CILANTRO Restaurant & Wine Bar - Turns Every Bite Into A Celebration

Several decades past, Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar is still a runway hit pioneering and leading Kuala Lumpur fine dining scene, so Chef Takashi Kimura and his dedicated culinary team must have done something utterly right. mylifestylenews writes.

Covid has seen some closures, but those well-known ones continue on their gastronomy path by staying truthful to their unique culinary cooking technique without much compromise on the unquestionable quality of the produce used and deliver to your table with consistency in quality together with an unforgettable dining experience. 
Chef Takashi arrived in Malaysia 22 years ago to cook for the Japanese Ambassador and after two and a half years by impressing his fellow distinguished guests he decided to helm the kitchen brigade in Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar. Now as the restaurant name suggests, the exotic, modern and refined French gastronomic touch which Chef Takashi has mastered during his years of apprenticeship in France has earned him numerous recognitions and now continues to delight his demanding diners for more than just an anatomy of a degustation.

Nestled in an inner neighbourhood along the Jalan Ampang embassy row, Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar is within walking distance from the iconic Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur City Centre aka KLCC and is strategically tucked away in the legendary Micasa apartment hotel which has received countless domestic and global eminent guests in the past decades. So, it has become its own destination in itself that you are surprised to find Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar in this locale.

Giving no hint what to expect, the understated elegance of the interior and subtle touches that eschews cutting edge design are what you will find in the main dining room in Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar. Cushioned seating with a few high traditional banquettes creates that classy fine-dining feel and enclose with a more intimate dining experience. The modern and contemporary decor is adorned with tasteful flower arrangements as well as miniature bonsai living ornaments that creates the harmony ambience and balance in the already cozy and monotonal dining room.

Two giant mirrored pillars stood in between a stairway down to the floor below where the bar setting takes place. The sense of space is less claustrophobic with elegant glassware well placed on top of flatly ironed snowy white linens that shine bright from the illumination of glass hanging lamps. The touches of understated modern and contemporary elements are always attractive.

Although inspired by French cuisine, Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar forms a unique identity with a touch of exotic Asian ingredients, especially Japanese influenced. All seasonal ingredients are carefully selected and measured to perfection and they are served only when the time is right. A testament to Chef Takashi’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 that focuses on pleasing the guest through exquisite food and attentive service. We respect this kind of extreme measure, especially when it comes to fine dining no less.

On apprising ourselves of the menu, we are immediately taken by what appears to be French cuisine slash with Japanese touches and finishes, but what you won’t be aware of until the dish is in front of you is that all the cooking is mainly French influenced. The amuse bouche in the evening - Chicken Galantine with Lobster and Pumpkin Croquette with Harissa Sauce & Watercress reflected the classic French culinary influenced in flavour with a sensibly refined touch.

Truffle butter is a signature condiment on every table to accompany the light and airy brioche with flaky croissant pastry on the outside as one combination that works perfectly well together with the classic sourdough baguette which is equally superb. It is tempting to eat more than you should, so don’t overdose on this. We deliberated on the selection of the menu for some time, as it was hard to make choices as everything sounded so desirable although Puji, the restaurant manager, was tempting us to want it all but needs must and orders were taken and we settled for a 4-course prix fixe menu along with the wine pairing to boot!

<Confit of Foie Gras with Fig>
Picture perfect presentation and a textbook essay in simplicity – let the ingredients speak for themselves. This seasonal appetizer was paired with a glass of the Australian 2018 Calabria Family Three Bridges Riverina Botrytis Semillon. The elegant bouquet of tropical fruitiness and nutty vanilla oak gives a luscious apricot honey and citrus palate combines with botrytis sweetness and alluring freshness which was the perfect foil to counterbalance the richness of the foie gras which was heavenly.

<Scallop Fricassee with Cauliflower Meuniere & Morel Mushroom>
Large tender scallops cooked to perfection and generously topped with slices of black truffle accompanied the aromatic morel mushroom, lightly browned and well-seasoned roasted cauliflower Meuniere which is to die for. Every ingredient is in great harmony and the pale yellow, subtle, slightly buttery Cotes du Rhone Famille Perrin Luberon white wine is refreshing and makes a perfect match without overshadowing the produce on the plate.

<Japanese Wagyu Tartare with Egg Mollet>
This signature appetizer is a completely refined dish with so many layers and it is truly addictive! There is aioli on the side should you choose to mix it in, but not in totality, so just a dash adds a bold new level of flavour that is to be savoured every moment together with the soft-cooked egg Mollet. Chef Takashi’s tartare is about texture and a palate teaser, the addition of both the plain and anchovy toast is another dimension that is truly complimentary and heavenly. A glass of medium-bodied 2018 Argentinian Prisionero Malbec was chosen to pair with this divine dish, inky dark red cherry colour and raspberry fruit aroma on the nose and palate simply elevated every morsel intake.

<Braised Unagi with Foie Gras>
This is another signature appetizer that may well be served as a main dish by its own as this is riches upon riches on the palate and simply delectable. The Japanese unagi is always a surfeit of intense flavour and then to combine with the richness of foie gras is very decadent, deliciously served with a side of beetroot puree that is a perfect counterpoint and well paired with a glass of 2018 white Camino de Margarin Sobre Lias from Rueda, Spain, with its ripe fruit and good acidity and long finish which allowed the unagi to shine and counterbalanced the richness of the foie gras to be enjoyed at its best.

<Tasting Plate of Wagyu - Zabuton, Sirloin & Tenderloin>
A light refreshing Lime & Rum Granita with Pickled Papaya palate cleanser was served and paved the way to enjoy new flavours especially when you are moving into a full protein dish with a tasting plate of Wagyu beef. Three premium quality selection of meats cooked beautifully and paying the utmost homage to the produce. Steak is a complex meat when you compare different cuts and this tasting plate is out of this world! Each cut has its’ own voice and each is cooked to perfection with flavours that dance on the palate. To broaden the taste buds, the tasting plate also encompasses mushroom puree, anchovy fillet, along with mustard, wasabi and yuzu, in case you want to add some piquancy to the meat. While the interesting condiments are enjoyable, the meat is best enjoyed au naturale! Less is definitely a winning formula by introducing different textures on the palate, as you wake it up and keep it interested and you won’t go wrong with a glass of the beautiful, silky, structured, intense and explosion of dark berries aromas 2019 Les Legendes R French Bordeaux red wine.

<Miyazaki Zabuton Steak with Condiments>
The juicy and flavoursome Miyazaki Zabuton steak came with the accompaniments on the plate of a long anchovy fillet, thick cut of potato chips, pungent Kizami wasabi, fermented Yuzu Kosho chili and mustard. Each mouthful is a revelation that is to be slowly savoured. One should not rush each morsel, but chew slowly and enjoy the moment and it can be beautifully accompanied with a glass of full-bodied Italian La Borgata Montepulciano d'Abruzzo that is rich, luscious and round up the palate entirely.

<Warm Chocolate with Bentong Ginger Ice Cream>
The warm chocolate pudding is topped with green tea powder that is to be enjoyed with the Bentong ginger ice cream. We were expecting a dessert that was less predictable and more daring despite the supposed aromatic and strong ginger from Bentong town that was used to spice up the ice cream yet the bland flavour did not actually turn out to be the best amigo with the chocolate sponge.

<Truffled Honey Ice Cream with Roquefort & Walnut>
Stunning presentation that is a “WOW” moment. It looks other worldly at first sight, as it is not simple in execution. On tasting, it is an unusual combination for a dessert to enjoy, as technically all ingredients go together and complement each other. The only suggestion we have is to lessen the percentage of the Roquefort, as this tends to dominate the palate and maybe more walnut and ice-cream to allow a little more sweetness.

Chef Takashi came to our table over dessert for a small chat that was a delightful moment to share his culinary journey from the past to present and for us to understand further of his reknown gastronomic cuisine creations and a few other points of view. While some renown restaurants have come and gone over the last few years, Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar is still going strong, which is testament to the strength of the “brains trust” – the Master Chef himself, Gatot Puji Raharjo: Restaurant Manager & Guillaume Villien: Chef Sommelier. This trio have been together for eight years now and probably will continue for some years to come, as they instinctively know how to approach the menu and their new and many returned clientele. Everything you experience in Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar is designed to enhance your (fine) dining sojourn. If making the diner fall in love and walk out the restaurant with a contented smile on their faces over his food is Chef Takashi’s legacy, he will certainly be very happy with that and Kuala Lumpur dining scene is all the better for it!

Tried & Tested:
Location: 4.5/5
Design & Decor: 4/5
Food & Beverage: 4.5/5
Service: 4.5/5
Value For Money: 4.5/5
Experience: 4.5/5

Braised Unagi with Foie Gras
Miyazaki Zabuton Steak with Condiments

Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar
368, Jalan Tun Razak, Taman U Thant
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. 

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