iL Primo @ Kia Peng
September 1, 2010
We had high hopes for iL Primo, the latest addition to the city center's increasingly crowded dining scene. Thankfully, it lived up to most of our expectations.
Despite its name, this isn't exactly an Italian restaurant; pasta is one of the highlights of the menu, but the best recipes seem to focus on seafood. In some ways, iL Primo feels like a familiar cross between Shook!, Favola and Il Lido, but it still retains a sense of uniqueness.
Service is excellent; this is one of those places where staff members put customers entirely at ease and cheerfully try to fulfill every request. We lingered here for hours on a weekday evening, but the time flew by effortlessly.
Fine de Claire oysters. Sweet and fleshy, with a straight-from-the-reef sorta freshness.
South Australian Pacific oysters. Surprisingly, it wasn't easy trying to tell the difference between these and the French ones; these tasted a bit more briny, which we kinda preferred (!).
Hamachi crudos. Not a smashing success, since the slightly-too-salty dressing of grape seed oil, rice vinaigrette & yuzu overwhelmed the natural sweetness of the delicate yellowtail.
Vialone Nano squid ink risotto with Australian marron (freshwater crayfish), New Zealand little neck clams & Australian Boston Bay black mussels. One of KL's best versions of this recipe, bursting with the full flavors of the ocean. The rice was impeccably cooked, with a creaminess that absorbed all the savory richness of the superbly fresh seafood.
Grilled garoupa fillet with sea salt & extra virgin olive oil. Moist but firm; nevertheless, while it was nicely prepared, this isn't the most memorable fish around.
Wood-fired tiger prawns with pepper, bearnaise & horseradish cream chive sauces. Can't complain about this either, but sometimes, prawns are simply prawns.
Nova Scotia North Atlantic lobster & Norwegian red king crab legs. Very much recommended; perfectly plump crustaceans, with a smoky succulence that could scarcely be bettered.
Santa Julia Torrentes '08 (Argentina). Refreshingly light and easy to drink.
So is iL Primo KL's best new restaurant of 2010? Nope, that honor still belongs to Il Lido, Mandarin Grill or Nathalie's (I favor Il Lido). But it's in the Top 10 _ we've made two trips here over the past week; a second entry, for meat, pastas and desserts, will be posted soon.