Is it safe to dine out during the CMCO? How is it really like? We let you know from our time at Nadodi KL.
Allow me to be honest — I haven’t dined out since the Conditional MCO (CMCO) began. If I didn’t receive an invitation to sup at Nadodi, I probably would not have dined out either. But with this outing being the catalyst of me dining out in our virus-ridden city, might it change my mind?
Of course, I had nothing but absolute trust that the team at Nadodi would have done every procedure they needed to ensure the restaurant is sanitised and safe for its patrons. Find out for yourself as I walk you through my time at the restaurant.
Are the CMCO SOPs in place?
The short answer is yes. Upon arriving at the restaurant, my temperature was taken, hand sanitiser spritzed onto my hands, and I was requested to register my details with the Tableapp QR code given. This is extremely important for contact tracing and I implore you to not feel like your privacy is being breached.
Then, I was escorted to my seat in the restaurant. Pre-CMCO, the restaurant already had a spacious layout with tables fairly apart from each other. Regulars might notice that not too many tables are missing from the equation, but the private dining room that used to be able to seat a group of people is now limited to just two separate tables. The standard operating procedures (SOPs) are in place, with tables adequately spaced apart. All staff wears a mask including inside the kitchen, and servers wear gloves while placing food onto your table.
If you find the regular Nadodi Experience of 10 courses and The 7 Mile Journey (RM360++) seven-course tasting menu a little too much to stomach, the restaurant has recently introduced the Nadodi Express menu consisting of just five courses at RM280++.
During my time here, I had the Nadodi Experience. Guests who have dined here before might be familiar with the previous menu, but several items have been updated to utilise fresh produce that can be currently procured. As Chef de Cuisine Sricharan Venkatesh, or fondly known as Chef Sri to regulars told me, the restaurant wants to patronise local farmers and use the produce they have to avoid wastage.
Sustainability, as it shows, can be executed with finesse too. We begin our experiential journey with the Nadodi Trio that pays homage to local Malaysian flavours. The humble rojak is reimagined into a tart, a pickled choux pastry with spicy sambal flavours, and a delectable nasi lemak is made with rice water meringue.
But of course, Nadodi’s identity is all about showcasing a nomad’s journey through Southern India. And so, the next set of bites were named the Street Staple, inspired by native Indian street snacks like the dosa (also known as tosai in Malaysia) on a cone. The Kappa Fry is a tapioca ball with polenta — warm and comforting, it’s precisely what a street snack should be. The confit duck puff is reminiscent of our own curry puff, except this one is filled with pulled duck and refreshing flavours of tangy tomato. There was also enough heat to make it enticing, while the dots of tomato added a zing of flavour.
Native South Indian curries were a staple in the menu, and we got to experience just how vast the umbrella term “curry” can mean. Shell Out was an eye-opener, featuring Hokkaido scallops in a truffle sodhi brulee. Sodhi is a Sri Lankan sauce made with pandan, coconut, chilli and turmeric, and is locally eaten with seafood. For Nadodi’s interpretation of it, the team was inspired by creme brulee and made the sauce extremely light — almost fluffy. The rice cracker balls gave the sauce and scallops a welcoming crunchy mouthfeel.
Another curry that was present in the menu was Meen Curry, which translates to fish curry. Traditionally the fish curry is eaten with rice (as we do in Malaysia too), but this version made with Madai fish has the ‘rice’ element replaced with crackly ‘noodles’ made with rice water. The presence of black garlic in this dish also adds another layer of flavour to it, balancing out the heady flavour of curry.
My personal favourite dish was I Am Prawny, which has a different take from its predecessor, I Am So Prawny. The dish was previously a king prawn sitting atop green pea curry. This time around, Sakura ebi (shrimp) and river prawn takes centre stage in a kheema — traditionally a minced meat dish cooked by stewing or frying. The kheema was delightful, rich in seafood flavour, and had the right amount of heat. Served with a side of cumin and carrom seeds flatbread, Nadodi implored me to use my hands to eat this particular dish; I happily obliged.
Regulars will be happy to know that the restaurant’s signatures are still on the menu. I’m talking about the Humble Broth (the tomato rasam), Iberico Lamb, and Nadodi Globe (the mouth-watering biryani). The Humble Broth is as comforting as ever, warming and nourishing the body especially during our virus-riddled times, while the Iberico Lamb offers a nice change in flavour from the curries and spicy dishes in the tasting menu. As for the biryani? It’s still the same one that you know and love from Nadodi.
Of course, no dining experience in Nadodi is complete without trying at least two cocktails from the restaurant’s Head of Beverage, the creative mixologist Akshar Chalwadi. Luckily for me, I managed to sample three. To start off my evening, he presented a gin-based cocktail from the Long section of the cocktail menu. This refreshing and light drink had wild coriander, tepache, and gomme syrup. The tepache, a fermented pineapple rind concoction, adds a tangy twist to the cocktail leaving you thirsty for more, while the wild coriander (which most may not be wild for) lends herbiness to the drink. Unless you’re not a fan of coriander, this one will go down easily.
Next, Akshar offers something more punchy: a Laphroaig-based cocktail from the Sour section. The peaty whisky is mixed with Lillet, mango kombucha, and ginger. True to the restaurant’s sustainability efforts, the ‘waste’ from making the cocktail is dehydrated and recreated into an edible garnish. The smokiness from the whisky doesn’t overpower the drink thanks to the mango kombucha rendering a light tanginess to the overall flavour profile.
Finally, to go with my last few courses, Akshar proffered an experimental cocktail from The End section. At first sip, the taste of sweet, clarified strawberries shone through with underlying flavours of sencha and flora. It sounds like any regular cocktail, but it’s the aftertaste that really got me: goat’s cheese. To achieve this, Akshar did a fat-washing technique with the goat’s cheese. You’ll be genuinely surprised at how palatable it is, without the goat’s cheese overpowering all flavours of the cocktail.
Is it safe to dine out? We can’t say for sure. Trust is the key issue here, so we’d suggest dining in establishments that you know and trust well. Dining out during the CMCO is going to be a luxury above anything else, and if you’re going to do it, you might as well make the most out of it. Save it for special occasions and really treat yourself to a nice night out in a place like Nadodi. The food is still excellent as always and the service is top-notch.
(Hero & featured images: Nadodi KL)