November 11, 2011

Urban, Hotel Istana Kuala Lumpur: An Indulgence by an Urbanite!

Unknown to most, I found a hidden gem in Hotel Istana from my recent visit to Urban, a contemporary western restaurant that serves up an ‘Eclectic Fusion’ menu.

Urban is an ideal “chill-out” venue in the centre of this bustling cosmopolitan city – it is a contemporary western restaurant with an informal yet relaxing ambience. The Urban décor concept is of fashionably chic design within an ambience of sheer comfort and casual surrounding that displays three different seating styles in a Zen-styled open setting. In essence, Urban resembles a culinary theatre, complete with a well-stocked wine-bar featuring over 300 international labels.

The whole décor highlighted its concept of using aboriginal art motifs painted on the theme orange producing a very bright and contemporary atmosphere. The table settings are also very unique with some long tables, booths, private rooms and such. I also like the checkered black and white floor!

Table setting are quite mode and stylish in the bright color theme.

Fellow wine lovers, there is a beautiful list of wines and cocktails available at Urban. There is even a bar area where one can enjoy while waiting for someone!

Check out the cool looking 8-Bottle Wine Dispenser. This cool gadget stores opened wines in favorable conditions to prolong its shelf life in its original form. The machine guarantees freshness as it controls the humidity and oxidization of the wine so customers can now enjoy wine by the glasses without losing its original flavors.

Is cigar your thing? They have some here too!

Freshly squeezed Juices served in tall glasses.

An ardent fan of bread and butter in all its glory, Urban served up a very delectable Puri Bread with Chicken Patè. The puri was light, thin and almost flaky. Jazzed this up with the luscious silky pate and you’ll be hooked on this like me!

Another contrasting delight was their Walnut and Raisin Bread with Sun Dried Tomato Butter and Herb Butter. Warm, fluffy and chocolaty with a sweet and nutty flavor, the bread was good enough on its own! But then again, who can resist butter? So my favorite pick is the sun dried tomato butter with the extra zing of intense tomato flavor. J

Was I amused with our Amuse-Bouche? You bet!! Tom Yam Consommé with Laksa Noodles and Daikon Carpaccio was simply a fabulous conversation piece. Chef Sharusmizal has such an imaginative concept of whetting our appetites with this bite-sized hors d’oeurve. I was so excited at the very first glimpse of what he had offered and was literally jumping in my seat for the next course!

The mini glass of Tom Yam Consomme held clear liquid with Laksa noodles, cubed pineapples, julienned kaffir lime and ginger torch. My first taste literally had me speechless as the taste of the consommé was bold and superb with strong essence of tom yam flavors! I was very impressed with the consommé and its deceiving appearance. J

Slurp up the slippery translucent noodles and I find myself enjoying the audacious amuse-bouche tremendously with its intense flavors of sweet, sour and salty all bundled into one!

Daikon Carpaccio was so cutely presented with a wooden peg! A very thin sliced white radish enveloped a filling of minced prawns and herbs held up by a peg to be savored with droplets of wasabi mayo. Light and refreshing.

Our appetizers arrived and everyone glee with utter joy at all the mesmerizing first courses! We decided to share so that everyone could sample a bit of everything.

Bay Scallop served with Creamy Tagliatelle Leek Fondue and Saffron was a myriad of colors. A huge diver sea scallop seared and topped with a golden mount of tobiko sat proudly on a bed of shredded leeks cooked in a beurre blanc sauce (butter and cream sauce) dyed with saffron filaments from Spain. A light sprinkle of herbs and edible flowers pretty up the whole dish!

The scallop was cooked perfectly tender and I thoroughly enjoyed the creamy silky strands of soft leeks in the butter sauce. Fabulous!!

Foie Gras signifies the epitome of France where the goose liver is literally treated like royalty. Ok… so I know that this gorgeous rich liver comes from force feeding the goose to enlarge its liver but still, I can’t help but to say that I do adore the flavors and texture of foie gras whenever I can.

Chef Sharusmizal concocted his version of Foie Gras with Exotic Fruit Chutney, Birgrade Sauce and Golden Mango Sorbet. Our thick piece of foie gras was seared well to achieve a nice crust while the inside remained luxuriously smooth and creamy. The sweet birgrade sauce made from duck jus and citrus with a hint of Sichuan pepper really bring out the flavors of the rich goose liver. The fruit chutney made with mango, pear and ginger was also a very nice touch and added texture to the overall dish. A small bite of the cold mango sorbet nicely rounded up the almost heavy and delectable foie gras!

The next dish of Quail Wrapped with Beef Strip, Braised Le Puy Lentils, Pètit Salad and Red Grape Jus looked almost too refined to be eaten. Call me crazy but the quail was nicely wrapped with a nice beef coat while crossing its legs like a poised bird! The quail was almost boneless and nicely baked to golden color. Meat was moist and savory while the soft puy lentils from France were soft and delicious in the sauce made from red globe grapes and red wine.

You know what I seem to discover? I love smoked duck! I had a taste awhile back and ever since then, I love the salty and smoky edge of sliced smoked duck. The Smoked Duck Breast with Jasmine Tea Fragrance, Cured Foie Gras and Rocket Salad was another rainbow of pleasure.

Everything looked so artfully placed to signify a garden of colors from gooseberry to raspberry to the tiny cube of raspberry jelèe and walnut with rocket leaves. I was told that the duck was smoked with jasmine tea, brown sugar and thyme for that aromatic smoky fragrance. A disc of foie gras cured with port wine, maldon sea salt and brandy was served with house spiced bread. A dish so beautiful on the eye and tasted exactly like what it looks… an artistic palette of flavors and textures!

Tiger Prawn served with Root Vegetables, Coriander Dressing and Garden Herbs was mediocre for me… probably because the first few starters were very creative in flavors and textures. Don’t get me wrong, I find no fault with this dish as the big tiger prawn was nicely cooked while the brunoise of carrot, white radish and celery had good flavors to add to the coriander dressing. Flavors were a mish mash of slightly sweet, sour and a hint of creaminess to the overall dish. I also spied a sprinkling of seaweed to give the hint of the sea towards the dish.

Sake Cured Salmon with Avocado Mash, Crème Fraiche and Tomato Basil Sorbet was very interesting on my tastebud. The cured Norwegian salmon had gentleness to the flavor and texture despite being marinated in sake, vanilla bean and citrus. I like the avocado mash coupled with crème fraiche as it provides a creamy edge to the salmon. What I thought that stand out brilliantly was the tomato basil sorbet! An intense sweet and sour tomato was icy on the tongue and superbly refreshing.

Although the Soup of Smoked Garlic, Chicken Roll and Sweet Pepper Stew on Toasted Brioche sounds remarkable, I forgot to sample this as I was just too busy taking photos of the many starters we had. The spring roll had chicken marinated in spices while the pepper stew brings out the sweetness of the roll and brioche.

After our starter, we were presented with a gorgeous yellow hued Calamansi Sorbet Infused with Sour Plum as our palate cleanser. What struck me were the zingy flavors of the calamansi juice that shone so brightly on the tongue!

Our mains arrived in grandeur and we gawked at the portions and presentation!

I ordered a Black Angus Rib Eye served with Russet Potato ‘Millefeuille’ and Jus which I thoroughly enjoyed with such pleasure. I was informed that my rib eye was a 120 day grain fed hence the meat had such robust and beefy flavors.

My order of medium was perfectly executed as the meat yield an amazing tenderness and juiciness of a sign of quality beef! There is just something soothing about matching beef with potatoes. The mashed potato was ultra smooth and provides a comfort partnership with the rib eye. Outstanding in my opinion!

Sidney chooses a gargantum sized of Grain Fed Short Ribs Fall-Off-The-Bone paired with Tasty Gravy and Creamy Potatoes. Gosh, the rib was so mammoth in size and tasted exactly as described. Fork tender strips of meat were coated in a dark caramelized barbeque tasty sauce. I love the comfort feeling the rib brings from its slow cooking and sweet flavors. This portion could actually be shared for small meat eaters in my opinion.

Choi Yen went for the Lamb Loin with Vanilla Date Compote, Cheese Ravioli, Rosti and Fresh Thyme sauce. Her lamb was lean, pink and tender while the perfumed date compote had a natural fruit sweetness to lift the flavors of the meat. I was told that the ravioli had a goat cheese stuffing and the potato rosti added the carbs to the dish.

Russel settled for a surf and turf of Fillet Mignon paired with Seaweed Butter Blue Leg Prawn and Mushroom Ragout and he certainly chose well! I had a bite and his fillet mignon was so tender while the prawn had a hint of rich buttery seaweed flavors.

Check out this very attractive king of crustacean, Oven Baked Lobster with Mustard and Brandy with Truffle Mash! Talk about luxury, this one takes the cake… J

The lobster weighed an average of 700gm and was well seasoned with brandy and Dijon mustard. Although the seasoning is quite strong, the chunks of lobster meat retained its sweetness of the sea while the truffle mash adds the opulence to the king of crustacean. Indulge in a little piece of heavenly pleasures!

Just when I thought I couldn’t be any more impressed, desserts took my breath away at first sight! J J J

How can one not be in awed at Strawberry Millefeuille with Vanilla Custard and Strawberry Black Pepper Coulis?

The layers of golden phyllo sandwiched with strawberry chunks and luscious vanilla custard was an interplay of contrasting flavors and textures. The hints of black pepper coulis were quite unique in this dessert. Snow white icing sugar dust the dessert with such sweetness!

Caramelized Mango with Puff Pastry and Passion Fruit Sorbet was such sunshine on the eye! Sweet and strongly scented from the mango, the tart basically gets its inspiration from the French apple tartine. I love the Passion Fruit Sorbet that refreshes the palatte after a heavy meal.

Chocolate Lava Gateaux served with Chocolate Ice Cream was a sinful concoction of a chocolate lover’s dream. The dark chocolate cake had the molten lava center that flows out when cut into the center. While the cake was decent as expected, the dark intensified chocolate ice cream was absolutely fabulous!

We also sampled Tiramisu with Pistachio Biscotti and Vanilla Ice Cream. Tiramisu was delicious but I thought it could use a stronger hint of coffee.

The mascarpone cheese was silky smooth though while the pistachio biscotti had a dry and crumbly texture to differentiate the texture. Madagascar vanilla laced the ice cream so well, I wanted more ice cream that night!

Lime Caramel Chocolate, Biscuit Strudel and Strawberry served with Hot Lime Caramel is a great conversation piece for our senses. Watch as something disappears right before your eyes!

Pour in the Hot Lime CaramelJ

Scoop into the pool of hot sweet caramel with dark chocolate and enjoy it with the chunks of strawberry or the crumbs of biscuit. A sinful result of delicious mess!

I purposely saved the best for last and I found my favorite dream dessert in the form of Vanilla Soufflé with Vanilla Ice Cream!! This dessert was like a cloud that melts away in my mouth. So light and airy in texture, the egg soufflé was absolutely a dream to indulge. Coupled with my much raved vanilla ice cream, we all had to fight for this dessert!! J

Chef Sharusmizal deserves a standing ovation for his art of cuisine!

Stripping them apart, the appetizers are RM45nett per dish, the mains are RM85nett per dish, the Gourmet Specials are RM148nett per dish, the desserts are RM35nett per dish. However, as a 3-Course Dinner you get an unbelievable RM135nett per person, or if you prefer the 3-Course Gourmet SpecialRM175nett per person! All topped off with coffee or tea and special homemade bread.

Urban is such a hidden indulgence and I have to concur that the price for the 3-Course dinner is absolutely worth its weight in gold! Portions are fairly huge while quality is certainly top-notched. Chef Sharusmizal shows great potential in creativity and talent for superb control in producing outstanding flavors and beautiful presentation. If you want to impress a loved one or even a business acquaintance, this is the right place for an indulgence of masterpieces by Chef Sharusmizal!

I was on Cloud Nine that night! J

Hotel Istana Kuala Lumpur
Lobby Level, East Wing
73, Jalan Raja Chulan,
50200 Kuala Lumpur
For Reservations: +603 2141 9988 ext: 3691


Carvery Lunch: 12.00pm – 2.30pm
Dinner: 6.30pm – 10.30pm
Saturdays: Open for dinner only

Closed on Sundays & Public Holidays

*Thanks to Sid & Patricia for the outstanding food review!


  1. I can feel the special of this meal.. all decor art on food is great outstanding..

  2. This looks like a brilliant hidden gem. Yes yet another hidden gem in Istana Hotel. I thoroughly enjoyed my North Indian cuisine at Trishna in Istana Hotel.

    And now...I must head in to Urban. It definitely look cozy. And it has cigars (Brilliant place for hubby who doesn't smoke except for cigars)

    Myself? I'm eye the black angus steak and of course the desserts. They seem to be shouting out to me to eat them. to momma!

  3. Choi Yen: I so wanna go back there!!

    Nikel: oh yeah.. this place is a gem!

    Missyblurkit: the price is so well worth the quality too!