Food writing is an on-going learning journey. A visit to Anne Elizabeth, a deli-style restaurant owned by husband and wife team, Jacob Fong and Sandra Lee, proved enlightening as I grappled with unfamiliar meat cuts like abanico and picanha.
Anne Elizabeth’s best-selling Iberico Abanico (RM39.80 per 250g piece) is a pièce de résistance you are unlikely to find elsewhere. Named after the Spanish hand fan, this fan-shaped cut is the external, thin and well-marbled piece of meat surrounding the Iberico ribs.
A sprinkling of sea salt and ground pepper is enough to make this piece meltingly tender, blush pink pork an epicurean delight. Unlike ordinary pork meat, Fong said abanico should ideally be 70% cooked to medium or medium well doneness for best eating quality. Supply for abanico is hard to come by due to its limited availability. According to Fong, his restaurant has a firm grip on the supply thanks to established understanding with his supplier.
Heading into its 5th year of operation come September, Fong shares he has two decades of European food expertise hence the range of deli and charcuterie offerings are slanted towards British, Spanish, Italian and French-style.
The couple has kept Anne Elizabeth's set-up simple and practical, with display chillers showcasing a wide array of premium meat cuts, gourmet sausages and some fish for diners to select. Wall-mounted chalkboards listing salads, soup and pasta add to the plethora available, leaving them spoiled for choice. Service is cordial, efficient and attentive too; everything runs like clockwork even though the restaurant is packed come peak meal hours.
A pair of Black Pig Meatball in a Blanket (RM9.60 per piece) whets our appetite for starter. One is about the size of a toddler’s fist so it’s good to share if you plan to load up on a main course later. Wrapped in streaky bacon, the handmade and slightly smoky Iberico pork meatball is utterly scrumptious.
We temper its rich taste with a serving of Passionfruit Salad & Parmesan Salad (RM11.90). Studded with raisins, the mixed greens accompanied by fresh, tangy passionfruit is perked up by some honey and olive oil dressing. It’s a nice complement to the surfeit of meat we’d be having.
Although I’m not inclined to soup, the Creamy Mushroom & Bacon Soup (RM11.90) proves notable. Lots of chopped bacon bits give the creamy, earthy soup additional appeal. Lighter on the palate is Roasted Pumpkin & Tomato Soup (RM10.90) – an interesting combo which seems to work cohesively, taste-wise.
We also pig out on Pork Jowl (RM23.20 per piece, about 180g). Don’t knock its plain and lean appearance as the pork slices are superbly delectable. Each piece is surprisingly moist with an excellent, toothsome bite to it. For some flavour variation, dip it into the house sauces: caramelised roast gravy and pepper cream.
Lightly seasoned with grain mustard and sea salt, the splendid rack of Iberico Spare Ribs (RM68.20 per 600g slab) vanishes within minutes it hit our table. I find it goes well with the housemade apple sauce.
Another rare cut avid meat lovers will enjoy is the Australian Wagyu Picanha (RM66 per 200g piece). Also known as rump cap (UK) or sirloin cap (US), picanha is the most prized beef cut in Brazil. Again, a dash of salt and pepper does the trick in bringing out the inherent nuances.
Side dishes to complement mains include hearty baked Portobello, Bacon & Cheese (RM14.90 per piece) and the humongous U.S. Russet Jacket Potato (RM10.90) with sour cream, bacon, spring onion and grated Parmesan.
Fong tells us about 50% of the sausages sold at Anne Elizabeth are made to his charcuterie recipes by his suppliers. “We opt for a combination of European and local flavours, to ensure the end products aren’t too fanciful or foreign to our customers’ liking.”
The quartet of Honey Pork Sausage (RM7.90 per piece), smoky Bacon Bratwurst (RM10.90 per piece), Anne’s Cumberland (RM17.60 per piece) and Spicy Russian (RM7.90 per piece) exemplifies that philosophy. It’s hard to decide which we like best: the subtly sweet honey pork sausage, the smoky savouriness of the bacon brat, the Cumberland’s herb-spice accents or the hot & spicy Russian which is spiked with chopped bird’s eye chilli.
For now most of the resto’s sausages are pork-based but Fong reveals he may introduce more variants with pork-beef and lamb stuffing in the near future. Also in the pipeline will be more varieties of ikejime fish, in addition to the existing salmon and seabass selection.
Should you have room for dessert, try the luscious Banana Crème Brulee (RM10.80). It’s up to scratch and a boon for sweet-toothed diners who cannot bear wrapping up a meal without any luscious treat.
For reservations, please call ANNE ELIZABETH, tel: 03-9130 0319. Address: No.1, Jalan Manis 4, Taman Segar, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. Business hours: Mon-Thurs 12noon to 11pm, Sat & Sun 12noon to 11pm. Closed on Friday.