Malaysia deserves better. It is this personal belief that spurs chef cum restaurateur Daren Leong to return from Singapore and make his mark back on home turf. After grabbing a
piece of the F&B pie with Miam Miam and Franco, Leong is once again turning the local resto scene on its head with his newly opened Marco Creative Cuisine in the same premises.
Before naysayers jump into the fray to rain on his parade, remember this plucky and enterprising chef-restaurateur has gone where eagles fear to tread. Now, instead of queuing up for Miam Miam's soufflé and thick French-toast, people are now being pulled towards Marco to gawp, zombie-like, at the translucent sea creatures floating around in the tank at the resto entrance.
We love the modern Tiffany-blue chairs and banquette seats amidst Marco's all-white interior, discreetly crisscrossed with burnished gold trims. According to Daren, the name Marco refers to his son and also to legendary traveller Marco Polo. “Marco Creative Cuisine embodies the same sense of adventure, imbuing excitement into the culinary adventure awaiting diners at this dining outpost.”
Fascinated by how memory and personal experiences influence the way we taste food, Daren invites diners to experience and discover A Journey of Flavours. Daren says each delicious creation at Marco Creative Cuisine represents a culmination of his own personal food journey. "Every dish is made from scratch using fresh, locally source ingredients as much as possible."
Determined to encourage local diners to try his new multi-course menu concept but minus the high price, Marco's sumptuous 7-course meal only cost RM78 (GST inclusive but not service charge) per person. Right from the get-go, his frothy palate cleanser of Velvety Matcha-Lime Shooter awakened our tastebuds to its intense yet fleeting citrusy notes.
Playfully light on the palate, the dainty appetiser of Savoury Éclair won us over thanks to the crisp, airy Choux topped with squiggles of Gruyère flavoured Pâté, Aubergine Caviar, Green Chilli Pesto and Tomato Confit. The cornucopia of dense and ethereal textures interspersed with bursts of lush creaminess, zingy freshness and smoky-fruity flavours sent our expectations soaring for the other courses to come.
While my choice of French Onion Soup was no less flavourful, the thick broth's rusticity somehow lack the dramatic finesse of my dining partner's offering. Served with two thick-cut French toast points, we soon warmed up to the rich, caramelised yellow onion accent of the soup.
Cold soups aren't common in Malaysia but Daren feels our year-long tropical summer weather calls for a chilled broth similar to the Spanish gazpacho. Instead of tomatoes, he combines Cameron Highlands strawberries with capsicum, onion, cucumber and peppermint to create his signature Strawberry Gazpacho. The resultant pink soup was indeed light and fresh; a harmonious blend of delicate fruit and vegetal nuances. A perfect counterpoint to the dense and decadent Chicken Liver Parfait.
A sheath of crackly brûlée top gave the densely creamy Chicken Liver Parfait a sugary overtone. Spread onto toast triangles with dehydrated apple crisps, I personally couldn't decide if I'm for or against such savoury-sweet pairings. Apparently, this is trending right now around the world so you'd have to try it and make up your own mind. For me, the jury's still out there.
I'd rather return for the simple yet distinct entrée of Savoury Ice Cream Salad. It was like a precursor to spring, this pretty cluster of Assorted Baby Leaves, Heirloom Tomato, Seasonal Microgreens and edible Violets. A swirl of olive oil and a quenelle of sea salt-flavoured ice cream somehow managed to sync everything together.
Like a child in a candy store, I derived great delight from my Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie. It reminded me of world-renowned Chef Alvin Leung's crazy dessert in a good way once I savoured the yummy Lemon Curd with Italian Meringue. Dots of Passion Fruit Gel, a quenelle of White Chocolate Sherbet and some buttery pastry 'soil' heightened the palate-pleasing experience.
Spoiled by all that earlier razzmatazz, it was almost discomfiting to find something as mundane as Crème Brûlée with White Chocolate Sherbet in the menu. Still, I suppose some diners like to find comfort from the tried and tested egg custard baked with a caramelised top.
A choice of French Press Coffee, Loose Leaves Tea or Sparkling Iced Berry Drink concluded our culinary journey. Do take note the list of dishes reviewed here went beyond seven courses as our dining party of six shared and sampled each other's selection of courses throughout.
A La Carte orders available with Soup/Entrée at RM18+ per serving, Main at RM35+ per serving (add RM10+ for Duck Breast) and Dessert at RM20+ per serving. Lunch is served from 12 noon to 3 pm while Dinner is from 6pm to 10pm daily.
For enquiries or information, call Marco Creative Cuisine, tel: 03-7731 8293. Reservations is recommended. Address: Lot G146, Ground Floor (Old Wing),
1 Utama Shopping Centre, 1, Lebuh Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.