In Bukit Tunku, Evoke Gastrobar serves up exciting contemporary European fare in a relaxed setting
KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 — In a culinary climate that champions pushing the envelope with respect to zany, free-wheeling and for lack of a better term “fusion” cooking, it’s easy to feel like little can amaze anymore.
But I feel the reality is anything but: food can and often still surprises us, as I was reminded recently.
Located in The Stories of Taman Tunku, Evoke Gastrobar’s menu features influences from all over Western and Southern Europe, ranging from Spanish chipirones to a Salade Niçoise that contains tuna tataki.
Located on the ground floor, the place has an outdoor patio that’s largely surrounded by greenery with some larger communal tables and a bar on the inside. A lively mix of flamenco and reggaeton on rotation provides quite an energetic atmosphere on a warm night.
Setting an incredibly high bar for the rest of the meal, the Chicken Liver Paté with a mixed berry jam and bread crisp (RM18) was one of the best I’ve had in KL (a peer-corroborated claim supported by other diners on the night).
Free from the metallic, iron taste that often dogs inferior versions, this was a neatly balanced medley of smooth, sweet, and savoury notes.
It would be tasty on its own, but paper-thin crisps of bread are a great vessel for spreading the creamy mixture with drops of sweet and tart jam to offset some of that richness.
The interior of Evoke Gastrobar.
The perfect bar snack, Chipirones Fritos (RM38) are fried baby cuttlefish that come looking like your average salt and pepper calamari.
However, these are far more delicate and perfectly cooked so as to achieve optimal crunch without a rubbery texture in the middle.
It comes with an arugula mayonnaise, but don’t be fooled by the pale complexion: this dip is spicy, evidently a result of something other than arugula, and dangerously addictive.
The version of a niçoise salad (RM38) here includes tuna tataki, soy-marinated eggs, cherry tomatoes and French beans.
A skilfully made Chicken Liver Paté (left). These little morsels of delicious fried baby cuttlefish are impossible to resist (right).
In principle, the ingredients are traditional to the celebrated French Riviera classic, but I find the Japanese influence in the preparation of the tuna and boiled eggs to be a nice touch.
Bits of mashed olives and anchovies bring some much-needed salinity to the summery dish, which Gordon Ramsay has called “the finest summer salad of all”.
The only beef dish on the menu, the Wagyu Flank Steak (RM160 for 200 grams) comes with a roasted bulb of garlic, chimichurri and yuzu kosho.
A cut that’s known for its bold beefy flavour but at the cost of substantial chewiness, it was cooked to a perfect medium rare here and surprisingly tender, while maintaining all its characteristic flavour.
The Salad Niçoise here is pretty unique, featuring ajitama and tuna tataki.
The chimichurri was bright, herby and heavily flavoured with parsley, but I personally enjoyed the steak on its own. The sweet, now mellow cloves of garlic after roasting were a welcome addition on the side.
Roasted Cauliflower Steak (RM38) proved to be an inspired and excellent choice. Perfectly charred, tender and savoury, I was happy to eat it as is, but it came with a spiced beurre noisette and herbed butter with lemon juice that changed the whole game.
Along with toasted, nutty notes of the brown butter, coriander and sumac were at the forefront, making the sauce almost evocative of a za’atar blend.
Sprinkled in and around were some sweet raisins and a strong squeeze of lemon juice gave the entire dish a lift that was much needed with everything that was going on.
The Wagyu Flank Steak is flawlessly executed and tasty, though perhaps a little boring compared to the cauliflower steak.
I enjoy a beef steak as much as the next person, but I felt the cauliflower threatened to outshine it. It really was that good.
As we rolled ourselves out into the car park, we found ourselves unable to contain our delight, pleasure and awe at our meal, and in particular, the roasted cauliflower steak.
For an unpretentious meal that elicits a considerable and increasing degree of excitement in every dish as the night progresses, Evoke Gastrobar ticks every single box, and more.
H1, The Stories of Taman Tunku, Jln Langgak Tunku, Bukit Tunku, Kuala Lumpur
Open Sunday to Thursday, 12pm-10pm; Friday and Saturday, 12pm-12am
Tel: 016 613 3288