The 19th Hole

Here’s a Span­ish restau­rant that serves an au­then­tic paella and much more.

Golf Digest (Malaysia) - - Contents - BY DAVID BOW­DEN

Span­ish food cooked with heart and soul.

Of all the great global cuisines, Span­ish dishes and restau­rants are un­der­rep­re­sented in Malaysia but the new and ex­panded Marta’s in Mont’ Kiara has changed all of that.

“Mega” Marta’s has just re­placed “Mini” Marta’s as the orig­i­nal restau­rant has moved into much big­ger premises in an out-of-the-way lo­ca­tion at the ground level of The Sig­na­ture in Mont’ Kiara.

Marta’s Kitchen is owned and op­er­ated by the Span­ish ex­pat and her Dutch hus­band and their love and com­mit­ment to the food, bev­er­ages and ser­vice is very ob­vi­ous. It is worth not­ing that like many cuisines from around the globe, Span­ish food is regional so that many dishes most of us as­so­ciate with Spain are ac­tu­ally only tra­di­tion­ally avail­able in one part of Spain (just as in Malaysia, while Sarawak laksa maybe avail­able all over the coun­try; the best comes from Sarawak). So a clas­sic Span­ish dish such as paella is best from Va­len­cia.

FOOD, WINE AND BEER

In a Span­ish restau­rant, the bar is the soul of the out­let; a place to chat, to meet peo­ple and for peo­ple to come to­gether. Beer and wine are

im­por­tant com­po­nents of a night out at Marta’s and san­gria is a de­li­ciously fruity bev­er­age that makes an ideal ac­com­pa­ni­ment to Span­ish food. Three vari­a­tions on the theme are of­fered here – red, white and sparkling (with the ad­di­tional of cava). The red was rich, fruity and easy to drink; maybe too easy (san­gria is avail­able by the glass or in gen­er­ous jugs of 850 ml).

Var­i­ous beers are also served on tap with the de­li­cious French Kro­nen­bourg Blanc be­ing a favourite of 19th Hole. Draught Carls­berg and Som­er­set Cider are also poured and happy hours prices (three Carls­berg pints for RM55). Un­der­stand­ably, the wine list is ba­si­cally Span­ish but with so many ex­cel­lent wines from Spain, no one will com­plain. Cold-pressed juices, iced teas, smooth­ies, so­das, cock­tails and cof­fees are also served. There is a com­pre­hen­sive and tempt­ing list of ar­ti­sanal gins too such as Siderit Lon­don Dry Gin. One of the vis­ually ex­cit­ing cock­tails is made from vodka and triple sec and served in a glass that re­sem­bles a light globe on steroids.

While the drink­ing here is laid­back and leisurely, the food as im­por­tant; per­haps more im­por­tant for most. Drinkers will en­joy the many small ac­com­pa­ni­ments and more sub­stan­tive mains.It wouldn’t be Span­ish with­out tapas or pin­txos and Marta’s has a very tempt­ing selec­tion of bite­sized treats.

It’s only nat­u­ral to start with some shar­ing dishes such as tapas such as spicy pota­toes, creamy aioli and to­mato sauce, gar­lic tiger prawns in oil with chilli and gar­lic, potato tor­tilla and chorizo, Gali­cian oc­to­pus with creamy mashed potato and, sal­ads such as blue cheese and nuts.

One of sev­eral sig­na­ture dishes is the leg­endary Iberico pork ribs served as a half or full plat­ter. Del­i­cately mar­i­nated and cooked to their cara­malised per­fec­tion, these juicy pork ribs have to be the best in Kuala Lumpur. Din­ers need to plan ahead with this dish as they need five hours to pre­pare and cook so ring ahead.

Some other stand out dishes in­clude the pasta with meat balls topped with flavour­some sauce and Manchego cheese and, the es­sen­tial paella. Be­ing the tra­di­tion­al­ist that Marta is, it is sur­pris­ing that she uses sushi rice to pre­pare the dish and not Span­ish, but it

works. Her Va­len­cia paella is brim­ming with fresh seafood such as mus­sels, cala­mari and prawns.

Don’t leave with­out sam­pling such de­lights like crema Cat­alona, an or­ange­flavoured flan and chur­ros with hot Bel­gium dip.

CON­TEM­PO­RARY SET­TING

The set­ting fea­tures a large con­tem­po­rary-styled space with high ceil­ings and win­dows from the floor to ceil­ing. These open on one side onto some green­ery and the high­way through to the Ta­man Tun tun­nel. There is a large glassed-in show kitchen so pa­trons can watch all the ac­tion in the ever-busy cook­ing area where Marta holds court.

Marta hails from Sala­manca and is pas­sion­ate about home­styled cook­ing. Wel­com­ing vis­i­tors into the home is im­por­tant in Spain and guests of­ten mea­sure hos­pi­tal­ity by the food served. So too with the food served in Marta’s Kitchen as din­ers get a small mea­sure of the per­son­al­ity of the chef with each dish. It is cook­ing pre­pared in the hearth and served from the heart.

This bar/restau­rant ap­peals for many rea­sons. Firstly, the food is fab­u­lously au­then­tic and good with pas­sion by Marta and her team. There is am­ple park­ing (a rar­ity in Sri Har­ta­mas) and the out­let is very spa­cious with an air­con­di­tioned in­te­rior and out­side seat­ing un­der um­brel­las.

Marta’s Kitchen is not easy to find but look for the land­mark The Sig­na­ture ser­vice-apart­ments that ad­joins the Shell ser­vice sta­tion. The Sig­na­ture is the tallest build­ing on this side of Sri Har­ta­mas and Marta’s Kitchen is lo­cated at the ar­rival con­course and there is lots of park­ing be­low and staff will or­gan­ise to chop your park­ing ticket.

Prices in­clude ser­vice charge and gov­ern­ment tax.

FES­TIVE FARE

De­cem­ber is a month of fes­tiv­i­ties and Marta’s Kitchen is cel­e­brat­ing with a spe­cial menu fea­tur­ing im­ported oys­ters, mus­sels from the USA and roasted turkey stuffed with Iberico ham. Book early for Christ­mas and New Year fes­tiv­i­ties as Marta’s Kitchen is a very pop­u­lar ad­di­tion to the Sri Har­ta­mas din­ing land­scape.

Pho­tographs by Pa­trick Chan

Marta’s Kitchen The Sig­na­ture 3 Jalan Har­ta­mas 22, Desa Sri Har­ta­mas 50480 Kuala Lumpur T: +60 3 6411-0832 Marta’s Kitchen is open daily from 11.30 am to 11.30pm.

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