Words by Kristin CosgrovePhotos by Michelyne Callan and Kristin Cosgrove
Faux greenery and wooden tables with benches are nestled within the food stall area, giving the ambiance of an indoor park. The larger seating area is designed around the frame structure of a green house, enclosed with glass and looking over tree-lined Jalan Ampang. With nostalgic hawker fare, mini restaurants, several beers on tap and an ambiance more park-like than mall-like, the Taste Enclave at Avenue K is a far cry from most of its food court cousins. “I wanted to elevate the food court experience,” says Enclave owner Willie Tay, a Singaporean with 19 years experience in the industry.
The Enclave features 16 stalls and 4 mini restaurants, hand picked by Tay for their quality and heritage recipes. Here, diners find a mix of Kuala Lumpur’s finest food ambassadors, as well as some new tastes on the KL cuisine scene. Choices abound at amazing prices, from a teppanyaki bar to Swedish café, from Singaporean-style seafood to a gamut of Malaysian favorites, making this a tempting destination for any palate and terrific place for visitors wanting to sample the true tastes of KL and beyond.
STALL FOOD STAPLES
Deluxe BBQ Meat with Rice Set, Tong’s Roast (Stall #5)Beef Tripe Soup
For 30 years, Tong’s Roast has thrived in Pudu as a roast meat wholesaler. Now, they’ve brought their own unique recipe to the Taste Enclave, their first stall in a food atrium. We try the BBQ Mixed Set Menu (from RM12.90), with bbq pork, crispy roast pork and roast duck. The rice is cooked in stock, giving it a distinct and rich taste. The hoisin sauce is impressively thick and delicious, standing up to the crispy meat, but not overpowering it.
Stall No. 21 Beef Noodle serves the same taste Malaysians have come to love since 1945. We try the Beef Tripe Soup (RM8.50) and my friend declares,“This is the way tripe SHOULD be cooked. Not too chewy.” I take her word for it, as I’m not keen on tripe, but even I find the rest of the soup wonderful. The trademark crystal clear broth has a full flavor and the springy meatballs are smooth and tasty.
Claypot Chicken Rice, Huen Kee Claypot Chicken Rice (Stall #7)Near the Pudu wet market, Heun Kee Claypot Rice has been in operation since 1986. Now, they bring their unique dish to the Taste Enclave with their 2nd outlet. This is a distinct and amazingly tantalizing dish; a two way heating system using charcoal to surround the clay pot infuses a smoky taste to the meat and rice. Be sure to stir before eating, you’ll want to scrape those yummy crispy bits from the bottom and mix them in along with the salted fish.
Hokkien Mee, Sentul Ah Yap Charcoal Hokkien Mee (Stall #8)A traditional recipe dating back more than 100 years, Sentul Ah Yap Charcoal Hokkien Mee’s signature dish (RM9.90) is a treasure trove. Generous pieces of prawns, sliced fish cake and pork cracklings can be found in each helping, and we delight in every bite. The noodles are fried over charcoal, giving the dish a distinctive earthy flavor.
Roti Prata, Briyani Set Menu, Jalan Kayu Prata (Stall #7)The Dum Briyani (RM14.90) from Jalan Kayu Prata was declared by one of the locals with us to be the “best briyani” he’s ever tasted. From a local, I take that seriously, but it isn’t hard to believe. Moist and spicy, the secret to this amazing dish is cooking the meat together with the rice, infusing the rich taste throughout the dish. I’m in love.
Another signature of Jalan Kayu Prata is the Roti Prata (RM3.90), one of the most amazing I’ve had. Rich, flaky and buttery, this prata lacks the usual oiliness. It is cooked in the Singapore style and tastes like a flaky croissant! It’s almost a shame to dunk it into any curry sauce, though Jalan Kayu Prata’s chicken curry is perfectly spiced and fabulous on its own or with the prats.
Golden Hot Pot (Stall #16)Malaysians will find some new tastes in the Enclave like the Golden Hot Pot originating from China. Pick your vegetables and meat, level of spice, and the chef will cook it for you with a unique paste made from 47, (yes – 47!) herbs and chilies. The flavor is a party for the taste buds and I love the combination of fresh veggies cooked just enough to be heated through, but still crispy. A couple of bites leave me taking sharp inward breaths to cool my tongue. It is spicy, but it hurts so good!
Set Menu (Veggies, Miso Soup and Rice and Choice of Beef or Fish
Grandeur Teppanyaki, Mini Restaurant The set menu from mini restaurant Grandeur Teppanyaki was one of my favorites of the day’s mighty tasting. I will certainly order this again, but it will be hard to decide whether to get the steak or the dory option. The beef steak is delicious and tender, the sauce creamy and not too sweet. The fish is also perfectly cooked, flaky and not at all dry on the inside, and with a crisp coating. It is drizzled with a wonderful mustard sauce that has a hint of wasabi flavour, but not the heat. At RM22.90 and RM15.90, respectively, this is a terrific value.
Deep Fried Salted Egg Chicken, Xi Qing Seafood Mini RestaurantThe Deep Fried Salted Egg Chicken is an intriguing dish from the Singaporean style Xi Qing Seafood and left me wanting to explore what else the mini restaurant has to offer. Two plates (RM15/ea.) were served, each in a different and beautiful presentation. We didn’t actually try any of their seafood, but if the chicken is any indication, this place is worth checking out.
Spring Rolls (RM6.90) and Pork Chop Set Meal from Y-Thu Wendy Vietnam (Stall #1)Healthy, authentic Vietnamese food is on offer at Y-Thu Wendy Vietnam, where the Spring Rolls (RM6.90) make for a refreshing appetiser or side dish. We find the ingredients fresh – the noodles aren’t too sticky, the veggies are crisp and the wrapper is still moist. I’ve had these on several occasions here, and have consistently enjoyed the same quality.
The Grilled Pork Chop is also a simple but wholesome dish from Y-Thu Wendy. The meat has a delicious marinade I can’t quite put my finger on and I make a note to order this again.
Steamed Chicken Rice Set, Nasi Ayam Singapura (Stall #15)Nasi Ayam Singapura serves chicken rice in a style originating from Singapore. The chicken is cooked at a low temperature until just finished, then plunged into ice water to make it smoother and lock in the flavor. It is served chilled with a high-quality rice flavored with a hint of Ginger. The cold chicken wasn’t what we were expecting and though I’d never usually use “refreshing” as an adjective to describe chicken, that’s what it was. The bok choy from the set menu also deserves mention as being especially good. It was cooked in sesame oil and drizzled with soy sauce and the crunchy fried shallots sprinkled over the top really make the dish.
Reason to go: Heritage recipes from famous stalls around KL, ridiculously good value for money in a convenient and comfortable setting. Not your average food court!
Hours: 10am -10 pm Sundays – Thursdays and Public Holidays
10am – 11pm Fridays, Saturdays and Eve of Public Holidays
Level 2, Avenue K Shopping Centre
156 Jalan Ampang 50450 Kuala LumpurMalaysia+6 03 2181 8888 http://www.tasteenclave.com/atrium-taste.html
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Food Blog by: THe Yum List