Asian-Inspired Menu @ DC Restaurant, Taman Tun Dr Ismail

July 30, 2015

When Chef Darren Chin travelled to Thailand recently & closed his outlet for a week, he found inspiration for a menu that weaves together Restaurant DC's most valuable virtues. Course by course, these offerings - available until August 2 - furnish revelatory insights into how a consummate chef elevates a meal by combining capable confidence with creative charisma.

The menu makes perceptive use of ingredients in unexpected forms, seamlessly incorporating produce from our region with techniques from Europe & beyond. Beef tendon is turned into a puffy chicharrone strip - with the light crispness of pork rinds - becoming a base for a gooey cream of sour-dough rye from TTDI's nearby German bakery, spiced with Hungarian paprika. It's an amuse with a delicate allure, coupled with a punchy mouthful of ocean trout on toasted rice, a tribute to the Isan larb salad.

DC masters the artistry of creating recipes that are both accessible & challenging - this is food that's instinctively enjoyable but nonetheless contains rewarding subtleties. The Irish oyster is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser, its plump, poached perfection crowned with leek foam & cucumber-belimbing salad - a pairing that speaks of both the salty sea & the verdant land. Also whetting the appetite for more: Sabah soft-shell crab coated in charcoal tempura, partnered with sweet basil hollandaise, & 18-hour spiced lamb loin, a standard-bearer for the precise cooking of top-drawer meat, with carrot-cumin veloute & charred confit baby carrot.

The most satisfying dishes provoke both love & lust - reactions that bubbled while we had the kampung egg, its poached yolk cushioned with cauliflower cream, their earthiness emphasised by truffles, white asparagus, pumpkin seed oil & milk tuile with nigella seeds. Might all sound very complicated (much like love), but it's undeniable in its sheer forcefulness (potently like lust).

At this point, difficult decisions must be made, as customers are coaxed into choosing a main entree. While the rouelle of spinach-wrapped spiny lobster & scallop with jellied lobster consomme is in some ways more intriguing & unique (think of it as a textured, fleshy seafood dim sum reinterpreted by a Francophile), we preferred the carnivore-baiting masterwork of the AOP Anjou French pigeon, itself a rarity in KL, slow-roasted to irreproachable succulence, its red-blooded flavour bolstered by the truest of companions - crusted sweetbread, shaved black truffles, celeriac puree & tender mushrooms with Perigueux sauce.

It's seafood versus meat again for the main, & while it boils down to personal penchants, the ocean triumphs for us this time. Hokkaido scallops with Pulau Ketam razor clams, enveloped in seafood emulsion & invigorated with mizuna leaves, confit garlic & watercress almond puree, are commanding enough that we'll recall them for much longer than the 14-spiced Black Angus fillet with garlic cream, baked bok choy, walnut pesto & jus - more than competent but maybe not the most compelling.

Dessert jolts us into the awareness that throughout this menu, DC peppers sly touches of Southeast Asia in the food, often without us recognising them. But the local flourish is unmistakable for the flowery-fruity lychee parfait (a nod to Chiang Mai) stuffed with caramel cashew & tamarind, teamed with rose sorbet - a fitting finish to a meal that's like an eye-opening journey. And through it all, it's a menu that reflects the personality & character of its chef, in a meaningful & passionate manner.

More than ever, DC's wine has become the ideal complement for its food, with personally curated vintages that are justifiably the pride of this restaurant. The seven-course tasting menu above is RM368+ for food alone, but for a complete experience, add the necessary for wine pairing. Beautifully nuanced wines, thoughtfully & elegantly matched from the outset to conclusion.

All the appreciated accoutrements of dinner at DC remain intact, from a free flow of fresh, crusty bread by KL-based French master bakers with Pamplie unpasteurised truffle butter to French & Italian cheeses from the trolley for patrons who prefer to forego dessert. And while this Asian-inspired selection wraps up its official stint this weekend, we suspect its style & substance will continue to echo in this restaurant's menu for months to come - it'll be fun to watch. Many thanks to DC for having us here.

DC Restaurant by Darren Chin
44 Persiaran Zaaba, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. 
Open Wed-Sun, 7pm-1130pm. Reservations essential: 03-7731-0502

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