Sion Dining @ Ara Damansara

September 27, 2015

What happens when a Japanese sommelier-&-chef who loves Spanish & Swiss cuisine (as well as Marilyn Monroe) opens a restaurant? You wind up with a venue like Sion, where the setting is seductively elegant & the cooking is singularly engaging.

Sion's founder Masamichi Shiomi is a chef worth dining out for - as a testament to his prowess, you might spot other Japanese restaurateurs happily enjoying a meal here from time to time. It's easy to understand why, after a bite of the house salad (RM26), a playful medley of crisp leaves & savoury bacon slices with an umami-rich wafu-like dressing. A nuanced concoction, invigorated with lively textures & complex flavours that took us by surprise - one of our favourite salads in recent memory.

Of mushrooms & meat - Sion proves a master of both, delivering a platter of pan-fried eryngii with butter sauce that retains all of the fungi's fleshy earthiness, crowned with shiso leaves for herbaceous dynamics (RM23), plus a sizzling pan of teppan hamburger steak, a tender patty of minced beef & pork (RM38) - if the latter feels familiar, it could be because Masamichi once helmed the now-closed Akane in Desa Sri Hartamas, which reputedly sometimes sold 80 servings of hamburg a night.

Try the tongue - Sion serves both pork & ox tongue, the first paired with parmesan cheese for an exhilaratingly unusual combo (RM20) & the second stewed to a lovely succulence in a luxurious wine sauce that we mopped up with some baguette (RM78).

Sion's repertoire is tricky to contextualise - the menu is underpinned by Japanese elements but overflows with European ingredients & inspirations. The Spanish are represented by Jamon Iberico, buttressed by an unexpected but unimpeachable choice of mango instead of, say, melon or other fruits (RM48) ...

... while the Swiss might seek to claim partial credit for this robust fondue, which blends Emmental, Comte & Tomme, with impressive dipping options that include juicy veggies sauteed in white wine for another only-at-Sion creation (RM62) ...

... & the Italian inflection is comfortingly crowd-pleasing in the penne with gorgonzola sauce (RM32) & a very hearty spaghetti carbonara enhanced with mentaiko (RM35). This really is only the tip of the iceberg for the menu - had we more stomach space, we'd have also ordered the baguettes with anchovies in hot olive oil (RM23), Japanese oysters marinated with olives (RM26), pork intestine & stomach stew (RM26), chicken sauteed with three kinds of Japanese peppers (RM25) & much more.

Expect a solid selection of wine & whisky (with a smidgeon of shochu); for casual drinking, house pours of Chilean Anakena Carmemere & Australian Chardonnay Semillon work very well to complement a meal here. Many thanks to Sion for hosting us.

Sion Dining & Bar
B-1-16, 1st Floor, Block B, Jalan PJU 1A/20A, Dataran Ara Damansara, Petaling Jaya.
Mon-Sat, 630pm-1130pm. Tel: 03-7840-0632

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