Ribs At The Burgeon @ Taman Bukit Mayang Emas, Petaling Jaya

June 14, 2015

It's been many months in the making, but Ribs At The Burgeon is finally open - founders Seth & Ray & their terrific team have carved out a contemporary barbecue restaurant & whiskey bar in the suburbs that's boldly ambitious & distinctively appealing.

True to the outlet's name, pork ribs are the raison d'etre at this clear-focused, sharp-minded venue, smoked over red oak for hours, with limited supplies each evening (on one night, the ribs ran out by 8pm). There's no shortage of ribs in KL & PJ, but these rise to the challenge of being memorable - ribs to relish & recommend, with resonant flavour & full-bodied tenderness. The meat shines on its own - it's not the sort that relies on pungent sauces to mask blandness. Available in Sweet & Spicy or Peppery (RM50 for the half-rack above, RM100 for full); enjoy with a side order of comforting creamy-milky mashed potatoes.

Don't miss the magnificent pork belly - authoritatively succulent & authentically smoky, layered with dimensions of flavour, every bite is potently blissful, demanding to be devoured with gusto. RM40 for the 400 grams above (enough for three to share), RM80 for 800. We also like the moist pulled pork burger, lovingly kitchen-made, not lackadaisically slapped together, with choice cuts of meat (not stringy), coupled with fab fries & coleslaw. RM26; honest fare with heart in a setting that nonetheless exudes the mystique & flair of exceptional cooking (the name 'Burgeon' hints at hopes for more venues to come).

The meatiest & mightiest of meals also requires an order of smoked chicken - painstakingly brined with lemon, salt & rosemary for 16 hours & precisely flavoured with a signature rub; four robustly lip-smacking pieces of thigh & drumstick clock in at RM28. Remember to also try the pork sausages, surprisingly rustic in texture, with a gritty juiciness that sets them far above the average sausage, available in well-tuned flavours of original, hot & spicy, or orange zest (RM20 for two, served with potatoes).

The menu takes up solely one page, but everything's worth sampling, due to the kitchen's intricate attention to detail. This soul-food stew supplies pure satisfaction for both taste & texture, comprising luscious chunks of pork, cooked with cannellini beans, potatoes, white wine, bacon bits & bay leaves, blanketed in crispy parsley bread crumbs (RM18). Even something as simple-looking as pork scratchings is executed with excellence, with the rinds roasted to a light crunch & subtly salted (RM8).

Ribs At The Burgeon caters to omnivorous cravings too - you'll find three princely-portioned salads that display complex dynamics: a trendy cauliflower 'steak' with shaved Manchego cheese, roasted corn, lettuce, herbed potatoes & carrot-orange dressing (RM26), roasted strawberries with chocolate sauce, spinach, piquillo peppers, radish & potato crisps (RM26), & marinated squid with crunchy lotus roots, crispy fried quinoa, rocket & fresh barley, finished with a peanut & lime sauce. Not the stars of the show here, but worthy supporting characters nonetheless.

Save space for the two desserts: We love the baked apple crumble, rich but not cloying, served hot & crowned with a sweet butter crumble & vanilla ice cream - fully fulfilling (RM24). There's also a unique red velvet that breaks thrillingly free of cliches, topped with blackberries & layered with cream cheese, crispy cereal chocolate & whiskey-laced butter cream (RM18). There's a ton of thought in everything at Ribs - even the choice of chairs, the flooring & ceiling, the placement of speakers for music.

Did someone say whiskey? Fans of the distilled beverage need to head to Ribs At The Burgeon; chief bartender Shu Mei & her collaborators have created a one-of-a-kind selection of whiskey cocktails that are marvellously mellow & absorbingly elaborate: Our favourites include is the inimitably elegant Canadian Club Blended, shaken with fresh apple juice & rose syrup, garnished with rosemary & rose petals for a delicate fruity-floral bouquet. RM36.

Playful reinterpretations of known drinks: The warm Butter Whiskey (RM28) mixes the magic of Jim Beam Bourbon & Atholl Brose with melted butter, brown sugar & milk, while Mr Bean is a take on iced coffee, ravishing with compelling nuances, with Jack's Daniel's Tennessee whiskey, coffee, caramel, cream, milk, lavender syrup, toasted cashews & dried cranberries.

Prefer your cocktails pleasurably creamy? Order the Little Ballerina (RM29), an impressively masterful medley of Ballantine's Finest Scotch Blended, Greek yoghurt, strawberry jam, raspberry syrup & blended blueberries, or The Zen (RM28), featuring Santori Kakubin Japanese Blended, Kyoto Uji Sencha, milk & ice - an ideal matcha latte for liquor lovers.

The Grey Grouse (RM26; Famous Grouse, Earl Grey Tea, home-made ginger syrup) is great, but the Tong Sui is even better (RM26), a remarkable reinvention of the traditional Chinese dessert, fusing Teacher's Highland Cream Blended Scotch with pulpy pomelo puree, pomelo zest, red date juice & honey - a reason to head to Ribs even if it's not near your neighbourhood.

Come thirsty & try everything - the Leprechaun (RM32; Jameson's Irish Whiskey, tonic & lemon slices - billed as the perfect introduction to the world of whiskey cocktails), Loretto's Mark (RM30; Maker's Mark, ginger ale & lime) & Strawberry Cooler (RM32; Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon, strawberries, basil leaves, vanilla, cranberry syrup, soda water) - or simply one of Ribs At The Burgeon's many, many whiskies, like Haig Club on the rocks. This is one of 2015's most commanding new restaurants; service is also sterling - many thanks to Igor & the entire Ribs At The Burgeon team for taking care of us in every way.

Ribs At The Burgeon
8 & 10, Jalan BM 1/2, Taman Bukit Mayang Emas, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Open Tues-Sun, 5pm-12am. Tel: 03-74975373

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