Aposto, Taman Tun Dr Ismail
April 11, 2022
Andiamo, Aposto! This modern Italian restaurant in Taman Tun Dr Ismail has been many months in the making - but it's worth the wait.
Chef-founder Chu Wei Sin launches his first-ever venue this month, putting his personal stamp on Italian cuisine while honouring its core characteristics.
Produce is honest and wholesome; preparations prove engaging with elements of surprise; flavours emerge resonant and uplifting.
Here, handmade pastas come together not only with classic Italian components but everything from salted kelp to bisque foam. Bruschetta is reimagined, lasagna is reconfigured.
Aposto's perspective is progressive, not purist.
It won't offer a conventional aglio e olio - instead, its version features hand-cut linguine with venus and asari clams in miso chilli. Risotto is spruced up with Boston lobster, panna cotta is supercharged with Hungarian honey.
KL's equivalent of a trend-setting Tuscan eatery that knows its heritage but looks to the future, this is one of 2022's best new restaurants.
If you love lively, vibrant eateries, bookmark this sleek 50-seater with a wide-open kitchen. The space is meant to be theatrical; its visual stimulation bolsters the pleasure for our palates.
Chef Chu is a familiar face - he was a linchpin of Damansara Heights' BABE by Jeff Ramsey since 2015, with a professional career that spans over a dozen years, taking him from Colorado to Auckland, including in Baduzzi, one of NZ's enduring modern Italian eateries.
His passion for the kitchen stretches back to his boyhood in Klang, where his grandmother was constantly cooking for her family of 11 children and their offspring. He started working as a cafe busboy before sharpening his skills in the tutelage of international chefs with Masterchef and Michelin-starred credentials, challenged with each step to advance his craft.
Chu has always viewed food as a conduit to connect people, turning strangers and foes into friends, friends into lovers. Take a seat at Aposto's counter to watch the action entertainingly unfold in his natural habitat, for a more intimate rapport with the kitchen brigade.
Early in the evening, Aposto's team rolls out and slices their fresh pastas before service starts. This is the cornerstone of their menu - rich, hearty recipes, with strong, muscular flavours that will placate patrons from Meru and Modena alike.
The pursuit for pasta with 21st-century flavours leads here. Maltagliati with 16-hour braised duck ragu and pumpkin? Tagliatelle with scallops, beets and oyster mushrooms? Agnolotti with mushroom duxelles, ricotta and Parmigiano--Reggiano? Reservations are highly recommended, since we'll be battling the city's most passionate pasta enthusiasts for a table.
SABA ON TOAST (RM34)
Saba isn't something we regularly spot in an Italian restaurant - the Pacific mackerel's native waters are far from the Mediterranean. But Aposto convincingly harnesses everything from Japanese-inspired ingredients to French techniques in its repertoire.
The saba on toast is a sterling starter, even for those of us who often consider this fish overpowering. The cured mackerel is fleshy and mellow-tasting, nearly as tender as confit, buoyed by gremolata, feta and olives for thick, vibrant layers atop slim, crisp ciabatta strips. The kind of sun-and-sea antipasto that transports you to Capri by way of Crete.
CURED MEATS PLATTER (RM68)
If cured meat is a must for your Italian meal, Aposto's should satisfy.
The restaurant is pork-free, so prosciutto and pancetta are out of bounds, but patrons can still savour a smooth, robust fix of Spanish beef salchichón and cecina for a protein-powered platter with Aposto's house-blended, melt-in-the-mouth duck liver pate, dreamy and delicious as a French artisan's, but with its irony gaminess gently softened, complete with salsa rossa spread and Sardinian-style crackly flatbread).
BLACK TIGER PRAWN POLPETTES (RM36)
No shortcuts to good food: Aposto freshly grinds and hand-rolls its polpettes, plump seafood meatballs crafted of black tiger prawns, mixed with Malabar snapper for a natural bounciness, rounded out with carrots and cabbage, baked in the oven and caramelised on the pan, soaked in a butter sauce intensified with prawn heads and shells, served with creme fraiche, chives and bright, fresh tomato sauce, crunched up with black rice puffs. It's a whole ensemble on a small plate, bursting with full-bodied sweetness from sea and land.
LASAGNETTE AL WAGYU RAGU (RM68)
The instantly recognisable colours of the Italian flag seize the spotlight for the striking Lasagnette al Wagyu Ragu.
Folded neatly into a parcel, the lasagnette is a vision of cheese, inside and out, packed with homemade ricotta, showered on one side with grated Grana Padano.
Eat it all together with the triple threat of bolognese-style wagyu beef, basil and quinoa for a well-balanced take on lasagna, yielding fresher, more supple textures and a less cloying taste.
The puffed quinoa in particular is a fun but thoughtful touch, its crispness evoking the crusty edges of regular lasagna.
Fun fact: The type of Italian super-fine wheat flour that Aposto uses for its pastas is often recommended for gnocchi - its result in pasta is a lovely springiness and lightness that lingers, without drying up too fast.
LOBSTER SPRING RISOTTO (RM298)
Aposto's Lobster Spring Risotto is a remarkable ambassador of this season, when winter surrenders to springtime in Italy, a mild-mannered risotto that's enlivened with lemon juice, enhanced with edamame and pea sprouts for extra bite.
Its crowning glory is the whole Boston lobster - delicately succulent, wholly removed for its shell, perfectly partnering the rice with lashes of bisque foam for supplemental shellfish depth. We're still fantasising about this after almost a week.
18-HOUR BRAISED BEEF SHORT RIBS (RM168)
If carnivorous meat is your primal pleasure, sink your teeth into Aposto's 18-hour-braised beef short ribs, its low-and-slow cooking transforming the collagen into gelatinous glory.
Enveloped in an umami-potent balsamic soy glaze with brawny notes of brown sugar, onions and garlic, the layering is noteworthy, taking two days to go from stock to sauce, hearkening to the heady, opulent flavours of a classical French kitchen, needing nothing more than creamy polenta for accompaniment, A terrific take on something you might find in a crowded trattoria while wandering through Lombardy or a brasserie in Normandy.
HONEY PANNA COTTA (RM34)
To end the evening, the shining star is Aposto's Honey Panna Cotta.
Custardy-soft, not stodgy, it would be exemplary even on its own, but it's made exquisitely nectarous with Hungarian acacia honey.
The honey's floral roundness is infused in the cream, drizzled atop it and prominently scattered in honeycomb cubes encircling the panna cotta with blackberries and white wine jelly. It's only three months into the year, but this could become one of our ten favourite desserts of 2022.
Aposto's twist on tiramisu also defies expectations, encased in a tall tuille that conceals the mascarpone with coffee-saturated ladyfingers, its caffeination accentuated by coffee meringue on top, lined with chocolate cremeux on the plate for a decadent hit of dark cocoa.
A full wine list is available, including a Tuscan red and Abruzzese white by the glass, but Aposto's list of crafted alcohol-free drinks also merits exploration, with playful combinations of red beets with maple syrup, lemon and ginger ale or lychee with calamansi and soda.
Also watch our videos above on Aposto!
38, Lorong Rahim Kajai 14, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur.
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 530pm-11pm