Review: Chef Mandy Goh’s contemporary menu brings a paradigm shift to Atas KL
A feat and a feast
It’s always an exciting time for a restaurant when a new chef arrives in the kitchen. For Atas, it is no different, with the appointment of Mandy Goh as the new Executive Chef at The RuMa Hotel and Residences. Hailing from the island of Penang, Chef Goh is an award-winning chef who won the all-female Malaysia National team for prestigious Bocuse D’or Asia at only 21 years of age. Her prior roles include Executive Chef of Shanghai’s Fifty 8° Grill Restaurant and The St. Regis Langkawi.
Bringing her wealth of knowledge and expertise in Asian and European flavours to the heart of KL, there is a special kind of thrum of excitement in the air from both Atas’ cookery and patrons alike, who eagerly await Chef Goh’s innovative and progressive culinary creations. As such, I was incredibly thrilled and intrigued to try out her new specially curated Contemporary Set Menu that reflects her cuisine philosophy of freshness and sustainability. Having tasted all eight courses from the menu, here are my thoughts.
Kickstarting the menu was an amuse bouche duo of salmon and sardine. As mentioned before, Chef Goh is all about utilising the freshest and finest ingredients responsibly sourced from around the globe and local farms. So, it was only fair that I was given these dainty seafood bites as a sign of the freshness to come. The first canape I tried was the salmon, encased in an intricate honeygrid taco with toppings of mushroom, koshihikari rice, tamarillo jam, and blood orange jelly, which was all about texture. Each bite had a nice crunch, from the crack of the taco to the pops of the koshihikari rice.
I then moved on to the buckwheat blini which had a meticulous stack of aged sardine, celery and apple salad, roti cracker and truffle vinaigrette. Whilst I personally love sardine, I did find that the overall mouthfeel was a tad dry and it was lacking enough acidity to cut through the strong flavour of the sardine.
There was also a generous serving of warm cranberry and walnut bread that came with marmalade and dark rum butter. This was a crowd favourite—and better yet, it can be refilled throughout the course. If it weren’t for the next 10 dishes, I would have eaten more of the carby goodness. However, the salmon was the clear standout for me with its balance of flavours. Safe to say, my palette was sufficiently awakened for the oncoming dishes.
The first main course was quite simply a stunner of a dish when it hit the table. There are a total of nine elements on the plate which are abalone, chanterelle mushrooms, chestnut, sake jelly, hazelnuts, plum, pandan and yuzu, quinoa and butternut squash. Each ingredient was painstakingly measured and arranged on the plate, which reminded me of an abstract painting. As I ate the dish, Chef Goh’s unique combination of flavours was apparent again. One would never have thought to pair pandan and yuzu together with abalone, but the former worked to bring out the natural sweetness of the seafood. The dish had an autumnal flavour profile to it with the chestnuts and plums, but the Japanese influence also came through strongly with the preparation of the abalone and the sake broth jelly. With that being said, I found the overall dish a tad disorganised as there were too many different flavours going on. However, I appreciated the care and respect paid to each ingredient.
Moving on, I was served the coral lobster with Madagascar vanilla, which was one of my personal highlights. The lobster was served carpaccio-style and delicately placed in a pool of lobster-head sabayon with egg yolk and sherry vinegar, wedges of heirloom beetroot and stalks of leek. I especially enjoyed the preparation of the lobster which was served cold and sliced slightly thicker, offering a good bite. Further, the vegetable accompaniments with the sherry vinegar lifted the entire dish beautifully.
The next dish continued the seafood affair with a steak of Japanese tuna tataki, served with pommery mustard sorbet, shishito pepper, and fernleaf dill oil, in a pool of pumpkin jus. Firstly, I found the mustard sorbet substitute to the usual wasabi an intelligent choice by Chef Goh as it packed the same peppery punch. When you need some relief, the chamomile and pumpkin jus are there to cool your taste buds. The only thing I would nitpick (and it really is me nitpicking here) is the portion of the mustard sorbet, which I felt was disproportionate to the tuna and thus, took away from the delicateness of the fish. If the sorbet was served in a smaller quenelle, I would have enjoyed the tuna far better.
For my next dish, the course goes from the wonders of the ocean to creatures of the land. I was served a black feet poulet (French for chicken) with Modena-aged vinegar, homemade gyoza, black garlic, beetroot puree, fava beans, and green tatsoi. Rather than the breast fillet, I was more impressed with the homemade gyoza that was stuffed with chicken tendon stripped from the breast, which amplified the meaty flavour. This was personally the most straightforward dish on the menu, but don’t let that take away from its taste.
There was a lot of murmuring around the table discussing the black feet poulet and how it would be served. In the second service of the dish, Chef Goh laid all the questions to rest by serving a whole chicken foot on a plate. The confit of leg was served with a dusting of thyme and shallot furikake and purple cabbage, which were excellent pairings. There were bold flavours to be appreciated—if you can excuse the literal chicken foot presented.
As a quick intermission during the course, I was given a beautiful medley of tomatoes to refresh my palette. Sakura tomatoes of varying ripeness, served with sea grapes, smoked kelp, and umeboshi watermelon granita were the perfect mouthfuls to reinvigorate my senses for the final few dishes.
For the last main course of the night, we ended with a dish of A5 Omi steak, accompanied by aubergine caviar, scallion pesto, buckwheat koji butter, rhubarb-infused white tea and red sorrel. If Chef Goh’s dishes up until now were light and zesty, this dish can only be described as indulgent and decadent—but exercised with the same level of restraint. The chuck ribeye was exceptionally soft in a literal melt-in-your-mouth kind of way. Paired with the scallion pesto, it was an absolute standout of a dish that packed a lot of flavour. I also enjoyed the steak with the aubergine caviar which was full-bodied, with the crunchy rhubarb cutting through the natural fattiness of the steak with its sharp acidity.
The second service of this dish utilised the remaining meat to make a delicious tartare filling. The cannelloni shell is made out of potato and deep-fried to perfection. Topped with a single mandarin wedge that was served in its most natural form, the mouthful was the right way to end the string of main courses.
To finish things off on a sweet note, I was served an asparagus semifreddo, accompanied by truffle ice cream, strawberry, almond cream, lemon thyme and sea salt. Whilst I enjoyed the flavours and textures of the semifreddo, I found the stalk of asparagus quite out of place. In contrast, the strawberry was a great accompaniment thanks to the fact that it was dipped in mirin and lychee jus, which gave it an extra dimension.
The final dessert came in the form of a sable of rose and sweet potato. The biscuit was delicious and chewy, however, I didn’t particularly enjoy the rose petals in it which ended up sticking to my teeth.
All in all, the Contemporary Set Menu by Chef Goh was truly a feat and a feast. The talented chef prefaced the evening by stating that this was her first dinner served to the public and she was noticeably nervous. However, I think Chef Goh did a fantastic job bringing her European contemporary expertise and Asian influences onto the plates. I particularly enjoyed the second service of the dishes, which reflects Chef Goh’s culinary philosophy of respecting the produce and reducing any unnecessary wastage. If you’re looking to take your taste buds on a gastronomic adventure through the ocean and land, make a trip to Atas KL where unique flavour combinations await.
The Contemporary Set Menu is priced at RM650 per person. There is also the Cultural Heritage Set Menu, priced at RM450 per person, as well as an a la carte menu available.
Address: 7, Jalan Kia Peng, Kuala Lumpur, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 12pm to 2:30pm for lunch, 6pm to 10pm for dinner (Tuesdays to Sundays), Closed on Mondays
Phone number: 03 2778 0888
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