New Dinner Menu: Chocha Foodstore
October 26, 2017
Vegetables freshly harvested from the restaurant founders' own small farm in Cheras. Malabar snappers caught off the coast of Sarawak and rice cultivated in the state's Bario highland villages. Natural wines from the vineyards of South Australia.
Chinatown's Chocha Foodstore has embarked on a new evening menu that's energised by produce at its peak, marrying traditional local ingredients with contemporary cosmopolitan cooking, conveying vibrant hues in presentation and vividly hearty flavours in preparation, beautifully complementing this venue's retro-rustic, leafy setting.
Start your dinner with lively recipes that breathe and speak of the soil's bounty: Ask about the Fresh Pick - a choice of vegetables that Chocha plants itself, subject to seasonal availability. When we visited, the kitchen was offering okra, firm-bodied for a rich, fulfilling chew, with a boost in taste and texture from a robustly thick, house-made chilli dressing.
Dishes here are nuanced, making thoughtful use of culinary components to curb waste. A salad of deep-fried baby prawns is tossed in prawn oil for double the briny-sweet crustacean enjoyment, cushioned by coriander, chive flowers, red radish, radicchio and rocket leaves, balanced by the uplift of a mustard seed vinaigrette (RM22).
Part of the philosophy behind this menu rests in classic Malaysian-Chinese dai chow dining - communal meals where everyone shares a variety of small and large plates. You'll find this basic concept best illuminated by Chocha's seafood specialities, netted from the country's own shores: Slipper lobster and crab meat, tenderly transformed into a timbale, etched with ebiko for a burst of umami, soaked in a sabayon-inspired sauce (RM36), squid heads, succulent and fleshy, made savoury with an Oriental olive leaf tapenade, buoyant with celery and a subtle lychee lemongrass vinaigrette (RM28), and morsels of mackerel, cured in zesty beetroot for an unmistakable dye, strewn across more beetroot and roasted potatoes (RM32) - each of these could easily be served at a modern tapas restaurant with a penchant for Asian soulfulness.
Poultry pleasures make up the heftier platters: The herb-stuffed chicken roulade is a respectable take on a European staple, enhanced with Malaysian elements of black pulut and domestic spinach that add more dynamics to this dish (RM36). If you desire carnivorous comfort food, the braised duck leg stew aims to delight, with a pronounced depth of fowl flavour (RM42).
Vino, bambino: Chocha's commendably curated wine list is wider than expected, encompassing Barcelona to Bangalore, La Mancha to Lebanon.
The highlights include natural wines - produced without chemicals and with minimal technological intervention - that hail primarily from the Barossa Valley northeast of Adelaide.
If you haven't had orange wine, this is one place to start: The Smallfry Tangerine Dream is liquid gold, rounded with notes of citrus peel, aromatically apricot, spectacular for a sultry night (RM220).
The La Prova Montepulciano 2015 (RM220) is a bright choice too, seductively supple, with the right balance of earthiness and spiciness to accompany a meal at Chocha, one of our favourite modern restaurants in Chinatown.
If you need more drinks, head upstairs to Botak Liquor Bar, which maintains the overall identity of this venue with its garden-to-glass cocktails made with pure spirits and partially home-grown botanicals.
Many thanks to the team here for having us.
156 Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur. Open Tues-Sun, 11am-11pm. Tel: +603-2022-1100
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