An Elevated Dining Experience at Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery, Kuala Lumpur

March 11, 2019
An Elevated Dining Experience at Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery, The Ruma Hotel and Residences Kuala Lumpur by Posh, Broke, & Bored.


atas:
(MALAY)

1. adverb, preposition: above
2. adverb, adjective, noun: upstairs
3. colloquial: upper-class, high-class
Eg: “She’s so atas, her phone contacts read like The Tatler 300 List*.”

*DID THAT GO OVER (I MEAN, ATAS) YOUR HEAD? I’M SORRY, I TRIED.

For too long, the phrase ‘atas’ has been thrown around by pressed Malaysians and Singaporeans to denote snobbery. Reverse snobbery, how quaint: I can relate. The struggle is real. Fortunately, The RuMa Hotel and Residences seeks to reclaim the word ‘atas’ by offering an elevated dining experience at their slick yet surprisingly accessible mezzanine-level (see what they did there?) restaurant Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery. Up, up, and beyond...



An Elevated Dining Experience at Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery, The Ruma Hotel and Residences Kuala Lumpur by Posh, Broke, & Bored.

A metal kebaya by Malaysia’s King of Fashion, Dato' Bernard Chandran stands flanked by the grand staircase that leads to the mezzanine level.

An Elevated Dining Experience at Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery, The Ruma Hotel and Residences Kuala Lumpur by Posh, Broke, & Bored.

Add captions
Add caption

For maximum effect, access Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery through the grand spiral staircase from the hotel lobby. The metaphor begins the moment one reaches the top of the stairs. The transition is dazzling; from the incandescent glow of the copper-toned hotel lobby to the daylight-drenched restaurant thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows. Immediately to the right of the entrance is the open kitchen. Seamlessly integrated into the restaurant space, the open kitchen forms part of a de-formalised dining area where one may glimpse Executive Chef Tyson Gee with his team. Beyond the restaurant - which is divided into zones with screens that allow light through while creating a sense of privacy - is the outdoor Verandah, which complements the restaurant’s offerings.


An Elevated Dining Experience at Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery, The Ruma Hotel and Residences Kuala Lumpur by Posh, Broke, & Bored.


As with the rest of the hotel (I will be sharing my review of my stay at The RuMa Hotel and Residences very soon) the interiors of Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery reference and celebrate local artisan traditions in aesthetic, materials and craftsmanship. For example, the lattice patterns of the illuminated room dividers are inspired by kain pelikat (sarong) are a nod to local elements, as are the rattan textures of the furnishings. 


An Elevated Dining Experience at Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery, The Ruma Hotel and Residences Kuala Lumpur by Posh, Broke, & Bored.



This same spirit of rediscovering the best of Malaysia is reflected in the menu. Vancouver-born Executive Chef Tyson Gee (pictured, left) had only a week to come up with the concept of Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery  Rather than claim to reinvent the wheel (or know more than the locals do in a patronising #RendangGate way) Tyson Gee pays homage to all things Malaysian. Authentic local spices, ingredients and produce of local and regional origin are used to elevate Western dishes. An example is the cured ocean trout with sambal dressing - a typically Western meat unexpectedly paired with a quintessentially Malaysian ingredient. The idea is the taste of familiar flavours and tastes. Think: the tiny pots of sambal some Malaysian travellers carry in case of an culinary emergency (bland foreign food is an emergency, and don’t you try to convince me otherwise).


The result is non-condescending modern Malaysia cuisine, presented in a contemporary way that is personal to Executive Chef Tyson Gee, the intimacy of which is heightened when he comes round to each table and asks if diners have enjoyed themselves. The ambience is that of a casual menu made to share, which indeed is the crux of Malaysian dining what with all its lauk-lauk (side dishes). 

An Elevated Dining Experience at Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery, The Ruma Hotel and Residences Kuala Lumpur by Posh, Broke, & Bored.

An Elevated Dining Experience at Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery, The Ruma Hotel and Residences Kuala Lumpur by Posh, Broke, & Bored.
CURED OCEAN TROUT WITH PUFFED TAPIOCA AND SAMBAL DRESSING

Prior to my meal at Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery I was recommended the cured ocean trout with puffed tapioca and sambal dressing. As a true hot-blooded Malaysian with an extremely high-tolerance for spicy food, I naturally needed no further convincing. For my non-Malaysian readers, sambal is a chili paste typically made from a mixture of a variety of chili peppers.


My date and I started with the raw beef tartare with smoked oyster aioli, puffed beef tendon, crispy garlic and the aforementioned cured trout with sambal. The beef tartare (above) was nice enough, if a little more flowery than my preferred presentation - I like my steak tartare served with a raw egg and capers to be mashed into a hideous mess - but the cured ocean trout with puffed tapioca and sambal dressing (left) was truly an exquisite experience. Each bite-sized cube of ocean trout yielded a blast of sambal. The spicy notes were powerful enough to create a dazzling impression even on a seasoned sambal sampler like myself, yet after the initial explosion the spiciness magically vanished and yielded to reveal the subtle flavour of the trout. Much like a controlled explosion to extinguish a raging fire, no mean feat given the skill involved to not obliterate such a delicate meat. I pondered the alchemy involved while nibbling on a curious looking purple crisp fashioned from puffed tapioca.


An Elevated Dining Experience at Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery, The Ruma Hotel and Residences Kuala Lumpur by Posh, Broke, & Bored.

An Elevated Dining Experience at Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery, The Ruma Hotel and Residences Kuala Lumpur by Posh, Broke, & Bored.
PANDAN CREME CARAMEL WITH COCONUT SORBET AND BASIL SHAVINGS

For mains, my date had the cornfed chicken with peas, garlic, sambal, and petai (a Southeast Asian bean with a unique pungent flavour). The chicken dish was well prepared; tender and juicy with distinct local notes which elevated an otherwise simple meat. 

But the chicken dish was far outshown by the 2nd dish that came highly recommended to me: the 7+Wagyu sirloin with sambal assam, kai lan (a local vegetable), and sour leaves. If you had told me that such a coveted cut of meat would be served with such a powerful paste - sambal assam is sambal with the addition of tamarind concentrate - I would have called the culinary cops, but the combination worked. It certainly helped that the sambal assam was limited to a dash of just the right amount, allowing the meat to have its moment. And such meat. Prepared using the restaurant’s charcoal oven, the dish captured the flavour of grilling without destroying the wagyu's glorious marbled texture, tenderness, and juiciness of the meat. The result is a wonderful marriage of texture and layered flavours (tangy, spicy, savoury). 

We ended our meal with another Western dish infused with a local flavour: Pandan creme caramel with coconut sorbet (left). The pandan (screwpine, aromatic leaves with a unique creamy and botanical flavour), paired with coconut sorbet on a bed of crunchy nuts and dusted with basil shavings was a sweet note to end on with local provenance.

An Elevated Dining Experience at Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery, The Ruma Hotel and Residences Kuala Lumpur by Posh, Broke, & Bored.


Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery takes the diner on an gastronomical journey through Malaysia (and also with steps in its neighbouring countries that share its favourite ingredients). Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery is a destination restaurant for all: be it the Malaysians such as myself seeking to be reacquainted with the flavours they grew up with in an exciting new way, or the The RuMa Hotel and Residences guest looking for to be introduced to Malaysian flavours applied to familiar dishes. Whichever of the two camps you belong to, the same direction is upwards, an elevated experience, above and beyond. The only way is Atas.

No comments:

Post a Comment