MY SECOND FIND OF SOULed Out was not by design but quite by accident. I was in Jalan Ampang heading in the wrong direction, stomach rumbling as I hadn’t eaten all day and couldn’t make a U-turn back to the MRR2 where I had originally come from.
It was 5pm. And Jalan Ampang being Jalan Ampang, sometimes you have to make split second decisions. Plus, those hunger pangs were urgent.
So it was out of desperation that I swung in to the first available swing-in afforded by a skyscraper that looked friendly enough to offer eating places but as my luck would have it ─ it turned out to be a hospital.
Menara HSC houses the HSC Medical Center, a swanky looking private hospital that looks more like a corporate office (from where I was gawking in disbelief) than a medical centre. Apparently, its Malaysia’s 5-star heart and medical diagnostic hub; I only found that out when I was looking for car parking and saw a sign with an arrow that said AMBULANCE.
Oh well. Too late. I had parked. Even hospitals have makan places right? I took the lift, pressed a button and Whaddaya Know? The doors opened into the lobby of the Somerset Hotel. My, my ─ will wonders never cease! I was a little like Alice In Wonderland.
So I walked up to reception and asked: where would I find a restaurant? They pointed outside. I stepped out of the air-conditioned glass doors and viola ─ there was SOULed Out restaurant, parked right next to the hospital!
SOULed Out, Ampang
Apparently, this was the Ampang branch that I had discovered, the second outlet of the brand name opened around 2011, 15 years after the original one in Mont Kiara way back in 1996 where the restaurant first made its name.
I wasted no time checking out the ambience or decor, famished as I was, I went straight for the food and jabbed my finger at the Seafood Aglio Olio in the menu. While I am not exactly a fan of seafood, the thought of creamy pasta appealed to me at that moment in time. For drinks, I opted for an unimaginative order of Pepsi.
However, it seemed that while I was waiting for my food to manifest itself, the casual, lifestyle setting of the soul of SOULed Out designed for the hanging out of KL’s most beautiful people was one of imbued tradition. Everyone seemed to know everyone there, it was like a melting pot for friends, with the warmth of camaraderie enhanced by the glow of dim yellow lighting and lots of wood on fixtures.
And as the mild chatter suffused the place, my meal appeared.
The Seafood Aglio Olio was good or should I say, good enough. I wouldn’t say it was exceedingly brilliant but it was satisfactory overall, although I do feel they were a little too liberal on the salt. The cream was rich,the seafood fresh and juicy and it made a better impression than what we had at SOULed Out in Bangsar South a few months earlier (More on that below).
For More Seafood–inspired Food Reviews from The Wandering Connoisseur (ahem) of livingmsia, tune in to Finger-Licking-Good Fishy Food eaten Straight off the Table@Kai’s Plato and 30 Minutes at BBQ.
SOULed Out @Nexus, Bangsar South
The SOULed Out in Bangsar South is the latest outlet of the brand. It opened in Nexus, Bangsar South, perhaps in 2014 or so just about the time when the back lanes of Kerinchi transformed itself into the front lines of Bangsar South.
Wanting to look decidedly more contemporary, I read it terms of design, it was ‘Off With the Wood!‘ this time with the decor and in with the chic minimalistic feel of an industrial warehouse. Displaying sharper design angles of marble and brick, brighter lighting with hints of techno in the ambience, the SOULed Out in Bangsar South certainly affords more elbow room and breathing space made just nice for the yuppie sets of Bangsar. Of course, the Nexus building structure also helped; the restaurant now has the kind of space it requires to apportion itself in two where the two divides are parted like the Red Sea by the walkway of the mall. On the one side is the main airconditioned section of the restaurant and on the other ─ the al fresco section. Both sides display upmarket glitter. It just depends on where you prefer to sit.
We were there in the Christmas of 2016, and there were four us having our Christmas dinner. By some coincidence, looking back at the bill, we all ordered sea-inspired dishes (maybe we do like seafood after all) except for the vegan one among us who went for an Indian meal but had all the meat substituted with vegetables.
She went for the Chicken Makanwala but had the chicken replaced with cauliflower. She didn’t have a choice, there were no other plant-based options that guaranteed no dairy and no nothing else and the only other vege dish (the vegetarian pizza) came with cheese. Hmmm. However, she tried the famous Classic Mojito to wash it all down. Verdict on dinner: “It was OK”. Verdict on the Mojito: “It was OK too”. I had a sip and thought it seemed a little too sweet, and the leaves and what-not inside the drink were a meal by themselves. (The glass was stuffed with bushels of vegetation).
I had the New Orleans Grilled Salmon Fillet and one Mint Royale for drinks, plus a Caesar Salad side order. The Caesar was superb, I attacked it with relish. As for my main meal, the outstanding feature was the size of that slab of salmon (as you can see in the picture above). However, the rest on my plate did not trigger an emotion. It wasn’t that it wasn’t good, it was to a good degree but…
What was missing? I don’t know. Maybe oomph.
The other two members of our eating ensemble ordered the Pan Seared Grouper and the Seafood Marinara ─ mussels, prawns, squids on a bed of tomato-based pasta paired with the Dragonfly ─ a thick detox fruit juice made out of the dragonfruit and iced lemon tea respectively.
I had a taste of the Seafood Marinara. Oh now I remember why I had a taste of someone else’s dish ─ she passed me her mussels, she didnt’ like mussels, not that I have a penchant for them either and that may have clouded my opinion on the meal. But I did feel it was too “tomato-ey”. I felt the sauce bordered on sourness. Then again, I have never been a fan of tomatoes either and the dish would not have scored points with me anyway.
But what was their verdict on their meals? If I remember correctly, it was something to the tune of “OK la”.
Somehow, we all felt unfulfilled. Maybe the chefs were all wiped out from the cook-out of the night before ─ them wild parties are always on the eve ─ and were just coming to from the onslaught in the kitchen.
On the upside though, service was excellent. The staff was chatty, helpful and attentive and I remember asking one of them to help us take a whole bunch of pictures in our various poses which he obliged with a smile. He was very patient. There were quite a few customers that evening but he accommodated us nonetheless.
SOULed Out is often packed and is probably the most crowded restaurant at any given time in Nexus, Bangsar South. I have never been to the numero uno in Sri Hartamas but I am sure it probably lives up to its name as the Mother of one of KL’s most happening party places.