Cilantro — A Fine Dining Experience in KL
Cilantro Bar Lounge
Cilantro Truffle Butter
Ranked No 6 in The Miele Guide(Top 20 Asia’s Finest Restaurants) 2011/2012, Cilantro Restaurant & Wine Bar offers French-Japanese fusion cuisine, combining (in my opinion) the two best cuisines in the world, one from the West and the other from the East. In his book Letters to a Young Chef, New York City-based French chef Daniel Boulud equated fusion cuisine to hybrid vigor– a term used by agriculturists to describe how an offspring of two genetic strains is often more robust than either parent. After having experienced Cilantro’s French-Japanese fusion cuisine, I could not agree more.
I was first introduced to Cilantro by a client back in August 2011, and I have since visited the restaurant several more times. The first time I was there, I fell in love with its exquisite food, simple (yet perfect) presentation, ambience and the impeccable service.
Cilantro (its literal meaning being the green leaves of the coriander plant) is located at the ground floor lobby of Micasa All Suite Hotel at Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur. Inside, an internal staircase leads down to a private bar lounge in the basement where guests can enjoy their drinks amidst a more intimate setting.
As mentioned earlier, Cilantro’s service is impeccable. Staff are polite and attentive, yet quiet and non-intrusive. In particular, restaurant manager Mr Puji impresses me with his in-depth knowledge of the dishes. In one instance, he patiently repeated all 12 ingredients in a dish twiceat my request.
Helmed by Chef Takashi Kimura, Cilantro showcases the best and freshest seasonal ingredients from around the world. It offers fixed price three-course and four-course set menus as well as a la carte and degustation menus. It also has a wine list which looks formidable (although I have not had the opportunity to explore in greater detail, being a non-drinker myself). The restaurant is open only for dinner with an exception on Fridays whereby it opens for both lunch and dinner.
At Cilantro, food is not merely to be eaten. It is to be tasted, savoured and appreciated. Take for example, Cilantro’s truffle butter. This is made by mixing minced pieces of black truffles into the butter spread. Whether eaten on its own or with soft warm bread, the smooth creamy truffle butter melts in your mouth as you breathe in the intense aroma of the black truffles.
I would order the Wagyu Tartare with Egg Mollet each time I go to Cilantro. As we all know, the taste of raw beef is slightly salty and umami-ish, with a metallic edge. When mixed with semi-raw egg yolk and anchovy butter, the taste of wagyu tartare becomes refreshingly savoury and sweet. Cilantro uses only the freshest raw wagyu beef and is generous with its portions. Here, the dish is substantial enough to be served as a main course.
For truffle lovers, they would be pleased to note that Cilantro uses not just the black truffles but also the very expensive white truffles in its dishes. In one dish which I ordered recently – French Buckwheat Taglioni with Wagyu Ragout and Truffles – the restaurant used white truffles with the wagyu beef stew. For my friend who ordered the Gourmande Salad, the flakes of white truffles were big and chunky, and so tasty.
Cilantro serves foie gras in several different ways and I’ve so far tried three of its foie gras dishes at three separate meals – Roasted Foie Gras with Yolk Ravioli, Roasted Foie Gras with Scallop and Roasted Pigeon Cromequis with Foie Gras. Hervé This, co-founder of molecular gastronomy and physical chemist, wrote about how goose livers were tested and judged in one research study: appearance (compact, smooth, veined); texture (sticky, compact, firm, tender, granular, plump, smooth, crumbly); taste (sour, bitter) and aroma. Cilantro’s foie gras would have passed the test with flying colours – its roasted foie gras is smooth, tender and plump inside with a thin crispy layer of crust outside, which provides a contrast in texture. The aroma is released as you bite through the crust. In particular, the Roasted Pigeon Cromequis with Foie Gras requires highly advanced culinary skills as the cromequis (meat ball) involves two ingredients ie, pigeon and foie gras with different cooking times. If not timed properly, the pigeon meat may end up over-cooked or the foie gras could end up under-cooked. Kudos to the chef who managed to cook my cromequis just right – tender juicy pigeon meat wrapped around the smooth, plump and tender foie gras.
Cilantro Wagyu Tartare
Cilantro Wagyu Ragout
I would like to especially mention one unforgettable dish which I had at Cilantro recently – Salad of Seafood Panache. A total of 12 different ingredients namely raw abalone, ocean trout sashimi, mussel with foam on top, fennel, carrot puree, risotto, mushroom, squid, hamachi sashimi, Beluga caviar, raw geoduck clam and tomato were served on a salad plate. The colourful ingredients offered a delightful visual display. The combination of varying tastes of the 12 ingredients reminded one of a symphony orchestra playing a beautiful piece of music harmoniously, yet you are still able to detect the different notes coming from each musician. I was also pleased to discover molecular gastronomy (which is fashionable among gourmets nowadays) in Cilantro’s dish – in the form of foam, which tasted as good as the mussel on which the foam was set.
Cilantro’s desserts are a delight themselves – light and refreshing after the heavy main courses. I like the Fuji Apples Blancmange with Green Apple Sorbet most, The Chocolate Mousseline with Pear Bavarois and Caramel Ice Cream comes a close second. Last but not least, nothing completes a meal more perfectly than a cup of strong hot coffee. Or if you prefer tea, Cilantro even has a separate tea menu with different types of tea for you to choose from.
► Kaylee Kwok
RHT Law LLP
Interior of Cilantro
Cilantro Pigeon Cromequis with Foie Gras
Cilantro Seafood Panache