Sunday, September 18, 2016


The only type of bone I enjoy picking is that of pork ribs. Especially in Klang Valley when pigging out on Western-style pork ribs used to be as rare as Michelin-starred dining. Now the scenario is changing as more restos are letting things rib. One recent eatery to jump onto the piggy bandwagon is Hoopla Lounge.
Our host and managing director of Hoopla Lounge/Chapter One Bar & Bistro, Ernest Chin informed us the signature Connor's Rib Slab is marinated in Connor's Stout Porter before it hits the grill with a basting of Connor's infused BBQ sauce. Unlike most ribs in town that lack textural meaty resistance, Hoopla's stood up to our taste test. Price at RM85++ per serving with two glasses of Connor's, all the luscious ribs needed was a squeeze of fresh lime juice to make its rip-roaring presence felt.
Tucked away in a corner of Sri Hartamas, this new-ish, dark and sultry wine lounge is above Chapter One (its more boisterous 'sibling' hangout). Conceived as a cool yet cosy space where urban folks can enjoy fine wine and some nibbles post-work with friends, Hoopla artfully blends clubby chic with bistro minimalism.
As an oenophile (wine enthusiast), Ernest plied us Réserve St Martin for the review. Both wines were easy on the palate; the dry, medium-bodied Merlot bore pleasant acidity and supple tannins while the Chardonnay's fruity crispness was edged with muted nutty overtones.
With over a hundred labels in its cellar, Hoopla's stockpile is sourced mainly from boutique wineries and small producers to pique fellow drinkers. Prices are also easier on the wallet (phew!) compared to the princely sum charged by leading hotels and fine-dining restos. Ernest's ethos is to induce Hoopla's patrons appreciate their chosen tipples in comfort and as an accompaniment to good food.
The menu stays in comfort food territory and pub-style offerings with an occasional quirky side or two as exemplified by the appetiser of Lady's Fingers (RM6) - a Japanese izakaya inspiration perhaps? Laced with garlic oil, mentsuyu (Japanese noodle soup base) and sesame oil, the tender fingerlings of okra was a nice way of loading up on one's green intake whilst lining the tummy agreeably.
Crunchy with deep-seated flavour reminiscent of Chinese nam yue (red fermented beancurd), the classic pub grup fave of Chicken Wings (RM22) hit a high note with us. Adding to the wings' allure was a zingy-hot chilli dip with crudites. 
Moreish finger-licking goodness emerged in the subsequent bite-size pieces of Cracklin' Chicken Karaage (RM38++). Again marinated in creamy Connor's Porter Stout, the juicy chunks of Japanese-style boneless fried chicken drizzled with bright orangey, sweet-spicy sauce had us wiping the plate clean within minutes.
Hot on the heels of such positive show-openers, we were floored by the generous platter of Pork Platter (RM104). Rubbed with cinnamon, onion and ginger, the hearty deliciousness of the crackling roasted pork skin and scrumptious meat made a slurp-worthy impression. Although I'm not big on the so-called pork bangers (can't beat the real English ones), the supporting cast of potato wedges, salad and dips ensured a favourable experience.
Knowing the Malaysian penchant for local fare, Hoopla includes a handful of typical Malaysian faves to appease customers. Ernest was quick to clarify the servings can never rival those dished up by hawkers but after a heavy night of drinking and partying, we doubt if anyone would whinge about forking RM19 for a plate of hot-off-the-wok Hokkien Mee. Taste-wise it was decent and apparently, so is the Mee Mamak.

Personally, I prefer chomping into the wickedly tender BBQ Chicken Thigh (RM40++) which had been basted with Connor's infused BBQ sauce. Complemented by roasted potatoes and spicy vinaigrette, the chook's slick, sweetish and subtly smoky lacquer-like skin and juicy meat was worth returning for.
Perked up with aromatics such as dried prawn sambal, ginger flower and coriander, we was reeled in by the Fried Seabass (RM13) with red onion salad. Imagine crisp skin yielding to sweet, flaky meat with the sharp freshness of onion blunting discernible greasy accent.
We skipped dessert but my reliable source tipped us off on the wicked decadence of Hoopla's Chocolate Brownies (RM15). Served warm with lashings of chocolate sauce and vanilla ice-cream, she enthused the splendid treat was spot on and should melt hearts. Now, I'd have to return for the proof of the pudding won't I?
For reservations at HOOPLA LOUNGE, call tel: 03-62116484. Address: 1st Floor, 72-1 Jalan 27/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur.

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