Spicy fusion fare
Western cuisine takes on a fiery twist at The Artisan Food Trail Restaurant & Bar, writes
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
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.
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
FROM LEFT: Fiery Hot Anchovy Bites with a slice of lime; Pan Grilled Chicken Pesto.