Marco Creative Cuisine @ 1 Utama

March 22, 2018

By EDKL Writer A.A.

Marco makes the promise of presenting creative cuisine and completely lives up to it: This restaurant has steadily evolved into one of our top recommendations in 1 Utama, serving up imaginative dishes that delight, conceived with an elegant flair by chef Daren Leong and his team. If you're seeking a memorable meal in this mall, Marco could be your best bet.

Sporting a comfortably refreshed and casually refined setting, Marco recently revamped its menu, further fulfilling the theme of spirited exploration epitomised by its legendary namesake of Marco Polo. New ideas surface at every level of the cooking process, resulting in exciting food pairings and engaging methods of preparation.

All dishes in this post can be ordered individually on their own. But if you'd like to be immersed in a total Marco experience, here are our suggestions for a multi-course lunch or dinner that takes two potential routes - a more adventurous trek that emphasises innovation, or a safer voyage that still succeeds in breathing fresh life to classic crowd-pleasers.

For thrill-seekers, the tone can be set with an opening salvo of Foie Gras Snow (RM 25), a successful experiment in making liver lovable again. Even for patrons who've had foie in numerous fashions, this is a novelty that is well worth sampling - foie gras torchon is frozen, then shaved over luscious lychee fruits and supplemented with wine jelly cubes and an apple chip, for a smooth, light starter that beautifully balances delicate but distinctive flavours. A terrific way to indulge in a foie gras dish at a wallet-friendly price.

Marco's rendition of ratatouille (RM 25) is one of the most ravishing we've seen, a visual pleasure that's painstakingly and passionately put together (the folks at Pixar would surely approve). This French favourite has been reinterpreted here, layering slices of green and yellow zucchini, eggplant and roma tomatoes, rounded out with two unexpected accompaniments of a Basque-inflected piperade pepper sauce and Korean-inspired kimchi puree, adding extra depths of flavour to a nuanced ensemble that might win the heart of even fiercely hardened food critics. If you plan to sample only one ratatouille in the Klang Valley, one that tastes like spring and summer combined, this could be it.

It gets even better: The Aromatic Chicken Consomme (RM 20) is brewed in a French press, showcasing broth that's built with bone and breast, clarified repeatedly and made complex with herbs and spices, plus a mellow zing from Szechuan peppercorn. An absolute should-try, it's one of our favourite consommes of recent times - each sip is bliss that lingers, smooth and soothing, rich and resonant, practically perfect. This will haunt our dreams.

For a main course, the Pork Rib-Eye Steak (RM 48) is a slab of locally sourced pork, sous-vide cooked for ninety minutes, remaining reasonably juicy in its juggling of lean and fatty textures, more than sufficiently full-fleshed in its 250-gram glory to bring forth big, meaty bites and a firm, moist chew.

It might look simple, but there's plenty of behind-the-scenes thought and effort: This is best savoured with a brown sauce constructed of reduced pork bones, laced with Shaoxing wine, plus a dollop of fermented blue cheese butter that can be spread on each forkful or left to melt on top of the meat. Even the side of pan-roasted vegetables is notable - Roman cauliflower, baby carrots, and asparagus, with a herbaceous surprise of edible leafy carrot tops that are delicious in their deep-fried nuttiness, illustrating the kitchen's commitment to combat wastage of produce components.

For a sweet finish, the Joconde Ice Cream Sandwiches (RM 19) are a punchy-tasting treat, crunchy at first, sumptuous at the final swallow, stuffed with a choice of house-made Valrhona Caraibe 66% chocolate ice cream with caramelised bananas, pistachios, green tea soil and sea salt flakes, or strawberry ice cream with berries compote, gruyere cheese and black pepper. Formidable enough to be the pride of full-fledged dessert parlours.

And now, here's a second way to compose a Marco feast, underscoring the versatility of the kitchen: Commence this round with the porcine-spiked appetisers of Kimchi Apple Salad with Bacon (RM 18; sliced apples slathered with kimchi puree for a kick, fleshed out with jerky-evoking bacon), Antipasti Salad (RM 25; inspired by Spanish-style cold cut platters, transformed into a salad, showcasing slivers of chorizo and salchichon, crowned with an eye-catching element of dehydrated crispy jamon that chef Daren originally created by accident), and a heart-warming Cream of Tomato Soup (RM 15; made with Italian tomatoes, completed with another welcome helping of that jamon with an intense concentration of hammy flavour).

Pastas and burgers come with their own unique twists at Marco: The Bacon and Egg Spaghetti (RM 33) is delectably al dente, mingling with bacon dashi that bears an umami-rich whiff of Japanese inspiration, streaky bacon, shimeji mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and a 75-degree egg. Easily crowd-pleasing.

The imposing burger known as The Spanish (RM 36) is notable for cramming savoury slices of serrano jamon and manchego cheese with a pork shoulder meat patty, pickled cucumber, tomato, smoked paprika mayo - if La Mancha tasted like a burger, this would be it. The moist, textured patty and the buns are both made in-house; accompanied by truffle fries.

The conclusion of these courses might look like a typical glassful of ice cream, but Marco assures us this is Not Your Usual Strawberry Sundae (RM 21), with its heaping of fresh strawberries, berry compote, smoky whisky tapenade, cream cheese and chocolate shards, formatted into one of PJ's most elaborately intricate sundaes, chock-full of interesting ingredients.

The Banana Fritters (RM 15) are also not your average pisang goreng - once offered to regulars as an off-menu highlight, it's now become beloved enough to permanently grace the official selection, with the beer-battered bananas coupled with candied bacon and a bacon ice cream that takes more than 12 hours to make. 

End your visit with a refreshing Lychee Martini (RM 25) - the fruit is marinated in sake for a week, blending and binding the characteristics of both.

Many thanks to Marco for a genuinely fun experience.

Marco Creative Cuisine
Lot G146, Ground Floor (Old Wing), 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Open 11am-930pm. Tel: 603-7731-8923. Reservations: [email protected]

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