Hidden beneath the chaotic streets of KLCC is an exotic haven of restaurants that ooze a suave ambiance. Navigating the dimly-lit cobbled walkways was a bit of a challenge, but we eventually found our way to the doors to Enak, where we were greeted by a team of sharply-dressed waiters. Through into the open kitchen, I spotted a few of the staff messing about; it was nice to see that this upscale restaurant didn’t take itself too seriously.
The spacious dining room was exotically decorated in reds and beige. In one corner, concealed by a string curtain, was a laid-back eating table with comfy bean bag seating and a low wooden table. To the other side of the restaurant was another secluded area, this time a large table for personal gatherings, away from the “hub-bub” of the main floor.
Dining at Enak is a one-of-a-kind experience. It is said to be the first Malay fine-dining restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, taking authentic Malay dishes and arranging them with artistic flare onto elegant white plates. The wonderfully powerful flavours and smells of Malaysian street food find a place in one of KL’s most stylish restaurants. The well-structured menu offers classics, such as rendang, alongside ‘forgotten’ recipes, such as botok-botok, as well as some Indonesian-inspired dishes, for example gado-gado.
To my delight, all of our dishes arrived at the same time, something which rarely happens in restaurants in Malaysia.
We went for a selection of Enak’s more popular dishes, starting with the ayam percik; roulade-style chicken, lightly grilled in a marinade of galangal, lemongrass and coconut milk. The chicken was moist and nicely charred, however, the light marinade lacked ‘punch’. A squeeze of lemon juice or a stronger kick of galangal was needed to lift the sauce.
Unfortunately the botok-botok (mackerel with ground spices, wrapped in 9 types of herbal leaves) also missed the mark. The fish was rather dry and the spices were powdery, begging for a glug of oil.
The rendang padang sauce was meaty and well-spiced, with layers of complexity and a background of creamy coconut, although the mutton could have done with an extra hour of slow-cooking; it was reluctant to shred under the fork.
Surprisingly, it was the vegetables that stole the show. The kerabu asparagus cooked with prawns, red chilli, lime juice, red onion and roasted desiccated coconut had been painstakingly stacked into an elegant tower, and adorned with a roasted cherry tomato and celery herbs. The well thought-out combination of flavours produced perfect harmony between sweet, spicy, bitter and salty. This dish was the all-round favourite and we were overjoyed to see that we could again revel in its flavours when it came as one of a trio of vegetable ‘tasters’ in Enak’s vegetable tasting menu. The other two creations were bayam goreng kampung (water spinach fried with onion and baby sweetcorn); fresh-tasting, with hits of corn flavour and terong balado (aubergine with red chilli); a gloriously vibrant lilac with soft flesh and a healthy heat.
To complete the meal came a traditional nasi lemak; rice cooked in coconut milk, that was subtle and well-cooked, and a second rice, potent with saffron that coloured with grains with shades of orange and yellow. The sambal belecan had a intriguing background taste of fermented shrimp paste; did I love it or hate it? I’m not sure, but I doused by rice with its fiery heat.
After sampling so many dishes, we had no room left for dessert. However, for those who reserve the space, a selection of classics-with-a-twist are available. The pisang caramel, served with creamy vanilla ice cream is a favourite amongst customers. The bananas are lightly sautéed and finished with a cardamon-infused caramel sauce. For a more traditional pudding, try the sago Gula Melaka with white sago pearls gently fading into a Pandan green, surrounded by a coconut and palm sugar sauce and garnished with teeny cubes of mango for nuggets of freshness.
Enak has also imagined-up delicious ‘mocktails’. I tried the rose-teani; a blend of black tea and sweet cherry with floral rose undertones.
LG2 Feast Floor, Starhill Gallery
181, Jalan Bukit Bintang
+603 2141 8973
Open 12:00-24:00 daily (last orders 23:45)
Recreate at home: rose-teani
1 cup brewed and chilled black tea
1-2tsp cherry syrup
1/2tsp rose water (or more to taste)
Combine all ingredients over ice
Garnish glass with cocktail cherry