The Burgeoning Love Affair
It takes a lot for me to be able to say I have a favourite restaurant.
It’s like asking you to proclaim the girl you are going to marry, and right now I have serious therapy worthy commitment issues.
I can’t even commit to a brand of toothpaste. I think I’m a Darlie man but Colgate looks sexy too but wait — I hear Sensodyne gives a great massage … of your gums.
But I think in Kuala Lumpur, I have fallen head over ass with a restaurant, and thy name is Nadodi.
We were reacquainted briefly when she popped into singapore 3 months later in September last year.
I haven’t been to KL in quite a while and when my gracious host asked where I would like to dine this trip, I unashamedly asked for Nadodi again.
I arrived early so I took some pictures of the minimalistic bar and the kitchen that was framed beautifully with the 3 hanging lamps.
This is where the magic happens.
I was then shown into the private room where we were to dine. This was the room for the chef’s table and the glass panel allowed us to have a complete view of the energy happening in the kitchen.
On the right side of the room, we were framed with full glass with a panoramic view of the KL skyline.
Artistry in motion
At some point during the meal, I asked and was invited into the kitchen to take some shots of the chefs in deep concentrated fervour cooking and plating.
They moved in symphonic unison, obviously pressured but moving with deliberate, calm and measured movements.
There was added pressure because they had to avoid a fat chinaman taking up half the space in the kitchen trying to take amateur pictures of them with fat fingers (the reference to fat fingers was of the fat chinaman. The chefs had beautiful slender fingers moving in artistic fluidity plating the food)
I was later told that they were maxed out and had maximum covers that night, with several big groups, one birthday celebration of a corporate big wig in KL, and our table that needed special attention.
It also didn’t help that one guest turned up hungry and unannounced with 7 allergies and things she couldn’t consume like no diary, no nuts, no coriander, no bull’s penises etc, and the chefs had to scramble to produce a 10 course meal for her nevertheless.
We helpfully suggested that she be given just a piece of bread and a few grains of cumin seeds but the chefs thought otherwise, and rejected our suggestion with a smile.
As I was the first to arrive, I was asked if I would like the champagne to be opened or whether I would like to try their signature cocktails.
Nadodi serves very innovative and imaginative cocktails which they conceptualise and change regularly, much like their menus. I noted with interest that their cocktail list has been completely changed since the last time I was there.
One caught my eye and I ordered the Dry Burn Buttered Rum with homemade Pop corn cordial.
When it arrived, I was tickled to see that there was a trampoline looking safety net (made of flour and flavoured with dots of caramel) cradling a few pieces of pop corn. I was asked to pop the edible safety net and pop corn into my mouth before sipping the drink.
Took me right back to childhood days when I was a childish 33 and cradling a tub of pop corn in a dark cinema, trying to hold hands with a woman (I was a late bloomer).
The drink was a nice blend of a tinge of alcohol, aromatic burnt butter, not too sweet, with a pop corn overlay.
Very fun drink to start the evening.
My hosts in KL take their wines seriously, and in the last ten years, some of the finest wines I’ve drunk in my life has been at their dinners.
This evening was no different.
The White Huat Brion
I spotted a 2003 white Haut Brion.
Those of you in the know will be aware that along with 2000 and 2005, 2003 forms the stellar trio of fantastic years of Bordeaux wine making in the 2000s, much like 1990/1995/1996 in the 90s and 1982/1985/1989 in the 80s.
And a white Haut Brion, particularly a 2003 white Haut Brion, is as rare as a limited edition, quadruple stitched, left handed, cross eyed, never defiled virgin albino crocodile skin 35 Hermes Birkin bag.
The Haut Brion red is one of the five famed First Growths of Bordeaux since the 1855 classification. Haut Brion had to wait more than a hundred years to ascend to this legendary status to claim its rightful place next to the other Big 4 only in 1973.
And today, an Haut Brion Red has a cult status for its acclaimed earthy almost barnyard like nose amongst discerning aficionados, fetching stellar prices at auctions.
And yet, when you see a white Haut Brion sitting there, you abandoned the red Haut Brion and your immediate family, and went with the legendary white Haut Brion.
Derived from a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, the Chateau Haut-Brion White is Bordeaux’s most sought after dry white wine.
Grown men have been known to sacrifice their wife and left testicle for a bottle of Haut Brion white.
So when you go for the next wine tasting, watch the gait of those attending. The ones who are walking a little lop sided are the lucky ones.
So I said a silent prayer and drank it.
It was sublime.
Clean, aromatic, complex, elegant.
I swear I teared a little when I tasted Nadodi food with the white Haut Brion.
Now if I could only find a woman that has the same effect on me.
The other rare wine that night was a Tuscan 2005 Tua Rita Redigaffi. 100% Merlot.
Those of you who collect Super tuscans will know that the legendary Masseto fetches even more astronomical prices than the Sassicaias and the Soliaias.
The Super Tuscan Masseto is a rare 100% merlot, like the opulent Le Pin in Bordeaux which is also 100% merlot. The Reddigafi joins this exclusive club of 100% merlot wines.
I don’t know why more wineries simply do not make more 100% merlot wines if it is so revered. If I had to make an educated guess, I suspect it’s because without the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc which gives the wine structure, the extremely soft 100% merlot blend is difficult to make to end up with a perfectly balanced structured wine with a firm body, and that takes immaculate skill.
Or I could be speaking through my derrière and most Frenchmen and Sicilian gangster winemakers are just stubborn and think 100% soft merlot are for wussies.
The Reddigafi was open, soft and yielding. Nice nose. Feminine but yet full bodied and strong. Alluring, mysterious, slender and elegant and firm full breasts.
Wait sorry. Where was I?
And away we go
The menu on the table suggest that we were to taste 14 bites. But throughout the nite, our host had asked the kitchen to bring us more food from previous menus such that we ended up having almost 20 bites.
I was truly satiated but in a comatose state at the end.
The first bite was an edible cone made with beetroot and banana water. The fillings were ripened banana gel and sweet lentils. The ice cream like topping was of a mousse like texture constructed from banana water. A sweet start to the meal.
Next came a nonya Kueh pie ti shell filled with fresh cucumber salad, finger lime and jackfruit seed, freshly fried garlic chips and Kelulut Honey sambol.
The last of this trio culminated with a Chettinad mushroom tart which was peppery and umami and downright delicious.
The Beetroot burger and nasi lemak surprise
Then came the first addition of the night.
The beetroot burger was a really fun bite – a pretty toy like burger with a slightly sweet rendition of beetroot filling.
But it was the next dish that was a big surprise. Although small in stature, it explodes in your mouth with a tsunami of flavours until your brain tells you what that familiar yet elusive coconut taste is – it’s the much loved nasi lemak dish!
Very clever and amazing that they could emulate that flavour in that small morsel.
The chicken kola urandi was a ball consisting of free range chicken that has been fed only with anchovies and dried fruits.
Being free range it was supposed to be tougher but yet it wasn’t.
It was coated with polenta and sat on a bed of dates chutney.
It was delicious and one of the favourites of the evening.
The Paniyaram was fermented rice batter topped with mango and neem flower chutney along with curry leaf and salted fish sambol.
The appearance was a playful attribute to a Japanese takoyaki ball (octopus balls).
This was one of the most visually attractive dish of the evening and it was a red rice puttu lined with deconstructed vegetables.
I found it a little dry though and this was confirmed by my dining companions.
The sorbet had a deep rich guava flavour and felt thicker and richer than a typical sorbet. It was served with slices of compressed Hakata Amaou, which is one of Japan’s most desired strawberries.
The home of the Hakata Amaou is Fukuoka Prefecture, located in the north-eastern part of Kyushu. The amaou is sweet and luscious and this added a different dimension to this delicious palette cleanser that was served.
Perfection was enhanced with a sprinkling of black salt over the sorbet.
I AM SO PRAWNY
For me, this dish marked the point of the dinner where an incredible crescendo started to build.
And never abated.
The heavenly flavours became more intense and every dish that was served seems to equal or surpass the last.
A rich coconut butter was made out of copra or coconut husks. Silky and creamy.
Home made bread or roti was made with fermented coconut flour providing yet another fragrant coconut nose to the dish.
Finally in an unusual twist, prawns were used to make a delicious kheema instead of the usual mutton that we find in restaurants everywhere.
The combination rolled up spring roll style was a bite of heaven.
One of the favourite dishes of the evening loved by everyone at the table.
Every single time I have been at Nadodi and they have used fish, I go back thinking wistfully of the fish they have fed me.
They have really perfected the art of cooking fish.
This dish was a visual treat. A tray of delicious looking and heaven wafting Turmeric leaf wrapped entrees was brought to the table with smoke billowing in a dramatic version.
A small bowl of lemon millet made with foxtail and finger millet and decorated with sorrel leaves were placed in front of each of us.
The Turmeric leaf was unwrapped showing a piece of delectable fish with a nice spiced crust which was placed carefully over the millet.
The red snapper fish was soft and succulent and every morsel with the spiced crust was exquisite. I was told the fish was given the sous vide treatment before being wrapped in the Turmeric leaf and placed over the coals to enhance the fragrance within.
I have tasted rasam at various establishments but none have ever excited me. Some were insipid and lacked flavour, others were too tart or too spiced.
The rasam offering at Nadodi changed everything for me. It was a balance of such incredible flavours, nicely tart but not too much. Warm and comforting.
I told our hosts that this was the best rasam I’ve ever had and he told me to try the almond rasam that was coming.
This was not in the menu tonight.
I couldn’t believe that anything could taste so good. The tartness of the tamarind and the richness of the almond milk blended beautifully to produce sheer culinary heaven.
This is life changing for me.
It may well be the best soup I’ve ever had.
Chefs of Nadodi, on my next visit, if almond rasam is not on the menu, please summon me from my table quietly and bring me to a quiet and discreet corner.
Hand me a bowl of your magical almond rasam and leave me alone.
I may be weeping in between the sips so I’ll need a tissue as well.
The bed of this dish is a sea of broccoli and spinach curry paste. Clean tasting vegetables like carrots and cauliflower spotted the plate and this went well with the delicious paste.
The Hokkaido scallops were delicious but would have tasted more of a bite if it had been served whole.
One of the dishes at Nadodi is always a meat or fish served in a smoked glass dome. The kid in me have always loved this presentation and it never disappoints.
The video above speaks a thousand pictures.
In the menu, the sauce was stated to be mutton curry. However, there was a slight change that night and instead the sauce made was a concoction of mint, mango and habanero peppers.
I think most people would have liked the sauce. But the provincial mama in me was disappointed.
I’m not a big fan of too much fusion and once you mention mutton curry to me, I’m fixated.
But it was a great dish nevertheless.
The climax at every Nadodi meal is the carbo dish which is always presented in this whimsical globe.
I have loved every globe dish at every meal in Nadodi and this time was no different.
A passion fruit sambol was at the apex of the globe. A most delicious and refreshing relish.
Cinnamon dusted multigrain puris wowed everyone and the most delectable well spiced shredded duck confit finished the brilliant ensemble.
This was another favourite winner of the night.
I was telling some of the first time diners of Nadodi at the table about the Briyani served in the Globe on my previous visits and how utterly delicious it was.
I must have spoken too loudly on purpose because out came from the kitchen a serving of chicken briyani and a beautiful curried cashew sauce.
There was initial silence when we were all intently consuming the chicken briyani, then the salutations started shortly after.
The accolades came fast and furious with some declaring it the best briyani they ever had.
Alphonso mango infused ice cream sits over meringue made with cumin seeds and cashew.
A wonderful combination befitting to end an exquisite meal.
An unusual Spring Bay Tasmanian single malt made Tasmanian devils out of us as we called it a night.
TO MAKE THE NOMADIC JOURNEY
Lot 183, 1st Floor,
Off Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
50450 Kuala Lumpur