PETALING JAYA, Dec 1 — You will not expect to find an omakase meal at a cafe. After all, an omakase or tasting menu is something you'd find at higher-end restaurants.
But on weekends, this cafe — Ground Coffee — on the quieter side of Damansara Utama transforms into a culinary playground where local ingredients are given a new life: Anon.KL.
Think Silkie black chicken converted into confit or breaded with black rice and served with chicken coffee jus. Or even ikan bawal transformed into an elegant, refreshing entree. Even the oxtail soup is whipped up from local beef with flavours that will make your tastebuds sing.
The person behind Anon.KL isn't masked and anonymous but 27-year-old Muhammad Adeeb Palil, or Adeeb.
Adeeb's culinary experience spans stints in La Bergerie at Toulouse, Boulud Sud (owned by famed chef Daniel Boulud) at New York and table65 at Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore.
In the Klang Valley, he has cut his teeth at Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur and Nathalie's Gourmet Studio. Some of these were part of his internship when he studied at Taylor's University.
Prior to joining Ground Coffee to head their kitchen, he was a culinary instructor at the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia.
Even though he has been at Ground Coffee since April 2020, Anon.KL was only launched in October this year. Adeeb views it as an experimental project where he gets to try out new things. "It must be locally driven to support local produce as we now have everything like caviar," he explained.
You will only be forking out RM98 nett for the five-course meal that is only available on weekends from 7pm onwards. The dining experience also includes a mocktail that they design for the menu. It's a steal for a meal that kicks off with an aperitif followed by potage or soup. Subsequently the meal continues with an entree, main course and ends with dessert.
Every two weeks, the menu changes. It is an intimate affair where the seating is limited to only 20 persons per night.
Adeeb feels that the pricing is justified since he is being experimental with the dishes. He added, "We wanted to spread it through word of mouth and give people the opportunity to try out this short-term project." Aside from this omakase experience, Adeeb is also open to accepting private dining events.
Adeeb draws inspiration from his previous work experience. During his stint in Singapore, he drew on French cooking techniques while using a lot of the same produce as this omakase.
He also keeps in touch with dining trends by observing the restaurant scene. Visits to the markets also see him picking up all sorts of ingredients to work on in his kitchen.
He has worked with ikan bawal, ikan siakap and even the local sole fish known as ikan sebelah. A recent collaboration event with Bobo at Sabah opened his eyes to fresh produce like latok and even octopus.
What's interesting about the omakase menus is Adeeb takes you on a fun exploration of local ingredients. Admittedly, some flavours may not agree with you, since everyone's flavour preference is different but it definitely opens your eyes to possibilities as he works his culinary magic.
Adeeb also makes a point to present each dish to diners himself to explain the ideas behind them. It's a great way to delve deeper into how each dish was formed as you taste each spoonful.
Here's a sneak peek at the upcoming menu for December 4. You will start off with a smooth chicken liver mousse topped with watercress oil and peanuts. It is given a fun element as it is served with sourdough waffles that have a softer bite.
The potage for this menu is a cold Borscht soup using beetroot and topped with yoghurt creme fraiche and dill.
Be excited as the entree is a scene stealer with handmade raviolis stuffed with corn and cream. It's a totally unexpected pairing of flavours. To my surprise, it works really well as you get the sweetness from the corn which is enhanced with the herb oil and garlic. Adeeb adds an interesting touch of lightly pickled shimeji mushrooms to help cut through the richness of the stuffed pasta.
The main course is duck sourced from Bidor which will be brined, cooked sous vide, served with crispy skin and an orange gastrique sauce. It will come with sweet potato gratin and local vegetables.
You end the meal with a sticky toffee pudding. The menu's mocktail will see the flavour pairing of chrysanthemum, vanilla and ginger ale.
This omakase menu will run for two weekends before Adeeb introduces a menu to celebrate the Christmas festivities.
I had sampled last week's omakase menu which actually blew me away with its fine details and flavours. When it comes to any meal, I often judge how good it is from just the bread service.
It is an important main component that anchors your whole meal and sets the tone for the oncoming dining experience. What set it apart from other fine dining spots was Anon.KL's amazing own made miso butter.
That umami laden butter had me just eating up the spelt sourdough it was served with. It took a lot of self restraint not to ask for seconds.
It was hard for me to choose a favourite item from the meal but I liked the inventiveness of Adeeb's serving of the oxtail using local beef, which was shredded on top of a brioche.
You pour this lovely beef broth and enjoy it. It's amazing how sup ekor can be transformed into this elegant soup.
Even the ikan bawal or pompano is given a makeover as a refreshing ceviche with passionfruit, coconut and kaffir lime flavours. This was beautifully presented with daikon shaped to resemble petals and dotted with dill mousse.
For the main course, it was a perfectly seared piece of barramundi fish served on a bed of barley risotto, cauliflower puree and laced with tobiko sauce and herb oil. You also have latok or local sea grapes to give you a light taste of the sea.
Their plated dessert paid tribute to various flowers. You have two mousses, one with blue pea flower and another one with chrysanthemum that is given a tanginess from the passionfruit custard and paired with delicate rose meringues. There was a fun element too in the form of caramel popcorn.
Anon.KL, Ground Coffee, No. 27, Jalan SS21/34, Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya. Tel:+603-7731 5334. Follow them on Instagram: @anon_kl for updates on the menu and message them to book your space. Payment is made in cash or through e-wallets.
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