Charcoal Restaurant @ The Saujana Hotel

June 13, 2014

Motorists on Lapangan Terbang Subang Road may have noticed massive billboards in recent months that heralded the pledge of 'a flaming revolution' at The Saujana Hotel. This week, can you hear the people eat? The presumed revolution has finally arrived in the guise of Charcoal, a new hotspot where grilling is meant to be fulfilling.

For paying patrons who may wonder what they can order at Charcoal, here's a wide-ranging look at this fledgling outlet & its sweeping offerings, scarcely one minute's stroll from Saujana's Senja Italian establishment & Kogetsu Japanese restaurant.

From beef, lamb & chicken to fish, prawns, Sri Lankan crabs & scallops laid out on ice, nearly everything at Charcoal is destined for char-grilling; it's a premise that's promising, particularly for customers who cherish smoky tastes & textures.

Start with 'sotong sumbat,' the classic squid stuffed here with spiced minced chicken & served with beautifully flavoursome sambal mangga, sambal cili hijau & chilli garlic sauce. Notably pricey at RM35++ for three pieces, but juicily delicious enough to whet the appetite for much, much more.

Many of Charcoal's recipes are thoughtfully grounded in Asian flavours; this 'Udang Karang Bakar Kerabu Mangga' (RM32+) _ equivalent to grilled Sabah lobster with sour-spicy mango slices, glass noodles & lime-chilli dressing _ could very nearly pass off for traditional kampung cooking. Almost.

Mushrooms stuffed with otak-otak? Gotta love the inventiveness, even if the otak-otak is stodgier than it should be. RM16++.

Meat occupies the place of pride, specifically the signature lamb, spit-roasted whole on a charcoal-fired rotisserie every evening.

Each serving costs RM60++. Admirably enjoyable, boasting more-than-sufficient tenderness & less-than-gamy tastiness.

Naturally, there's beef; our budget prevented us from trying out the more expensive cuts, so we settled for the South Australian Black Angus short ribs (RM60++). Texturally pleasurable, but this needed the BBQ sauce to save it from blandness. Something might have gone amiss with the marination.

We were optimistic about what a RM40++ beef burger might entail. It fell nakedly short in explosiveness of flavour though.

Plenty of side dishes here nevertheless. Including things like potatoes, baked or 'fork-crushed' (see lamb & beef photos above).

Folks who are familiar with The Saujana will know that Peranakan cuisine is sprinkled across some of this hotel's eateries; Charcoal is no exception. Expect to find a very respectable chicken curry with 'buah keluak' here. Again, potentially too pricey at RM38++ (with only two pieces of the black nut), but still scrumptiously authentic.

Charcoal is one of those outlets where it's well worth saving space for dessert. The grilled pineapple, papaya & honeydew with pineapple sorbet (RM20++) extends both the East-West & grilled themes in a memorable manner.

It's always fun when a restaurant surprises us with unexpected presentations: This sure isn't our ancestors' 'serawa durian' (warm durian in paste form with glutinous rice & vanilla ice cream, RM20++).

'Lempeng pisang' receives a crepe-like twist, stuffed with hazelnut chocolate mousse (OK, OK, Nutella). RM20++.

Another intriguing discovery: Charcoal's drinking water comes with charcoal, for presumed health benefits.

Charcoal's range of wine is very respectable; the hotel's own 'wine series' (complete with labels that tout the Saujana brand) includes an Aussie Frankland Estate Merlot that complements the food very well.

Love the sambal & sauces here? Purchase a few bottles of them at lower-than-expected prices on your way out.

Charcoal Restaurant
Saujana Resort, Jalan Lapangan Terbang SAAS, Shah Alam, Selangor
Daily, all day long (last orders at 10pm). Tel: 03-7843-1234

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