Tuesday, April 14, 2015

dewakan with chef darren teoh

This week has been filled with profound experiences, latest of which was my lunch at Dewakan today. This culinary gem showcases contemporary Malaysiana cuisine in the most curious location.. as all best-kept-secrets are, non? Hidden in a lil nook at KDU Glenmarie campus, they've just got their sign put up but it can be tricky for a newbie. It faces the open-air carpark if this tip makes it any easier.

Breadstick 'twigs' accompanied by budu mayo and cucur balls bathed in kerisik.

This impromptu lunch came about when Van decided us 3 ladies should get lunch to catch up. I thought we should too since I missed out on passing Van her birthday gift. Lunch worked better for our schedules so I proceeded to make a reservation for us at 12:30. The phone line was out that day so I left a message on their Facebook page of which they replied the very same day. Us girls met over Lexy's Supperclub (no longer in service) and became foodie friends. I don't know many people who enjoy doing the supperclub or dining out scene so it was really nice to finally have friends where we can gush about good food together.

We started out with warm bread and butter. Well you know me and buttahhh! As we slowly eased into our conversation, we were presented with earthy looking cucur balls bathed in what looks like kerisik 'moss'. This was a good kickstart to the journey. One cannot help but sense the strong connection between the food and the earth that it comes from.

I enjoyed it with the budu mayo that came with the 'twigs'. I found the savoury combination to be very BOOMZ :)

Mango curry

The first interval was gently slotted with a cup of spiced mango curry.

My state of mind as follows:
Ooooh yumm mango
Ohh it's like a non sour lassi
Oh spice spice spice!

It was not chilli spicy but it was bursting with taste spiciness. Sharm remarked about it being very Malayalee which could be the case as I remembered that Chef Darren once bungkus-ed an Eats, Shoots and Roots urban farm package for himself and named it a 'Malayalee' garden LOL. Already you begin to understand the concept that Dewakan, a short form for Dewa Makan, is attempting to portray.. an education for our tongue and somewhat a rediscovery of our palate.

This contraption adds such theatrics to the dining experience! What happens is the mushroom broth infuses with the vegetables and orange peel oh-so-lightly to give it a complex taste but not so much that it becomes overpowering. Huaaa.

That broth goes into the Forbidden Rice Porridge with savoury black glutinous rice congee, ox tongue and egg yolk. I've always been brought up to understand black glutinous rice as a dessert material so I was very pleasantly surprise to discover it worked so well savoury! This comfort in a bowl makes me want to snuggle in a corner blanketed by umami.

This Roast Mushrooms were orgasmic to say the least! Succulent king oyster mushrooms in green curry paste, yoghurt and dried mackerel flakes with sprigs of pucuk tangki Chef Tristan picked up along the way to work. How endearing. Each mushroom morsel is directed by the paste and greenery that lies under and over it so there is no boredom with each bite.

This Razor Clams dish comprising of Pulau Ketam razor clams, jambu air (aka rose apples), cashew nuts, tenggek burung, lime leaf oil and snow is a vibrant jolt to the palate! I think this is the pièce de résistance of the menu! The combination of the cashew, clams and jambu air worked so in sync with each other I really wondered how come I never thought to combine them before. I think that's the beauty of Dewakan's masterpieces. It is like an unconventional symphony when they merge old school food with new school of thoughts.

Almost like something out of a Matisse exhibition, the second main of Corn Fed Chicken is a smorgasbord of charcoal fire roasted chicken basted with whey along with a kailan and keluak puree accompanied by a chicken ragout wrapped in daun kaduk. I enjoyed combining the chicken with the puree topped with the ragout. It just makes so much sense to eat them in unison cos everything seem to compliment each other. Some kinda food chemistry-lah... well in case you didn't know Chef Darren wrote a (published) book on Molecular Gastronomy.

Eating art.

Van had the Steamed pomfret over turmeric leaf, chrysanthemum garland, water chestnut, salted egg yolk with sweet potato crisps. I like this one too, very chinois but combining the best elements that would go well with fish.

Sharm, on the other hand, had Confit of lamb breast, spring onions, marsala and onion puree. Van thought it was the best of the lot. I'm not much a lamb confit person but it was good. I especially liked what they did to the rose petals. Those were divine!

Kudos to the pastry chef for this mind-blowing Dippin' Dots-esque (if you've had you Dippin' Dots before you'll know what I mean). She nailed it with this space ice-cream tinged with longan and kaffir lime leaves palate cleanser. We died.

The Smoked chocolate with banana was a riot of smoked chocolate chantilly, nutmeg syrup, dill, pisang goreng ice cream. I'm not the biggest fan of chocolate desserts but what stood out to me was the pisang goreng ice cream. Banana ok yum, ice cream ok yum but there was a hint of smokiness that really sealed the deal. It just brought the ice cream to a whole different level. So much sophistication for a simple scoop of ice cream.

As I slowly scooped and savoured Gula Melaka in my mouth, I had an epiphany. I realised that Dewakan is a reflection of a contemporary Malaysian infused with old traditions and new-world experiences. Adventurous and creative yet also curious and nostalgic of my roots. This plate (of gula melaka marquise bursting with mulberries, sour meringue and pulut ice cream) is me. This food is me. And how gorgeous am I?

I applaud the effort Dewakan is taking to remind us of nature's treasures, God's gift to Malaysia, that we should hold of high regard. Humble, almost forgotten vegetation (especially ulam and a myriad of funky ferns) becomes signature highlights of the dish. Sod banana shallots and cappelini onions, we revere in tenggek burung and local dill! 

Us girls had such a transcendental gastro experience today at Dewakan. I am personally fortunate to work with Chef Darren Teoh on their powder room. Chef Darren and I go way back.. as in primary school back. We reconnected recently and I was floored that he offered the challenge of doing up their restroom to well... me! I highly admire his initiative to include local artisans into the peripheral accents of the restaurant. Most of all I swoon over the passion, perfection and vision that goes into every morsel of the plate. This dude brings game to the local dining scene and I foresee bigger things for Dewakan (one star perhaps?).

P.S. Don't forget to pay a visit to their restroom and dab on the signature scent solid perfume.

Lower Ground Floor
KDU University College, Utropolis Glenmarie
Jalan Kontraktor U1/14, Seksyen U1
40150 Shah Alam
Selangor, Malaysia
Tel (09:00-12:00 / 15:00-19:00): +60355650767 / +60123341327

Lunch: Mon-Fri 12:00-14:30
Dinner: Thur-Sat 19:00-21:00

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