Bobo @ Bangkung, Bangsar

December 6, 2015

When the ringleaders behind Opus Bistro, Leonardo's & Cava conjure a new destination, attention must be paid: Bobo in Bangsar marks a tantalising extension of the Bangkung empire, with two levels comprising an elegant restaurant that offers mainly modern European fare & an intimate piano lounge where local performers will soon seize the stage six nights a week.

Our best bets for Bobo's food reside in the starter selection: The 'Caesar Salad' (RM28) is inspired by Thomas Keller's version from The French Laundry Cookbook - custard-creamy Parmesan mousse on a crusty crouton base, accompanied by an anchovy fillet & other elements associated with a regular Caesar; playful fun & pretty fulfilling, thanks to the luscious mousse. Cheese is also key to the success of Bobo's bruschetta (RM24), layered with tender Campari-poached strawberries, balsamic vinegar pearls, pine nuts, & rocket leaves on a heavy smearing of gorgonzola - a tour de force of sweet, salty & slightly tart.

We're fans of the Wagyu beef satay (RM38) as well - three chunky skewers of smoky meat that completely banish concerns about chewiness, partnered with glutinous rice, cucumbers, onions & a respectable peanut sauce. It might be impossible to resist ordering the braised Aussie Wagyu beef cheeks (RM88) after that, but while this is enjoyable too, complemented by a soft polenta mash, snow peas & onion marmalade, the sauce feels flat in flavour, doing no favours to really elevate this recipe. And as restaurants wrestle with spiralling costs, it's sad that the days of beef cheeks served in big, gelatinous blobs are lost.

 Liver lovers have a couple of choices: The foie gras pate with cranberry sauce (RM45) is achingly soft & sumptuously smooth, but the kitchen makes it mandatory to pair this with bread, since it's supercharged with sodium & oil. It ends up being rather one-dimensional in flavour, without genuine depth or complexity. We harbour mixed sentiments about the chicken roulade stuffed with chicken liver (RM39) too; the filling features both liver & minced meat, tamping down the liver's impact. These are still worth trying, but we're setting a high bar for Bobo since we've loved Leonardo's from the start & we truly like Opus & Cava.

Two Italian temptations could benefit from tweaks: The arancini (RM28) are promising at first bite, a crisp breadcrumb exterior shielding these risotto balls with buffalo mozarrella at their core. But the grains within prove mushy, & while the kitchen uses a hint of saffron to convey an attractive hue, there's too little of the spice to impart actual fragrance & flavour, leaving the tomato coulis with the burden of rescuing the ensemble from blandness. Meahwhile, the sweet potato gnocchi with sage (RM39) seem too stiff & stodgy - a fluffier preparation might contrast more pleasurably with the firm morsels of salchichon sausage. And alas, the brown butter dressing may wind up as a slick puddle at the bottom of the plate.

First Blush is Bobo's signature cocktail, showcasing Cava & rose syrup; we might swap the rose syrup for Calvados, mainly since we're not into the former. The house red (RM113 a bottle) is lovely - an agreeable, easy-drinking match for Bobo's food.

Bobo's piano lounge is right above the restaurant, accessed via a speakeasy-style entrance & a stairway adorned with masterworks from the collection of Bobo's chief founder (the restaurant too emphasises beautiful sets of art). Sean Ghazi will be the lounge's musical director, curating performances Tues-Sun (with the buzziest gigs slated Fri-Sat). The setting was still under renovation when we visited, but shows should commence December 11; lots of thought & effort have been poured into this lounge, from the staging & lighting to a dedicated green room for performers. It's sure to be something to look forward to.

Bobo Kuala Lumpur
65-1, Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. 
Open 5pm till late (kitchen's last orders by 1130pm). Tel: 03-2092-5002

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