional well made Malaysian cuisine in an upmarket setting made sense. There has not really been a fine dining Malaysian cuisine restaurant that showcases the best of such traditions and OpenHouse makes a fine front runner for such a concept. I can see it becoming a "go to" destination for visitors inquisitive enough to want to understand and enjoy the opulent grandeur of the setting. Smart thinking by the owners and operators of the place. I wish them success. 

Vanessa and Jessica
Again no notes of the food at the table and the memory now has faded, though I do seem to recall enjoying the food and the company and the wines. Visually, very good plating. I certainly remember scarfing down all the churros of both my serving and that of the Lenglui. Which suggests that the food was a shade insufficient to quench such evident burning hunger. The crackers were similar to those one finds in Indonesian establishments and eaten similarily with fresh ground chili sauce, the prawn was hugely fresh and with very good bite, Ox Tail stew was meaty and full of vim. The duck was full and firm and crispy skin salt tasty though the turkey lacked somewhat in taste terms for me. The lamb was good, the venison also, and all went well with some delightful Cabernets. They all naturally tasted similar, though the older ones presented better on the night than the tannic young ones. All have pretty good ageing potential, though the 2013 seemed more robust and balanced. The Katnook website notes that the Katnook Odyssey 2013 is: "One of 53 wines listed in the ‘Outstanding’ category of the Langton’s VI, Classification of Australian Wine. This 20th release is rated 96 points in Halliday's 2019  'Wine Companion'." It was good and drinkable but for me lacking somewhat in heft and body. I like my Cabernets with a firm whack in the throat and chest and with that velvet silkiness that coats the throat with unspeakable loveliness and bite - almost chewy and a drop that you want to keep and swirl around the mouth forever. Napa do them perfectly - Joseph Phelps Insignia and one whose name escapes me at the moment which I bought during a trip to New York. Also the Tom Price I shared with the Rubber Baron at the Butcher's Table - Cabs that seared their way into the brain and soul. I didn't quite get that with the Odyssey. Well made and excellent with the lamb and steak and certainly way less bold than some of the tannic monsters I have previously drunk. But just missing that texture that for me marks the good from the great. Guess I have to try more Aussie Cabs. 

Lenglui and Hans
Would I go back? Not entirely sure on this showing… but this showing does not allow the place to show off in its more natural context (ie covers coming in at an easier pace rather than looking to serve 42 mouths at one go. I do seem to recall the kitchen slowing a bit in its output during the night. No bad thing - allows one to get up and chit chat with the rakyat. Some of the dishes mentioned by previous patrons were not on the menu, so again a need to return and check out the specials and recommendations. Have to check the corkage too; old friend Affendi is in control of the place. 

OpenHouse staff surprising President May with a Birthday Cake and song
Pre Drinks
Kudap Kudap - Malaysian crackers
Katnook Estate Chardonnay 2015

Deep Fried Tiger Prawn, Murasaki Potato served with Horseshoe Crab Rice Kerabu
Katnook Estate Chardonnay 2015

Oxtail Kepayang Black Nut with Garlic Toast
Katnook Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Duo of Poultry
Smoked Duck Breast with Ingkung Sauce and Sapodilla Salsa
Pan Seared Roulade of Turkey stuffed with Sambal Kelapa
Katnook Estate Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Katnook Estate Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Duo of Red Meat
Rolled of Baked Venison Rendang and Renday Gravy
Pan Seared Lamb Cutlet with Sultana and Spice Sauce
Katnook Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 and 2009

Keria Churros
Orange Sweet Potato, Wheat Flour, Milo and Caramel Salted Butter

Coffee or Tea

Open House, 
G48 and 139 Ground and First Floor Suria KLCC, 
Jalan Ampang, 50088 Kuala Lumpur
Tel +603 2162 0888

No comments:

Post a Comment