M.A.D! @ PV128, Genting Klang

November 19, 2014

We're conflicted about M.A.D! - we like what it stands for ('Modern Asian Diner,' a name that has also reliably served eateries in Singapore & Jakarta in recent years) & its experimental spirit, but it might be struggling with some tricky teething troubles.

Maybe we were here on the wrong night; the restaurant was packed & its kitchen was likely swamped. Staff members looked sullen & harried, muttering that items we sought to order were unavailable - no nachos with chicken rendang, no chilled smoked salmon soup, no nasi goreng istimewa with unagi. That's sort of OK - there are still dozens of other dishes on the menu, though it might ultimately be better for M.A.D! to maintain a smaller, more manageable selection of its best recipes.

M.A.D! strives to fuse the classic with the contemporary. Our fave order here: this reinterpretation of the Sichuan mala hotpot. Pleasantly flavoursome enough for us, though it might not exactly be what some patrons want - it's not very spicy & it's not the soupier sort of hotpot. Our choice was chicken (RM19); beef (RM22) & seafood (RM24) are offered too.

M.A.D!'s char kuey teow (RM13.50) sounds fairly promising on paper; the menu says it comprises three noodles, without individually identifying them. Basically it's kuey teow, mee & bee hoon, though in a sign that the kitchen was stressed out, our order initially came without bee hoon. A competent version but not the kind that inspires pilgrimages to Penang. Bonus context: M.A.D! is founded by a former executive chef of Penang's Suffolk House Restaurant.

 The peanut butter chee cheong fun (RM9.50) might work better with a more robust & less one-dimensional recipe for its sauce.

Porridge with raw fish is a proven combo that's known to be memorably mouthwatering, so this can still be saved - the congee need not be this bland & the salmon sashimi has to be better (this serving tasted like a supermarket cut for cooking). RM15.50.

Very respectable marks for presentation: Chicken rendang sandwich (RM14.50). But the theme that prevailed was that the kitchen wasn't operating that night to the fullest of its potential & capabilities to create remarkable fare with exciting flavours. The promise was there, but the spark was missing.

Smoked duck breast salad with watermelon & rambutan (RM18). Again, relatively hampered by the use of middling ingredients, put together on a plate without a palpable sense of purpose. But who knows, maybe we simply ordered the wrong items - perhaps if we had gone with the teriyaki chicken rice, seafood tom yum kung, beef fondue & lamb shank rendang instead, our impression might have been very different.

M.A.D!'s drinks include a signature matcha soya (RM6 for cold), alongside desserts like cinnamon toast with gelato. All in all, once the outlet finds its footing in the future, it may be a force to be reckoned with in this neighbourhood; we wish M.A.D! well.

M.A.D! Modern Asian Diner
G-13, PV128, Jalan Genting Klang, Kuala Lumpur.
Daily, 11am-11pm (1am on Fridays & Saturdays). Tel: 03-4144-4567

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