Words: Monica Tindall
Photos: Rich Callahan
Right next door to Southern Rock Seafood, Zoe Bangsar complements the friendly nature of the lesser-known but attention-worthy foodie strip of Jalan Kemuja. Facing the street, one row back from Jalan Bangsar, Zoe’s patio tables look out onto the greenery across the road, while a table indoors offers air-conditioned comfort and a stool at the bar allows for a peek inside the open kitchen and food prep action.
Zoe Bangsar Menu
In Greek, Zoe means life and with that as the overarching theme, Chef Zoe Rai aims to bring life to all the dishes served at Zoe Bangsar. Reflecting the chef’s travels from around the world, Zoe Bangsar’s menu takes you on a global adventure. From Thailand to Italy, Peru to the Middle East, traditional food (respect for each cuisine is given, no fusion dishes are found here) is celebrated.
Zoe Bangsar Lunch
Divided into lunch and dinner, the daylight menu is distinctly different from the evening line-up. Catering to those who want a quick meal, lunch is a compact selection of Thai favourites. The Khao Soi Set (RM 25) is an affordable way to get an initial taste of Zoe Bangsar. This set lunch is available with chicken or as a vegetarian option and comes with a refillable glass of lemongrass drink. Hailing from the north of Thailand, the egg noodle curry shows influences from Burma, Thailand and Yunnan. A rich coconut cream broth is infused with aromatic spices and is said to “take you on the silk route from India to China via northern Thailand.” A squeeze of lime, a little chopped red onion and salty pickled cabbage really bring out the flavours. We’re only one dish in but are already extremely happy.
Zoe Bangsar Menu – Dinner
Dinner branches further afield with the see-saw tipping more towards the European side of the scale. Muhammara (RM18) is a veggie option and an ideal plate for sharing. The roasted capsicum and walnut dip is super tasty and has me dreaming of a nicely chilled glass of white wine. The bread is special too, made in house with fennel seeds offering a subtle thread of flavour.
Ceviche (RM35) takes us to the opposite side of the world and hemisphere to Peru. Sashimi grade fish is cured with citrus juice (leche de tigre – tiger’s milk), served with crème Fraiche and horseradish and given an Asian touch with wasabi. Pretty shavings of orange persimmon and green herbs (watercress and Italian parsley) break up the white palette. It is a fine version of this classic recipe, something to make even the Peruvians proud.
Now heading to the boot of Europe, Italy, Mushroom Arancini (RM 15) sees deep-fried balls of rice filled with mushroom accompanied by a house-made mayonnaise. The coat is thin and crisp and the interior moist and full. There is just as much mushroom as rice making each bite fill the mouth with an earthy taste. The mayonnaise has a nice tang to it complementing the richness of the rice balls.
The Spinach and Chestnut Gnocchi (RM 38) has me drooling before it’s even on our table. These traditional Italian potato dumplings are coated in a homemade pesto replacing the traditional basil and pine nuts with spinach and ground roasted chestnuts. The potato pillows are soft and evenly textured all the way through and the nuts provide a lingering sweetness in the finish. A little sprinkling of Parmesan and a couple of spinach leaves top it off.
It’s the boys’ time to salivate when the Lamb Ragu Pappardelle (RM 48) arrives. Slow-braised lamb weaves through flat ribbons of pasta cooked al dente, leaving them perfectly firm to the bite. The pulled lamb is in a rich yet fresh tomato sauce lightened by the herbs and a tossing through of freshly diced tomatoes just before serving. It’s another delicious dish that we’d all be happy to have again.
Zoe Bangsar Menu – Dessert
After such a line-up, a single bite of sweetness is all that is needed to end. The Chocolate Truffles (RM 8 each) made with 70% dark chocolate are handmade and absolutely divine! Soft and velvety-smooth, they are dusted with a light coat of chocolate powder. One is the perfect amount.
Zoe Bangsar Menu – Drinks
Currently, Zoe Bangsar has a compact drinks menu with a few soft drinks, beer, wine by the glass and a gin and tonic as refreshments. I personally think that the food menu is excellent and well-deserving of good wine. If you’d like to bring your own, the corkage is priced at RM50 for wine, RM80 for Champagne and RM100 for liquor.
Reasons to visit Zoe Bangsar: a charming gem just off the main strip of Bangsar; a pleasant balcony area with hanging flower pots and ceiling fans or a spot on a stool at the kitchen counter are my preferred seats; the lunch set is a reasonably-priced way to get a taste of the kitchen; my favourite dishes were the fish ceviche, muhammara, lamb ragu pappardelle and those oh-so-luscious chocolate truffles.
42A Jalan Kemuja, Bangsar Utama
59000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+ 6 012 708 8643
Zoe Bangsar Opening Hours
Wednesday to Sunday
Lunch: 11:30 – 14:30
Dinner: 18:00 – 22:30 (last call around 21:30)