TALK ABOUT GETTING HANDS-ON WITH YOUR FOOD. Yup, at Kai’s Plato, you eat off the table with your hands ─ a deliberately messy and novel way to return to a fundamental function of living, ie. Eating. You feel and touch your food and get to know it pretty intimately before putting it into your mouth. Mother used to say: “Don’t play with your food!”. Mother was wrong. Because now you can.
Kai’s Plato is a seafood restaurant, or specifically ─ “Malaysia’s First Multi-Tier Steamed Seafood Platter” that is served straight off a multi-tiered tower steamer on to your table. You just roll up your sleeves and dig in using the bare essentials, like your hands.
A Return to the Fundamentals of Eating
Nothing like getting back to basics, eh? I mean, look at the mess we made!
You are, of course, provided with the necessary implements to crack open whatever you can’t get through with your fingers alone, such as crab shells. You are also provided with plastic bibs in case your food fights back and spatters you in defence. But the real challenge is getting a sip of your drink without getting the glass oily. How do you do that? And if your phone rings while you’re trying to pry open a fat crab pincer ─ tough.
Apparently, the restaurant we went to is the second branch, an unassuming ground floor eatery tucked inside a brand new shoplot alcove in Jalan Anggerik Aranda, Kota Kemuning, itself a newly completed development this side of Section 31 in Shah Alam. This branch was opened in July 2016 barely six months ago when we visited just before the Chinese New Year this year. (The maiden restaurant, opened a year and a half earlier, is located in Encorp Strand, Kota Damansara). Since the opening of the first outlet, word spread like wildfire that if you want to pick at your food from off the table, this is where you can do it. The idea got so popular that they opened this second branch at Kota Kemuning.
The Kota Kemuning branch is just outside of the quiet residential area of Section 31. Its closest landmark (and a very beautiful one at that) is the Sri Maha Mariamman Indian temple and a Methodist church, a stone’s throw away. There is ample parking and open space because the shoplots are not all occupied yet ─ altogether providing a peaceful ambience for pleasant and uninterrupted dining.
So What’s the Food Like?
Well, food does taste a lot better when you eat with your hands. Those who often do will attest to that. Moreover, the taste is enhanced by the au naturel preparation where everything is steamed in its own juices, locking in all its innate flavours. So what’s the food like? To be honest ─ nothing extraordinarily fantastic but good nonetheless although its a bit overpriced. However, it looks like no one’s complaining. Plus, its “hands and table” concept is helping to market its popularity.
The menu is not exactly wide as the core of the eating experience lies in what you find in those steamers called Platters. There are three types of platters you can order with set volumes of food.
We ordered the Captain’s Platter: RM270 worth of prawns, squids, bamboo clams, Asari clams, green shell mussels, scallops, crab, spiral snails and a whole snapper. There is a bowl of Angel Hair spaghetti served along with the tiered steamer in case the seafood alone is not enough and you need some carbs to go with it but then I also ordered an add-on dish of extra crabs with butter-chilli-lemon sauce. It was very good. We also had Yee Sang, one of those mandatory dishes you need to have if you’re dining in the Chinese New Year period, plus a couple of orders of salad and vegetables.
The bill came to a whopping RM500. And we didn’t even order wine or anything, just plain juice.
Well, lucky somebody else was paying.
Our platter order was meant for four people. It comes with nine types of seafood. Other platter choices are the Sailor Platter (eights types of seafood) meant for two people priced at RM138 and the Jumbo Platter (10 types of seafood) meant for six people priced at RM390.
At the bottom of those steaming tiers is where you find the gold ─ in the form of the tastiest seafood consommé ever made on earth as it contains the original essence distilled from all that seafood sitting on the top tiers. Don’t forget to glug it all down. It is the extract of the sea and is nutritious to the last drop.
Don’t Get Shell Shocked
There’s a little surprise at the end of your meal. You see the walls filled with shells? Well, you’re the one doing the artwork. While they are totting up the bill, you get to come out of your creative shell by drawing or painting any picture you like on scallop shells. It’s another quaint idea of the restaurant’s.
All the shells you see on the walls have been drawn by their customers. The restaurant provides the markers and the scallop shells and you just draw on your creative juices. They also take pictures of you while you smile and put them on their TV screen playing on the wall. That means you get to have your five minute of fame repeated on a loop for posterity.
We walked away from our totally messed up table a bunch of happy campers. You’d be amazed how much seafood protein can fill you up! And yeah ─ There’s more to eating off the table than just eating off the table for the sake of it. You see, after you’re done, you just wrap everything up with the table cover and dispose of the whole thing. No need to do dishes! 😆