By RIO ROSE RIBAYA
As the original was published on 15 January 2018
Fusion fare has been getting a bad rep of late, especially when a bite from an excessively plated dish leaves a strange taste of ingredients that had no business being together. To add insult to the injury, the recipe in question costs double the price for half the pleasure.
But you’ll experience neither of that in Deuce Dining & Bar. On the contrary, a seat at the pork-free restaurant guarantees a refined experience of gastronomic gutsiness for a reasonable range. And their small and big plates of modern European fare? They confess recipes for how “an Asian twist” should be done.
Passing by at least two crowded bars is a must to get here. Much like other venues in Publika’s Block D, Deuce Dining & Bar overlooks the lively nightlife strip of the mall along Solaris Dutamas. Its open-fronted facade of steel-framed, wooden chairs and tables with a few potted ferns invite guests to a more laid-back dinner or drinks.
While the open kitchen remains as the main attraction, its tall wine vault immediately impresses. Black and white murals of Chinese zodiac artist Thomas Powell — depicting Salvador Dali, Aretha Franklin, and Audrey Hepburn in a food fight — add a more playful character to the place. Coupled with lounge house music, it promises an upbeat ambience that’s perfect for winding the day down with your friends and officemates.
As its name suggests, Deuce represents the attempt of its founder, Tricia Kandiah, to open a decent follow-up to Coquo Restaurant & Wine Bar. The contemporary Spanish fusion restaurant unfortunately closed down when Chef Toni Valero moved back to Singapore in the latter part of 2017.
While Coquo retains some of its traces in the menu (like the popular octopus with confit potatoes, pickled beetroot and saffron aioli), Deuce Dining & Bar is far from being a second-rate copycat. Malaysian Chef Ng Hun Yan has successfully rebranded its cuisine into modern European with a touch of Asian flavours.
With a solid five-year experience as sous chef at Singapore’s award-winning Tippling Club, Chef Hun Yan helped Kandiah to come up with a menu of comfort food you can have anytime of the week. His duck rillette and roasted pumpkin and ricotta tortellini are fine examples of this.
Too much oil from the confit may turn off those wanting to keep a healthy lifestyle this year. But it lends a pleasantly sweet flavour to the soft duck breast. Pairing it with bread to tone it down is a good idea. The plate of roasted pumpkin and ricotta tortellini also has a rich sweetness. It comes from the root vegetables, which were tempered with curry spices. Fresh and fragrant, lemon and thyme-infused ricotta filled the tortellini as fried pumpkin seeds and crisp sage add nice texture and flavour on each bite.
But just because their cuisine is casual doesn’t mean it lacks sophistication. In fact, its one-page menu lists dishes as elegant as its mushroom with truffle mousse, poached egg and hazelnut crumble (RM28) and the pan-seared snapper with zucchini fettuccine, bouillabaisse, shaved fennel, and tobiko (RM35).
One of our favourite main dishes was the Typhoon shelter crab spaghetti (RM37). It uses picked meat from crabs that were washed up by sailors in Hong Kong’s typhoon shelter during monsoon season. Mixed with finely chopped chili padi, it is rich with morsels of crisp garlic and spring onions, too. It’s an exotic take on Italian spaghetti that had us addicted for its spicy flavour.
Its pulled beef brisket also stood out. It comes with guacamole whose tanginess complements the slightly sweet pulled beef brisket. Wrapping both in the flat bread is the best way to savour it before dipping into the sweet and sour sauce for added flavour.
Deuce Dining & Bar only offers three types of desserts. While their spicy chocolate mousse (RM18) is our fave, we can’t stop thinking about its avocado (RM18). Each empty, halved shell holds avocado, panda ice cream on a layer of creamy glutinous rice cooked with coconut cream. Mix it with the light kerisik power on the side to transform the taste into a more interesting one.
Just two months after its official opening, Kandiah’s second restaurant is already showing promise. It’s a warm and inviting space that seems to be tailor-made for nine-to-fivers, who need a place to share unique bites and drinks without breaking the bank. We’re just hoping it’s going to last longer than its predecessor this time.
Deuce Dining & Bar, D1-G4-6, Solaris Dutamas, Publika, Mont Kiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, +603 6211 2822