I am a big fan of Nadodi in KL, the trendy gastronomic powerhouse that has taken KL by storm in recent years. Their food takes you on a delightful nomadic journey to discover the culinary delights of Kerala, Tamil Naidu and Sri Lanka, and where the ambience, artisan preparation and playful presentations can only be best described as an invigorating adventure for the senses.
So when I heard that they were doing a pop up in Singapore on 19 Sept 2018, I notified my makan kakis and by the next day, had 17 Nadodi die hards and curious first timers raring to go. So we booked 2 tables a few weeks before the scheduled date. Little did we know that because of limited seating capacity, we had booked 17 out of the 22 places they were arranging for the night (although they had two seatings – 6pm to 8pm and 8pm to 10pm).
The event was held at Native Bar at 52A Amoy street, a quaint trendy bar in one of the shophouses along Amoy street where they serve innovative cocktails made with familiar ingredients like mango, turmeric, cinnamon, and more exotic ingredients like crunchy foraged ants from Thailand ( yes you read right – ants ) and arrak from Sri Lanka. Founded and helmed by VIjay Mudaliar, Native is proudly committed to using local and regional produce to produce the most interesting and innovative cocktails money can buy.
On the menu for the evening was a 7 mile journey featuring some of the best loved dishes served at the main restaurant in KL. I had tried about half of the dishes in my previous several visits to Nadodi but still found fresh delights that evening.
As is usual whenever I write about Nadodi, I am going to let the pictures do the talking.
Lifting thy spirits
We started in a celebratory fashion with two bottles of Tattinger champagne.
We then drank a magnum of the always reliable and extremely mellow 1996 John Riddoch Coonawwara Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by the 2006 Mollydooker Enchanted Path Shiraz.
A chilled dessert wine the delectable 2001 Chateau Rieussec completed our evening.
Redolent of honey, apricot, orange, almonds and treacle, the 2001 Chateau Rieussec is pure liquid gold scoring 100 points from Wine Spectator and James Suckling- a perfect score.
The Dream Team
Executive chef Johnson Ebenezer who grew up in and honed his skills at various hotel restaurants in Chennai, and chef de cuisine Sricharan Venkatesh who not too along ago had a stint at the other Indian molecular restaurant Gaggan in Thailand, was in attendance with their dream team of other chefs.
I was very pleased to see the very engaging brand director Kartik Kumar (who also boasts Gaggan pedigree as its former head of operations) also there, as he has always taken good care of us.
The Amuse Bouche
I have always enjoyed the amuse bouche served at each of my dinners at Nadodi.
The amuse bouche again started our dinner with a bang. Unfortunately, I was too distracted to catch what Kartik was presenting about the ingredients as I had just spilled copious amounts of Tattinger Champagne on the floor, and the upper floor where we were dining was awash with the loud peals of laughter and merry revelry that was going on around the bar downstairs serving other patrons.
I loved the black cracker (squid ink?) and the cone was also delicious.
You reached to the bottom of the Mug to “fish” for your fresh catch of the day ocean trout, then reeled it in collecting curry espuma along the way, and break through the “waves” which were layers of crispy lemon flat rice.
A delectable combination and clever deconstruction of our popular fish head curry.
Breakfast like a King
Vitelotte potatoes, micro greens, jackfruit seed sambal , served with Sodhi topped with Muesli (presented in a black box)
The presentation of the little black box containing the muesli was a whimsical play of the notion that you were pouring cereal into a bowl of milk (the sodhi which is essentially coconut milk curry). The sodhi was delicious and I slurped up every drop of it.
This dish was inspired by Chef Ebenezer’s fond memory of Indian mothers staving off the potential colds of the monsoon season with a comforting rasam. So he created a new Nadodi ritual with a hot infusion siphon and an intense, spiced broth infusion made from American heirloom tomatoes, Japanese momotaro and local vine tomatoes, poured over ghee-spiced lentils and spice oil.
The result – a deeply aromatic, intense and comforting broth redolent with spice and all things nice. As a unworthy chinaman, I have never been much of a fan of some of the watery weak rasam served in too many Indian establishments I have patronised.
But this Rasam I like. I really really like.
And I noticed a few of my dining companions asking for seconds which the chefs happily obliged.
I really enjoyed the lamb which was the mains the last time I went to Nadodi in KL. I therefore looked forward to the lamb chops when I saw it on the menu.
But I was flummoxed when I bit into the lamb chops at this meal. The meat was moist and delectable. But what magic is in the masala concoction smeared on it that tasted simply out of this world ?
Kuan, the best home cook in our group who was sitting across me, started trying to deconstruct the masala concoction. Minced sweet onions maybe ? Cumin, peppercorns, fennel, a little turmeric ? But what is with that umami richness ?
We asked one of the serve staff if they could ask the chefs what went into the masala?
A short while later, Chef Ebenezer himself came to our table. We couldn’t believe our ears – he slow cooked Foie Gras, lamb trotters and all the other spices and reduced this to a thick rich paste. The lamb was then marinated in this heavenly mixture for one and a half days.
The marinated lamb chops were given the sous vide treatment, then smeared with more of this decadent marinade and blow touched shortly before serving.
I swore my heart heaved and my arteries jiggled when I heard this.
But I know I will be talking about this lamb and it’s marinade for a long long time.
It was the piece de resistance of the evening for me.
Nadodi serves their briyani rice in these delightful golden orbs which opens up to reveal even more delights.
One was a delicious brûléed eggplant with a three-nut puree.
The second was a dollop of yoghurt trickled with curry leaf oil.
The chefs opted to not to use Basmati rice despite its popularity, and instead incorporated a variety of short-grained rice more widely cooked in the region of Dravida Nadu, which inspired this dish.
The rice was fragrant with an explosion of flavours from the chicken and spices cooked with it.
Mind of Coconut
Pradhaman is a quintessential Kerala dessert made of soft rice pieces of batter soaked in a thick silky broth of jaggery, coconuts and cardamon.
The chefs made this soft and silky pradhaman infused ice cream, and paired it with generous helpings of golden roasted coconut crumbles.
Went perfectly with the 100 points Sauternes 2001 Chateau Rieussec.
183 First Floor
Off Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
Tel: 03-2181 4334
Open 6 to 10pm