June 9, 2018
It's been a dream of chef Nikom 'Kom' Uatthong for years to offer omakase-style dinners that take guests on a gastronomic romp fuelled by wit and whimsy: Starting this month, he's bringing that vision lusciously to life, debuting a monthly, multi-course Chef's Table extravaganza that uniquely weds his Thai heritage with inspirations from the rest of the region as well as his French-inflected Le Cordon Bleu training.
The Chef's Table menu will be available at both of Kom's restaurants, the Thai joint Kompassion at Damansara Kim and Asian fusion venue K2 at Taman Tun Dr Ismail. The main difference is that Kompassion serves pork while K2 does not; for this meal, we experienced the Chef's Table at K2 on Kom's kind invitation.
The Chef's Table menu will be revamped at least once every two months, so the next K2 session on Friday, 29 June, will still likely reprise many of the fan favourites of this opening salvo.
The first act commences with The Garden, a gorgeous harvest of grilled tomatoes, halloumi cheese, avocados and other fresh vegetables, encircled by lemon gel, orange gel and a dressing with harmonious notes of ginger, garlic and lime - it's a standout starter, weaving together the common components of a simple salad into something captivating with surprising complexities.
Kom's forte rests in taking seemingly ordinary ingredients and turning them into resoundingly extraordinary creations, resulting in flavours that simultaneously feel both familiar and brand-new, epitomised by triumphs like the Prawn Terrine, featuring a crustacean triple threat of grilled prawn on prawn mousse with prawn oil, partnered with bean paste and mirin-pickled paku vegetables for a tasty tapestry of Thai, Japanese and French elements.
If you've encountered Chef Kom's cooking before in Kompassion and K2, you might have realised he has a playful imagination that borders on mischievous, which he takes to the next level in his Chef's Menu - how else would you explain a no-unagi dish that he calls 'Unagi?' (with the question mark hinting at the mouth-watering mystery). The recipe replicates the taste and texture of Japanese-typified eel, relying on Malaysian catfish marinated in teriyaki and salt for 12 hours - it's a fun approximation, but rest assured the novelty is thoughtfully integrated into an elegant ensemble with a lightly fried quail egg, butter-poached Japanese onions and grilled capsicum with eggplant.
Next comes the Kanom Jeen with clam in duck consomme, a soulful reinterpretation of the central Thai rice noodle bowl that's often served with thick stocks - Kom strives for a lighter preparation, with subtler but more soothing sense of savouriness that's perfect for rainy-night, comfort-food fare.
It's a true voyage for Chef's Table participants, as we move from underwater pleasures to fowl play. Chicken roulade is layered with house-made green curry sauce, plated on capsicum puree with grilled rice for enjoyable textures, while the 'Duck! Duck!' is the heaviest hitter of this bunch, featuring a dynamic duo of fleshy duck - leg confit laced with belacan and breast lined with Szechuan pepper - rounded out with cauliflower puree, leek-and-spring onion puree and an intriguingly vivacious salsa of tomatoes, guava and kedondong.
How could we leave unsatisfied when there's not only one, but two desserts - the Sa Lei Sorbet conveys the delicate tang of ambarella fruit, accentuated by dark soy sauce for a mingling of sweet-sourness with umami, while the light-and-fluffy cheesecake is memorably coupled with a thick, kaffir-lime-spiked mascarpone-and-porridge reduction; coffee flower tea (harvested once a year in the hills of northern Thailand) with Earl Grey-evoking hints will cut through the cake's luxuriance.
All in all, it's clear that chef Kom and his team have poured tremendous thought and sparkling skills into this labour of love, an excellent extension of their work at Kompassion and K2. The Chef's Menu is priced at RM120 nett; bookings via K2's Facebook page are essential, as tables for the menu are extremely limited. Bonus: Corkage is waived, so bring a bottle.
Many thanks to K2 for having us.
K2 Asian Fusion Cuisine
15, Lorong Datuk Sulaiman, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur.
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 1130am to 230pm, 6pm to 930pm. Tel: 03-7731-7016