Define:food @ The Boulevard, Mid Valley

November 27, 2016

Define:food translates into a meaningful interpretation of fun, casual dining, with restaurateur Ryan Yeoh & chef Malcolm Goh articulating a confident spin on mainly Western crowd-rousers - if you're a fan of pastas, burgers, salads, soups & steakhouse fare, here are fresh, contemporary renditions that do justice to the classics.

A meal here should start with the Atlantic crab cakes, hand-breaded to an exemplary crunch, filled completely with fleshy, flavoursome crab meat, balanced with macerated mangoes & a citrus yoghurt swirl - the most satisfying crab cakes we've had in recent memory (RM48). The mixed salad also leaves a positive impression, with a bountiful harvest of confit cherry tomatoes, quail eggs & kalamata olives complemented by some great six-hour-cured gravlax, tossed in a light anchovy dressing (RM21 for the salad, RM15 for the salmon add-on). Even familiar staples like mushroom or tomato soup (RM18 each) are thoughtfully tackled - the former is aromatic with cepes dust & truffle oil, served with mascarpone & house-baked rustic garlic bread, while the latter is textured with pesto genovese & basil foam, bolstered by the crunch of a parmesan grissini.

Define:food's duck confit merits special mention, nailing the right sort of crisp-skinned, savoury succulence that supersedes stringy, sodium-overloaded versions. The accompaniments all reinforce the pleasure factor, from the perfectly wobbly poached egg, sauteed potatoes & kitchen-crafted cranberry jam to the thick, creamy foie gras (RM42 for the duck, RM37 for the liver).

Chef Malcolm & his team take legitimate pride in their beef too - the DF Wagyu Cheese Burger (RM42) is a juicy behemoth, boasting a 100 percent Wagyu patty (ideally prepared medium-rare), sharp cheddar, tomatoes & lettuce, piled on with ultra-addictive duck bacon that packs a firm, crackling-like bite, bolstered by a memorably sweetish resonance; note that even the BBQ ketchup on the side is house-made. The Beef Wellington is also irreproachably executed, with luscious cuts of tenderloin concealed in puff pastry with mushroom duxelles & a helping of truffle gravy - a possible treat to consider for Christmas (RM88). All the food is served on hand-constructed stoneware made in Malacca, each bearing Define:food's distinctive logo.

Define:food's Italian repertoire bears a bit of intrigue too - pappardelle takes on Asian accents with the oceanic flourishes of honey soy-glazed perch & dried chilli shrimp in a mellow ginger crustacean broth (RM35); spaghetti alla genovese is coated with a rich, deep pesto sauce (RM21; add RM15 for the 'rangup' smoked duck); & the seafood risotto, with tiger prawns, calamari rings & Pacific clams swamped in tomato fondue, is recommended for patrons who enjoy tangy top notes (RM48).

There are five plated desserts on Define:food's menu, all tempting enough in their own right that we couldn't resist ordering one of each. Beneath the soft browned spiky meringue of the Bombe Alaska lies the Malaysian flavours of pandan coconut ice cream & kaya jam (RM30); local pisang goreng is also accompanied by traditional flavours in the form of jackfruit jam, coconut pulut & teh tarik ice cream (RM19). Other recognisable standards that get a modern makeover include the apple feuille de brick with dragee, salted caramel & lovely Horlicks ice cream (RM22), tiramisu 'kopi kau' with sharp tones of black coffee in a jar (RM23), & a dark chocolate dome melted down at the table with creme anglaise, served with torn walnut brownie morsels, pop rocks, salted banana caramel & dense, smooth peanut butter ice cream (RM36). We're looking forward to next month, when Define:food's bar section will open, with specialty cocktails waiting in the wings, but for now, the restaurant has a very respectable wine list, with most bottles clocking in below RM200. Many thanks to the Define:food team for having us here.

Define Food at Mid Valley Boulevard
29-1,Level 1, Signature Offices, The Boulevard, Mid Valley City, Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 1030am-1030pm. Tel: 03-2201-1316

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