It is a joyous week for the chefs, restaurateurs and food connoisseurs in Malaysia as we all celebrate the first Malaysian restaurant to break into the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 list. Dewakan, helmed by Chef Darren Teoh is placed 46th and has anchored Malaysia on the world map as a gastronomic destination not just for its street food. We’ve also witnessed a new winner, Singapore’s Odette who climbed from 5th spot last year to dethrone Bangkok’s Gaggan who has been on top since 2015.

In the next few months, the dining scene in Kuala Lumpur is expected to be more competitive and exciting with Dewakan serving as an inspiration to many young and talented local chefs. Local ingredients are being championed and finally, getting the attention they deserve. We are talking about restaurants like Atas, OpenHouse, Beta KL and Nadodi who are progressively introducing the finest local produce in modern cooking and reinterpreting traditional recipes. The best dishes of the month highlight the simplicity of heritage dishes and its craft – sushi and pasta – as well as familiar flavours (with a twist) that would appeal to traditionalists.

Dewakan Darren Teoh
Courtesy of Dewakan

Black Banana Porridge

The dish: You’d probably be wondering what dish to look out for at Dewakan, the first Malaysian restaurant to have broken into Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 list at number 46. If you’re dining at Dewakan for the first time, some of the dishes may sound a little bizarre because the ingredients used are not everyday ingredients used in your home kitchens.

This ranges from banana heart and kerdas (a type of bulbous fruit) to sweet leaf and nam nam fruit. Something to look forward to in either the Kayangan or Nusantara menu is the Black Banana Porridge. The main component — local rice cooked with blackened banana resulting in a soft congee — is served with a cured egg yolk, salted mustard greens and a juicy duck sausage.

The place: Dewakan is set in a contemporary dining space infused in warm neutral hues of wood and marble surfaces. The open kitchen allows you to witness chefs in action. You can also catch Chef Darren Teoh in action from anywhere you’re seated in the intimate restaurant.

Price: RM300 (Menu Nusantara) / RM370 (Menu Kayangan)

Dewakan, Lower Ground Floor, KDU University College, Utropolis Glenmarie, Jalan Kontraktor U1/14, Seksyen U1, 40150 Shah Alam, Selangor, +603-55650767

Courtesy of Ishin Japanese Dining

Sakura Negi Toro Sushi

The dish: We’re not letting the sakura season go without a dish that celebrates spring. Ishin Japanese Dining has the perfect dish that reinterprets conventional sushi. The circular-shaped sushi rice, flavoured with cherry blossom petals for an extra sweet scent, is topped with a toro tartare that is perfumed with more edible flowers. The sushi is topped with fresh ikura for an extra punch of umami flavours. Be sure to wrap it with the shiso leaf for a hint of peppery notes to balance the dish.

The place: Housed in a standalone Art Deco building in Old Klang Road is Ishin Japanese Dining. The award-winning Japanese restaurant serves genuine Japanese and Kaiseki style cuisines that are cooked to order. Valet parking is provided; you need not worry about having to park around the housing area.

Price: RM168

Ishin Japanese Dining, 4 off, Persiaran Klang, Batu 3 3, 202, Jalan Kelang Lama, Taman Shanghai, 58000 Kuala Lumpur, +603-79808228

Courtesy of Nero Nero

Tortellini Ricotta e Prosciutto

The dish: Enjoy an Italian feast prepared by Chef Giuseppe Lioce at Nero Nero in DC Mall. The restaurant is known for its handmade pasta dishes that leave you wanting for more. One of the standout dishes is the Tortellini Ricotta e Prosciutto. The homemade tortellini pasta is stuffed with ricotta cheese and minced turkey ham, then glazed a silky butter and sage sauce. The al dente texture and flavourful filling make every bite worth your calorie count.

The place: You can instantly spot the ‘Italian’ in Nero Nero with its black and white checkered mosaic flooring. The mood changes from day to night — find a spot along the outdoor area in the afternoon with its Italian-style cafe seating or dine in a romantic setting at night in its charming dark interiors.

Price: n/a

Nero Nero, DC Mall, L3 – 02, Jalan Damanlela, Damansara City Mall, Damansara Town Centre, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, +603-20113811


Martin Teo
Martin has a bent for history and food culture, especially of the Peranakan heritage. Since the pandemic, he finds joy in plant parenting and continues to expand his collection of Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Syngoniums. He's now on a lookout for the elusive Philodendron Florida Beauty to add to his urban garden.