Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Birch @ DC Mall

By EDKL Writer A. A.


The team behind Mezze, Huckleberry & Skullduggery has done it again, adding another potent destination to its stable of establishments across Damansara Heights. Birch has become the buzziest restaurant in DC Mall, & it's no stretch to see why - this seductive setting is soaked in sunlight, saturated with tasteful greenhouse-inspired aesthetics & suffused with happy vibes.


Birch begins its mornings bright & fresh, beckoning early birds to come in at 9am on weekdays for breakfast & on weekends for brunch. The food is served with a flourish, refashioning trendy favourites with a Birch spin, encapsulated by the Birch Benedict (RM26), layered with luscious poached eggs, pulled chicken with spices & barbecue sauce on a thick seven-grain sourdough toast, with charred cherry tomatoes that showcase an attention to detail. Rich, creamy comfort.


The daytime selection, served through 3pm, manages a deft balance between the wholesome & the indulgent; the former is best represented by the Japanese Miso Porridge (RM36), a smooth porridge laced with tender crab meat & morsels of pumpkin, topped with sliced salmon, braised shimeji mushrooms, togarashi spices and micro greens - it's a hot, soothing blend of seafood & earthiness, evoking the Zen of time-honoured Japanese fare, transformed into a contemporary temptation.

Birch's team takes a lot of pride in the Falafel Sandwich Wrap (RM18), for irresistible reason - the fritters are delicious, spiked with kale & local ulam for a pleasantly herbaceous uplift, wrapped with pickled chillies, chopped salad, red sauce & yogurt in Turkish flatbread for lots of lovely nuances.

And if you feel like treating yourself, the Korean Fried Chicken Brioche seems like a bargain for RM18, with its hefty slab of crunchy-fried buttermilk chicken complemented by Korean hot sauce & young papaya slaw, served with a choice of sweet potato fries, French fries or a green salad. A big & bountiful, brawny & bold-flavoured pleasure for burger fans.


On weekends, Birch's kitchen gets even more fired up, bolstering its offerings with meaty mains cooked in a Josper charcoal grill & oven, locking in smoky succulence, leaving a flame-kissed char. 

For your protein fix, you won't go wrong with the Mexican-spiced Spatchcock (RM50), an irreproachable rendering of grilled chicken, completed with charred baby potatoes, or the unique Steak Benedict (RM32), an umami-packed minute steak crowned with a runny poached egg that forms something of a decadent sauce for the beef, with charred cauliflowers & broccoli for fibrous contrast.


Birch's portions are princely, but it's still worth squeezing in a sugary treat at the end. In the duel of desserts, it's a toss-up between the hearty Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes (RM28; wedded with honeycomb butter, bananas & maple syrup, suitable for sharing) & the Brulee French Toast (RM26; buoyed by dulce de leche caramel sauce, charred pears, white coffee crumbs and ice cream), but we'd probably vote for the latter - each fluffy bite is bliss.

A perceptively curated range of beverages is available - if you like your drinks perky & refreshing, check out the Fizzes, laced with natural ingredients for a light, cooling experience, in choices like Jujube & Arugula or Watermelon & Basil (RM15 each). If you prefer creamier gulps, select a smoothie - the Mango, Coconut & Yoghurt and Cucumber, Apple & Mint (RM19 each) are luxuriously textured but remain appropriate for health-conscious meals.

Photo of cheesecake courtesy of Birch.

Soon after we visited, Birch introduced a new Burnt Cheesecake (RM18++ per slice / RM200++ for a whole cake of 12 slices), baked by Huckleberry Food & Fare, inspired from the tarta de queso of San Sebastian. This is meant to have a creamy, gooey centre, contrasted with a spongey outer layer and a brulee crust, conveying velvety cheese, honey and caramel.

By now, Birch also has its dinner menu ready, available from 6pm onward, Monday to Saturday, including Josper-cooked seabream, smoked quail eggs, Spanish octopus and skewers such as mussels, chicken, beef strip loin, beef heart and lamb leg.


Birch also serves a tantalising array of cocktails, available after 4pm, Monday to Saturday. The cocktail menu will soon be revamped, but everything we sampled from the existing selection is excellent. Many thanks to the Birch team for having us here. 

Lot G10-11, Ground Floor, DC Mall, Jalan Damanlela, Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur.
Monday to Thursday: 9am-1am; Friday to Saturday: 9am-2am; Sunday: 9am-5pm.
Tel: 03-2011-5966

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Avgust Cafe @ Subang Jaya

Baking its own bread & cakes, Avgust might not be the right cafe for the carb-phobic, but the rest of us will find much to savour: Start with the Mex Meatball Sub (RM20.50), featuring the full-throated, hot-&-heavy flavours of beef meatballs, chili con carne, caramelised onions & blue cheese sauce in tender country bread. The El Chapo Burger (RM20.50) is another guilty pleasure; Avgust builds its own 170-gram beef patty & crafts a house chipotle aioli, before piling on barbecued pulled beef & crispy tostadas into a brioche bun, for a whopper of a sink-your-teeth-into-this burger. Wash down with textured Green Tea Espresso (RM9.50) - warm matcha with milk at the base, layered with an iced latte on top.

Avgust Cafe
37-1, Jalan USJ 9/5P, Taipan Business Centre, Subang Jaya, Selangor. 
Mon-Sat, 1pm-11pm (opens 230pm Fridays). Tel: 03-8081-1060

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Monday, September 18, 2017

I Don't Know Bar @ Bangsar

This colourfully groovy bar exudes a quirky sense of cool, bolstered further by playful cocktails like Blue My Top (vodka, orange liqueur, fresh blueberries, blueberry jam, cream cheese, white chocolate syrup), Whiskey No. 3 (whiskey, blackberry liqueur, falernum, fresh orange juice, saffron syrup) & Desert Rose (gin, lychee liqueur, lychee brine, fresh grapefruit juice, pomegranate syrup), showcasing fun flavours that make for a nice way to kick off the evening. Signature cocktails cost RM30.

I Don't Know Bar
4, Jalan Kemuja, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. Tues-Sun, 5pm-12am. Tel: 019-903-2220

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Gather By Will: GBW Grill Bar @ Sunway Geo

Where there's a Will: This playful new watering hole, which boasts a cool cartoon fox named Will for its mascot, specialises in smoky skewers with a twist or two, mainly spanning poultry & pork, from Marmite onion chicken (RM10 for two sticks) to Purple Bacon (RM12; rolled with grapes) & pork belly with enoki & shiitake mushrooms (RM16). Each skewer we tried was substantial in portion, tender, well-marinated & capably seasoned with herbs & spices. Seafood skewers include tiger prawns & scallops.

Plenty of other tasty grilled pleasures are available for a full meal - Formosa sausages (RM9), otak-otak brought in from Muar (RM9 for five pieces), as well as signatures like Gummy Dumbtatoes (RM6; the sweetest of sweet potatoes, turned into chewy tidbits), 'Slightly Burnt' Pineapples & Belacan Eggplant. No lack of fried fare either, with luncheon meat fries (RM14) & tofu fries (RM13) meant to pair well with beer - try the relatively new Guinness Bright, with strong notes of ginger punctuated by coffee & lemongrass (RM14 during GBW's 4pm-9pm happy hours; RM16 thereafter).

Service is warm & enthusiastic; GBW's founders include former staffers of a design firm, which explains the fun & savvy visual flourishes here.

Gatherbywill: GBW Grill Bar
A-03-06, Level 3, Block A, Sunway Geo, Jalan Lagoon Selatan, Sunway South Quay, Bandar Sunway, Subang Jaya, Selangor.
Mon-Thurs, 4pm-12am. Fri-Sat, 4pm-2am. Tel: 03-5613-5258

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