2018 Menu: Red Clementine, Kajang
September 3, 2018
It shouldn't be a surprise that Red Clementine's menu showcases an experimental flair: Its founder Vickey is a risk-taker, leaving a laboratory research career in Sydney to return to her home country, transforming herself into a language instructor and now, a restaurateur. So while Kajang is rarely on our radar, Vickey's venue is well worth travelling to, whipping up distinctive dishes that make a delicious mark.
For some customers, Kajang might be best known for its satay - you'll find that too at Red Clementine, but the restaurant's culinary team has completely rewired Malaysia's favourite grilled skewers.
Call this a contemporary rendition - sous vide chicken satay meat is balanced with the uplift of a kerabu-style salad, cushioned with nasi impit, completed with the crunch of cucumbers, flavoured with a smooth peanut sauce (RM27).
It's clearly inspired by satay, conveying somewhat similar nuances, but it's nearly unrecognisable in presentation. Ultimately, it's a daring move by Red Clementine to so dramatically deconstruct a staple that's beloved in this town.
Nasi lemak is ingeniously reimagined too, blending inspirations from East and West - the short-grain rice is infused with coconut oil instead of santan, topped with pandan-scented chicken leg confit and an egg croquette - the only conventional components might be the scattering of peanuts and chopped cucumbers and the side of prawn sambal (RM35 on its own; RM40 with a long black).
This was initially born as an Aidilfitri promotional creation, but it has more than earned a longtime berth in Red Clementine's repertoire - like the revamped satay, it's a memorable experience that simultaneously pays homage to Malaysia's gastronomic heritage while bringing a fresh interpretation to the table.
The wheel of reinvention has been spun for international crowd-rousers too - bid farewell to the typical white fish and take a chance on salmon instead for Red Clementine's Fish And Chips; bite through the crisp batter and the unmistakable lusciousness of salmon awaits within. The generous portion of two hefty fillets is rounded out with a satisfying serving of fries as well as sriracha and house-made tartare sauce (RM38).
While the spirit of adventurousness clearly permeates the selection, these concoctions prove capably executed, exemplified by the sticky comfort-food allure of the BBQ Beef Cheeks - Aussie beef braised for eight hours, resulting in a glorious tenderness with gelatinous dimensions, thoughtfully accompanied by corn pakora for textural contrast; if we could return for one dish at Red Clementine, it might be this, easily equalling beef cheeks served at respected establishments closer to KL (RM38.50).
On weekends, Red Clementine also offers a special brunch series - the most regal of them all is the King's Breakfast, conceived for two persons to share; the platter is packed with three eggs that can be prepared scrambled, poached or sunny-side-up, channeling fragrant notes of truffles, surrounded by (deep breath!) two pieces of organic French toast, beetroot-pink and turmeric-yellow sourdough toasts, butter house-made passion fruit-mango jam and blueberry jam, as well as a choice of smoked salmon trout, chicken sausages, or smoked duck. Fit for a ruler, indeed - a solid, substantial serving for RM50.
Red Clementine is also capable of crafting special dishes by advance order for any occasion, be it birthdays, anniversaries or other celebrations and events, preparing playful symphonies of unique productions. We had a sampling of one potential appetiser - a vibrantly ravishing Salmon Miang Kham, reconfigured as a trio of cured salmon, salmon skin and salmon roe, assembled with all the accoutrements of Thai miang kham - mix it up and have it in one mouthful with pea puree, crushed coconut and lemon gelato for a delicately sophisticated ballet of flavours and textures.
Even the beverages spring a few surprises - the Iced Jaffa (RM12) reformats the dynamics of jaffa cakes into liquid refreshment, expertly juggling the chocolate and citrus elements. For non-caffeinated lattes with lovely hues (RM15 each), order the naturally colourful Baby Maya, brilliantly blue courtesy of organic butterfly pea, and the PanCo, gorgeously green with pandan juice and coconut, both made creamy with Australian milk.
Red Clementine strives to bring layers of wholesomeness to its entire menu, so you'll find ingredients like unbleached, unsulphured cane sugar in some of its beverages.
All in all, Red Clementine is certainly a culinary destination to bookmark, even for those of us who live far from Kajang. Many thanks to the team here for having us.
3A And 5, MKH Boulevard Kajang, Selangor.
Open Tuesday-Friday, 10am-10pm; Saturday-Sunday, 11am-11pm. Tel: 03-8740-8935