The word “cilantro” conjures up thoughts of an exotic ingredient to spice up some great dishes. Chef Takashi Kimura helms this eponymous French and Japanese fine dining and as his name suggests, all is not what it seems at first glance. mylifestylenews travels to Kuala Lumpur to find out more……
Amongst one of the pioneer and leading fine dining restaurants in Kuala Lumpur dining scenes for more than a decade and still never fails to deliver, it is indeed a great surprise to be dining in Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar in Kuala Lumpur with an emphasis on French fine dining that delivers a surprising twist.
Although inspired by French cuisine, Cilantro forms a unique identity with a touch of exotic Asian ingredients, especially Japanese influenced, and all ingredients are carefully selected and measured to perfection. Also seasonal, they are served only when the time is right. A testament to Chef Kimura’s perfectionist approach is that while ingredients are flown freshly into Kuala Lumpur for the menu, a dish can be changed at the last moment if he is not happy with the quality delivered. The quality control is certainly there to ensure the best is delivered and we respect this kind of extreme measure, especially when it comes to fine dining.
The dining room fit out is classic and with an understated elegance and subtlety. Cushioned seating with a few high traditional banquettes creates that classy fine-dining feel that many too easily eschew for cutting edge design which often disappoints. Strange as it may seem, they are only open for lunch on Fridays, thus we felt privileged to be able to experience their Lunch Set Menu, which changes regularly, depending on seasonal ingredients and the whim of the chef, plus what you eat at lunch for an extremely affordable sum is more often than not also on the dinner menu (which is more than double the price), so lunch is a great introduction to the Cilantro way of gastronomy.
On apprising ourselves of the menu, we are immediately taken by what appears to be Japanese and French dishes, but what you won’t be aware of until the dish is in front of you is that all the cooking is French influenced. Our all Japanese amuse bouche of tomato with a sea salt flower was in miniature, but exuded flavours that have to be tasted to be believed, in particular the sea salt flower.
Already the excitement was building for what was to come, so when the Carpaccio of Hirame (Japanese Halibut) with Sea Urchin was placed in front of us, we realized that this was one of many surprises throughout the course of this lunch. The Hirame was not the usual thin transparent layers, but small meaty pieces that had something to say on the taste buds, plus three dollops of sea urchin have been artfully placed atop the fish, so little explosions of silky urchin flavours were accompanying each morsel of the fish and we were in heaven with such a skillfully created dish.
A glass of dry Prosecco which perfectly complimented this wondrous combination by the introduction of the Sommelier, we were contented by the pairing as well as two surprising wines to pair with the coming dishes, a Diluvio Albarino from northern Spain and a Finca Las Moras Reserva Malbec from Argentina.
Moving into more familiar territory, Tagliolini Pasta with Duck Ragout and Truffles was to bring us back to more familiar European terroir and the dish was a model of perfection in all ways. Firstly, the truffles were julienned, so providing an unexpected presentation, while the meat was minced to the right portion and bursting with flavor that sat atop the perfect strands of pasta. This was a dish so good in texture that we did not want it to end. We should have asked for an entrée portion instead.
At this stage of the lunch we were getting the feeling that the chef wanted to surprise and then bring you back to common ground, so a Japanese Tai Fish (from the Bream family) with Abalone and Fish Broth took us on another journey of the senses. The presentation alone was like a beautiful work of art. A simple fillet of fish skin side up was small in portion sitting in a fish broth, accompanied by white radish with mustard sauce and a sprout garnish. The focus is on the flavor of each ingredient and Chef Kimura has melded each flavor into one masterful stroke that you cannot fail to marvel at and linger in the mouth with each delicate morsel.
A Veal “Normande” with such unctuous flavours with the mushroom sauce had us moaning with pleasure with such a superb rendition of what the French might consider to be comfort food (this dish certainly needs a skilled chef to bring it to life like today). A beautifully judged dish with perfectly tender veal and a mushroom sauce flavor that was so intense and the forest seemed not to be too far away. The additional touch of a dollop of apple sauce is a good measure to balance out the richness of the veal. Once again, portion size is not the key, but what heightened tastes can be concocted from such simple ingredients. Chef Kimura cleverly did it!
At this point of the lunch, we were salivating with anticipation for the dessert, as it had our favourite fruit as a focus. Cherries with Warm Ganache and Shansou (a citrus and tangy herb) could not be beat in our estimation. Warmed cherries with vanilla ice cream ‘hidden’ under a tuile biscuit was a fitting finale. We couldn’t be more gushing in our praise over this dish, as once again, such simple ingredients have been superbly combined to create greatness that leaves you wanting more.
This was a lunch that will not be easily forgotten. The whole experience has been so pleasurable. The Front of House team are incredibly professional in all that they do, attentive yet courteous to compliment the fine dining sojourn. Every person works seamlessly together to create the perfect experience. Chef Kimura produces food in his kitchen that leaves memories you will not stop sharing and he ensures that when it leaves the kitchen, the wait staff know exactly how to serve and present. This attention to detail is what makes this an absolute treat to dine in Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar.
Tried & Tested:
Design & Decor: 4/5
Food & Beverage: 4.5/5
Value For Money: 4.5/5
Tagliolini Pasta with Duck Ragout and Truffles
368, Jalan Tun Razak, Taman U Thant
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +6 03 2179 8082
Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated.