Thursday, May 05, 2022

SHOW-STOPPERS OF SHHHBUUULEEE


 Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” Leonardo da Vinci


Tofu with Soy-cured Egg Yolk, Tomato Water and Herbs (RM22). Drunken Cockles with Rice Wine, Taucu and Mustard Seeds Oil (RM38). Grouper Head Terrine with Chayote, Szechuan Pepper and Chilli Vinaigrette (RM32).


When you encounter such show-stopping house specialities, it dawns on you Shhhbuuuleee isn’t any run-of-the-mill rooftop bar and restaurant. The defyingly simple yet intensely flavour-packed curtain-raisers are mere harbingers of what to expect from this quaint outpost, ‘hidden’ atop RexKL, an old cinema reincarnated into a hip cultural and creative hub.



Upon arriving at RexKL
, the hunt for the resto’s ultra-discreet staircase entrance in a mini adventure in itself…hint: it’s within Book Xcess. As I climbed the flights of stairs up to the outpost, I felt like Alice heading into ‘wonderland’.



The interior of Shhhbuuuleee features a seamless integration of the old: RexKL’s original flooring and walls; and the new: extended bar seating, minimalist eclectic elements and retro touches are artfully combined to evoke a casual, laidback atmosphere.


Like those art house flicks produced to appeal to a discerning audience, Chef Mui Kai Quan is the culinary director whose creative force comes from past stints gleaned from Osteria Mozza and Esquina in Singapore, Ledbury in London, Maaemo in Oslo and Sprout in Johor Bahru. While his modern Malaysian fare takes centre stage at ChoCha Foodstore, Mui now intends to shine the spotlight on East Asian fare with his inimitable touches at Shhhbuuuleee.


After that stellar cast of curtain-raisers, good conversations flow smoothly along thanks to the recommended tipple: Shuho Awesome Karakuchi (RM35 per glass, RM280 per bottle) is winsome for its clean, refreshing taste. The chilled saké paired superbly well with the specialities mentioned earlier as well as the appetite-whetting Wagyu Tartare with Pickled Radish & Seaweed Crackers (RM52).


Local produce also takes the limelight when possible. The chef is an earnest supporter and advocate of local farmers and food producers like the Langit Collective, and champions more sustainable eating in the local F&B scene.


Ample proof of the chef’s mantra is evident in the Grilled Peppers with Sesame & Peanut Butter (RM26). Locally grown, the colourful assortment of banana and shishito peppers tossed in sesame and peanut butter tastes delicately sweet and deliciously tender.


The other scene-stealer was Red Glutinous Rice with Sakura Shrimp & Salt-Cured Fish Roe (RM24). We relished every bite of the nutty, slightly sticky home-grown red glutinous rice which has absorbed the rich savouriness of both the shrimps and fish roe.


Sweet with a fair amount of smooth, fine flesh, the Tai Head with Bamboo Fungi Broth and Puffed Rice (RM88) easily reeled us in. The accompanying broth – chicken stock and bamboo pith simmered for hours – alone was so chockful of flavours, we lapped up every precious drop.  A chilled shochu, Satsumamura Aka Shochu (RM35 per shot) enhanced our enjoyment of the said dish.


Drawing inspiration from his Chinese roots, Mui uses fu yue (fermented beancurd) to conjure up the homely Braised Tripe & Tendon with Fu Yu Broth, Daikon, Lotus Root & Tang Oh (RM48). For the uninitiated, the savoury Chinese condiment tastes similar to cheese; lending depth and complexity to the various ingredients which soaked up all the wonderful flavours of the braising broth.


After being bedazzled by a slew of palate-pleasing blockbusters, subsequent contenders such as Fried Sole with Shiso and Salted Mustard Green (RM42), as well as Sautéed Kale and Wood Ear Mushroom with Kombu Butter (RM22) had to fight harder to gain attention.


Perked up with a relish of chopped salted mustard green (ham choi) and fresh beefsteak leaves serving as an edible wrap for the panko-crusted fish, the former was akin to fish and chips gone East and ‘fit’.


Healthy eating won’t be topping your agenda when you’re at Shhhbuuleee but the kale and wood ear mushroom combo makes an appearance in the menu for good measure. Although the dish was a tad underwhelming, we dutifully polished off every morsel due to its super-nutritious content.


Mui admits he’s still working on dessert and the menu changes based on the availability of the ingredients and produce. So be prepared for more culinary sequels to savour at Shhhbuuleee.


For reservations at Shhhbuuuleee, call: 012-6120786 or https://letsumai.com/widget/shhhbuuuleee. Address: 3rd Floor, RexKL, 80, Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur.

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