Words: Patricia Podorsek Photos: Monica Tindall
Carnivorous gourmets bear a distinct advantage when it comes to fine dining experiences. Chefs at high-end restaurants love to present their artistry with oysters, quail, lamb, and other former creatures with legs. Vegetarians are left to forage in the salad section, or perhaps settle on a pasta option with a few bits of broccoli thrown in.
This season The Yum List has challenged KL’s best chefs to produce fine dining options for vegetarians. French-trained Chef Darren Chin met the challenge with a five-course tasting menu at his elegant eatery in TTDI. DC Restaurant conveys gourmands from a strip-mall parking lot to a chic reception and then upstairs to an intimate sanctuary of beautifully prepared food.
Priced at RM348 plus-plus, I should also mention that the menu is five courses plus-plus. A seemingly endless supply of edibles emerged from the kitchen, far beyond what was listed on the menu card. Sitting down at the table, we found waiting for us a welcoming set of nibbles. Meaty green olives, homemade pastry crackers, and crispy kale chips shook the dust off our travel shoes and foreshadowed the quality and selection of the courses to come.
DC’s pastry chef prepares all breads in house. Our basket contained flaky croissants and slices of a crusty loaf with a perfectly spongy interior to absorb the sweet cream of the Pamplie butter.
The arrival of the Chef’s Daily Amuse-Bouche, however, began the true awakening of the senses. Finely julienned braised leeks and bamboo shoots came topped with uber-thin circles of white asparagus and a perfectly poached Australian organic egg. With a few croutons added for texture, I could already see the light of Nirvana, and we’d barely begun our journey.
Of DC’s recommended wine pairings, we first sampled the 2011 Auramaris Vermentino, an Italian wine bottled in Tuscany. Its fruity bouquet rolled into crisp citrus with lingering undertones of oak, complemented the starters nicely.
Our first official course came dressed as a single ravioli of Jerusalem artichokes bathed in a light mushroom consomme. Aged Parmesan, Japanese sansho, and drop of piquant plum sauce topped the pillowy pasta and melted into the creamy texture of the filling: Earthy flavors elevated to the clouds.
The second recommended wine hailed from Austria, a 2014 “Sunny” Gruner by Laurenz and Anna. Austria’s indigenous grape is bottled into an elegant and zesty white to make an excellent segue from pasta to potato.
Potato might be a bit of a understatement here, the tuber’s humble origins taken to atmospheric heights in the hands of Darren Chin. A perfect shell cracked into creamy puree in the Truffled Potato Croquette. Layers of macerated black summer truffles blossomed on top along with shaved macadamias. Nestled into celeriac veloute and pumpkin seed oil, the combination had my taste buds flying.
The most festive course of the meal arrived with the Spring Vegetable Salad. Glazed baby root vegetables and assorted flowers and leaves become the backdrop of an edible painting, the subject of which is a lightly battered courgette flower. The tempura coating, brought special from Japan, gives a light crunch of texture to the blossom without feeling a bit greasy. The canvas of this artwork is dotted with colorful vinaigrettes–watercress, baby peas, pear, tangy plum–for a explosion of fresh flavor more like a Jackson Pollack than a Claude Monet.
To clear the palate for the mains to come, the kitchen delivered a calamansi and yuzu sorbet, the sour citrus transformed into a sweet and refreshing icy treat.
Our third wine, a 2014 Grenache blend from southern France bottled by Le Roc des Anges, proffers a velvety black cherry bouquet with hints of cinnamon and pepper in the finish. The deeper flavors paved an unbroken path to the culinary spires of the main course.
The White Asparagus Mille Feuille tucks spears of the tender spring vegetable with braised truffles and salted egg hollandaise into sheets of thin pastry. The complexity of the flavors matches the varied textures for a substantive main. Meat was never missed.
The pre-dessert brought the forest to our table with creme-fraiche sorbet topped with wildflower honey and crunchy bits of the honeycomb itself. The combo had our tongues buzzing like the bees that made it.
Our fourth and final wine, a 2013 Cotes du Rhone Rasteau by Domaine de Beaurenard, delivers a full-bodied red with undertones of fruit and tannins, perfect to carry us from main through cheese to dessert.
No French-inspired meal is complete without a selection of cheeses, brought right to our table on a generously-supplied cart. Of the dozen artisanal choices, we opted first for an earthy Cantal and a shaved floret of Tete de Moine, both distinguished semi-hard cheeses with nutty overtones. On the softer side, we tried the salty blue Fourme d’Ambert and a Pouligny-Saint Pierre, a creamy goat’s milk cheese with a luscious tang and salty endnote. Lastly, we sampled the spectacular Brie with truffles, a wheel of cheese split and layered with the king of mushrooms for a sticky, earthy bit of heaven.
Our final foray into Eden landed us with pistachio pudding wrapped in a soft Yuba skin. A bit of mung bean and macadamia-infused sticky rice formed the bed with fresh coconut ice cream on the side. The chef’s innovative fusion of culture and cuisine reached its highest point yet.
Rather than foraging, vegetarians can find sublime altitude in the feast at DC. A world of ingredients masterfully fused into innovative courses awaits.
Reasons to visit: An outstanding foodie experience for carnivores and vegetarians alike.
44 Persiaran Zaaba
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
60000 Kuala Lumpur
+60 3 7731 0502
DC Restaurant is open daily for dinner only from 7pm Tuesday to Sunday. Reservations required. Please request a vegetarian menu at the time of booking.