Porcupine Place @ Setiawalk, Puchong

January 11, 2015

The story of Porcupine Place is as compelling as its food: British-based surgeon Wen Huey leaves the medical profession, returns home to Malaysia & meets Swiss-trained chef Jon Ng while they're both working at a French restaurant in KL. They fall in love, then decide a few years later to open their own place, collaborating with Jon's long-time friend from his Swiss stint on this vibrant new restaurant in the surprising location of Puchong's Setiawalk complex.

Many thanks to reader Brendan Chan for tipping us off to Porcupine Place, a cheerful venue with a young, graciously welcoming service team that keeps the mood bright & light. Expect to hear more about Porcupine Place in the months ahead; for us, it was well worth travelling to Puchong for.

Why porcupine? Well, it makes a cute mascot, but the name is also an aural nod to 'pork' - the menu here is heavy on the hog.

Porcupine Place's food evokes a genuine quality of playfulness & fun. French toast comes in bite-sized chunks of cereal-coated brioche, convenient to dunk into delicious kitchen-made citrus curd - a creamy-smooth, beautifully tangy signature creation that comes in a choice of lemon, lime, or orange & ginger. RM18; all brunch items remain available during dinner.

The menu defies easy categorisation, wedding European technique with Asian flavours to birth a reinvented prawn chowder with Thai-influenced twists, infused with chilli oil & sprinkled with coriander, creamy with potatoes & cherry tomatoes. RM18.

Jon & Wen Huey focus on preparing much of the ingredients on their own, from baking their bread & smoking their salmon to curing their bacon, one of the crowning components of this slow-cooked pumpkin & coconut soup with a hint of curry. RM12.

Crispy-fried tortellini, filled with mushrooms & accompanied by a house-made cheese sauce (RM22). Recipes here are nuanced, with interesting subtleties that succeed more often than not - the hallmark of hard-working & creative chefs.

Despite its ambitions & adeptness, Porcupine Place's menu is far from intimidating - its 'Hungry Belly' is certain to prove crowd-pleasing, with a well-marinated patty, toweringly topped with bacon & cushioned with scrambled eggs in choux pastry to produce a fresh reinterpretation of pork burgers that miraculously tastes almost wholesome. RM22.

The persistent uniqueness of Porcupine Place's oeuvre extends to starters like frittata laced with spinach, potatoes, mushrooms & tomatoes (RM18; nicely textured, but could be more potently seasoned to perk up the taste buds) & smoked salmon blanketed in rice paper rolls with rocket leaves & lemon caper cream (RM25; an admirable attempt at a crispy-juicy combo, though the ratio of fish to leaves could be fine-tuned for a more memorable effectiveness).

For the most part though, the menu feels meticulously thought out & expertly executed. Devotees of duck will find this oven-roasted rendition highly desirable, doubly-fowled with thick duck jus tinged delicately with cocoa (RM45) ...

... while pursuers of pasta might be tempted by the tagliatelle - also painstakingly made right here in the restaurant, of course - in a mild pesto sauce with crispy spinach & roasted tomatoes. RM15, indicative of Porcupine Place's pledge toward fair prices.

Pork ribs with peanut sauce? We're sold - we'd have preferred this with more nuts for more well-rounded textural complexities, but for RM30, it's enjoyable enough - & it left us way too stuffed to order the many other meaty items here, like lamb roulade with cous cous (RM35), poached white fish with lemongrass broth (RM30) & beef pot roast slow-cooked with red wine (RM25).

Speaking of wine, Porcupine Place doesn't serve any, but since there's only a token corkage charge here, bring your own. And a closing piece of trivia: Which French restaurant did Jon & Wen Huey meet & hone their craft at? Nathalie's Gourmet Studio.

Porcupine Place
B-3A-G, Setiawalk, Puchong. Ground floor, on a far end of the complex, away from most eateries.
Best to call 03-5888-9929 for directions if you're there & can't find the outlet. Open Tues-Sun, 930am-10pm

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