Rare: The Food Company, Damansara Perdana

June 2, 2019

Rare lives up to its name, casting its net both near and far for prized produce, spanning freshwater fish from a Pahang farm to crustaceans caught off the coast of Spain, meticulous in its sourcing of everything from pesticide-free Malaysian vegetables to Japanese salts and Cambodian peppers. Rare's founders, involved in the business of supplying kitchen equipment and ingredients, weren't originally even planning to open this eatery, but we're happy they have - with a hardworking culinary brigade headed by chef Bryan Tan (whose resume includes restaurants in Bukit Damansara, Bukit Bintang and Petaling Jaya), a menu that showcases modern Japanese inspirations, and a setting with verdant surroundings, Rare is a place to relish.

Start with a mushroom pate, built with buttons and portobellos, blended with ricotta and lemon for a rich spread that's simultaneously earthy and lively, a lovely introduction to Rare's repertoire, partnered with house-baked, smoky-charred sourdough toast (RM12). The restaurant's choice of the land's harvest also pays off beautifully through vivacious Japanese cucumbers with all the natural juiciness of kyuri, reinforced with sesame oil and kuroshio crystal salt (RM9), and a carpaccio of Aomori tomatoes, nectarously luscious, rounded out with sakura salt, kampot pepper and wasabi leaf tsukemono (RM19).

Red Carabinero Prawns, the Cardinals of the East Atlantic's deep sea, might be rare in the Klang Valley's restaurants but reign at Rare - these giants are grilled and served with sushi rice here, oozing a lobster-like sweetness in their flesh and saline succulence in their heads (RM80 each). But local produce is accorded equal reverence at Rare - aquaponic-farmed tilapia from Bentong is crisp to the bite, moist to the chew, treated with the respect it merits after the painstaking efforts of the people who cultivated it (RM22). Diving further into the selection, customers can also surface with a well-executed catch of classic Spanish octopus with olive oil and paprika (RM55) and Dutch mussels steamed in Suntory beer (currently an off-menu special).

Pork plays a pivotal part too - the Okinawan-influenced stewed rafute is sheer, savoury sumptuousness in the form of pork belly, slow-braised for 12 hours (RM18), while iberico pork emerges in purebreed collar meat from Spain's jamon-devoted town of Jabugo, its unmistakably porcine purity brightened with yuzu kosho (RM22), and pork-stuffed, pan-seared gyozas (RM19). Don't sleep on the lamb though - the lamb ribs with Szechuan pepper should earn as much attention for sink-your-teeth-into-this primal pleasure (RM23).

With a dry-aging cabinet beside the open kitchen, it's obvious that beef is a cornerstone here, aged for between 21 and 30 days for a concentrated depth of flavour evident in both the rib eye (RM100, with limited availability) and strip steak (RM38 for 80 grams). Since the portions for these prove light, supplement your bovine requirements with a bowl of wagyu gyutan served in a mini don with ultra-decadent kombu butter, buoyantly balanced with pickled kyuri and shiitake (RM35).

Binchotan-grilled tebasaki (totally tender deboned chicken wings with smoked onion sauce for RM13), house-cured bacon wrapped around cherry tomatoes (RM9), shishito peppers (RM9) and okra (RM6) complete the kushiyaki component, but save space for some sweets - the bruleed marjolaine is a cake that's nutty and nice, made extra-textured with complements of roasted strawberries and black sesame brittles (RM18), while the lemongrass panna cotta is irresistibly soft and achingly smooth, gorgeous with toasted coconut and mango sauce (RM18).

Rare: The Food Company

First Floor, The Club, Empire Residence, Jalan PJU 8/1A, Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. 

Kitchen currently opens 6pm-10pm, Tuesday-Sunday. Tel: 012-275-7340

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