Saint Pierre Kuala Lumpur
September 23, 2018
Saint Pierre's bona fides are firmly established in Singapore; the restaurant, now at One Fullerton, has endured in various forms for nearly two decades and enjoyed a string of accolades, currently holding one Michelin star. Its first Malaysian offshoot opened this month in Kuala Lumpur, bringing an enterprising take on contemporary French cuisine laced with Asian influences, the hallmark of the brand's Belgian-born, Singapore-based chef-founder Emmanuel Stroobant.
Saint Pierre KL deals purely in multi-course seasonal menus; for dinner, customers have a choice of five, eight or 12 courses, with cheese and wine supplements if desired. The most elaborate 'Adventure' menu, clocking in at RM748 per person (with RM88 for cheese and RM438 for wine pairings), will eat up several hours, so head here early if you're choosing this route.
An amuse-bouche trio kicks off the experience promisingly - crisp little pastry bites topped with Jerusalem artichoke puree with cocoa powder, celeriac and apples with grated walnuts, and mushrooms with lentil mayo, each displaying distinctive dynamics. A bread basket that surfaces at the start will have us spreading on seaweed and salted butters throughout the evening.
The first course proper is constructed of more snacks, such as sesame cornets with smoked salmon tartare and roe, tomato meringue with parmesan cream and basil, capsicum crisps with eggplant and miso, and barbecued corn with kaffir lime oil. There's a thoughtful meticulousness to how these fit into the over-arching Saint Pierre journey through flavours and textures.
The next two dishes are layered in decadence - new-harvest Aquitaine Oscietra caviar with yogurt cream over seawater jelly, followed by Hass avocado carpaccio in lemongrass-infused tomato water jelly with avocado mousse, grapefruit and golden croutons, acquitting themselves according to expectations. A crusted slice of French Petit Violet artichoke stuffed with zucchini and pine nuts, paired with a sauce tinged with turmeric and tamarind, showcases the kitchen's efforts to harness an ensemble of noteworthy ingredients - patrons might nonetheless be split on whether the culinary synergy here is sufficiently persuasive.
Seafood from across the globe takes the stage next: Hokkaido scallop, seared with almonds and butter, comes with curry oil and fennel confit (the mollusc is firm, smooth and meaty, but not as naturally or lusciously sweet as the most satisfying scallops), while Brittany blue lobster emerges in a coconut milk and wild mushroom broth inspired by Thailand's tom kha gai (rather one-note and overpowering in its savouriness, surprisingly lacking nuance and liveliness).
The foie is one of our favourites for the night, pan-fried perfection, well-proportioned with elements of chicken jus, lychee and apricot that completely complement the centrepiece. However, the Atlantic cod with oxtail consomme, which sounds like a glorious highlight on paper, is once again rich in umami but barren of the spark that would make each mouthful memorable.
By the time we reached the final meat courses - Japanese Ohmi beef with horseradish-spiked jus and a nori tart filled with yellow chanterelles, then lamb with leek, curry, thyme and much more - we recognised the reality that there are already several fine-dining establishments in KL whose work conveys what we felt was missing here. Skilled technique can be found in spades in Saint Pierre's craftsmanship, but we were left craving a sense of soulfulness or an emotion of exhilaration in its cooking.
For cheese acolytes, the supplement merits consideration, spanning Stilton blue to Epoisses and Roquefort. A duo of desserts - Conference pear with sorbet, emulsion and parmesan crumble, concluding with strawberries and basil encased in meringue with mascarpone ice cream - plus a final series of petit fours that brings us full circle in the meal, ensure no one leaves hungry.
Service is diligent and dedicated. Wine pairings are predominantly pleasant, perhaps more competent than compelling.
Saint Pierre Kuala Lumpur
L8, W Kuala Lumpur, 121, Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur.
Open Tuesday-Sunday for lunch and dinner. Tel: +6032732-5008
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