Bistro à Table
Time Out says
The long-anticipated restaurant opening by KL’s culinary wünderkind and much-lauded ‘take-home’ chef Isadora Chai marks a historic moment in Malaysia’s gastronomic landscape. In one fell swoop, her Bistro à Table proves several things: one, that Malaysia’s culinary star and homegrown talents are veritably on the ascendance, and two, that Malaysians are more than ready to shell out a pretty penny for haute cuisine that isn’t prepared by a foreign or celebrity chef, a fact that is all the more remarkable considering the restaurant is tucked away in deepest Section 17 in a quiet residential area.
True, the suspended bulbs, suspended orchids, and French prints are individually striking but somehow unfinished as a collective, but it’s not the setting that diners have driven from all corners of KL to savour. The Australian and French-trained Chai’s food is exquisitely presented and creates unforgettable taste sensation chance to get bored with the single page menu because it changes according to what’s fresh and best in the market. That’s not to say it is rewritten daily (particularly well received dishes may enjoy a repeat outing), but by and large, the element of surprise is another reason to be enamoured by Ms Chai’s evidently prodigious culinary talents.
Her signature coddled maple syrup egg with asparagus spear and crouton dust is magical and an eloquent vindication of her experimental predilections: the runny yolk turns into silk when it meets the sweetness of the maple whilst tiny specks of crouton dust give the otherwise sinuous starter a cunning savoury kick. Similarly, the escargots baked in classic Paris butter and spiked with horny goat weed were imbued with the same magical dust that invokes in the diner an uncontrollable hankering for more.
Although much ado has been made about chef Chai’s main courses (her slipper lobster and sea urchin tagliatelle was disappointingly absent from the menu), they don’t quite manage to steal the limelight away from the starters, so it’s just as well desserts like the chocolate fondant with vanilla bean crème Anglaise provide an upward lilt to the end of the meal. Don’t get me wrong: the cannelloni of seared scallops and school prawns in a ridiculously titillating lobster bisque and Indonesian black nut tapenade was truly something special, but a dish that takes longer to read than it does to consume could well prove to become an Achilles heel if it becomes the rule, and not the exception, not least because the two slivers of cannelloni were barely the size of my index finger and cost more than a good steak. I for one rejoice, nay celebrate, that we are now able to reap such talents as chef Chai’s, so it would be nothing short of a monumental crime for a restaurant to fail on an issue so trite as money.
Be that as it may, Bistro à Table is one of the most exciting culinary milestones in my Malaysian dining calendar this year, and I for one anticipate with bated breath Ms Chai’s future endeavours and gastronomic forays. Fay Khoo
Bistro à Table was nominated Best New Restaurant in the Time Out KL Food Awards 2012. Chef Isadora Chai was nominated in the Outstanding Chef category in the same year. Our food awards are 100% voted for by the people of KL. This way, we guarantee that popularity and consistent performance is rewarded.
Food 40 is our monthly, definitive guide for where to eat in the Klang Valley. No entry into the Food 40 has provided any Time Out team member with a free meal or other incentive. If you have eaten somewhere that you think should rank amongst KL's top 40, email us and we'll check it out: email@example.com.
6 Jalan 17/54, 46400 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03 7931 2831
Opening times: Tue-Thurs, 6pm-11pm; Fri & Sat, 6pm-12midnight; Sun, 6pm-11pm
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