Degustation TTDI: 2021 menu, from fresh fish head curry to flavourful beef burgers

April 7, 2021

Could TTDI's most soulfully satisfying fish head curry be found in a friendly restobar? Steered by a former international trade specialist and a human resources professional, Degustation has reliably fed the neighbourhood for nearly two years, stamping its own scrumptious mark on everything from beef and pork steaks to pan-seared scallops and roasted spring chicken.

This is a place with a personal touch - one of its signatures of tiger prawns steamed with white wine is even named for a loyal patron who requested this recipe. Degustation's Capt. Swadesh Bose leads the restaurant with a warm sense of hospitality, while co-founder Geetha Vellu has been passionate about cooking ever since she stood beside her mother by the stove as a teenager to learn how to prepare their household favourites.

Even the Fish Head Curry (RM75; suitable for two to three persons, complete with rice and pickled acar) on its own is worth the visit to Degustation. 

This hearty claypot special is a tribute to Geetha's late mother who first taught her to prepare this, especially on Sundays when everyone in the family was at home for a meal together. “Every time I make this fish head curry, it’s with love - something to remember her by," Geetha tells us.

It's an impressive family-recipe rendition of a familiar staple, elevated through Degustation's own specially ground spice mix, with aromatic hints of cumin, star anise and asam jawa in lovely proportions.

No coconut milk is blended in the curry, which means the freshness of the fish and the spices stand out with pronounced potency.

The fish is red snapper hand-picked from Taman Tun's wet market in the morning, ensuring the best possible quality. Each chunky head weighs 1.3 to 1.5 kilograms, cooked to order with tofu, tomatoes, okra and eggplant - it takes 40 minutes to make, so it's best to preorder this.

We love how the fish tastes impeccably fresh, with a clean, pure flavour and firm, magnificently meaty texture. The curry is rich and robust but not cloying, a cookbook-perfect representative of fish head curry.

If you love a fisherman's full catch, the Seafood Platter (RM80; also for two to three persons) is another enjoyable order, brimming with tiger prawns, mussels, calamari rings, dory fillets and soft-shell crab. This princely platter makes for fun munching, particularly the large, fleshy prawns with their crunchy batter. 

Even the accompaniments of Thai sweet chilli sauce and tartar sauce are house-made, tasting more nuanced than store-bought versions. It's no wonder that Degustation is well-regarded for group events, with chef Geetha most recently whipping up a feast for a gathering of three dozen people.

Degustation strives to add distinctive flourishes to all its dishes - the Australian lamb cutlets (RM45) are succulent to the chew, pan-fried to the ideal medium doneness, but what makes them thoughtfully memorable are the chickpea puree, crispy butternut squash fritters, mint jelly and red wine jus that round out the plate, each bringing a delicious element to the ensemble.

More gnaw-worthy meat: Degustation is ultimately a hangout for casual, fuss-free meals that you can chomp on with your fingers if you want to, illustrated by the honey soy-glazed pork ribs (RM35), decadently slicked up and delectably saucy, with the pork also purchased from the market to uphold a consistency of quality, complete with steak fries to combat both carnivorous and carb cravings.

Every other restaurant might offer beef burgers, but Degustation's stands out with its own identity (RM25), courtesy of its own-minced patty that's juicier than the norm, with a genuinely meaty taste and texture, topped with a nicely runny fried egg. Onion rings, a side salad and chilli mayo (also house-made, of course) make this a burger platter that merits its full price.

Come for the food, stay for the drinks: The house cocktail is the GV Special (RM35), named for Geetha because she loves it, a spiritedly quenching medley of vodka, blue curacao, Sprite and orange juice.

The bar's lively repertoire ranges from classic cocktails to contemporary cocktails, from the Tequila Sunrise (RM30) to the Mint Royal (RM17). All in all, it's encouraging to see Degustation evolve since our first visit here in mid-2019 - we hope to continue seeing this venue be a fixture in TTDI's F&B landscape for years to come.

Degustation TTDI

16, Jalan Wan Kadir 1, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur Open Monday-Saturday, 4pm-12am. Tel: 019-700-7433