Ellen Smillie, Alasdair Hamilton, Monica Tindall (The Yum List)
Have you ever imagined yourself at a sleek bar in Tokyo: hidden from the crowds, but oozing in hip cool character; concealed from the mainstream and gushing with clandestine appeal? A seat at The Bar in Empire Damansara will beguile you into feeling just that, until that is, you peer out over the balcony and behold the wall of verdant jungle, reminding you, you’re in still in KL.
After gaping at the magnificent green outlook sighted as we entered The Bar, one of the first things that impressed us was the streamlined, uncluttered and attractive decor. A long slender bar is elevated just enough for us to contemplate the work going into making our drinks. Comfortable bar chairs entice us to stay for hours, and spot down lighting creates intimate circles of light along the length of the counter.
This polished interior is mirrored behind the bar. Head bartender Sam, (from Tokyo), models the exemplary stereotype of precision and excellence perceived to be common Japanese values. Every move is made with intention. Methodical care is sensed in the production of every beverage.
|Head Bartender Sam|
All cocktails are made from scratch. There’s not a premixed juice or heavy syrup in sight. Everything is made in front of you. Ice is chiseled with a pick to exact requirements, fruits are peeled and hand squeezed. Every recipe is served in its own distinct glass. This dedication raises the act of drinking a cocktail and sharing some social time with a friend to a captivating experience.
I suspect that barman Sam can make any cocktail in the book, but the specialties that must be tried are his sake creations shaken with fresh fruit.
Lemon Crush is prepared with homemade lemon ice. It’s sour and refreshing: ideal after a day out in the heat. The balance of the tart lemon with the sweeter sochu makes the mix very easy drinking.
A wonderful aroma teased our noses with the Passion Fruit Sake. Fresh passion fruit, lemon and persimmon juice are shaken over ice with sake, proving a crowd favourite.
|Passion Fruit Sake|
Monica tried the Mangosteen Sake on her first visit to The Bar and claims she has been craving for it ever since. She convinced Sam to make another and we all marvelled at how he peeled the mangosteens, then squeezed the juice from the flesh through a cheese cloth, keeping only the liquid for the drink. Sake, sparkling water and lemon juice top up the flute and we too now understand the ease of addiction.
Moscow Mule, icy cold in a copper mug with a singular large chunk of ice floating in the middle, transports our thoughts to a much cooler climate. This classic recipe however is set apart from the regular preparation with the addition of Sam’s own house made ginger ale. Leaving nothing to chance, Sam insists on making his own mixes enabling him to fashion drinks exactly the way he envisions them.
Feeling hunger pangs, we note that The Bar previously offered a handful of gourmet bites smoked in house. Mixed nuts and pretzels have no place here. A recent change in menu has seen the introduction of yakitori barbecued on the balcony by a chef from northern Japan! Authenticity is clearly of high value at The Bar!
Viewed through the floor to ceiling windows that separate the indoors and out, we watch smoke dance an enchanting choreography. Chef fires up the charcoal and occasional flames whip upwards adding more fun to the show. All parts of the chicken are used in these skewers: liver, breast, thigh and skin. Tender, succulent and each with their own unique seasoning, it’s worth ordering a tray or two for sampling.
|Chicken Skewers – Yakitori|
The next time we’re craving a little order in our lives, seek a little taste of Japan, or are just looking looking for a pleasurable beverage, The Bar is where you’ll find us.
Reasons to visit: an entertaining night watching master bartender Sam at work; superb cocktails made from scratch – no premixes; sake and fruit cocktails; gourmet yakitori bar bites; sleek intimate ambience.
112 Empire Damansara
No.2 Heritage Lane
Jalan PJU 8/8A
47800 Petaling Jaya
+6 03 2116 9680
Open 7:00pm – 2:00am 7 days a week
Price of most popular cocktails range from RM 38 – RM48.