Knowhere, Bangsar

February 8, 2019

By EDKL Writer A.A.

Step inside Knowhere and it's clear that this is a strikingly hypnotic space with a design to be different, lined with psychedelic murals of keyholes that seem like doorways to other dimensions, beneath a ceiling that looks like a galaxy-spanning blanket of stars.

While it has been running for more than half a year now, Knowhere remains one of Bangsar's best-kept secrets, a restaurant and bar for customers in the know, bringing together passionately crafted dishes and drinks with a persuasive love for art. 

Beyond the aesthetics, the kitchen is an ambassador for confident, creative cooking. 

Primed for pleasure, patrons can pounce first on carnivorous temptations of the flesh: The Smoked Duck is satisfying in its simplicity, succulent to the chew, buoyed by vibrant dashes of vegetables, while the beef might be even better - the Burnt Butter Steak showcases chunks of Australian flank meat that winningly soak up a slightly spicy, subtly complex burnt butter sauce (RM26.80), while the Lime-Cured Beef Tongue is the triumphant result of in-house pickling, sliced thinly for an even spread of tangy flavour, bolstered by punchy sun-dried tomatoes and onion chilli jam tartine.

Seafood surfaces with a mighty splash too - an ocean-fresh bounty is on impressive display with the Seafood Platter, a sharing portion of garlic prawns spruced up with tomato salsa, Japanese mussels spiced up with sambal, grilled calamari and baby shrimp, assembled for an array of terrific tastes and textures, clocking in at a very reasonable RM58.80. 

If you prefer a plate to savour all on your own, shore up your meal with the Deep-Fried Seabass, crisp-skinned fish that yields a moist flakiness, completed with the beautiful brininess of a clam veloute and the sparks-joy uplift of sherry-spiked caviar.

Knowhere's Malaysian-born chef has channelled nearly two decades of experience - 15 of those in Greece and the Middle East - into a repertoire that takes cues from across continents. 

Pizzas go beyond the run-of-the-mill - rectangular-shaped, with a crust inspired by crisp, relatively thin Mideast-inflected dough that absorbs the flavours of the rich, savoury toppings, the best bet is a Half & Half, part of a 'secret menu' for regulars. Have two flavours of your choice for RM36.80 - our halves were truly the best of two worlds, comprising the kitchen-smoked French-style Duck Confit with onion marmalade, balancing the umami and the nectarous, and the Seafood Malaya, powered by mollusks and crustaceans, propped with spicy sambal, sweet pineapple and cheesy mozzarella.

Where there's pizza, there's probably pasta - the Carbonara is a can't-fail crowd-rouser of fettuccine with beef bacon, creamy but not cloying, while the Timbale Ratatouille is a tangier treat, robust with tomatoes, onions and bell peppers for a vegetarian-suitable order that successfully evokes the comforting characteristics of the classic Provencal stew.

Their bar component is as noteworthy as the kitchen - Knowhere's head bartender Emran lives right here in Bangsar, so he's keen to do his neighbourhood proud. A family man at heart, Emran's signature cocktail is the Keluarga, inspired by the nuances of nasi lemak, delicately weaving together Bacardi rum, ginger, pandan syrup, coconut cream and lime juice - this potion was a runner-up in the Bacardi Legacy 2017 cocktail competition, so it's much, much more than a novelty.

Emran's imagination also runs loose with another original creation that honours National Cheese Lover's Day - it's painstakingly prepared, with a blend of fat-washed Mahon gin and coconut oil that's been sous-vided for two hours, then frozen, then clarified, to ensure the gin takes in plenty of flavour. Combined with a house-made pineapple cordial, it becomes a martini-style drink garnished with a web of cheese that you consume together with the cocktail for delicious dynamics.

Fun fact: Emran was recently first runner-up for the Giffard West Cup cocktail competition, Asia Selections 2019.

With the bar open at 4pm, there's potent reason to leave the office early and sip on Knowhere's Sirap Setan, a reviving blend of pandan-infused gin with rose water, cherry blossoms, lemongrass and sours (RM32), and the Nova, a super star of fruity flavours, uniting vodka with watermelon, lychee syrup, rosemary and lime-celery foam. Knowhere prides itself on using quality liqueurs, so you won't find any of the dodgy stuff here or watered-down drinks.

Knowhere's promotions throughout the week prove noteworthy: Ladies Night on Wednesdays beckon with all-you-can-drink tuak and white/red wine at RM16.90 per entry. Men's Night (brought to you by Naked Grouse) ensues on Thursdays, boasting live music and as much whisky as a guy can chug at only RM59. And starting 23 February, Knowhere will launch its weekend brunches, with a free flow of Bellini cocktails from 11am onward - peachy, indeed!

Many thanks to Knowhere for having us here.

50, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

Open Sunday-Tuesday, 4pm-1am; Wednesday-Saturday, 4pm-2am. Tel: 010-220-2358

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