Hello by Kitchen Mafia @ Section 17, Petaling Jaya

October 17, 2015

PJ bids a warm welcome to one of October's most intriguing new eateries: Hello flaunts the East-West experiments of high-profile Malaysian chefs Johnny Fua & Sherson Lian, served in a spirited setting that's poised to be the Happy Mansion neighbourhood's hottest restaurant this year. It shouldn't be a surprise to soon see lines forming outside this outlet for dinner.

Hello has a lot of things going for it: Johnny is an exuberant front-of-house figure, making his rounds to ensure customers feel welcome & satisfied with their experience. The food is innovative, imbuing playful twists into familiar fare. And nearly everything is very agreeably priced, staying firmly in line with what suburban patrons might demand from their comfort food.

The tapas absolutely had us at Hello - our should-try favourite is the chicken liver pate, soaked in milk & whiskey, blended & prepared in a water bath, producing buttery-soft mouthfuls of rich & robust flavours. For only RM12+, we'd happily have this over & over; it's paired with fried bread that's the epitome of a guilty pleasure. Addictive in both taste & texture, gently chewy & lightly salty, the bread is like a cross between brioche & Chinese crullers (yau char kway) - a pretty awesome indulgence. 

The duck jerky (RM10+), tinged with 'hua tiao chiew' rice wine, is another alcohol-enhanced invention, this time evoking bakkwa, but significantly more moist & & fresh-tasting, with  mellow, sweet-savoury dimensions. Fun for snacking, perhaps partnered with a bottle of home-brewed 'tuak' palm wine (RM55 for 550ml), sake (RM55 for 500ml) or even Prosecco (RM140).

Thai temptations: Crisp battered banana blossom strips, tossed with a punchy, tangy-spicy mango kerabu salad (RM9+), & lamb massaman curry (RM12+), a potent powerhouse of calories in a small serving. The other tapas are tantalising in their diversity - home salted duck egg calamari (RM12), gyoza with a trio of vinegar & pickled blue ginger (RM9), soy chips (RM6), wood ear fungus (RM7), potato-&-corn pakoras (RM7), kyuri cucumber relish (RM7) & shimeiji mushroom bruschetta (RM8).

 Kitchen-made pastas take up prime space on the menu - the most distinctive efforts are the Pak Johnny Mee Rebus (RM14+), featuring capellini with tofu, egg & dried shrimp floss, plus a hot, creamy-briny teapot of bisque-like prawn broth, & Aku Anak Kampung, offering a choice of green tea-infused pappardelle or tomato fettuccine with Aunty Ann's sambal & prawns (RM28+).

Among the mains, the mirin-grilled chicken asserts itself clearly in Hello's wheelhouse, compellingly smooth & tender, complemented by rice pilaf, cucumber relish & sesame chilli (RM24+) - an upmarket interpretation of Hainanese chicken rice. If you have a bigger budget, other possibilities include orange miso salmon (RM55), lamb rack (RM75) & charcoal-grilled Wagyu beef (RM98). But thankfully, the wine won't wound the wallet, starting at RM75 per bottle for a Wolf Blass Cabernet Sauvignon.

Hello! by Kitchen Mafia
BG7, Jalan 17/13, Happy Mansion, Section 17, Petaling Jaya. 
Open Wednesday-Sunday, 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm (closed Mon-Tues). Tel: 603-7932-1929

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