Canvass Bistro & Bar KL

Sustainable Hedonism -Canvass Bistro & Bar KL

Sustainable Hedonism -Canvass Bistro & Bar KL

Words: Han Sen Hau
Photos: Rich Callahan

We can all say it. Cooking is a chore. Sure, it can be fun, enjoyable, fulfilling even. But not all of us are career chefs capable of transforming a chunk of meat into a piece of art worthy of the Louvre. It’s a process that involves planning, slicing, pan-searing, plating, and cleaning, to name a few. Any wonder why drive-throughs and store-bought Mac & Cheese are a thing?

We are just that lazy. Or exhausted.

So when we come across Canvass Bistro & Bar, a restaurant whose entire brand identity revolves around the singular idea of making sure that nothing goes to waste, we have to ask why. Why go through the additional trouble of keeping byproducts out of waste bins? Why spend all that time and effort to create recipes that are both hedonistic and sustainable in an effort to prove that both concepts are not mutually exclusive? Isn’t running a restaurant without this sustainable tag hanging overhead already an exercise in exhaustion? How is this not just. a. lot. of. work?

“We make gummy bears out of the byproducts from the syrups and jams that we make, which are also byproducts of other ingredients that we use in our dishes and drinks,” quipped M.I. Rony, chief mixologist and owner of Canvass.

He had us at gummy bears.

We throw around the word sustainability like it’s the most fashionable term to wear these days, but we daresay none of us are equally committed to the process as the team behind Canvass is. Only a fraction of us are actively composting as a means to lead a “sustainable lifestyle”, while the team at Canvass is so evolved that it is only composting as a last resort.

What the heck does that even mean?

It means that every single ingredient byproduct—think orange peels and cookie crumbs that would have been swept off the counter with a swipe of the hand and into the bin—that can be used, will be used, before they end up in disposal or as compost. We wouldn’t be surprised if Rony told us they blended their eggshells and banana peels to make liquid fertiliser for their plants outdoors. And this is just from what goes on in their kitchen! 

But enough ESG-speak. How fares the menu since our last visit? 

Canvass Bistro & Bar KL
Sustainable Hedonism
Sustainable Hedonism Kuala Lumpur
Canvass Bistro & Bar KL
Sustainable Hedonism Kuala Lumpur
Wall Mural
Sustainable Hedonism Kuala Lumpur
The Bar – Sustainable Hedonism

Sustainable Hedonism – Menu

Scrumptious Starters

While Rony is the last man standing at Canvass, he holds the fort well with a melange of old and new recipes that remain true to the brand’s ethos. The plainly named Asparagus (RM42; monthly special) features Peruvian asparagus, fermented capsicum purée, cashew nut purée, sprinkles of toasted quinoa, and onsen egg just begging to be punctured and dribbled all over the assembly. The spears were crunchy from tip to stem, and the capsicum purée added a wonderful aroma to the palate, which was further enhanced by the toasted quinoa. The simple dish was already effective without the egg but oh did the gooey yolk lavished decadence to the overall experience.

Sustainable Hedonism Kuala Lumpur

The second starter to grace our table was the Pumpkin Risotto (RM38), a sensation crowned with deep-fried kale leaves, a handful of walnuts, and a dash of roasted buckwheat. The seeds add a wonderful crunch and nuttiness to the creamy pumpkin coating each rice grain. Local and Japanese barley were also tossed into the mix, improving the mouthfeel of the dish, while shaved mozzarella add an exquisite aroma that make this a comfortable dish to return to.

Canvass Bistro & Bar KL
Pumpkin Risotto

Exquisite Mains

Moving on to heavier offerings, we began with the Lamb Gnocchi (RM58), a hearty ensemble that sings with a full-bodied tomato sauce engulfing chunks of Australian lamb and chewy potato gnocchi. Sprigs of thyme perfume the nose with a buttery redolence at every bite, and the succulent lamb was a perfect complement to the gnocchi. Italian grandmas would approve of this recipe.

Canvass Bistro & Bar KL
Canvass Bistro & Bar KL – Lamb Gnocchi

Next up was the Pan-fried Pomfret (RM48), which witnessed the return of the cashew nut purée, deep-fried kale chips (that should be served as its own snack, in our opinion), and toasted quinoa. Lacto-fermented tomatoes and torched orange slices made their debut here, and both offered a distinct burst of flavour when enjoyed with the fish. The playfulness in flavours and textures persist until the plate is stripped bare, a welcome divergence from similar dishes where sliced almonds are strewn in “to keep things interesting”.

Canvass Bistro & Bar KL
Pan-fried Pomfret – Sustainable Hedonism

Lastly, there’s the unprepossessing Flank Steak (RM55) that, despite appearances, hides a few delightful surprises. It is served with a piquant black garlic condiment with plenty of chopped lemongrass and lime leaves swimming in it, a vinegary beef jus that uplifts the bold meat palate, and a fermented yuzu and chilli kosho glowing in orange. The dish is inspired by a traditional Thai beef salad, which explains why there’s some heat coming from the black garlic condiment, though simply switch it up with the beef jus if it ever gets too overwhelming. For a quick palate reset, a small dab of the yuzu and chilli kosho does wonders to ready your tastebuds for the next bite.

Sustainable Hedonism Kuala Lumpur
Flank Steak

Delectable Desserts

Past the savoury wonders, we were then buffeted with a trio of sweet endings: Chocolate Mousse (RM27), Duo Chocolate (RM25), and Lemon Cheese Cake Mousse (RM29). Our very creamy affair began with the silky Chocolate Mousse that had no added sugar in it and tantalised with the addition of Sarawakian black pepper, sago, sea salt, and sour cream kefir. These additions were absolutely necessary for the creation of a complex and layered Chocolate Mousse, one of the more fascinating offerings at Canvass that renewed our interest in cacao-based desserts.

The subsequent Duo Chocolate was more straightforward, with the sour cream kefir taking centre stage in this second act. The yin and yang of white and dark chocolate bases are glued together by the kefir, while the brown butter cookie crumbs sprinkled around it defuse the velvety monotony. A decent staple, though when compared to the final Lemon Cheese Cake Mousse, we prefer the latter for its distinctively sour profile that immediately refreshes the palate. Resembling a tortoise shell, the lemon shell is made from lemon peel, covering a molten cheesecake mousse. 

Sustainable Hedonism Kuala Lumpur
Duo Chocolate
Chocolate Mousse
Chocolate Mousse
Canvass Bistro & Bar KL
Lemon Cheese Cake Mousse – Sustainable Hedonism

Eclectic Cocktails

We would be remiss if we simply ended our visit without sampling any of their cocktails. At the bar assisting Rony to whip up some of Canvass’s highly imaginative cocktails was Roman, who fixed us the very first Citrus Highball. Perfect for a hot afternoon, the highball can be emptied very easily, and the amount of citrus squeezed into a single glass would be equivalent to receiving a Vitamin C jab.

The following Metropolitan hit differently as it featured fermented pumpkin syrup. Not something we would normally conceive as a cocktail ingredient. However, when shaken with vodka and homemade passionfruit jam, the final concoction left us wanting more of its unique earthy-yet-citrusy profile. It was definitely the fermented pumpkin syrup that did the trick. 

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and we concluded our time at Canvass with the Especial del Mundo, another intriguing mix of tequila, passionfruit, watermelon bitters, Xocalatl Mole bitters, and cinnamon. This one was the sweetest of the three, a little salty, and gently spicy. Just the right amount of kick to send us on our merry way home.

At the time of writing, all cocktails were priced at RM45. 

Sustainable Hedonism Kuala Lumpur
Citrus Highball
Sustainable Hedonism Kuala Lumpur
Canvass Bistro & Bar KL
Especial del Mundo
Canvass Bistro & Bar KL
Sustainable Hedonism Kuala Lumpur
Ferments, Syrups, Tinctures – Nothing Goes to Waste – Sustainable Hedonism

Final Thoughts

It is not often that we come across an establishment that chooses to do things the hard way, not simply for the sake of publicity but because it is the right thing to do. This is clearly evident in the amount of fermented juices and homemade jams and repurposed jars to store cookie crumbs and peels of every conceivable fruit stored, stashed, and tucked away among the shelves at Canvass. No one would go through such lengths just to look good on Instagram, precisely because it’s a lot of work.

But the team at Canvass did, and they have been innovating for as long as we have known them and will continue to innovate for as long as they are able in their mission to promote sustainable hedonism. Want a truly, guilt-free dining experience? Then maybe Canvass should be at the top of your list.

Many thanks to M.I. Rony for inviting us back once again to wax lyrical about the good fight they’re fighting for, and we wish nothing but the best for one of the most sustainable F&B enterprises in Malaysia.

Reasons to visit: sustainable hedonism; Asparagus (simple, but oh-so-good); Chocolate Mousse; inventive cocktails (honestly, it is worth visiting just to hear them talk about how they repurpose the ingredients in their drinks); reasonable prices for a sustainable restaurant in the heart of KL.

Sustainable Hedonism Kuala Lumpur
Sustainable Hedonism Kuala Lumpur
Canvass Menu
Sustainable Hedonism Kuala Lumpur
Sustainable Hedonism Menu

Canvass Bistro & Bar – Sustainable Hedonism
38, Jalan Bedara, Bukit Bintang
50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+6012 329 2820

Canvass Bistro & Bar Opening Hours
4:00 pm – Midnight (Tuesday – Sunday)

Find more contemporary dining concepts in KL here and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings in KL’s food and beverage scene here and here.


  1. Nothing goes to waste, eh? That’s good. Here in Sarawak, they have an award annually for eateries that are thus environment friendly.

  2. I do like flank steak.
    Coffee is on

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