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163 Retail Park, Mont Kiara: Playground for the Palate

July 11, 2019


163 Retail Park might be one of KL's youngest malls, but it has fast become a favourite destination for food and fun - it's even feasible to spend an entire day exploring the restaurants and cafes here. Whether you're visiting in the morning or slightly past sunset, 163 Retail Park's talented chefs, bakers and baristas will tempt your taste buds with a parade of pleasures that pull their inspirations from West to East.

NUTMEG

If brunch is your most important meal of the day, Nutmeg makes sure you'll get yours, serving cheerful all-day breakfasts with house-made ingredients galore, including Nordic-inspired gravlax that's become legendary among KL's cafe enthusiasts. The salmon is cured in Nutmeg's own kitchen with salt, sugar and beetroot, yielding a firm, fleshy bite without sacrificing the fish's natural flavours.

You can add on that signature gravlax to the Big Breakfast, built for hearty eaters, constructed with two eggs, loads of baked beans, roasted garlic tomatoes, confit mushrooms, house-made sausage (lamb or chicken), and your choice of Nutmeg's own-baked bread (toasted brioche or sourdough). Further customisation is possible, so pile on this platter with deep-fried mac-and-cheese, or perhaps beef bacon or salt beef for pure protein power.

For a more American take on the morning meal, the Southern Fried Breakfast showcases Atlanta-style crispy fried chicken, heaped with a thickly layered buttermilk biscuit, hashed potatoes, eggs and chicken sausage with gravy for enough energy to fuel you long through the afternoon.

Sandwiches are also a crowd-pleasing staple, with intriguing possibilities that showcase inspirations from across the globe. The Classic Reuben is that quintessential New York deli favourite with a Nutmeg Asian twist, featuring punchy salt beef balanced with lusciously house-made peach chutney in textured rye bread, while the BBQ Pulled Chicken places shredded chicken that's slow-cooked and sauce-soaked in crisp, rich sourdough from a 10-year-old starter, grilled panini-style. For sheer sandwich indulgence, you also won't go wrong with the Nutmeg Gravlax Croissant-wich, coupling the house-cured salmon with creamy scrambled eggs in a freshly toasted croissant.

Nutmeg's fans also love the flagship pastas here, available 11:30am onwards. The Carbonara is made distinctive with a sage-laced parmesan sauce for a subtle herbal uplift, bolstered by a choice of smoked salmon, beef bacon, chicken or mushrooms, while the Pesto channels the sharp heat of Thai basil, best paired with spicy grilled chicken or roasted vegetables, washed down with the smooth richness of the promotional Purple Sweet Potato Latte that's currently offered for a limited time. All in all, Nutmeg is one of our best bets for comfort food served with a dash of extra creativity.

SUKIYA

If it's lunch hour, already, it might be high time for Sukiya - known as Japan's largest chain for gyudon (beef bowls), Sukiya offers one of Tokyo's most soulful traditional specialities in a modern, exuberant setting. 

Expect Japanese rice blanketed with grilled Australian beef, flavoured with a soy-based secret preparation, clocking in at only RM9.90 for a fuss-free version that's a simple, satisfying pleasure. There are nonetheless many variations to the gyudon available - with mushrooms, with an onsen egg, with a three-cheese mix, and more.

Nutritionally balanced set meals are available too, complementing the gyudon with miso soup, potato salad, edamame, soy scallop lips, chawanmushi, and your choice of teriyaki mackerel, deep-fried gyoza or karaage chicken (RM20.10).

Beyond beef, chicken rice bowls are also available; the most popular is the chicken katsu toji don, irresistible with crumbly breaded chicken katsu, cushioned with scrambled eggs (RM12.70). If you prefer noodles instead of rice, there's that too - the Volcano Chilli Ramen is as extra-spicy as it sounds, rounded out with chicken as well (RM17.50). Kids aren't neglected either, thanks to set meals consisting of rice, fries, a thirst-quenching beverage and a hunger-banishing pick of karaage, beef or Japanese curry for only RM9.10.

NENE CHICKEN

Moving on from classic Japanese to contemporary Korean, Nene Chicken is another massively popular brand with over 1,200 outlets in South Korea alone. Nene Chicken at 163 Retail Park has a bit of garden motif going on, almost evoking a picnic in the park for your fried chicken feast.

The fried chicken here does justice to Seoul's reputation, with meat that's notably tender and moist, with batter that's even lighter and crispier than typical - the secret might rest in the batter mix, the marinades and sauces, all brought in straight from South Korea, relying on special recipes born in Nene's headquarters. Start with the Original, providing pure poultry pleasure (RM18.90), and the sesame-sprinkled Freaking Hot, with that lingering saucy fieriness reminiscent of a spicy noodle challenge (RM19.90).

Chicken burgers and wraps furnish further variety to Nene's repertoire; the former is filled with juicy chicken thigh meat that you can genuinely sink your teeth into (RM15), while the latter is ideal for a light lunch or takeaway midday snack, rounded out with Nene Kimcheese that brings a pickled tang to the ensemble (RM8.90). Fries and a drink can be added on to any meal for RM5.90; there's even sweet potato fries, a treat that's not too often seen at KL's Korean fried chicken joints.

SAPIDUS COFFEE

By now, after all that food, you might need some coffee to keep you going - Sapidus Coffee is a worthwhile venue that strives to change our perception of flavoured coffee. 

Sapidus relies on imaginative, meticulous methods, unlike the typical caffeine bar that pours flavoured syrup into your coffee to add an artificial-tasting sweetness.

Sapidus, which is Latin for 'flavoured', creates its flavours by infusing the ingredients into the South American coffee beans, which are roasted in Australia with nuances of, say, chocolate fudge, tiramisu, maple syrup and more, without overpowering the coffee's own unique profile.

Sapidus' founder carefully curates the flavours, enthusiastic about bringing in a product unseen in Malaysia. There are 15 flavoured coffee varieties - beans are showcased at the front counter for customers to sniff and savour.

For the perfect pit stop to introduce you to Sapidus' offerings, order the cappuccino with mocha hazelnut for chocolaty-earthy dynamics (RM9.50), before easing into a sea salt caramel latte, a stronger cup of joe that's capped with salty-savoury notes (RM9.50). If you prefer a more classic choice, the iced long black with chocolate is robust and richly reviving (RM13).

Non-flavoured Colombian coffee is also available, as are tea, green tea lattes and chocolate beverages. Sapidus also plans to roll out a range of pies within the next two or three months, a snack-loving companion to its buzz-worthy sips.

ICHIBAN RAMEN

For a soothing, steaming-hot dinner after a long day at work, it's Ichiban, Number One indeed! This brand has become a consistent presence in Malaysia for nearly two decades for fans of soupy noodles, so we're happy to see it emerge in 163 Retail Park.

The Chicken Chashu Ramen best represents Ichiban Ramen's halal pleasures, a hearty bowl of chicken-rich broth, cooked for more than six hours to ensure it's flooded with time-honoured flavour in every spoonful, bolstered by chicken char siu, wakame, black fungus, fish cakes, and of course, ramen noodles with a memorably firm bite (RM17.15).

Ichiban scratches the itch for more than merely ramen too. For rice devotees, the Katsu Curry Rice brings together katsu chicken with sweetish-spicy Japanese curry in a princely portion (RM17.15), while the Salmon Bento packs plenty of components, spotlighting salmon in yakiniku sauce with rice. miso soup, fried tofu and watermelon, plus some cucumber and pickled radish to brighten up the evening (RM25.45).

Families can bookmark Ichiban Ramen for its kids' set meals - the top temptation is fried rice with all genres of protein from both land and sea for your growing child, including chicken char siu, chicken sausage, salmon roll and shrimp tempura, completed with lychee and Vitagen (RM14.25). Pump up the playful fun with a milkshake, an unexpected joy at a Japanese restaurant - the Choco Milkshake will send you out into the night on a soaring high (RM9.50).

iTARTS

We've saved the sweetest for last, since every conclusion to a feast is best illustrated by dessert. Here at iTarts, patrons and passers-by can witness every step of the baking process in this boutique tarts kiosk, from the handmade base to the oven baking to the beautifully artsy flourishes.

Even the Queen of Hearts might be impressed by these tarts, founded on a buttery-flaky base that's solid in the palm of your hands but pleasurably crumbly on the palate.

The toppings are noteworthy too, many with Belgian-imported ingredients that feel full-bodied and velvety. There's a tart for every preference, from lemon meringue to strawberry to the cute-faced Kit Kat tarts, mango to apple, chocolate cheese to baked cheese. Most of these are chilled tarts that can endure well for five days; each costs RM4, with an ongoing Buy Five, Free One promotion.

A current promotion showcases creamy egg tarts made with plenty of butter and evaporated milk, costing RM2 for now (each one lasts overnight). All in all, iTarts is a terrific stop after a full meal, for tarts to take home or to consume on the move. 

Many thanks to 163 Retail Park and these restaurants and cafes for having us.

163 Retail Park is at 8 Jalan Kiara, Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur.


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