Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hakka Republic @ Menara Hap Seng

Like everyone who i have talked to about this place, i am still not convinced of the choice of names. Even as i ran through the introduction by Sue (co-owner) in my head and read more about the history of the original Hakka Republic which apparently is the first republic system in the East, i still couldnt find the correlation between "hakka" and the restaurant.

Could it be the indirect message of saying that the restaurant is the first of its kind?

Yes, it is Chinese in the sense of the bright red logo featuring a rather skinny Chairman Mao and the decor has chinese written all over in its oriental theme as well as the jazzy mandarin songs being played.

The "hakka" or "chinese" theme continues a tad further where chop sticks are provided among the thorn of "knife and fork".

That is sadly where it ends but that is also where it all starts. The contrast of eastern and western is conflicting yet soothing.

No rice wine to be seen or drank but a long list of fine wine by the glass. Whether a full glass or a tasting portion, be their guest. Their enomatic machine (first in Malaysia) would be an envy for many if it could be placed in your house bar but one can only wonder how much the machine would cost for keeping your wine "fresh" for up to 3 weeks.

Ambience and drinks wise, it is indeed one of its kind.


The food being served bears no resemblance of the chinese theme although it is influenced by the japanese cuisine that Chef Adi specialises in from his years training in Japan.

We started with in-house daily baked bread, the highlight being the corn bread which had a cake-like texture and the warm roll with SALTED butter. God knows who would have actually wanted to dip their bread in olive oil and vinegar but they were kind enough to give everyone the option as well.

Steamed Wagyu Beef (Grade 9) with Ponzu and Peanut sauce. Tender and melt in your mouth texture, be sure to generously dip in their sauces. The key is in their amazing sauce that lights up what is essentially a slice of non marinated meat. For the price of RM120/100gm (the basket above being 50gm), it might not exactly be a daily treat. I am sure if i could get my hands on their sauces and some cheaper quick boiled beef, the effect might just be the same.

Marinated Tuna Tartare with Green Cold Soba and a Japanese Citrus Dressing (not to mention what seems to be a papadum separating the fish and noodle) was mind blowing. For RM25, you would get double the portion above, fish that seemed to have just come up from the sea, a very appetising dressing and cold enough noodles. If you really like your noodles really al dente (everyone seems to have a different opinion on how tough they want their noodles), please tell them because we had some complaining the noodles were abit soft while others were screaming for seconds.

A flavoursome wild trio mushroom soup laced with truffle oil and a gruyere toast was next to warm the stomach. This is definitely not your out-of-the-can but home made with a capital H. Every spoon of soup had mushroom bits and a wish that it wouldn't end. Not overly creamy and just right with some freshly grind pepper.

A ciku sorbet as a palate cleanser. The play between the sweet local fruit ciku and the sour lemon was well balanced. Although i thought the ciku was under-riped which gave the sorbet a rough texture and taste (something along those lines).

The main started with a Miso Marinated Black Cod with Braised Kai Lan (although Choi Tham was used that night) and Sesame Dressing. I suppose i looked at the dish with high expectations as i had tasted the legendary cod dish in Nobu London. It didn't come out the same way as Nobu's but was milder. I must say although its frozen fish, it came with a delightably firm texture unlike the mushy ones that crowd the restaurants in Malaysia.

Slow Braised Angus Beef Cheeks with Creamy Polenta. If u are a fan of melt-in-your-mouth beef and lots of gelatine like tendon, you have found the right partner (err i meant main). For RM 52, a 180gm serving is all yours to waltz.

Accompanied with a white Burgundy, if not mistaken a Fevre Chablis 2005, the nose (i googled which means the smell or sniffing) is fruity yet the taste is subtle and not doesnt feel like you are drinking a overly sweet fruit juice. It is meant to retail for over RM200 a bottle, a pretty steep price for a bottle of white wine.

What is red meat without red wine? A easy going Pinot Noir (my favourite red) was chosen. If you read the menu closely enough, they recommend 2-3 wines that would suit the dishes they offer. It is abit like choosing the ties with the shirts you buy, so you don't go looking like a fashion disaster.

As we came to a magnificent end, a sticky date pudding, brandy fruit cake and a bailey infused croissant bread pudding platter was served. None of the desserts were too sweet, perfect for the health conscious ones but yet delivered the flavours like the description. One or two of the recipes are home-made and have been passed on for generations which says alot really.

Needless to say, such an exciting dinner couldn't have been possible without receiving an invite from the magazine My Nourishment and their editor Ryan Khang. Many thanks to them for the invite and (hopefully a few more in the future too hehe).

Address and contact details:

Lot 2.05, Level 2
Menara Hap Seng
Jalan P Ramlee
50200 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: 03-2078 8908/9908

Open daily for lunch and dinner (exception: closed Saturday lunch).

Pork free.

Verdict: A highly commendable 4 stars out of 5 stars. Not many flaws i could identify really, even if i had to fork out the money to eat the above (yes i ate for well, free). Mains aren't over the roof top prices with decent portions. Looking forward to their degustation menu which is going to feature soon and plenty of chilling sessions while tasting their "on the tap" wines.


Sean said...

i've only eaten here once, but i didn't get to have any of these items that u guys enjoyed. everything looks and sounds fantastic ... ciku is my favourite fruit, so even the palate-cleanser is a must-try for me! :D

Bangsar-bAbE said...

Food looks great! Lucky you...get to eat all the above for free... *turning green-eyed*

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

I like the pic of the wine being poured into the glass. :-)

It was a good dinner. The wagyu was lovely, so was the beef cheek.

Simon Seow said...

So should I try Sage first or here?

thenomadGourmand said...

great review!!

ahh..die die die..my pics are goin thru 2nd round of editing..still looking dark and barely discernible..

Sugar Bean said...

Nice nice, read the third review from this restaurant. But still don't understand why did they name it as Hakka Republic if they're not serving Chinese/Hakka food.

kiss my spatula said...

i'm so hungry now and wish i was there. excellent review!

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

kiss my spatula: glad to knw my pics n words still make ppl hungry..haha

sugar bean: tell me about it..its so much as the concept only..

tng: haha i had a hard time choosing too!

simon: if u want a fine dine date, then sage, if u want a more casual date, then here..diff place for diff ppl?

ll: talk about timing, yeah i like the pic too!

bbabe: dont u have ur own fair share for freebie too?? u had a free dinner in sage too!

sean: then that sorbet must have been made specially for u!

J2Kfm said...

erm, pricey lah ... the name kinda brought the class down a notch.

Sage sounds posh, mysterious even.

but to imagine fine dining at HAKKA Republic ... aiyo, I'd be expecting abacus seeds and pork trotter in an instance.

thule a.k.a leo said...

woo hoo... free meal with accompanying wine!!! it would easily cost a few hundreds if you are paying...
Ah! The power of blogger celebrity??? hehehe... in turn you gave them free publicity...

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

leo: a degustation menu like the above prob would hav ended up costing around 150rm.. and hey, by no way m i a blogger celebrity la..just a lucky guy to get invited.

j2kfm: price is certainly very subjective when u r in that ambience..and sage would have cost way more than here.. i disagree with the name they chose but hey, im not the owner, just some1 who enjoys their food.

thule a.k.a leo said...

let's not talk about the degustation menu... for the food + wine that you had... if you were paying, how much are we talking at??? Thinking of going there with my wife but hafta know the price indication first

Nic (KHKL) said...

saw the lunch menu and i must say the pricing is rather ok. hmmm, perhaps i shd go for lunch first, as a preview before the pricier dinner menu..

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

leo: yeah for wat we had, i would say tat would be around 150rm for everything per pax. i have indicated the prices of the appetisers at 20ish, mains 50ish, desserts prob 20ish, a glass of wine for around 20ish which would b 110++..

nic: its only for weekdays! how i wish i had the luxury to eat there during working days..

Tummythoz said...

They serve Ciku sorbet? Even fresh cikus (local fruit, mind you) are so rare nowadays.

PureGlutton said...

I, too can't relate the name to the their cuisine! Posh place with posh prices, i'm sure. With all the recent reviews done by u guys lately, biz there will surely be good eh!

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

pureglutton: haha it shall remain a mystery..

tummythoz: hard to get ar? i seldom take though eventhough i like it sweet..

jason said...

Kinda agree with J2Kfm...

ai wei said...

LoL, i tot it is all about hakka food when reading the title!

Cindy Khor said...

super high class stuff. the wagyu beef especially and they look absolutely yummy, but don't think i could afford them, even if i visit them once every month (ok, i'm poor).

Christy said...

Yeah, so many things that were not right or in sync with the name of the restaurant lar!!
Hakka Republic, isn't that an indication that they are serving Hakka food, if not authentic Chinese-style cooking?
Skinny Chairman Mao looks a bit like Japanese there...

I am surprised that they have all the fine wine as well, and their cooking is very much influenced by Japs and the west, nothing of Hakka....hmmmm!

Only the Ciku sorbet sounds a bit more like it..LOL! (although I don't think it came from Hakka origin either:p)

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

christy: yeah i suppose other than harping on the name, its really more substance over matter, meaning the food =)

cindy: well eat cheap at most times, and ocassionally splurge..prob 1 time every 2 mths?

aiwei: well sorry to disappoint lor hehe

jason: fair enuf point

550ml jar of faith said...

A rather skinny Chairman Mao.. hahaha! I know! Hakka Republic is thriving on the absolute contradiction - Chairman's advocacy of the peasant way of eating vs. the sumptuousness of the very non-peasant, most bourgeoisie meals to be had here!

mh said...

Yea, I first saw the review from AWOL's page. Being a 100% Hakka-mui, I really cannot identify anything Hakka about Hakka Republic, but hey..its the food that counts rite??

Look like they have quite a good selection of wines too....

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

mh: its just the name..food n wine is the game..

550ml: well its a first of its kind then isnt? good point u hav there though!

My Taste Heaven said...

Ha, when i first saw the name, i thought they serve Hakka dishes!

genuiness said...

I'm pretty surprised that you went for a pinot with your beef cheeks. Not saying it is wrong because a great Gervey Chambertin is probably my favourite and goes well with fillet steak but beef cheeks is definitely bolder and muskier and I tend to plop for a Pauillac or chateauneauf du pape.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

genuiness: it was the choice of the owner really.. bearing in mind that she didnt knw our taste buds coming to wine, a pinot is always a safe bet eventhough the meat was a strong one opposed to the wine.

my taste heaven: i think every1 did..no exceptions

The Yum List said...

Great wine list at this place!