South Indian cuisine gets fine dining treatment at KL's Nadodi
Ah, Kuala Lumpur - the city of legendary street food, among the best in the world.
It is always a joy to eat there, but KL is not so much a place you associate with fine dining. Singapore does better in terms of quality and range, but our neighbours are catching up.
One of those leading the race is Nadodi, serving modern interpretations of South Indian cuisine. It opened in March 2017, just across from Suria KLCC.
Based on the concept of travel (nadodi means "wanderer" in Tamil and Malayalam), the food is inspired by ingredients used by South Indians who have settled in the Malay Peninsula and Singapore.
Chef Sricharan Venkatesh knows Indian fine dining. He had stints in Gaggan in Bangkok and Indigo in New Delhi.
Guests have a choice of three seasonal set menus, ranging from 7 Mile Journey at RM360 (S$117) a diner to a mammoth 11-course meal at RM490 a diner.
I tried the latter. It sounds like a lot but it is nicely paced. Still, at the end, you will feel like rolling out of the restaurant.
One of my favourites is Red Kari, a beetroot-led dish with curry, sorbet, and a sheet of "glass". It is a gorgeous dish and tastes just as good.
I'm not crazy about the name Silence Of Our Lamb, but it's delicious. This is seared Iberico lamb marinated with a Sinhalese unroasted curry powder called thuna paha. The heat is balanced with bell pepper powder and aged pumpkin sauce, while the meat is tender and aromatic.
I really like the Humble Broth, Nadodi's take on rasam. It is all very dramatic with more apparatus than necessary.
Luckily, the drama is not for nothing because the rasam is so soulful and delicious. It is made out of tomatoes, and I was hooked after one sip.
The Nadodi Globe is a trio of dishes presented in a specially-designed tiered globe.
It changes from season to season, and at this time, you get lotus root chips on top, with a middle tier of seared Hokkaido scallops diced and tossed in a masala and a risotto-style dish made with Bario rice soaked in a daal and lentil curry.
I was told by those who had dined there that the briyani in the globe is excellent.
Although it is no longer on the menu, if you request it when you make your reservations, the restaurant will oblige.
Perhaps it was all the talk that raised expectations to crazy levels, but I was not blown away.
I don't even remember what the protein was. It was good but I have had better.
Nadodi is something one should experience, especially when South Indian food doesn't get the fine-dining treatment as often as it should.
To get there, you will have to walk your way through an ageing building with a creaking lift and colourful characters popping in and out. And it is probably not a good idea to hang around in the vicinity after dinner.
While there are touches of grandeur inside, there are little nicks and frays that do not necessarily kill the mood, but does make you wonder if it is time for a facelift.
If superficial things like these don't bother you, you will be in for a fine (dining) time.
Lot 183, Jalan Mayang, off Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur
Open Monday to Saturday, 6pm to 11pm