From heirloom tomato tarts with anchovy mascarpone to beras keladi with dehydrated watermelon, Willow serves up a menu with ambition and allure in equal measure.
We went for two pasta-based mains with tantalising twists. Our favourite was the zitoni, pasta tubes presented intriguingly, ringing an inner circle of red snapper and Sabah clams, surrounded by a moat of garam masala sauce, for a surprisingly soulful recipe of Italian-Indian influences, textured like the former with dried al dente pasta perfectly matched with flaky and firm forms of seafood, flavoured like the latter with deeply savoury, spiced notes (RM70).
Agnolotti, the stuffed pasta, also secures a modern makeover, filled with fleshy confit duck leg meat, sprinkled with crisp morsels of duck crackling, showered with a rich red wine foam and coriander oil, for a confidently executed ensemble that could fit in comfortably at a Piedmontese ristorante (RM58).
For dessert, the goat's milk cheesecake seems to be distinctly Heston-inspired, evoking the British chef's goat's cheese sambocade, swapping out his elderflower jam filling with fig brulee instead, nectarously buoying the goat's cheese earthiness, sweetened further by mascarpone ice cream and 25-year-aged balsamic for a balanced finish (RM50).
If you prefer a zestier end, the variations of yuzu unpeels the citrus fruit in different dynamics and dimensions, laced in a cake, tinged in puree, rounded out with an olive oil sorbet and perilla leaf granita for another pleasurable preparation that brings the culinary world closer together (RM50).
Cocktails complement the meal from start to finish. The Eden Watermelon works well as an aperitif, gentle with gin and Galliano, brimming with frozen, pulpy cubes of watermelon juice that melt beautifully into a beverage made aromatic with thyme and vanilla (RM55).
Willow's head bartender is Borneo-born, so be sure to sip the Sandakan Sling (RM50; gin and sweet vermouth with Sabah's lihing rice wine, coffee and East Imperial Burma Tonic) and Native digestif (RM35; linutou mild tapai blended with red beans and cinnamony Amaro di Angostura).
Willow Kuala Lumpur
Level 8, W Hotel, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. Open for lunch and dinner; closed Sundays. Tel: 013-235-0542