Greyhound Cafe Malaysia @ Bukit Bintang

February 16, 2016

Malaysia's first offshoot of Thailand's Greyhound Cafe is open, bringing one of Bangkok's best-known F&B brands to Kuala Lumpur. If you've enjoyed your experiences at Greyhound in Siam Center, Emporium & elsewhere, it may be worth visiting Greyhound KL to see if the spirit of exuberant, trend-setting gastronomy can be captured in shopping-consumed Bukit Bintang.

Some signature starters have been successfully transplanted here; the fried mini chicken wings (RM18++) remain as devilishly moreish as ever, while the salmon sashimi (RM22++) will be wiped clean in no time - the secret for both rests in the sauce: an umami-rich fish sauce marinade for the former, a spicy-savoury, textured dressing for the latter, each infused with Indochinese flavours. But a crucial concession has been made: Greyhound KL's a no-pork restaurant, so a piece of the renowned Complicated Noodles (RM18++) is lost in translation - customers still assemble this recipe themselves, topping lettuce leaves with soft noodle sheets, chilli sauce & coriander leaves, but the meatiest component of minced pork is substituted with chicken.

The menu abounds with hit-&-miss elements - the stir-fried spaghetti with Thai anchovies (RM24++) is pretty enjoyable, its intense brininess balanced with the heat of chilli oil & peppercorn. If you like rich & robust fare, the northern Thai khao soi (RM24++), featuring egg noodles & a chicken drumstick in a thick curry broth, partnered with crispy noodles & red onions, is an elaborate ensemble with full-bodied flavours that'll stick to your palate. But several other specialities seem hobbled by forcible flaws: The Weeping Tiger with spicy pesto (RM32++) is a visual triumph, but it's undone at first bite by excessively chewy slices of steak. The duck stew noodles (RM24++) also look glorious, but the whole leg meat - while tender & fleshy - borders on blandness, & the soup lacks genuine depth. The garlic fried rice is blanketed with plenty of crab meat (RM42++) as promised, but it's not particularly fragrant, & the crab is rather dry & one-dimensionally flat-tasting, neither succulent nor sweet.

 Skip dessert for now; the kitchen needs to fine-tune its prep for the mango sticky rice (RM16++) & the coconut sago with water chestnuts (RM14++) - both were stodgy & desperately needed more moisture, unaided by coconut sorbet that broke apart into icy fragments when pierced by a fork. The Yok Lor berry & Nom Yen tea granitas (RM14++) perform better, with more distinctive flavours, though they might get cloying halfway through. Service is efficient & accommodating - no mean feat, since this is one of the rare restaurants where the entire service team looks like they fervently wish they were somewhere else.

Greyhound Cafe Malaysia
Ansa Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 11am-11pm

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