French-Indian Vegetarian Degustation FLOUR
For some, the long-awaited return to dine-in being allowed is something to celebrate. Others, it seems, are having mixed emotions. The desire to return to some normalcy is high, but there are also feelings of caution. With their premium dining experience, the team at FLOUR understands these concerns and has adapted once again. Making every booking an intimate one, a maximum of 20 guests are served nightly in the expansive restaurant. Additionally, with three private rooms, even the most careful can be catered to. The limited seating helps to increase the safety of guests, but it also allows for the personal attention of the chef. Anyone who has dined at FLOUR will tell you that conversations at the dinner table with Chef Yogi are one of the most memorable parts of an evening out.
While the restaurant has been closed to dine-in guests for months, the team at FLOUR have certainly not used the time to binge on Netflix. Instead, the kitchen crew has been dreaming up new recipes, presentations and ways to nudge forward the popular definition of Indian cuisine. It’s with great pleasure that our first dining out date, following the relaxation of restrictions for the fully vaxxed, is on FLOUR’s 11-Course Vegetarian Menu – Mother Earth.
French-Indian Vegetarian Degustation – Mother Earth
FLOUR’s 11-Course Vegetarian Menu
Chef Yogesh Upadhyay, affectionately known at Yogi, and his team continue to redefine, recreate and reinvent Indian cuisine with French influence. Unabating in their drive to demonstrate that Indian food can be modern, the most recent line-up is conceptualised around the union of Shareera (body), Indriya (mind), Satva (sense) and Atma (soul). This is the art of Ayurveda, learned from Yogi’s father. Although no longer working in the same kitchen, his presence is ever felt in the mindful selection of Indian spices, herbs, leaves and fruits.
Chef Yogi and Chef Alessandro introduce the menu. Yogi says it’s a team effort – the planning comes from himself, and what you see and feel on your plate comes from Alessandro. They are proud to note that the vegetarian menu is at the forefront, with non-veg as a supplementary option. In my estimations, it’s the first non-vegetarian restaurant in Kuala Lumpur to make such a bold move. Furthermore, they have taken particular care to use ingredients in their entirety from the skin, to roots, to leaves, seeds and stems. As you’d expect from this team, everything is made in house, including bread, butter, everything. In preparation to start, Yogi requests that “minds and hearts be open.”
11-Course Vegetarian Menu
We begin at The Beginning with a trio of meticulously crafted small bites – bird’s nest, spiced green sphere, and plant in a tart. Yogi explains that whenever you see too many things on one of his tables, “start at the left, move right, then to the bottom,” and “just as in India, it’s best enjoyed with your hands.”
The edible “quail’s” egg is a signature from the first menu. The sweet orb of white chocolate and tamarind cleanses and coats the mouth. The savoury contrast provided by the shredded okra “nest” is gentle encouragement for the palate to open. Even though it’s such a small dish, it has become so beloved that I can’t imagine the resistance from guests if it ever were considered to be replaced. From the first bite, the mind readies itself for an adventure.
Next, we pick up the spoon and allow the green liquid to slide onto our tongues. Although it is spice-laden, it’s not a punch but rather a beautiful burst. It’s tangy. Hubby says it raises his spirits.
Lastly, the tartlet is filled with potatoes and mint that have a creaminess like avocado. The powder on the top is all of the leftovers, such as seeds, converted into soil – an example of FLOUR’s zero-waste practices.
Earth & Sea – Add-on
For caviar lovers, it would be a mistake to miss out on the Earth & Sea add-on (RM 250). Yogi has converted himself into somewhat the big fish of caviar in Malaysia. Through unwavering efforts, he has managed to secure some of the rarest caviar in the world. Currently, he is the purveyor of Silver Baeri caviar, the highlight of Earth & Sea.
A staple on the FLOUR menu, this is the third version. Beetroot custard, similar to what is found in India’s south, bases the fine caviar pearls. Measuring a full 3.2mm in diameter, the dainty spheres are best taken with the pearl-shell spoon, rolled around the mouth and then gently broken between the tongue and the roof of the mouth.
If you are a regular consumer of caviar, you will notice a balanced intensity. The salt of the sea comes to the forefront, yet it is poised in its entrance, making its presence known without being brassy. The eggs of the 24-year-old sturgeon show maturity and elegance. Eat this dish s l o w l y. After all, you are eating one of the most prestigious ingredients from across the globe. Yogi chooses to serve this without wine, but if you’d like a drop of bubbly, Dom Perignon is the recommended pairing.
Wine Pairing – French-Indian Vegetarian Degustation FLOUR
If you have chosen the four-glass wine pairing for the Mother Earth 11-course vegetarian menu (which I highly recommend), the first wine is Bourgogne Blanc, La Combe, Joseph Colin, 2018. From the village of Puligny-Montrachet, this chardonnay comes from clay and limestone soil, which is immediately evident in the glass. Some citrus and floral notes follow through to the palate, which leans towards medium-plus acidity. Finishing clean and harmonious, it pairs well with the celeriac in the next course.
The next dish, Open-mosa, is a masterpiece topped with lattice in the shape of leaves – FLOUR’s version of an open samosa. The delicate arrangement lies atop a mound of lightly spiced Spanish celeriac. Micro flowers and pomegranate seeds add bursts of colour around the perimeter. Yogi suggests that it feels as if you’re in Agra – we think better.
Named Crystal for good reason, the next course resembles a glass tomato. Inside are chopped tomatoes and the original sprig of leaves sits on top. We suspect Italian chef Alessandro may have drawn inspiration from the Italian fruit-shaped desserts, sometimes found in the north of Italy. It sits on a base of finely diced Japanese cucumber, Indian caramelised shallots, Spanish cherry tomatoes, basil and pine nuts. The toasted nuts provide a creamy coating that carries the umami profile to every corner of the mouth. Chef Yogi sees our delight and asks, “Who says vegetarian food is boring?”
Wine Pairing – French-Indian Vegetarian Degustation KL
The second white for the pairing, Bourgogne Chardonnay 2018, comes from the father of the first producer, Marc Colin et ses Fils. Ten months spent in oak barrels bring notes of vanilla to the nose of citrus, tropical fruit and white blooms. Medium to full-bodied, this wine has a great texture, with balanced acidity and a light creaminess to the palate. It’s lovely with the lentils, but I would also be happy sipping this one on its own.
Another elegant plating, Lentil River, sees the “river” poured over the “pebbles and the rocks” at the table. The liquid is the same water used to boil the lentils with the addition of turmeric. Turmeric is a common spice thread used in this menu. High in antioxidants and superfood qualities, it is highly valued in Ayurvedic practice. The traditional ghee was replaced by cream, keeping the dish light and refining the texture. The whole green lentils are al dente with a good chew to them. You feel the grain in the mouth.
Asparagus – Classique French
Marking the transition to part two of the menu, plump green Italian asparagus spears cross the plate with decorative stripes of smoked red pimiento hollandaise and yellow turmeric foam. The spears are crisp and fresh. Perfect.
We’re surprised at how well the Abbaye de Santenay 1er Cru ‘Gravières’ 2016 goes with the asparagus. Pinot Noir might not be the obvious choice for a green asparagus dish, but the capsicum and turmeric sauces are key in this mate. The wine is everything a great pinot should be – vibrant with berries and a little earth on the nose, good concentration, medium body, acidity and tannins in harmony. This is a great wine. We order another glass.
Our curiosity is peaked with the next course in the shape of the district of Bombay with a brioche bun on the side. Yogi informs that pav bhaji is the most soulful dish given to the country of India. This is his tribute. A paste of American russet potatoes, green lamuyo peppers, cauliflower, green peas and Jerusalem artichoke is drizzled with gorgonzola. It’s worth taking a moment to breathe in the aromas of the aged cheese and buttery bun.
The technique for approaching this dish is both Italian and Indian – mopping up the sauce with your hands. Scarpetta means “little shoe” in Italian and is used to describe the act of taking up the remains of the sauce on a plate. Just like a shoe drags the dirt on the ground, the bread scoops up the sauce, cleaning the plate.
As I note how beautiful the following course is, Chef Yogi comments that, “just like a woman, it is complicated.” Using ajwain, one of Yogi’s greatest loves but biggest challenges to work with, equilibrium is essential in this dish. The spice is bitter, pungent and salty, and just the slightest mismatch of ingredients can cause the bitterness to become overwhelming. Top-quality eggplants are chosen for the task. When roasted, there is not a sign of astringency but rather full, round sweetness that stabilises the acridity. Packaged in two ravioli parcels, you’d be forgiven for thinking the filling was meat. The eggplant has a fleshy quality to it.
French-Indian Vegetarian Degustation – Wine Pairing
Our last wine pairing for the French-Indian degustation is another well-chosen Pinot Noir, the 2018 Domaine Joseph Roty Bourgogne Rouge “Cuvee de Pressonnier” from Burgundy. This, like the last, presents berry aromas in the bouquet but follows into a slightly darker palate. It’s deeper in hue too, with black cherries and blueberries coming to the forefront underpinned by minerality. This is good now, but I might want to keep a case for a few years more. It promises to age well.
Swamp might not sound like such an enticing name for a French-Indian degustation menu, but Chef Yogi questions, “What is a swamp? It’s a place where the lotus, the most beautiful flower, grows.” At the same time, we receive his version of sweet corn. Petite Japanese corn cobs have been refashioned and frozen with spiced jelly. The husk and the hair are taken at the same time. Its coolness contradicts the warm amaranth leaves purée in which it lays. There’s a flavour contrast here, but it’s the effect of hot and cold on the palate that remains in the memory.
A Sneak Peek into the Non-veg Menu – Blue Crustacean
Just when we thought it was time for sweets, we are gifted with a taste of the non-veg menu. As mentioned, the non-veg line-up is supplementary to the vegetarian. Blue Crustacean is the main course, featuring a generously sized Canadian blue lobster tail. The tail is lightly grilled and served with coconut sauce, sweet lamuyo peppers, cauliflower poached in wine, and artichoke-glassed local peas. Full of complexities, take your time to appreciate their nuances.
Muskmelon – French-Indian Vegetarian Degustation FLOUR
The third and final round moves us towards a sweet but not saccharine conclusion. Served on a pillow in a little glass pot with a gemmed winged insect on the side, Muskmelon is presented in several forms. Chef Yogi likes to call it “melon, melon, melon.” Muskmelon crystals, cream and foam, make a petite bowl and a natural transition to the dessert section of the French-Indian degustation. This is FLOUR’s sorbet replacement. It cleanses the palate without “serving guests ice.”
The main dessert, carrot mille-feuille, is inspired by Indian gajar ka halwa (carrot pudding). The 1000-layer pastry is dotted with carrot and cardamom cream. Each flavour is separated, combined only when you bite in and start to chew. It’s pleasantly not overly sweet. The natural sweetness comes from the vegetable and the cardamom cream. It’s just enough to enable us to appreciate the digestive. I usually find no purpose in petit fours. Still, here, the menu has been thoughtfully conceptualised from start to finish, ensuring that every component is of value. Each preceding dish builds to the next. This is a fine line that few restaurants master, especially when it comes to the finale.
With the dessert leaving room for a final drop of confection, fennel and mint chocolate truffles are skillfully placed on the summit of the meal. They are that finishing cherry on the crest without causing the aggregate to tumble. Paired with Hennessy X.O, it’s a brilliant conclusion.
French-Indian Vegetarian Degustation at FLOUR
Having had the fortune of seeing the evolution of FLOUR, I think this is the best menu yet. Of course, it makes sense that would be the case. With a chef team dedicated to refining, bettering and pushing boundaries, you’d only expect things to advance. Here the team seem consistently excited and hungry. There’s a youthfulness in their passion supported by maturity of experience. Things are fresh but based on a solid foundation. Do take note that this is a one-season menu. As this goes to print, the next line-up is already being developed.
The Details – French-Indian Vegetarian Degustation FLOUR
Serving only 20 guests a night, FLOUR will reopen for dine-in on September 8, 2021. Reservations are essential. The 11-course vegetarian menu is priced at MYR 395++ per person. Guests preferring to consume meat can opt for the non-vegetarian eight-course option priced at RM 520++ per person. As dining at FLOUR is a fine experience, wine pairing is highly recommended. The vegetarian menu is paired with four glasses, and the non-vegetarian is paired with three glasses for RM 275. Allow three to four hours to live the full experience of the Mother Earth menu.
12, Jalan Kamuning, (Off Jalan Imbi)
55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+6012 960 0053
FLOUR Restaurant Opening Hours
Open for dine-in from September 8, 2021.
Wednesday – Monday 6 pm onwards depending on SOPs.
Tuesday – closed