Calavera @ Mesui Hotel

October 21, 2014

The Day of the Dead has dawned in KL, thanks to Calavera, the city's most macabre restaurant ever.

Wisely timed to become this year's Halloween haunt, Calavera opened this month as part of Jalan Mesui's new boutique hotel; it's a natural fit for the eclectic eccentricities of this street that houses Pisco Bar, Feeka, Limablas & Table 23.

This colourfully creepy-cool setting might seem like Calavera's strongest hook, crawling with sugar skulls on the walls & tables, plus skeletons on the ceilings & by the bar ...

... but the hard-working service team merits solid praise too for its enthusiasm & efficiency, enabling customers to easily enjoy their evening here. Trivia tidbit: Calavera is Spanish for skull.

The menu's a memorable melange of Mexico at night & Melbourne in the morning - for dinner, try Calavera's twist on ceviche (RM20 before taxes), constructed with fresh slices of red snapper with a spicy dragon fruit vinaigrette that supplies vivid colour & vibrant flavour.

But skip the fish tacos with papaya slaw & mint sauce - they're big & hearty, but there's more batter than fish, folded inside a too-thick tortilla flatbread, resulting in what tastes like a starchy overload.

Speaking of starch, the tacos (RM34) come with a choice of two substantial side dishes - we opted for the thick-cut cassava chips with garlic salt & smoky rice tinged with beef bacon, but other patrons might prefer the spiced mashed potatoes or the chilli-butter corn.

 In the morning, breakfast emerges in egg-loving fashion, from scrambled eggs with sour cream, beef bacon jam & rocket leaves on sour dough toast (RM19) to omelette laced with smoked duck, sun-dried tomatoes & gruyere cheese (also RM19).

 For a healthier bet (since the toasts above seem very heavily buttered), we like the juicy-sweet pink grapefruit, caramelised with sticky-crispy maple syrup, served with a big bowl of natural yoghurt & pistachios.

 Calavera whips up some creatively cool cocktails, though their potency is lower than we might have liked. There's goodness in this green Ozone Layer (RM32) nevertheless, made with gin, avocado, green tea syrup & lemon.

Fried curry leaves crown the Mexicans of Asia (RM28), a mix of tequila, agave, ginger tea, egg white & calamansi.

13 Jalan Mesui, Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 830am-late

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