LAVAA RestoBar, Petaling Jaya

March 21, 2020

If you're living in PJ, LAVAA RestoBar remains available for takeaways throughout this month. Place your order at www.lavaa.my and you can choose a time to pick up your food.

For an eruption of tasty twists in everything from Nashville hot chicken to Nyonya laksa, LAVAA scores a solid eight on the volcanic flavour scale. Tucked on a leafy corner of Section 17, this new family-friendly space is perfect for porky pleasures, fiery fare and creative cocktails.

LAVAA's food menu was crafted by consulting chef Suren Krishnan (the chef-owner of Tipsy Boar, also in Section 17). We've followed his trail for most of the past decade, enjoying how he sprinkles a distinctive sense of playful imagination in his crowd-rousing creations.

You can consistently expect the unexpected in Suren's work - his Pork Belly Pakora (RM15.80) could be the latest bar-snack smash, a moreishly meaty take on the popular onion fritter, with tender pork belly snarled within crisply deep-fried gram flour batter. Paired with a sweetish-rich chilly jam, this pakora will probably be polished clean within minutes of reaching your table.

Starters here will certainly rev up the appetite, though the Cheese-Baked Salted Egg With Meatballs (RM13.80) is not for the calorie-watchers - it's every ounce as indulgent as it sounds, with fleshily textured pork meatballs submerged in the creamiest, most decadently savoury sauce, for the guiltiest temptation possible.

The Nashville Fried Chicken Poppers (RM11.80) also makes for hot stuff - you can actually build an entire meal at LAVAA consisting purely of appetisers like luncheon meat fries with garlic chilli mayo, Scotch eggs with mustard mayo, deep-fried calamari with bunga kantan tartar, and potato bhaji with a mint coriander yogurt dip.

If you relish reinterpretations of local favourites, LAVAA's got you fully covered. We'd return for the Nasi Ulam Goreng Haram, a soon-to-be-introduced dish that's aromatically tossed with torch ginger flower, water celery and coriander leaves, laced with bacon and lopped with a fried egg for a dose of devilishly delicious sin.

Nyonya Laksa hogs the spotlight too, with crunchy slices of roasted pork belly bobbing beside a tiger prawn in Malacca's unmistakably fragrant speciality (RM13.80), while Mee Goreng Mamak also secures the swine-and-dine treatment with a bevy of pork meatballs to make this boaring, not boring (RM15.80).

On the Western front, LAVAA's repertoire spans pastas to pizzas, grilled platters to burgers. The Spicy Prawn Aglio Olio is gorgeously garlicky with lovely notes of olive oil, with a seasoning that's beautifully briny with dried prawn shells, complementing the large crustaceans that crown this spaghetti (RM17.80). Coming later this month on the menu is the Mutton Varuval Pasta, robustly spiced with plenty of meat in each mouthful.

Speaking of meat, LAVAA's most carnivorous concoction might be the grilled U.S. pork spare ribs, braised for eight hours to ensure it won't be too tough, glazed in a punchy Connor's stout porter sauce that's sweetened with tomatoes and molasses. At RM36.80, it's the priciest platter on LAVAA's menu, underscoring the affordability of this restaurant, where most main courses cost well below RM20.

Bargain-hunters will also be happy with the cocktail selection, which showcases exclusive signatures that can be ordered individually (RM15.80-RM18.80 each) or at RM50 for three glasses. It's a worthwhile deal for cocktails with intriguing Malaysian-inspired names like Pandan Muka, Mak Cik's Special, and Nenek Kebayan.

We couldn't resist a trio of these - the Teh O Haram (Earl Grey-infused vodka with house-made pandan syrup and lime juice), Kaya Raya (rich with kaya and santan to bolster the blend of dark rum and Malibu), and Singapura Dilanggar Todak (an acquired taste, with seaweed-infused gin wreaking cocktail chaos with purple vegetable juice, Campari, Martini Rosso and elderflower syrup).

All in all, LAVAA looks to be a cool addition to PJ's casual dining-and-drinking landscape - many thanks to the friendly team here for having us.

LAVAA RestoBar

5, Ground Floor, Jalan 17/56, Seksyen 17, 46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Daily, 4pm-1am. Tel: 03-7931 5446

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