Spicy fu­sion fare

Western cui­sine takes on a fiery twist at The Ar­ti­san Food Trail Restau­rant & Bar, writes

New Straits Times - - Jom! - Laveda Charles

ILOVE food with a fiery kick. I load chill­ies to any­thing that tastes bland. But in most restau­rants that serve Western cui­sine, it can be odd to add spicy condi­ments to a dish. After all you should en­joy the dish as it is, right?

The Ar­ti­san Food Trail Restau­rant & Bar, how­ever, makes me one happy cus­tomer with its unique take on lo­cal and Western dishes. Co-owner and head chef Adi­lah Ah­mad-Sainer a.k.a The Hot Cook loves spicy food too. Fi­nally, some­one who un­der­stands my love for flam­ing hot food!

This restau­rant is the nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion of her suc­cess­ful en­tre­pre­neur­ial fouryear-old chilli oil and condi­ments ven­ture, Da­pur Sainer. She sells her chilli oils in the restau­rant and she in­cor­po­rates them into most of the dishes.

Most of the sauces of the sig­na­ture dishes have three lev­els of hot­ness (not so spicy, quite spicy and fiery hot). There are two set meals for the lo­cal dishes, and these change ev­ery fort­night.

FAST AND FIERY

I like the fast and friendly ser­vice. The first to ar­rive is the Fiery Hot An­chovy Bites (RM15++). The an­chovies are cooked with three dif­fer­ent Da­pur Sainer cook­ing oils (chilli ker­ing oil, bird’s eye chilli oil and chilli bela­can oil), so you can imag­ine how fiery the dish is. Just into a few bites and my tongue is slowly feel­ing the heat, but I can’t seem to stop eat­ing. Do squeeze half a lime over the food for a pi­quant flavour. You can eat it with a side or­der of rice.

Fu­sion Black Ink Squid Pasta (not so spicy sauce and with chilli ker­ing oil) is

ap­par­ently the best­seller. It is cat­e­gorised un­der “Not so Ital­ian Se­lec­tion” be­cause the pasta sauce is not pre­pared the tra­di­tional way.

Instead Adi­lah in­cor­po­rates her own flavours using her chilli oils. You can have the fiery sauce with this dish. The but­ter sauteed squid is not too chewy and per­fectly cooked. De­spite the chilli oil, this dish doesn’t loose its Ital­ian ori­gins as it has a rich creamysauce. You never would have known that these two com­bi­na­tions could work so well to­gether!

The Pan Grilled Chicken Pesto (RM24++) is an­other Western dish that comes with your choice of pan grilled breast meat or

chicken thigh. The pesto sauce has a very fresh, rich and herb-like taste which per­fectly com­ple­ments the meat.

The pesto is made from scratch and in­cludes basil, cheese, olive oil and gar­lic. After a few bites, a strong pep­pery taste lingers in my mouth. Din­ers can ask for a spicier pesto.

Next, I try the Ne­gri Sem­bi­lan dish, Masak Le­mak Kayu Tem­poyak (RM20++). It is served with bas­mati rice topped with a small slice of salted fish, slices of fried beef cooked with turmeric, dry chilli and onions, and served with a bowl of mixed leafy veg­eta­bles — tapi­oca, daun kaduk, petai, pump­kin and turmeric leaves — in

yel­low broth.

De­spite be­ing a lo­cal dish there are fu­sion el­e­ments for ex­am­ple the veg­eta­bles are sautèed with but­ter. It’s not too spicy though so I ask for a small bowl of bird’s eye chili oil on the side to give an ex­tra kick. The restau­rant is gen­er­ous with its oils so you can ask for them any­time you want.

To cool off my tongue I try choco­late brown­ies with vanilla ice cream. The brown­ies are baked by the chef’s sis­ter and are amaz­ingly moist and not too sweet.

DECOR

The in­te­rior of the restau­rant is sim­ple with white chairs, ta­bles and coun­ters with touches of turquoise. With a homely and a serene at­mos­phere, it can ac­com­mo­date 40 din­ers. It also has an open con­cept kitchen.

I love the Read­ing Cor­ner where you can find grey so­fas, teal-coloured cush­ion covers, a round cof­fee ta­ble and read­ing ma­te­ri­als on a shelf. There is even an Ar­ti­san Cor­ner where lo­cal home-made prod­ucts are pro­moted.

Fu­sion Black Ink

Squid Pasta.

FROM LEFT: Fiery Hot An­chovy Bites with a slice of lime; Pan Grilled Chicken Pesto.

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