When dining out, the main dish is often the focus. Whether it is a piece of black cod or a slab of A5 Grade Japanese Wagyu beef, the main course is always discussed as the highlight. It’s time for us to give some attention to starters that are equally as important as it gives us an introduction of what’s to come.

It sets the tone for you — whether it is something rustic, simple or more experimental. Chefs also use appetisers (or sometimes the amuse bouche) to introduce a type of cuisine. And there will be times when you’d like nothing more but a few small bites to satiate your appetite. Deep-fried, baked, roasted or sauteed, here are some of the best starter dishes this month.

Crispy Salmon Banana Roll with Green Tea Dressing

The dish: While the name itself sounds absolutely bizarre, this new combination beckons the adventurous. You’ve probably heard of fried durian or even fried ice cream but the team behind Five Sen5es is taking this deep-fried snack to the  next level. Think deep-fried banana fritters — its soft and sweet inside with a crispy exterior — but cradled with the savoury flavours of salmon. This appetiser is extremely addictive but its best eaten when its piping hot. The green tea mayo dipping brings in the creamy element but gives the dish the slightest hint of fragrance to the dish.

The place: Five Sen5es in The Westin Kuala Lumpur is a cosy place for you to enjoy pork-free dim sum as well as home-cooked dishes with family and friends. The contemporary Chinese restaurant has recently launched a new menu comprising reimagined authentic Chinese dishes like Slow Roast Beef Spare Ribs with Pineapple and Honey Sauce, Honey Glazed Baked Black Cod, and our personal favourite, Minced Duck Fried Rice with Prawn, Yam and Pumpkin.

Price: n/a

The Westin Kuala Lumpur, Level G, 199, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, +603-2773 8338

Asparagi e Gorgonzola

The dish: It is easy to identify fresh ingredients by how they look. In the case of this meat-free starter, one will be drawn immediately to the vibrant green hue of the giant asparagus. Served whole, the bed of asparagus is topped with two poached eggs (the yolks are not the runny kind but cooked just nice with a soft centre). The gorgonzola dressing gives it a beautiful coat of creaminess with a palatable sharpness from the blue cheese. It’s best eaten warm to really enjoy the harmonious flavour combination of gorgonzola, egg and lightly sautéed asparagus.

The place: The pulse of Prego lies in the large central open kitchen where every dish is prepared a la minute in full view from all angle of the Italian restaurant. Italian native Chef Marco De Cecco keeps the authenticity of his cuisine in tact by serving rustic home-style Italian favourites — dishes that bring him back to his childhood. Prego is perfect for Sunday brunches, afternoon tea or even an intimate dinner for two that are all prepared with an Italian flair.

Price: n/a

The Westin Kuala Lumpur, Level 1, 199, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, +603-2773 8338

Flame-cured Mackerel

The dish: Dining at Brasserie Léon starts with homemade bread served with house-churned butter — but save some space for a bevy of accompanying appetisers that are as French as you can get. Our pick would be the flame-cured mackerel that is served chilled and topped with a delightful cucumber and shallot vinaigrette. The balance of flavours is divine — fresh acidic notes from the chopped ingredients with a sharp zing from the pickling liquid. The slight char on the mackerel elevates the smokiness of this starter that is best eaten with the warm bread.

The place: This newly opened restaurant takes over the same space as Cocott’ KL and now serves authentic French cuisine with its signature dish being the crowd-pleasing steak-frites served with a signature herb and butter sauce. The unpretentious French favourites including the roasted spring chicken, escargot with garlic butter and deep-fried brie with red onion chutney merit a visit.

Price: RM13.90

Brasserie Léon, 1-1 Greens Terrace, Jalan Wan Kadir 3, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, +603-27124481

Martin Teo
Content Editor
Martin loves traveling the world to see ancient ruins and classical architecture. He enjoys the culinary experience of various cities but (still) refuses to eat anything insect-like. On a daily basis, he finds time hitting the gym to compensate for the amount of food he needs to eat just to write an article.