KGB Soul Food @ Live House, TREC KL

November 25, 2015

One of TREC's most vibrant venues opens this week: Live House is a two-level destination where bands take centre stage nightly on the ground floor while stand-up performers steal the spotlight upstairs at a comedy club called LOL. Plenty of interesting sections inside, including a balcony with a sweeping view of golf course greens, as well as a corner filled with portraits honouring comic titans like Lucille Ball, Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, Charlie Chaplin, Robin Williams & P. Ramlee.

Our top reason to visit is for the food - the kitchen is run by the founders of KGB, the burger purveyors who've conquered Bangsar, Mid Valley & TTDI over the past thirty months. KGB is entering new territory here, with an oeuvre that puts an offbeat & original spin on Tex-Mex & American soul food. This is the place for rustic quesadillas imaginatively stuffed with thick, bold-flavoured fillings: 'Bromance' is a creamy-soft marriage of roasted broccoli, sauteed chilli-lime corn, Monterey Jack cheese, chipotle aioli & guacamole; 'Jerk' offers a meatier bite with Jamaican-inspired jerk chicken, Cotija cheese, mango salsa, ranch dressing & jalapenos; 'Chaebol' is a Mexican-Korean coupling of caramelised bulgogi beef, cheese, kimchi & kimchi mayo; 'Jalapeno Popper' is a TGIF's-style treat transformed into a quesadilla, with South-western grilled steak or chicken, cream cheese, ranch & jalapenos. Each showcases punchy, playful dynamics; order a hearty sampler platter (RM35) to try them all.

Our favourite is the Barbacoa Spicy Eggrolls (RM16), bursting with smoked chicken, black beans, corn & cheddar jack in light, crisp wrappers, complemented by guacamole & chipotle yoghurt dips - a lip-smacking snack you'll want to keep munching for as long as possible. The Mamasita Grilled Corn (RM10) is also addictive, inspired by KGB founders Steven & Jo's admiration for Melbourne's Mexican mainstay Mamasita - tender corn with a tongue-tingling flavour boost from smoked chipotle & queso; it makes us wish KGB's next gambit would be a full-blown Mexican parlour. Bring on the crazy tacos & burritos!

Buttermilk-marinated chicken wings are also a should-order; again, try the tasting platter (RM28), which comprises three all-spicy varieties: Golden Jalapeno is the likeliest crowd-pleaser, blanketed with salted egg yolk & bolstered by jalapeno; Buffalo features a tangy-buttery hot sauce; Nashville is the most fiery, with Cayenne peppers - the meat is juicy, confidently coated in flavours that are robust without being overpowering. It's also well worth having the KFC - not chicken, but Korean Fried Cauliflower, crunchy vegetarian nuggets glazed in soy garlic or spicy sauce, with a tossing of toasted sesames, partnered with kimchi coleslaw & lime - Seoul food that might spark another thought: could KGB someday stand for Korean Good Bites?

KGB at Live House goes beyond burgers, spearheading a slider revolution: You'll find a something-for-everybody diversity of mini-burgers with surprising ingredients - Prime comprises grilled beef with pan-seared foie gras, red wine reduction & berry compote (RM33 per pair); if you want something equally beefy but less opulent, the Southern Smoked Brisket (RM21 per pair) is constructed with 48-hour-marinated & hot-smoked pulled meat in toasted brioche buns. For vegetarians, the Mean Bean Sliders (RM17) have textured patties of black beans & pistachios with crispy portobello skin 'bacon' & chipotle mayo. And as proof that KGB could go ahead & open a pure sliders joint, there are also sliders in steamed bao buns, in memorable options like smoked duck beast with herb liver pate & hoisin aioli (RM21), or salted egg soft shell crab with coleslaw & jalapeno aioli (RM21). But if you want to go all-out, KGB's entire range of full-sized craft burgers are available at Live House, plus one that's exclusive here: the L-O-L, a billion-calorie beef behemoth with mac'n'cheese (RM24, served with fries). Bonus: The kitchen remains open till past midnight, till as late as 1:30am, so this is where to get your burger fix after the other KGB's call it a day.

Food that's this whimsical is fun to partner with inventive drinks - KGB serves spiked milkshakes to thrill the young at heart. Our top pick is the Strawberry Vodka, a bourbon shake with strawberries & cheesecake, followed closely by the caramel milkshake with an unexpectedly succulent, sweet-savoury strip of candied maple beef bacon. For choc fans, the Ferrero Rocher milkshake with nutella, Bailey's & Frangelico is as satisfying as its description would indicate. A sampler of three mini-milkshakes clocks in at RM35, the price of a good cocktail. And speaking of cocktails, that's a speciality at Live House too, with chuckle-worthy names like LOL, Snortle, Hysterical, Snicker & Giggle. Many thanks to KGB & Live House for having us here.

KGB @ Live House
Electric Boulevard, TREC KL, Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur. Live House is open daily, 5pm-3am. Tel: +6012-223-1937

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