New Menu @ The Red Beanbag, Solaris Dutamas

August 10, 2016

Much has changed since The Red Beanbag first emerged in December 2011. Back in those halcyon days before flatlays & flat whites, before soft-serves & smoothie bowls had to be 'on point,' in the year of The Royal Wedding, Moves Like Jagger & Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, when much of Solaris Dutamas remained a maze of barren hallways cloaked in construction dust, a fledgling cafe with a quirky name quietly surfaced on a secluded corner, hoping customers would like a taste of the things we now take for granted - eggs, baked & Benedict, plus fluffy pancakes & French toasts - served with a side of smiles & sincerity, skills & smarts. Nearly five years later, KL has feasted ravenously on tens of thousands of Big Breakfasts throughout countless cafes, but The Red Beanbag still stands as a vital touchstone for how a restaurant can make an uplifting difference in the everyday lives of its patrons, having welcomed & warmed, fascinated & fed enough people to populate a town. As it approaches its half-decade jubilee, after giddy highs & blistering lows, this place isn't half-done making memories - if home is where the cafe lover's heart is, RBB might feel like family to many, & it's eager to introduce six fresh-faced babies to intrigue you for a reunion: A beguiling brood of new recipes born of chef Fhaizal Mustafa & his cohorts' colourful imagination.

Explorations of RBB's recently relaunched menu should start with the Potato Jammin' (RM18) - potato skins, jam-packed, literally, with beef bacon preserve, gorgonzola & dukkah. Festooned with edible flowers & sprouts, it may look like a cross between T.G.I's cheesy snacks & a Monet masterwork, but it tastes comfortingly uncomplicated in its nectarous lusciousness.

Also staking a claim as baby food for adults, the deserved bestseller of RBB's newbies is Smokey Robinson (RM25), touted as a terrarium of treats - lift the lid, & a slight vaporous swirl escapes, conveying the heady earthiness of the contents, compelling diners to dig into a creamy-soft pea-&-mint 'panna cotta' (more textured & much less gelatinous than the dessert), layered lovingly with beetroot-cured salmon, mixed mushrooms, a runny poached egg & bacon crumbs, alongside sourdough slices.

The RBB Rice Pudding (RM22) is swathed in the sweetness of coconut milk, but the bowl's best bits may be the bumper crop of fresh fruits - enlivening berries galore, caramelised bananas & juicy dragonfruit - buoyed by chia & pumpkin seeds for bite.

Possibly our favourite soft-shell crab burger so far, RBB's Holy Crab! (RM32) should calm crustacean cravings, offering hefty mouthfuls of soft-shell crab with a breaded crunch that yields cleanly to crispy-tender flesh, splashed with a moderately spicy, mild-flavoured sauce that evokes Singapore chilli crabs, completed with a fried egg & Asian slaw - sufficient building blocks for a successful burger, coupled with warm, tasty fries. P.S. Dear Joh, your unsinkable beef burger still hasn't left the menu here.

RBB's sole pizza is one with personality, laden with beetroot-cured smoked salmon on every slice, smeared in a blue cheese sauce & showered with feta & rocket leaves (RM25). The caveat is that the crust might lack the rich character of its toppings.

RBB serves three kinds of pancake stacks; the latest, Who Zoo Yuzu (RM22), seems the most elaborate, a citrus enthusiast's fantasy flapjacks, with mandarin segments, candied orange & yuzu sauce, as well as crisp basil leaves & roasted almonds. And since Fatbaby ice cream makes everything better, a scoop of Berry White (strawberry & white chocolate) can only help.

RBB is still the ideal venue for your Smooshie Juice fix; a mellow-yellow thirst-quencher of coconut water, pineapple, lemongrass, chia & basil seeds (RM8) was specially concocted for Urbanscapes 2016, but it proved so popular, it endures today on the roll call. As for coffee, the cafe has been a breeding ground for many good baristas, & a bad latte here is far rarer than a Porygon (or so we hear); currently, RBB serves single-origin Honduran beans by Perth's Grand Central roasters. And while the cocktail list isn't really extensive, it's reasonably distinctive, with a couple of fruit-focused choices like ice-blended watermelon with lychees & a shot of vodka (RM23) - a decent celebration drink. Thanks to the RBB team for having us back.

The Red Beanbag
A4-1-08, Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur. 
Note new operating hours: Mon-Thurs, 10am-6pm. Fri-Sun, 930am-10pm. Tel: 03-2633-5030

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