Dean & DeLuca, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

May 9, 2019

Travellers strolling in SoHo, Silom and Shibuya might have chanced on lunchtime crowds flocking to Dean & DeLuca's markets and cafes in the heart of the world's bustling cities. Now, KL can be counted on that list of outposts that spans Gangnam to Galaxy Macau, Mall of the Emirates to Orchard Central - the brand that was first founded 42 years ago in Lower Manhattan opened its first Malaysian offshoot in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur several months ago, promising a kaleidoscope of comfort cooking that colourfully brings global flavours to the table, from All-American Breakfasts to African Shrimp Pasta, Mexican Quesadillas to Brazilian Piri-Piri Fish, French Beef Cheek Stew to Norwegian Seared Salmon.

We finally visited Dean & DeLuca Kuala Lumpur following its introduction of a brand-new food menu this past month; curated by a Michelin star-winning French chef with a clear-eyed international perspective and palate-pleasing focus on quality, the selection is one of our best bets for a cheerful meal in Bukit Bintang that should satisfy both locals and visitors, with substantial portions at sensible prices.

After a French chef laboured on the latest menu here, we couldn't resist ordering the cocotte-cooked Onion Soup, which turned out to be one of the best renditions of this Gallic classic in KL. Sumptuous and naturally sweet without being cloying, brimming with slow-cooked caramelised onions in a savoury broth beneath the top layer of golden, gratineed bread and cheese, this is steaming-hot soul food that mustn't be missed for a mere RM12. Other broth options include the perennially popular pumpkin and mushroom soups (also RM12 each).

If you favour salads as much as soups, the Grilled Zucchini Salad (RM25) should be on your shortlist, a sprightly medley of rocket leaves, green beans, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and raisins, plus breaded mozzarella balls that ooze with robust flavour, rounded out with house-made garlic dressing that's aromatically crafted to complement this ensemble. What elevates Dean & DeLuca Kuala Lumpur's salads are the invigorating dressings - a lemon ginger dressing for the shrimp and quinoa salad, a cumin orange dressing for the eggplant and couscous salad, and a spiced lemon dressing for the barley and chickpea salad, each conceived to deliver a distinctive character to its specific salad.

Dean & DeLuca's signature fettuccine with meatballs is a staple that can be savoured the same way from Singapore to Bangkok, and of course, KL in between.  The pasta is house-made for a fresh, wholesome texture, packed with plump beef meatballs that convey a tender, fleshy bite, tossed in a lovely, lively tomato sauce, with parmesan shavings for the final punch of flavour.

Fun fact: Brand co-founder Giorgio DeLuca was the son of an Italian food importer who sold everything from parmigiano-reggiano cheese to olive oil in New York's Queens borough, so it's no surprise to see an American Italian standard-bearer like pasta with meatballs rank high on the menu here, with other familiar pasta preparations like bolognese, carbonara, pesto, truffle mac and cheese, aglio olio and arrabbiata also accounted for.

Another American long-time household favourite that's not often spotted at Malaysian restaurants is the Traditional Meatloaf (RM25) - a handmade hunk of moist ground beef blanketed in luscious barbecue sauce, bolstered by a velvety mash of 100 percent real potatoes, for a pure protein-and-carbs combo that can't be beat.

All in all, we appreciate how Dean & DeLuca Kuala Lumpur offers engaging choices that put its own spin on tried-and-tested recipes. If you're craving a fish burger, skip the fast-food possibilities and head here for the Wasabi Salmon Burger, stuffed with a patty constructed with seared salmon, quinoa, spring onions and spinach for a healthier burger, buoyed by a zingy wasabi sauce (RM40 with fries). Prefer Mexican pleasures? The Chicken Enchilada is excellent, plump with shredded chicken, capsicum and onions rolled in tortilla, topped with red and white cheddar, sour cream and an enchilada sauce with a secret ingredient of dark chocolate that adds depth (RM27, served with salsa).

Open from 9am through midnight daily, Dean & DeLuca KL makes for a convenient stop at any hour, for any occasion, with an all-day-dining menu that spans brunch dishes like Eggs Atlantic to desserts like the French Toast, vivaciously showered with juicy dragon fruit, bananas and strawberries for a fruit-loving flourish, with whipped cream, strawberry sauce and honey for a triple dose of decadence (RM22). Pair that with a Red Splash to counter the city centre's heat (RM13; ice cream soda with rose syrup and lime) or a fast, fuss-free coffee to send you out on a well-caffeinated buzz.

Many thanks to Dean & DeLuca Kuala Lumpur for having us here.

Dean & DeLuca

C3.10.02, Level 3, Pavilion, Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 9am-12am. Tel: 03-2110-0140

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