New player in the east

Jibby East is am­bi­tious and doesn’t fall short of ex­pec­ta­tions.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TASTE - By SHARMILA NAIR star2@ thes­tar. com. my Pho­tos by RAY­MOND OOI

FIRST things first; if you key “Jibby East” into Waze to find your way there, the voice in your phone would go “You have reached your des­ti­na­tion” while you’re still on a busy high­way. So to avoid any con­fu­sion and un­til the mat­ter is re­solved, key in “KL East” in­stead and you’ll have no prob­lems find­ing the lat­est gas­tro­nom­i­cal en­deav­our by Na­jib Hamid. Per­haps you know him bet­ter as Jibby, the man whose nick­name is as­so­ci­ated with many of the pop­u­lar eater­ies in the Klang Val­ley – Jibby & Co, Jibby Chow, Naj & Belle, and also the Serai Group. Jibby East is by far, Na­jib’s big­gest and most am­bi­tious restau­rant to date. Long ta­bles line the cen­tre of the room and the high ceil­ing gives it a very airy and spa­cious feel. Nat­u­ral light bursts through the glass win­dows, al­ready promis­ing to be ev­ery In­sta­gram- lover’s dream venue. The view is a mix­ture of new city skyscrap­ers and rem­nants of the old Kuala Lumpur, and from the el­e­vated stand­ing, it’s a view worth tak­ing in on a clear sunny day. “Look at th­ese plates that are cus­tom- made for Jibby East. I want the pre­sen­ta­tion to be as im­por­tant as the taste of the food,” says Na­jib, pick­ing up a serv­ing plate made from nat­u­ral stone. The de­sign is sim­ple with “Jibby East” printed on its side, but hold­ing a plate with his restau­rant’s name brings a huge smile to his face. “I’m go­ing to go into this next: table­ware,” he says. The other time I see un­bounded ex­cite­ment in Na­jib is when he men­tions his new baby, a daugh­ter with wife and busi­ness part­ner Qistina Taff. “My wife has taken a back seat in the busi­ness now. The baby comes first,” he ex­plains. While Qistina is at home mind­ing their new bun­dle of joy, Na­jib is busy with four- month- old Jibby East. Like his other eater­ies, this too has its own unique menu that isn’t tied to a par­tic­u­lar cui­sine. “Apart from Serai that’s a fran­chise, all my res­tau­rants have dif­fer­ent menus and feel be­cause I want our clients to ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent food and at­mos­phere at each lo­ca­tion. Here we have a pan- Asian menu and we’re big on break­fast. Ac­tu­ally, all my res­tau­rants are big on break­fast.” Jibby East, he says, of­fers a fine din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with­out putting a dent in one’s wal­let. The space seats up to 80 peo­ple, and two pri­vate rooms that ac­com­mo­date 12 and 14 pa­trons each. “We al­ready have clients who do their wed­ding re­cep­tions and pri­vate par­ties here,” he says. Na­jib has al­ways been hands on in the kitchen and it is no dif­fer­ent here. He dis­ap­pears for a bit to whip up the first dish of the day, the Wagyu Burger ( RM49). What ar­rives is a beau­ti­fully browned thick patty on brioche buns, topped with maple- glazed beef ba­con, Amer­i­can cheese, cara­malised onions and let­tuce. It comes with a spe­cial an­cho chile and cap­sicum jam. “Peo­ple are used to may­on­naise in all their food. It’s time to in­tro­duce them to other sauces to have with burg­ers and fries,” he says. Note that the burger is a com­bi­na­tion of Wagyu and grass- fed beef. The patty is juicy and holds a se­cret in the cen­tre – Pro­volone cheese – and the home­made buns are sweet and soft. Af­ter the very Amer­i­can start to the meal, Na­jib sur­prises us with a very Asian dish – Deep Fried Whole Bar­ra­mundi ( RM49). Fried to per­fec­tion, the fish is topped with spicy Thai- style chilli sauce and stir- fried pak choy. It comes with a serv­ing of Ginger Rice. The fish meat is pre- cut into bite sizes be­fore fry­ing and re­assem­bling to look whole. “Fish can be a messy dish to eat, and we help to elim­i­nate that by pre­cut­ting the meat,” says Na­jib. Paired with the fra­grant rice, this dish is an ab­so­lute win­ner. The sweet, sour and spicy sauce com­ple­ments the fish that has crispy skin on the out­side, but is soft and flaky on the in­side. If you love fish head, then call dibs be­cause it will dis­ap­pear from the plat­ter in no time. The Squid Ink Spaghetti ( RM35) ) is a dish you won’t want to sh hare with oth­ers. First, be­cause it is so de­li­cious that you’d want to keepk it all for your­self and sec­ond, , the por­tion doesn’t en­cour­age sh har­ing if that’s the only main you’re hav­ing. It comes with cala­mari r ings, lo­cal sun­dried tomato and topped with Ikura roe. “We get the toma­toes from m Cameron High­lands and dry them our­selves. We try to use e as many lo­cal in­gre­di­ents as we can in our restau­rant,” says Na­jib. The next main is worth get tting your fin­gers dirty – Stick ky BBQ Beef Ribs ( RM69) with a side of But­ter­milk Crispy Onion RingsR and Pick­led Slaw. The quarte er rack of sticky, gooey, glazed good-g ness takes three hours to pre­pare. The meat falls off the bone and is re­ally ten­der and juicy. The short ribs are smoked and grilled over char­coal fire for about 20 min­utes be­fore be­ing braised for three hours. The glaze is a spe­cial sticky onion jam made from sauteed onions, toma­toes, brown sugar and chill­ies. It tastes slightly salty and Na­jib as­sures me that it isn’t al­ways the case. “I have to re­mind my chefs to go easy on the sea salt. They love to play too much with it,” he ad­mits. For dessert, Na­jib serves Mama’s Panna Cotta ( RM21), made with vanilla beans, and comes with pas­sion fruit gelee, pas­sion fruit puree and bits of lychee. Dec­o­rated with ed­i­ble flow­ers, the dessert is beau­ti­ful just as it is de­li­cious. The panna cotta is soft and jig­gly, but not too del­i­cate that you can­not hold a piece of it in your spoon. Jibby East of­fers a va­ri­ety of cakes, and pa­trons can en­joy the desserts at the ded­i­cated cof­fee bar run in part­ner­ship with De­gayo cof­fee com­pany. One of their high­lights is Nitro Cof­fee – an in­fu­sion of ni­tro­gen and cold brew. How does it taste? Fizzy and frothy, and a new ob­ses­sion among his cus­tomers, he says. Now that I have got­ten my yummy food, pretty dessert and fizzy cof­fee down, it’s time to head back. This time, Waze is an ab­so­lute dar­ling. One straight 16km stretch later, I reach home, un­fazed.

Jibby East

KL East Gallery Off Mid­dle Ring Road 2 KL East Kuala Lumpur Tel: 03– 4162 8050 Opens daily from 10am to mid­night

This gor­geous Mama’s panna Cotta is too beau­ti­ful to eat. The Sticky BBQ Beef Ribs is worth get­ting your fin­gers dirty. The restau­rant seats up to 80 peo­ple, with two pri­vate rooms that can ac­com­mo­date 12 and 14 guests each. The Deep Fried Whole Bar­ra­mundi is topped with spicy Thai- style chilli sauce and stir- fried pak choy. It comes with a serv­ing of Ginger Rice. Jibby East is by far Na­jib Hamid’s big­gest and most am­bi­tious restau­rant to date. The Squid Ink Spaghetti is a dish you want to keep all for your­self.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.