Amateur adventurer, food lover and freelance writer. Peace.
Published June 20th 2020
Malaysian fine dining worth writing home about
Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, just beneath the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, OpenHouse has taken Malay cuisine and respectfully modernised it to bring the discerning foodie a Malaysian food experience that won't soon be forgotten. This is Malaysian fine dining worth writing home about.
Inspired by Malaysia's tradition of the 'open house', where Malaysians open the doors to their homes - appropriately decorated for the accompanying festivity - to family and friends to share food and drinks in celebration of the occasion. And the decor aspect at OpenHouse has certainly not been overlooked. Blending traditional Asian touches with rich colours, patterns and luxurious modern touches, the restaurant evokes the romance of old Indochine coupled with the bright airiness of a beach house in the main dining room.
No detail has been overlooked on your individual dining table either. From the stunning beige and gold-accented crockery to the beautiful bronze cutlery, every aspect of the seating and table setting speaks of understated luxury.
But the main star of the show at OpenHouse is, of course, the food, and the team delivers in every way. The food is equally delicious as it is stunningly presented, using locally-inspired vessels such as bamboo tubes, woven baskets and leaves. In fact, in keeping with the authenticity of Malaysian cuisine, many of the dishes are actually cooked in the leaves in which they're presented to you.
Umai Prawn Borneo, one of the starters on the menu
Although Malay cuisine often consists of well-cooked, rich and fragrant foods, often comprising saucy dishes like curries and stews, there are fresher, lighter but no less exciting flavours on the starter menu to tantalise your tastebuds if you need to slowly work your way up to the main event. Take the Umai Prawn Borneo starter; this is a Malaysian-inspired prawn ceviche with prawn flesh steeped in tangy calamansi juice, garnished with dried prawns, ginger flower and finely diced hot red chilli, and served in tiny betel leaf cones. Just pop a cone into your mouth for a burst of fresh flavour. Served in threes, this dish is perfect for one as a starter (they're small) but, in the Malaysian fashion of eating, can also be shared.
Our party of three decided to share a selection of dishes for lunch on the day we visited. Pais Barramundi was recommended as a seafood dish and we happily obliged. A lovely, meaty piece of barramundi was wrapped in a lerek leaf with tapioca shoots, village greens and baked with turmeric. Frankly, it didn't look like there was much to be excited about but the first bite, and every bite thereafter, was heavenly. So much so that little noises escaped me after each mouthful. In fact, much of the meal unfolded in this same vocal way, much to the amusement of my dining partners.
We also tried the Ungkep Village Chicken - chicken "ungkep" style, cooked in a spice paste with turmeric, tamarind, galangal, lemongrass and chilli resulting in a wonderfully aromatic poultry dish. The Pecel Salad was another highlight for me. This mixture of chopped banana heart and village greens coated with a thick peanut dressing was sublime. With its array of flavours and textures, this salad alone is substantial enough to satisfy some (me included) as a light meal.
All of this was enjoyed with lemongrass rice and red rice on the side (the rice dishes are small; I would recommend one dish per person) and tempoyak, a spicy chutney made with durian, which was a tantalising party for the tastebuds. This one is not to be missed if you can handle the unique smell of durian.
If you do visit OpenHouse, make sure to pop your head into the bar before or after your meal to enjoy some of their wonderful cocktail creations in a stunning setting. With happy hour starting at 3pm, this was the perfect way to end our Malaysian meal - expertly created cocktails inspired by local flavours in plush armchairs overlooking the KLCC Park. Joy.
With food and drinks for three coming in at around RM400, this fine dining experience is well worth the money considering the quality of the food, service and the wonderful setting. Not to mention the prime location. Go at night to witness the colourful lights of the KLCC Park water fountain. See their sample menu here, including details of their tasting menu, but note that there are many more dishes on the menu in house. They do allow BYO wine, check the corkage here.
Find OpenHouse outside the KLCC mall, in the row of restaurants along the park. They are located above ACME bar an coffee.