Sitka is one of our favourite eateries in town. They’ve changed a lot over the past year or two, with increasingly inventive and assured dishes flying out from the capable crew. While we’ll get to their new menu (well, new at the point of tasting) in an upcoming post, this one is a short lookback at our experience at Kim’s Sitka Takeover.
For the unaware, Kim was a semi-finalist in San Pellegrino Young Chef 2017 (and Malaysia’s sole representative), has worked his way up to become head chef at Sitka, and leads a young, ambitious and enviably talented team. And he’s an all-around swell guy. Sitka Studio is the tasting-menu version of Sitka’s more casual affairs and they open roughly 2-3 times a month (see their website for upcoming dates). They’re also available for private parties daily, outside of the scheduled dates.
Kim’s Sitka Takeover saw the Sitka team present a special one-day only tasting menu for the ridiculously low price of RM120++ per pax. And really, that price tag is an absolute steal given the sheer quantity of the food we got in return – let alone the quality! Don’t believe ah? Read on lor.
First out the gate and into the hatch: beef tongue katsu taco. It sounds jarring on paper, sure. But we’ve grown to trust in Sitka and they rarely disappoint. No difference here then. The tongue itself is delicious. Tender but not meltingly so, there’s still a very substantial bite to it. It’s not ashamed about being tongue-y. Perfectly salted too! The coating is light without much of a crunch – airy or otherwise – and I honestly didn’t see the point of it. Just a tad superfluous.
Katsu-ness aside, the tongue paired fantastically when layered with the rilette. Such a wonderful contrast of textures. And the taco shell was…a proper taco shell. Not wilty or soggy or overly crisp. It had a pleasing, robust elasticity to it that interplayed perfectly with the textures and tastes of the filling.
Look at that beauty. It’s kung pao lamb inside a tight, taut little yam puff package, with a dollop of cashew cream and dashes of smoked paprika. Surprisingly, the lamb itself was…just alright. And that’s from someone who generally adores lamb the gamier it gets. The smoked paprika round the outside really lifts it up though, emphasizing the more muted aspects of the meat. And that yam puff was satisfyingly crispy! The cashew cream really brings it all together though. Subtly nutty, unabashedly rich, we swept it off the plate in record time and longed for more, long after.
Yet another delicious dish? Par for the course. Burnt cabbage – and oh god, that crispy burntness is so primally delicious – with some clams and moss beurre blanc. What a sauce! Briny, savoury, faintly sweet. It brings to mind the miso umami of the Wild Beer Billionaire. This one deserves a spot on the regular menu. Let the people eat cabbage!
10 plates of food with so many standouts…like this one right here! The wagyu brisket char siew has a ridiculously good charred crust that’s been burnt in the most beautiful way. Biting into this beauty feels like crunching down into the essence of smokiness without any acrid bitterness or over-burnt charcoal. It feels like how I imagine our primordial originators felt when cooking their captured prey.
And that charred skin isn’t overly sweet and sticky either! Bite in further and you begin to sink slowly into the warm, tender, fat-rich flesh that gives way with minimal pushback. It just…feels right to fit inside.
Oh and there’s also pickled fungus and cucumber.
This plate really drove home the importance of ingredients: the steamed market prawns were not as springy and succulent as we would have liked. There was a redeeming feature though. That chili crab pomodoro was very tasty.
Fish and chicken are hard to get right when eating out, so we approached the roast mackerel in banana leaf with some trepidation. Unfounded worries, thankfully. The flesh was springy and firm. The coconut kerabu was lustworthy – tangy and spicy, with the coconut flesh so bouncy and substantial that we almost mistook it for cuttlefish. Okay, yeah, we did mistake it for cuttlefish.
AND the sambal puree was amazing too, god damn. Tangy and spicy, like a condensed, concentrated version of sambal. Only gripe? More pureed sambal please. And put this on the regular menu!
It’s just rice, right?
Well, (1) it’s conpoy and scallop rice, and (2) it’s almost groan-inducingly good.
First off, the rice isn’t soft and clumpy. It’s not overly hard and dry either. It’s in that sweet spot in between that we love for non-specialized rice (stickier fare is fine for sushi and Menya Hanabi, for instance). And it’s not even seasoned with salt! It’s the conpoy that gives it the briny saltiness, we’re told. So lovely. Perhaps even better than the delicious foie gras fried rice from Torii next door.
Passion e Sentimento: sweet, faintly mineral, jammy mouthfeel with a blackcurrant-like finish, other words to describe it that we are unable to furnish as Foodgazer is an uncivilized child who does not partake in liberal consumption of wine.
Stupid custard bun, how are you so tasty?
And it really is nothing short of delicious. Look at that ample, liberally, generously grated foie gras on top. Right on top of the best damn custard buns I’ve ever have.
The crust? Perfect. The filling? Oozing, hot custard. And all the seemingly straightforward components come together for an eruption of pleasure that spits and snarls inside the mouth. What a treat. What a delicious, delicate treat.
Plus it was a perfect opportunity for Kim to show off his remarkable care for cuisine and emphasis on hospitality. One of our dinner party had a misfiring custard bun that dribbled instead of oozed. Kim swept in like a guardian bun-angel and brought us fresh replacements. Thank you, sir. Bless your kind soul. Can I get more please, sir.
Second in our round of 3 desserts was the lemongrass jelly, aloe vera and calamansi – a pleasing palate cleanser that was deliciously cool and chilled, with a sparkling burst of citrus. Perfect transition from the custard bun. And the perfect way to end the night, really.
Except there was one more:
In with the last plate: roti cannelloni, burnt cream, mango. Interesting idea but execution-wise, it felt almost like a less rich version of the custard bun. And we had some gripes about the sequence of the plates. This would be a good starter dessert. Following this with the stellar custard bun, and finishing with the palate cleanser would have been a very nice dessert note to end on.
But it’s hard to complain too much. We got away with bargain of the year for that entry price (RM120++) and sampled lots and lots of tasty creations from Sitka’s kitchen (always a good thing).
And the post on Sitka’s menu proper is on its way soon, so stay tuned! Meanwhile, see you on Instagram where we IG-story religiously and are always up for a chat.
Sitka is located at 8-5, Jalan Batai, Plaza Batai, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur. It’s open everyday from 11am to 11pm though we recommend going at night in a group to share plates. Call ahead (03-2011 1117) for reservations, particularly on Fridays and weekends.