When we think of Malaysian food, what comes to mind is hawker fare like nasi lemak, chicken rice, char kuay teow and laksa. Most Malaysians would rarely associate the local fare and flavours with fine dining. This is why I was excited to try out Beta KL as their focus is to bring a modern twist to our favourite local flavours, using local ingredients.
Beta KL is situated in Cormar Suites on Jalan Perak. Skillet KL is located here as well – both restaurants are owned by the same owners. When you step into Beta, you feel like you are entering a painting. Everything from the bar to the dining area is very tastefully decorated with splashes of colour everywhere. A big mural on the wall of the dining area resembles a giant batik piece. I loved the whole ambience which is relaxed, despite being a fine dining restaurant.
Upon arrival, we were ushered to our table where the husband and I opted for the ‘Tour of Malaysia’ menu with cocktail pairing. I was so excited! Both for the food and cocktails of course.
Tour of Malaysia, time to indulge
As the menu is called Tour of Malaysia, every dish presented has a star ingredient from the states across Malaysia. For example, with the starters, the ulam tart was served with budu – a type of fermented anchovy sauce that is famous on the east coast of Malaysia – while the baby corn was wrapped in lempeng, a type of Malay pancake. Despite growing up in Malaysia, I never tried or heard of any of these ingredients before. I was in awe.
Other starters included quail egg with cincalok (a fermented shrimp condiment originating from Melaka), fish crackers but beautifully made into a crunchy ball filled with fermented chilli, oyster with galangal and lime, and local yam served with duck and long beans. As we opted for the cocktail pairing, the delicious starters were beautifully paired with two cocktails, Jambu Royale and Malaysian Sling. Both feature local ingredients as well, with fermented guava and pandan gin. It was so good!
Next up, we moved on to the appetisers which were a bit heavier. There was a ‘bread’ which they aptly named 0.00% yeast, as it was made entirely out of local tapioca flour. How they make it rise and taste so bread-like is beyond my understanding, but oh boy did it taste good with the green chilli emulsion. The chilli had a great kick to it and I may or may not have had a few rounds of ‘bread’ refill.
We also had tiger prawns served with pickled papaya and kombucha, a chicken dish served up patty style with an assam pedas sauce (a type of sour and spicy sauce) and a fish dish which was local threadfin served with Bentong ginger and local homemade rice wine. This was served with a rice wine-based cocktail too, and I loved every single combination of flavours.
At this point, I was already pretty stuffed, but we still had to have our mains… I had the duck breast seasoned with tamarind and gula melaka, while the husband had the lamb racks served with lawas rice (a type of fine rice found only in the Lawas highlands in Sarawak).
A sweet ending
Despite being so stuffed, of course I still had room for desserts. We had loyang (a crunchy honeycomb shaped cookie that is a popular snack during Chinese New Year and Hari Raya) with red bean and sesame and the Musang King durian with peanuts and Chemor chocolate (local chocolate from a town in Perak). The loyang was the winner for me, despite me being a huge durian fan.
Well worth it!
The ‘Tour of Malaysia’ menu costs RM450++, while the cocktail pairing is an additional RM168++ for four glasses. The price for food at Beta may seem a bit steep (it is a fine dining restaurant after all), but the burst of flavours in my mouth that night didn’t disappoint the foodie in me. This gastronomic journey got me acquainted with so many local ingredients from Malaysia I never knew existed. Definitely a place worth coming to celebrate a special occasion or to bring your overseas guests to sample the local flavours in a fancy setting. It will make for a wonderful experience!
Find out more about Beta KL here on their website.
Are you looking for more date night venues to take your better half? Have a look at our listicle here!