SO THERE WE WERE, a motley crew of four, rushing to a talk in Kerinchi when one of us intoned for the 100th time that she just had to get something into her stomach before she passes out from hunger. Well it was 7pm. Lunch was a distant memory but there was not much time left before the talk was scheduled to begin.
Half an hour left to the start and we were still trying to locate the building.
Huffing and puffing, we quickened our trudge, side stepping street debris while meandering dimly lit alley ways to the Kerinchi LRT Station. Strange you know, for an LRT station to be hidden inside an existing office building. Or at least the route to it had to be negotiated through those abandoned office blocks. Construction was still ongoing, and there were boards and hoardings put up to turn the pathway into a maze with an obstacle course.
It was a challenge, to say the least.
So, while my companion Ehm was scanning though the semi-darkness for somewhere to appease her hunger, I was looking for an air-conditioned spot to cool down.
My needs were totally warranted. See, I realised I had made the worst wardrobe decision of the year by wearing a Korean winter coat that had fibres that detached from themselves to reattach on my forehead.
But those wayward fibres weren’t the problem. It was the mobile sauna I was stuck inside that was boiling me up. I don’t know why I wore that ridiculous garb . I thought it would be a good idea seeing that I would be attending a three-hour talk in an air-conditioned room at night in our current rainy spell. Clearly, I didn’t account for the fact that I would be out of air conditioning in between and sprinting to the destination to boot!
But suddenly, while embroiled in the woes of our individual discomfort ─ lo and behold! We spotted this restaurant. Totally out of place it was, tucked inside among the gerais and the warongs set up along the five-foot way. Yes, it was air-conditioned and it was trendily set up too with funky displays of some of the most enticing food seen this side of Bangsar at this time of night. And it was empty.
We rushed in, grateful and relieved we had found what we were looking for. But oops, our reprieve was shortlived.
“What’s that smell?” asked Ehm, sniffing the air.
“Yeah, gawdawful smell,” echoed Edel, also turning up her nose.
“What’s that smell?” we all chorused, turning to the staff.
They blinked and shrugged, indicating “What smell?” Clearly, the odour which reminded us of a backed up toilet, had been gotten so used to, they didn’t notice it.
But we were running out of time and this was the only air conditioned restaurant. We had no choice.
“Must be the construction that’s affected the piping,” offered Silent D, the only male in our group with the kind of analytical mind to put two and two together and come out with plumbing.
And making the best out of the situation, we muted our protest and quickly chose our dinner. At first, two from us decided to sit outside to escape the smell but after realising they would have to contend with highway smog and carbon monoxide instead, returned resigned to the cool of the restaurant to brave the smell.
Suck it in and let’s hurry, we said.
One thing about the choices on the menu ─ they all looked really good. At perhaps a different place and time, I might even have called them Culinary Creations of the Mechelin Kind, but right now, it was “eeny meeny miny mo”.
Silent D chose the Pineapple Olive Rice ─ a local creation invigorised by a touch of international, no doubt. Ehm chose Jerk BBQ ─ it was chicken by the way. No jerks were barbequed in the making of that dish.
I deliberated between ordering something cheaper or the Seafood Pane Cream Pasta which looked like an epicurean work of art but was priced at a whopping RM23.90 before service charge and GST. But me being the easily-swayed sort, threw budget to the wind and ordered it.
Edel declined dinner altogether because she said she had had about enough from the stale chips she had eaten from Aeon. She whipped out her laptop instead and started doing work. Sheesh!
And then the orders came. We were delighted. Indeed they resembled their selfies in the menu right down to the sprig of Romaine salad leaf shown in the picture. Now, that in itself is a rare thing. You are seldom served food that looks like how they are presented in picture format after the magic of high gloss professional photography. But at bbq (with a tagline saying great taste, eat fresh) ─ Korea’s No.1 Chicken Restaurant ─ food and picture looked one and the same. 10 marks there to bbq, at least for integrity.
We began to eat.
“Is that egg shell in your food?” asked Ehm who had leaned over and surveyed what I had ordered.
Oh yeah. Indeed there was a large piece of chicken egg shell sitting at the top of my seafood. There were other shells there of course, Lala shells, crab shells but those were all within the context of the dish but the chicken egg shell? Maybe they put it there to add additional texture, I don’t know. I ate it at any rate, didn’t have time to make a fuss, and yes, it added a nice crunch to an essentially “soft” meal.
My first forkful of the pasta tasted chemical-like. Funny. I wondered why. But I persisted and dug in and as I got deeper, the taste of real food came to the fore. There were some real succulent moments, some really big-ass prawns and a nice play of tang-from-the-sea but on the whole, the sauce was thin and did not reflect the richness deserving of the haute pasta I had ordered. I think they were stinting on the cream. Still, it was a filling meal, incredibly filling actually, because this was pasta dolloped into hollowed baked bread. I couldn’t finish it but I did my best.
Silent D and Ehm ate their food in silence and Ehm told me later her chicken was “Good and tasty.”
Ye, it did look glistening and tender, char-grilled to perfection and drizzled over with the zing of barbecue sauce.
Silent D was less complimentary about his order, however.
“It was dry,” was his judgement, pronounced in flat tone,“right on the border of tastelessness. Which was disappointing since the presentation was so nice, so much so that my mouth was excited but in the end my teeth and tongue were left traumatised by the chewing experience.”
At least he spat out the truth. Ole for Silent D.
This restaurant is probably a franchise, judging from the name of the company on the bill. But it’s in a wrong location, being inside a scaffolding-encrusted Plaza Pantai, which is such a pity, because it has great potential to draw in the crowds ─ the swankier executive crowds that is, given the menu it presents.
What it needs to do is to move into a hipper and more happening location so as not to get impeded by bad plumbing and construction inconveniences. I thought I noticed some warping occurring on their menu board above the counter, caused possibly by dripping from the above pipes…..
Okay, let me not dwell on that and I hope I am wrong.
Still, I’d give bbq a 8/10 for overall effort (mostly for the effort) and if they get their plumbing fixed and that smell removed, I ─ because I can’t speak for the rest ─ would definitely come again to give this place the second chance it deserves.