watch out, shop­pers

Is Marco Cre­ative Cui­sine a deal you can’t refuse?

Esquire (Malaysia) - - CULTURE - Words food­ster, esq

It is a brave man who opens a dif­fer­ent restau­rant in a global mecca of con­sump­tion; shop­pers have no pa­tience for food that needs to be ex­plained. Daren Leong is chef-owner of Marco Cre­ative Cui­sine in 1 Utama Shop­ping Centre. It is, he says, ded­i­cated to mod­ern gas­tron­omy.

He has rea­son to be op­ti­mistic, hav­ing tasted suc­cess with Miam Miam, a café-restau­rant serv­ing French-ja­panese fare that was re­branded as Franco in 2014.

Leong did time in stock broking, bank­ing and tech; he takes an em­pir­i­cal ap­proach to his cho­sen vo­ca­tion. His grand­par­ents lived in a Fraser’s Hill bun­ga­low. On their black-wood burn­ing stove, they cooked roast tur­key and roast pork, and baked Christ­mas pud­ding and mince pie for pay­ing guests. He ac­knowl­edges the emo­tional con­nec­tion, and then de­con­structs it all in the name of progress and re­peata­bil­ity.

I look for so­lu­tions, he tells Esquire, such as re­duc­ing the sur­face area of a piece of meat by neatly rolling it, Swisslike, so that it ab­sorbs less oil as it cooks. This way, the diner gets to savour the ir­re­place­able rich­ness of the full-fat ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s an in­stance of me­thod­i­cal pre­ci­sion en­hanc­ing vis­ceral ex­pe­ri­ence in a world that suf­fers self-ab­ne­ga­tion be­cause of fake news (by food in­dus­try lob­by­ists).

For Marco, named af­ter the ex­plorer and for his own son, he em­ployed the tech model: menu de­vel­op­ment was akin to soft­ware de­vel­op­ment pro­to­type, test, de­ploy and re­fine. Recipes were open source and dis­played for max­i­mum vis­i­bil­ity along the line speed, con­sis­tency and qual­ity con­trol.

All the bet­ter to make the real se­cret sauce be­hind ev­ery suc­cess­ful restau­rant: ser­vice. Leong shows Esquire the cus­tomised app used in Marco that en­sures each diner on ev­ery ta­ble is served the cor­rect course, à la minute. It’s es­pe­cially es­sen­tial when you’re of­fer­ing the hur­ried exec an ex­ploratory, mul­ti­ple-choice, four-course lunch.

It dawned on Leong that food was also about sys­tems en­gi­neer­ing when he was de­liv­er­ing tra­di­tional Ny­onya kuih in the dark­est hours of night, work­ing for his un­cle. The Klang Val­ley was in the throes of its café cul­ture years, and he had ac­cess to the in­ner sanc­tums. He then cut his teeth with a lo­cal ko­pi­tiam chain be­fore ex­tend­ing his R&D with 11-hour shifts, six days a week in Sin­ga­pore kitchens, work­ing all sta­tions. So, el­bow grease x ana­logue know-how x big data ? We’re seated at the back, away from the oth­er­worldly jel­ly­fish in the aquar­ium up­front. It’s early days for Marco, newly opened (and now into its sec­ond quar­ter of op­er­a­tions). Leong says ev­ery dish is sourced, prepped and cooked from scratch in-house, from stock-mak­ing to butch­ery. Here are Esquire’s sound­bites on some of the items on the mul­ti­course meal for RM78++(!), as per­son­ally in­tro­duced to us by him, pend­ing a sneaky re­visit to up­date ini­tial find­ings. Word on the grapevine shows Marco liv­ing up to its ini­tial prom­ise.

Vel­vety Matcha Lime Shooter Ob­jec­tive: Palate cleanser, to prep buds for meal. De­scrip­tion: Vel­vety matcha-lime foam cov­er­ing a chilled lime snow. We’re ap­pre­hen­sive about com­bin­ing acid and al­ka­line since they neu­tralise each other, but it works; the per­cent­ages are taste­fully judged. Pru­dent matcha foam reg­u­lates the tart stim­u­lus of citrus. Shooter glass nov­elty helps with cus­tomer ac­cep­tance.

Savoury éclair Ob­jec­tive: Al­ter­na­tive to bread; some­thing more suited to the lo­cal clime and con­sti­tu­tions. De­scrip­tion: Gruyère-flavoured pe­tit choux dec­o­rated with aubergine caviar, spinach pesto and tomato con­fit. We’re not fans of the night­shade aubergine, but yeah baby, this con­trolled dose works for the mix of tex­tures. The pesto and con­fit coun­ter­point each other like, hmm, fencers.

Straw­berry Gaz­pa­cho Ob­jec­tive: Apéri­tif-like pre­lude to main course. Like the éclair, a soup suited to us, de­spite its seem­ingly for­eign ori­gin. De­scrip­tion: Chilled cold soup of straw­ber­ries, gar­nished with de­hy­drated straw­ber­ries, cap­sicum and mi­cro­greens. Fresh and re­fresh­ing, just the thing on a hot af­ter­noon. Serv­ing tem­per­a­ture was ideal, not too chilled as to mute flavours and shut down the body’s en­zy­matic re­sponse.

Wit­nessed, not tried: Salmon with Jet Black Hol­landaise Ob­jec­tive: Re­spect salmon De­scrip­tion: Sous-vide At­lantic salmon with squid ink hol­landaise, gar­nished with pick­led beet­root and green chilli pesto. The sous-vide method must work, be­cause the fish looked im­pec­ca­ble for the colour and the tex­ture of its cook­ing con­sis­tency. The proof was in the cut­ting (and vi­car­i­ous tast­ing).

Marco Cre­ative Cui­sine, Ground Floor, 1 Utama Shop­ping Centre (Old Wing). Daily. Lunch ser­vice, noon to 3pm; din­ner ser­vice, 6pm to 10.30pm; cof­fee and desserts only, 11am to noon,

3pm to 6pm.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.