Friday, May 18, 2007
Reviews on Palate Palette
VISION KL....The City Lifestyle Magazine
Palate Pallette Restaurant and Bar
21 Jalan Mesui, off Jalan Nagasari
Tel.: 03-2142 2148
Now this truly is a place that anyone who loves old fashioned gumption - especially when it comes to startup cafes and eateries - will love. Simply put, Palate Palette, baby of operators Su-Ann Wong and Paul Lai, is a bottom-up initiative that is both stylish and playful but with a dedication to original food creations. Located near No Black Tie, Palate Palette is decorated with oddly matched chairs, NYC artistic bravado (Executive Chef Lai is from the Big Apple) and a spunk that knows no bounds (note the Astroturf as decoration to see what we mean). But it’s the smoothies, the excellent salads and delicious mains, the ginger crème brulee(!) that will keep ‘em coming in. Should the initial year’s demons be held at bay (restos are terminally difficult through their first year of baby steps, staff changes etc.) Wong and Lai will give KL a taste of art that it has long been missing.
NST Online » Features2007/05/12
FUN AND FUNKY: The lounge is both colourful and charming.
WELCOME: Trees create a shady bower.
SAVOURY TREATS:Chicken Lollipops.
GRILLED TO PERFECTION: Lamb Chops on pumpkin mash.
COLOURFUL: The cheerful set-up in the dining room.
Klang Valley Streets: Playful palates
By : LOKE POH LIN
LOKE POH LIN was simply bowled over by the cosy ambience of Palate Palette with its funky decor, murals and overall excellent food and presentation.
IF you were to stumble upon Palate Palette, you’d think that you had chanced on someone’s rather whimsical garden. Walk pass a few shady trees, pebbled walkway, a wind flower fluttering in the breeze and then you’d spy lots and lots of colourful tables and chairs in the dining hall, all mismatched to a cheerful chaotic whole.
Visually, this intimate eatery is unlike any other. Apart from the rojak furniture, there is very visible art, both on ground and first level where the lounge is.
On the downstairs walls, murals reign. Entitled Reach and Fishes will swim to where the food is, these were rendered by Alicia Yeo, a Singaporean artist.
Even the light fittings are funky, made of Chinese brushes of varying widths, the kind used for applying shellac.And would Su-Ann consider Palate Palette a restaurant-gallery? “Not really. Because my art is more permanent as you can see. I would like to have “arty” events held here though, art exhibitions, installations for charitable causes. I’d like to show alternative films in the lounge upstairs for example,” she shared.
Despite all the arty-farty aspirations, co-owners Su-Ann Wong and Paul Lai are the most unpretentious of restaurateurs. What is apparent is their passion for food (Palate) and design (Palette).
Su-Ann has a graphic design background, and takes care of the business part of the restaurant. She’s the Palette part of the enterprise, so to speak.
Paul’s the chef and manages the F&B side of the business, including the servers and his kitchen aides. He’s the Palate part of the enterprise.
So how did the two meet and how did Palate Palette come about?
“When I was a student, I would daydream about opening a cafe. I have been collecting ideas all along. Some time last year, I seriously thought about realising this dream. At the same time I met Paul, who moved here, we talked. I liked his food and he liked my ideas and so Palate Palette was born,” Su-Ann recalled.
As it turned out, the partners’ spouses are cousins. “Yeah, we’re the outlaws!”they quipped.
“My first thought was a cafe, a relaxing little place, serving my mother’s cooking. Now it has become this restaurant!” she laughed.
Paul is a Chinese-American who grew up in New York. A jeweller by profession, he used to teach at the Gemological Institute of America. Five years ago, he made a full transition into F&B.
“We often entertained and as a result received many compliments from my friends. My move into F&B was partly triggered by this. My passion was and is pastry and I enrolled at ICE — Institute of Culinary Education and graduated with a degree in pastry in 2002,” said Paul.
He’s worked at a few New York restaurants since then and has even helped a few friends open their restaurants.
By the time Paul landed in Kuala Lumpur in August 2006, the business side of him kicked in and he resolved to be up and established by Christmas. And so he did. Together with Su-Ann they forged ahead and secured the space, furnished it, trained their staff, designed their menu (both makan and minum) and opened in time for Christmas. Quite a feat considering how slowly the wheels of bureaucracy turn.
Now for the food. Paul cajoled us into sampling at least two of each course in his menu. For appetisers we had Paul’s suggestion of the chicken lollipops, which came with roasted chili mayo. A playful dish with the lollipops served in little paper cups, it’s the best thing you can do with chicken I reckon, as far as children are concerned. Easy to eat, tasty and there’s no need to work ourselves to the bone carving away on a skinny carcass.
If beef is your thing, then the pepper rib-eye minute steak will prime the belly for the main act later on. Just two slim slices of succulent steak to munch on, not too much but enough to add some protein to the evening.
Next, some soups to dip into. Paul suggested the heartymushroom soup and seafood chowder.
Made with both oyster and baby Portobello mushrooms, the mushroom soup is a rather filling option, especially if you decide to dunk Palate Palette’s house rolls into it. Served with herb butter, I could happily settle for this if I had a limited budget. Absolutely delicious!
The seafood chowder was chock-a-block with salmon, calamari and prawns but unfortunately it was lukewarm and was hence a tad “fishy”. The addition of kaffir lime shreds was a masterly touch. But even this could not cut through the fishiness.
Paul decided to treat us to the fish and chips and lamb chops with garlic black bean sauce. First of all, the PP fish and chips ain’t anything like the heavily-battered fish with thick cut potato chips dish that we normally envisage it to be.
Imagine two square fish fillets lightly breaded and fried, tempura style. Then imagine purple, orange and yellow sweet potato medallions skewered on a metal chopstick and plunged into the fish. That’s F&C the PP way!
The star of the evening for me were the lamb chops, and I’m not a fan of red meat. Lightly grilled to perfection, the chops propped their fragrant bodies on mound of pumpkin mash, topped by yam wool (which resembled this Brillo pad of taro).
This was swiftly followed by lamb and onions, which turned out to be my daughter’s favourite of the evening. It puts the heart in hearty. Good, basic comfort food without any frills, I can see this as the dish one returns for on another visit.
We rounded off the evening with the customary sweets. By this time, I was in no mood to lift my spoon, much less to plough my way through a dark chocolate cheesecake. I don’t even like cheesecake, but I found myself demolishing more than half of it before I caught myself. It was THAT good. What we ate that night was a true blue New York-style cheesecake, not those rubbishy wannabes that some eateries pass off as cheesecake.
We can’t honestly say that we paid the petit green tea mille feuille its due. Visually, it was amazing but my taste buds were so titillated from the earlier treats that it simply can’t handle any more stimulation. But one thing’s clear to me:I’ll return to Palate Palette just for this and coffee another day, if the other dishes are anything to go by!