Sitka Restaurant has been around since 2014 and is famous for its special pop-up kitchens serving unique Asian-inspired dishes conjured from a variety of fresh produce and imported ingredients. The restaurant, founded by Chef Christian Recomio and co-owner Jenifer Kuah, currently has the country’s largest selection of natural, organic and biodynamic wines thanks to the owners’ strong passion in creating a sustainable food business.
Under the watchful eye of Chef Recomio, the kitchen is currently being helmed by newly appointed Head Chef Karlyn Teo who has been with the restaurant for the past three years and happens to be the creator of the addictive sourdough bread so loved by customers of Sitka, Studio and the Alta Café in Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar. The appointment of the new female head chef comes timely with a new menu and also the new look that the restaurant now has – brighter, more contemporary and decked with greenery.
The new menu is layered with fresh and bright flavours thanks to sprightly citrus elements used in every dish. It is a mature, thoughtful and uncomplicated repertoire that is inspired by sharing plates at wine bars from the owners’ favourite cities around the globe.
The 9-course meal is divided into four servings starting with an appetiser trio of Foie Dumpling Confit Duck, Meat Bun and Unagi Cracker.
The Chinese-style dumplings are generously stuffed with shredded meat from the apricot braised duck leg and topped with shavings of marinated foie gras to add some depth of flavour to the dish. These delicious dumplings are served with surprisingly tangy vinegar and butter reduction that helps cut the fattiness from the goose liver. Eat this first as it is best served warm and before the foie gras starts to melt.
You may want to consider having the Unagi Cracker next as the flavours are light and fresh thanks to the use of green apple and ginger. The torched eel lends a nice touch of umami, sandwiched between nori crisps that are thinly layered with green apple slices and ginger mayo. Wash it all down with some natural wines – Head Chef Karlyn Teo highly recommends the chardonnay to balance the richness in some of the starter dishes.
Next is the Meat Bun that reminds us of the Taiwanese gua bao, steamed mantao buns with pulled pork, crushed peanuts and preserved vegetables. The deep-fried bun has succulent soy-braised lamb filling, served with pickled cucumber and smoked yoghurt. While the crust offers extra crunch, the addition of smoked yoghurt truly elevates this simple snack with balanced flavours.
The subsequent set of appetisers comes in a group of three as well, comprising Tuna Tataki served with pickled plum and ponzu, Wagyu Carpaccio marinated with kombu oil, togarashi and premium soy, as well as the Momotaro Tomato, which is the absolute standout among the six appetisers.
Both the Tuna Tataki and Wagyu Carpaccio offer its own unique flavours thanks to the premium quality of the protein in the respective dishes. The tuna sashimi complements beautifully with the pickled purple plum for a sweet and sour finish while the thinly sliced wagyu beef is enhanced with umami notes of soy sauce and perfumed with kombu oil.
However, the underdog of the night is definitely the locally grown tomatoes that have been given the license to shine. It adds to the joy of eating as you go through the menu with a surprising notion – how could tomatoes taste as silky as raw salmon and as tasty as medium rare steak? Chunks of tomatoes are tossed in pickled ginger dressing, then sprinkled with toasted buckwheat and sesame for extra crunchy texture. The dish is served with a smooth tofu cream made of blended bean curd skin, heavily garnished with baby coriander for a light herby scent.
Pace yourself because the portions at Sitka can be rather filling after the sixth course. The main dishes served are rather simple, comprising Truffled Fried Rice and Green Miso Salmon. If you’re still not full, the rice dish makes up for it. Enjoy layers of umami that come from a bevy of ingredients including pickled shimeiji mushrooms, crispy garlic chips, natural yeast flakes and fresh ikura.
The only letdown in the menu is perhaps the salmon dish – the fish is slathered with Japanese miso and green chilli paste, and served on a bed of coriander and yellow onion salad. Topping it off is a lime dressing. While the fish is perfectly medium done, the clash of bold flavours from the herbaceous elements is apparent. The sharpness from the onion and coriander may be a bit too overwhelming and the rawness (and slightly bitter notes) of the green chilli mess with the natural sweetness of the fish.
There are highs and lows. The first six starters excite the palate with a crescendo of interesting flavours and textures. The highlight of the menu is definitely the Momotaro Tomato and Meat Bun. The dishes are easy to eat, honest and comforting – you get a variety of familiar flavours that makes the dining experience a delightful one.
The Coconut Sorbet dessert, however, doesn’t entirely live up to its expectation to end the night on a high note. The chocolate elements comprising chocolate crumbs, cacao nibs and the chocolate espuma give a nice balance of flavours and textures but together, they overpower the fresh nuances of the coconut sorbet. The pandan oil, on the other hand, adds sweet-scented ending notes but doesn’t really do much to the dish – what we end up getting is a heavy dessert that lacks a much needed fresh element unlike the rest of the citrus-centric dishes.
On the plus side, the portions are really good. If you’re ordering for two, the meal collectively is enough for three or four persons. There’s also a wide range of natural wines to pair your meal with – simply ask one of the staff to recommend a bottle from the rack.
Ambience: Cosy and casual
Price: RM120++ per set