Rasa Gourmet with Steaks & Lobsters: Fresh-from-the-farm seafood in Desa Sri Hartamas

July 29, 2020

Siakap and snappers from the islands of northern Malaysia, tangy in assam pedas or with assam boi; prawns from the shores of the south, spicy in sambal petai or even rendang: Rasa Gourmet promises seafood from across our nation's length, served in tasty traditional styles, priced lower than the norm since it comes straight from the farm.

The Rasa Gourmet brand marks a partnership between Desa Sri Hartamas' Steaks & Lobsters restaurant and the operators of organic aquaculture farms in Pangkor Island, Terengganu and Johor. After five years of nurturing marine livestock in their natural habitats, far from industrialised areas, the farm's show-runners are offering their fish and crustaceans in their own restaurant for the first time.

Rasa Gourmet has key advantages compared to many seafood restaurants. As you enter the restaurant, you'll see aquariums filled with fish that diners can choose from, but that's just a sampling of the wider possibilities available. Live seafood can be easily replenished as often as needed, straight from the farm's own warehouse in Rawang.

This is top-quality Malaysian seafood at its healthiest, bred in chemical-free waters, away from polluted zones. Aquaculture experts remain reassuringly at the farms at all times, safeguarding not only the water conditions but the fish's nutritional diets.

For budget-conscious customers, note that fish are served whole and prawns come in large sizes, available at less than the prevailing restaurant rates, since Rasa Gourmet relies on its own produce instead of external suppliers.

The final flourish rests in the recipes - Rasa Gourmet's culinary brigade has mastered many crowd-pleasing preparations for the local palate. The cooking is flavourful and family-friendly, rich with spices without outshining the seafood that's still the star of the show.

Fish is the ideal introduction to Rasa Gourmet - select from sea bass or siakap (RM79+), red snapper or ikan merah (RM89+), golden snapper or jenahak (RM89+), or hybrid grouper, known in Malay as ikan kerapu (RM99+). Rice is complimentary for each fish.

You can then choose your cooking method - perhaps a smooth, santan-saturated masak lemak with vegetables, or an aromatic, creamy curry? Maybe the southern-style assam pedas that shimmers with chillies, or the steamed assam boi that sparkles with assam jawa and bunga kantan? With fragrant house-made sauces, each one seems worth exploring.

Our favourite fish at Rasa Gourmet is the grouper bakar sambal petai, gorgeously grilled in banana leaves, served in a stir-fried sambal with petai and sliced onions. We devoured all 900 grams of moist, flaky flesh, as fabulous as any cooked fish we've had all year, and scooped up all the addictive sambal too. If you've been hankering for ikan bakar in a comfortable setting, make this your next meal.

If you're here with hungry family or friends, ask if the kitchen has an extra-large sea bass (about two kilograms, double the regular weight; a surcharge applies for the bigger fish by request). It'll make for a striking platter in the tiga rasa style, a blend of sweet, sour and spicy dynamics, with fried chunks of ultra-tender fish, punched up with pineapples and cucumbers for a balanced meal of pure protein, fruits and culinary vegetables.

Rasa Gourmet also offers home deliveries of its live seafood at wholesale market prices. Deliveries are free, without a minimum order; complimentary cleaning services are offered for the fish, including descaling and degutting. Until the end of August 2020, its prices include a whole, one-kilogram live dragon tiger grouper at just RM48 - check out Rasa Gourmet's Facebook page for updates and latest promotions.

Prawns are the other cornerstone of Rasa Gourmet's repertoire, sourced from its farms in Johor. You can pick tiger prawns in sizes of XL, XXL or Super XL, in servings of six or 12 pieces, or XXL-sized king prawns. Prices start at RM20-RM24 for six pieces of XL tiger prawns or RM36-RM40 for 12 pieces.

Preparations for the prawns span buttermilk to Nestum, with rendang as one of the more unconventional choices. We were pleasantly surprised with how the rendang is robust without overpowering the prawns, which succeed in standing out in their prime, succulent glory.

Another playful pleasure is the baked prawns, luscious with a lime-chilli marinade, whipped up in popiah cups with lime wedges and sour cream to tang things up (RM17). Have this as a unique starter, together with some lovely deep-fried portobello mushroom fries, lightly coated in crisply textured karaage flour, fired up with a side of sriracha sauce (RM20).

Beyond its own-cultivated seafood, Rasa Gourmet serves other offerings like Indonesian mud crabs. If you like chilli crabs, you'll love them here, steamed and grilled for maximum enjoyment, topped off with a sizzling chilli crab gravy that tastes naturally sweet, complementing the crabs perfectly (RM120 for a total serving of one kilogram, with fried mantou). The crabs come with a bonus, a layer of scallops and clams under the crustaceans. Alternatively, buttermilk crab is also available (RM110).

Fans of Steaks & Lobster's original concept, fear not: The two flagship ingredients of the restaurant, a Sri Hartamas stalwart since 2015, remain intact.

Steaks & Lobsters still offers Australian beef at its best, from grain-fed Angus rib eyes to wagyu tomahawks. There's also something of a 'secret steaks' menu here, with seasonal specials like the Wagyu Sirloin Marble 5+ (RM99 for 200 grams), char-grilled over lava stones for a subtle sultriness - this is a lovely steak done medium-rare, with full-bodied flavour and a firm, juicy texture. Super-satisfying.

Canadian lobsters are also a highlight - the signature is torched at the table for a flaming good time, layered with ebiko aioli to roll in the richness of roe to the meaty, mighty lobster flesh (RM209 for a 600-gram lobster, rounded out with fries and a fresh salad).

Rasa Gourmet might not be a dessert parlour, but a sweet conclusion here is delectably irresistible. We're instant fans of the twist on pisang goreng, banana fritters twirled in a thick but brittle blanket of kataifi pastry that's more intriguing than typical batter, completed with ice cream for a hot-and-cold contrast (RM18). Speaking of chocolate, the sizzling brownies are a great, gooey indulgence, dark and deep enough to make most of us swoon, rounded out with ice cream, almond flakes, chocolate sauce and vanilla cream for a young-at-heart hit (RM18).

All in all, Rasa Gourmet marks a fun revamp of the exactly five-year-old Steaks & Lobsters, adding even more variety to its menu, making it a new destination to bookmark for seafood devotees, especially if you favour Southeast Asian flavours. Many thanks to the Rasa Gourmet team for having us.

Rasa Gourmet with Steak & Lobsters

42, Jalan 24/70a, Desa Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur.

Open Tuesday-Friday, 530pm-11pm; Saturday-Sunday, 12pm-3pm (lunch), 6pm-11pm (dinner). Tel: 012-427-7167

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