Loo Loo Casual Dining, Sri Hartamas
In the past 10 years, William has trained under internationally respected chefs, including three whom he singles out for inspiring his philosophies – French chef Stephane (who has worked at New York’s Daniel, among others), Italian Giuliano (who teaches his proteges how to prepare true Italian pasta without setting foot in Italy), and Canadian Kevin (whose resume includes El Bulli and Arzak in Spain). His work at Loo Loo brings his personal experiences under those chefs to full bloom.
One of William’s culinary icons is American restaurateur David Chang, so it’s no surprise that Loo Loo offers its own take on the revered Momofuku’s ultra-comforting steamed buns – but without pork. Multiple slices of hoisin-glazed smoked duck furnish the lusciously savoury punch in this modern, moreish Asian marvel, thickly layered with quick-pickled cucumbers, chillies, scallions and aioli for eat-it-while-it’s-hot ecstasy (RM12 for two).
We’re a little less enthused by the charred miso butterfish, onion-infused dashi, bok choy and crispy tofu (RM32) – it’s visually alluring in its arrangement, with the kitchen doing justice to every component, including the Japanese-inflected, soulful umami of the miso marinade and the sweet-savoury broth. But the butterfish itself isn’t our favourite produce for both taste and texture; the chef has acknowledged that he’d like to use halibut, but that would hike the price significantly higher.
Redemption rests in Loo Loo’s playful reinterpretation of the Caesar salad – crowned with sous-vide chicken breast, slow-cooked to a smooth succulence akin to thigh meat, drizzled with dragon fruit sauce, cushioned with romaine hearts turned into leafy cups for hard-boiled eggs and ikan bilis in two ways – crushed into a breadcrumb-like crispness and blended into an anchovy dressing. It’s a substantial portion that even two can share for only RM22 – ideal for carb-shunning fitness enthusiasts since the crushed anchovies make this crouton-free.
Lamb lovers, try Loo Loo’s shawarma-style lamb leg, marinated for a day with the aromatic ras el hanout cardamom-and-cinnamon spice mix that’s popular in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, then slow-roasted for six hours, sliced and torched, robust in the unmistakable, no-holds-barred flavour of lamb. The juicy meat is served in the fashion of deconstructed kebabs, rolled amid a landscape of parsley-green breadcrumbs, oven-dried tomato sauce, onion jam, and cucumber stuffed with mint yogurt, representing a journey through North Africa and the Middle East on a single plate (RM38).
Need more red meat? Loo Loo’s Australian grain-fed beef (RM46 for about 200 grams) meets the medium-rare mark for sinking your teeth into a rib eye steak with plenty of protein-packed flavour, firm to the bite and supple to the chew. Even the accompaniments aren’t an afterthought – sprightly green beans, a lip-smacking spring onion aioli, and crackly skin-on potatoes that took three days to prepare, boiled and frozen on the first day, fried and dried on the second day for a pronounced crust, and fried again to order on the third day.
We’re also in lust with the souffle (RM16), made with 70% dark chocolate, gluten-free without a pastry flour base, alluringly airy but still compelling in its deep cacao decadence. This is paired with hazelnut gelato for a coupling that evokes Ferrero Rocher chocolate-and-hazelnut treats. For souffle addicts, get your fix here.
All in all, Loo Loo Casual Dining is off to a very promising culinary start despite these difficult times. Thanks to these passionate founders who’ve fine-tuned their craft for having us here.