Rata, SS15 Subang
November 1, 2018
The greenery that graces Rata's walls reflects its respect for homegrown produce: Taking its name from the elevated town of Tanah Rata, this new restaurant relies heavily on vegetables nurtured on Cameron Highlands to round out recipes with roots from Malaysia and neighbouring nations. It's the fruition of founding chef Vic's decade-long journey through numerous kitchens and his recent exploration of the food landscape in Southeast Asia, culminating in the creation of one of Subang's top contemporary eateries.
Rata's flavours are anything but flat; start with the Summer Salad, one of our favourite salads of 2018, brimming with lively zest and lovely vigour, bringing together the freshest local plum tomatoes with coriander cress, crushed red chillies and Indian mangoes, completed with the protein punch of tender line-caught Malaysian squid, buoyant and beautifully balanced in a citrusy lemongrass dressing (RM26). If anything can whet the appetite, it's absolutely this, with its chorus of ingredients singing together in harmonious unison.
If the salad is wonderfully wholesome, the Spicy Chilli Prawns with Flatbread are decadently divine. Local sea white prawns, fried in their shells to preserve their fleshy crispness, layered over moreish potatoes in a textured slow-cooked chilli sauce that burns pleasurably, paired with flatbread for a wrap - for those evenings when we're not counting carbs or calories, we could contentedly consume plate after plate of this (RM28).
Rata's meat skewers might seem like street food taken to a new pinnacle by a passionate cook. The Umami Beef Kebabs feature Australian grass-fed strip-loin chunks in a preparation that might seem like a cross between Malaysian satay and Japanese kushiyaki, a little nutty but also earthy and briny by way of aged brewed soy sauce, bonito flakes, togarashi spices, grated palm sugar and black mayo (RM9.50 per skewer). Meanwhile, the Coconut Lamb Skewers showcase succulent New Zealand leg of lamb, marinated overnight with 17 spices, with notes of kunyit and kerisik that evoke the influence of rendang, endowed with the sprightliness of an accompanying coriander mint sauce (RM9 per stick).
Speaking of street food, Rata's rendition of ikan bakar merits more than a mention - the Grilled Marinated Pomfret is Malaysian fish at its finest, expertly executed to ensure each bite is smooth and moist, made tasty with freshly grated turmeric, turmeric leaves, crushed red chillies, toasted coriander seeds and house-made sambal - it's a nourishing, fulfilling platter, more so with some steamed rice and French and four-angled beans sauteed in sweet soy sauce (RM42).
Our heartiest course is also our most robust - the Beijing Express Marinated Rib Eye is partly inspired by the potently savoury flavours of Chinese takeout, with the 300 grams of grass-fed beef emboldened by a black sauce of lip-smacking depth, ginger glaze, Japanese soy sauce and coconut palm sugar; fried rice with garlic chips, caramelised onions and soft-boiled egg introduce more dimensions of deliciousness to a dish that steak admirers should adore (RM110; portion can be shared by two persons). Rata's selection of house wines is selected to stand up to offerings like the beef (RM20-RM24 per glass).
The House-Made Wok-Fried Egg Noodles might initially look a little like char kuey teow, but it's possibly more like pan mee that tastes like premium mee mamak, with a spicy tuna twist, plus plenty of tofu, bean sprouts and prawn crackers (RM28) - this is the one to choose for a single-plate meal that you plan to devour entirely on your own.
Rata also promises five varieties of pizza, each with engaging toppings that span spiced mango chutney to local spinach. The Turmeric Chilli Chicken & Sarawakian Pineapple is a very Malaysian take on the Hawaiian, but it also blends together an intriguing medley of diverse elements like a house-made sambal, tomato sauce and Greek yogurt, furnishing a rich bounty of tang and spice, all on one pizza (RM26).
Desserts and drinks aren't an afterthought: The Upside Down Banana Cake (RM19; with coconut ash ice cream) and Pulut Cheesecake (RM20; with sticky black rice pudding) are tempting treats, yielding delightful modern reinterpretations of Malaysian sweet-tooth staples, also a testament to how Rata is a produce-propelled venue that painstakingly makes its fare from scratch in its own kitchen.
Chef Vic (who also runs Damansara Perdana's Two Hands restaurant) spent half a year developing the drinks for Rata, so this place is also worth bookmarking for cocktail enthusiasts seeking creatively original concoctions.
The Lychee La Senza is soothingly constructed with lychee in various forms - as concentrated liqueur, as water, and whole - mixed with mint liqueur and Fleur de Sereau Savage liqueur made from wild elderflowers, for an aromatic potion that'll completely enchant you faster than expected.
The Pineapple Prada performs similar magic with pineapple, combining muddled Sarawakian pineapple, cold-pressed pineapple juice, Caribbean pineapple liqueur and pineapple dark rum with coconut palm sugar and coconut rum for truly tropical feels.
Bailey's Balenciaga is the nightcap to end the Rata experience with, blending Irish cream with orange liqueur, hazelnut liqueur, cold-pressed orange juice and grated 70 percent chocolate for childhood comfort in an adult's glass.
We've been consistently impressed by Chef Vic over the years, and RATA continues that tradition. Many thanks to the team here for having us.
25, Jalan SS 15/5a, SS 15, 47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 4pm-12am. Tel: 012-424-1194
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