January 24, 2018
Budu, belimbing buloh and bird's nests: Traversing traditional temptations that hopscotch from Pangkor to Rembau, Bentong to Kuching and Kota Bharu, Beta Restobar stakes a claim as one of Kuala Lumpur's most dynamic new dining destinations of 2018, refashioning familiar flavours from throughout our country into a playfully modern representation of charismatic cooking.
Head chef Raymond Tham, whose team also runs contemporary European restaurant Skillet At 163, hails from Negeri Sembilan - the braised-and-grilled ox tongue on Hainanese toast with turmeric and belimbing buluh (RM27) is informed by his home state's heritage, specifically the robust richness of lemak-style Minangkabau cuisine.
You'll also savour a burst of vivid, spice-laden nuances from shrimp on sticky sago-and-squid-ink crackers with calamansi and an aioli inspired by Sarawak laksa broth (RM30).
Malacca's cincalok is rarely spotted at KL's eateries, and never like this, with the fermented shrimp infused into a granita, sparkling in its distinctive flavours, buoyed by the invigorating crunch of choy sum flowers, raja ulam and jambu batu (RM32).
Speaking for peninsular Malaysia's west coast (Pangkor island to be precise): Salted tenggiri fish balls, mixed with chicken, balanced with white radish (RM30). For the east coast of Kelantan and Terengganu: Winged beans, furnished with a spike of umami from budu aioli, anchovies and chilli (RM27). For the central region, shining a light on Pahang: Sous vide chicken with Bentong ginger, lotus crisps and a local herb pesto (RM45). And for something that reinterprets a snack that Malaysians nationwide know: 'Inverted' karipap, constructed with curry cream in hollow potato crisps for a textural treat with resonant subtleties of flavour, fragrant with star anise and peppercorn (RM30).
Desserts lend an air of drama to the proceedings, particularly with the swirl of vapour that encircles the delicacy of bird's nest in a coconut sphere with water chestnuts and lychee (RM80). For a less elaborate but no less enjoyable conclusion, try the banana crisp with sesame seeds and peanuts, rounded out nicely with condensed milk ice cream (RM38). House wines pair satisfyingly with the food selection.
Fun fact: Beta's name was chosen for its dual meanings - the second letter of the Greek alphabet, it's now the second restaurant of the Skillet At 163 team. And of course, in the Malay language, it's a royal pronoun used by sultans and kings.
Fraser Place, Jalan Perak Kuala Lumpur. Open for lunch and dinner, except Mondays. Tel: 03-2181-2990
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