Once You Get a Taste of Opium, You’ll Be Back for More…
Utterly cool and provocative, Opium is the latest bar cum restaurant to hit the scene at Changkat Bukit Bintang recently. Under the umbrella of the Werner’s Group, Opium is the latest offspring of Werner Kuhn’s El Cerdo, The Steakhouse, The Whisky Bar, Black Forest and Dining in the Dark.
Modeled to the ambience of the 1930s to 1960s era, the restaurant cum bar is gorgeously decorated with an aura of Shanghai finesse. The moment one steps into Opium KL, you’ll be transported back in time. Each room at Opium evokes different emotions. The main room where the long bar is featured also has a row of wooden booths swathed with red drapery, evoking a sense of boudoir sensuality. Art pieces of classic Chinese women paintings added the old school ambience. The mix of raw cement and bare bricks with all the aged furniture is truly clever as it gives out a sense of old charm injected with a modern touch.
The next room over features a long communal table setting with a wall of cabinets storing old traditional rice wine jars. The room is segregated with a huge two door arch coupled with brass knockers that led to the Rose Room. A room with a wall filled with rose petal texture and a grand opium bed completed with a large rectangle mirror and mounted opium pipes are grandly displayed in the Rose Room. One can choose to dine here as there are small dining settings in the room.
We dined at the private room that evening. A room that is decorated with modern posters of art mixed with classic old furniture. The room evokes a sense of elegance and opulence that made me felt like I was dining in a secret hide out. What I can’t help but to admire was the large art piece of a woman posing provocatively on a lounge chair while smoking that is facing the private room!
The open air patio makes it perfect for many to catch the bustling street filled with locals and tourists. Taking on a modern approach, the exterior showed off more bodacious modern touches of chairs covered in hot pink and sea green colors. The rest are mostly wood panels, posters, wooden fencing and raw cement flooring to keep the design modern, bold and attractive.
Food and drinks at Opium are just as audacious as its interior. Tagged with Eat Drink Man Woman as its slogan, Opium is set on serving up a food experience just like it is portrayed in the famous Ang Lee movie. Serving up Asian Oriental cuisine, the menu is almost as theatrical as its interior. I like the tight menu packed into one piece. One page food and the other page drinks. Since we had a big group of foodies that evening, we got to check out most of the food and drinks on the menu!
At Opium, one simply must try their Signature House Cocktails, Twisted Classic Cocktails and Opium Special Mocktails. These giggle juices are served up in bowls, unusual round earthenware, unique cocktail cups on a wooden try and completed with tiny cups of titbits for snacking. Even water and beer is served in the traditional Chinese way… in a rice bowl. So get use to going back to the Chinese roots and drink up from a bowl.
Concubine’s Batida (RM28) is like drinking a Pina Colada without the coconut milk. Cachaca, lime juice, fresh pineapple juice and sugar made up the ingredient list. Thoroughly refreshing and vibrant in flavours, it makes me want to do the cha cha!
Peking Man (RM32) had us curious as the signature cocktail had vodka, puer tea, longan, lime juice, orange bitters and egg white. The raw egg white makes the cocktail creamy and lightly muddled. Creatively delicious…
These two are really pretty and appealing. Red Lantern Margarita (RM32) is a twist up on the classic one prettied up with pomegranate while the Five Fragrance Mojito (RM32) had the additional element of five spice in the classic mojito ingredients.
The Opium Specials are non-alchoholic and equally just as tantalizing as the cocktails. We had the Mango Asam Boi (RM15) and Calamasi Apple Ginger (RM15). They are just so delicious and refreshing. One gets the full fruity effect from both mocktails. Sweet aromatic mango juice pumped up with preserved salty and tangy asam boi. Vibrant fresh apple notes are kicked up another notch with citrusy calamansi and ginger that makes this vibrant mocktail so good!
Food menu is sectioned to All Day & Night Snacks, Naughty Noodles, Main Dishes, Poppy Flat Bread and Sweet Stuff with a few salad and soup in between. All Day & Night Snacks are small bites and comes in Crunchy Bites or Steamy Bites. With staggering choices of over 20 selections, these are perfect for light eaters, beer drinkers, cocktail enthusiasts and practically the entire foodie community.
We took on Lemongrass Sticks (RM12), Ikan Bilis Fritters (RM12), Lamb Patties (RM18), Grilled Chicken Wings (RM15), Salt and Chili Squid (RM15) and Chicken Satay (RM18). I just realized we didn’t have any steamy ones. I guess it gives me another excuse to return to Opium then…
We all loved the Lemongrass Sticks, made from minced chicken, squid, lemongrass and other ingredients. Deep fried to perfection, these beancurd wrapped dumpling is savory and delish. Served with a side of spicy chili sauce, I would gladly hog the whole basket to myself. Chicken Satay is well seasoned, grilled to juicy perfection and served on a mount of raw red onions, cucumber and ketupat with peanut sauce.
Salt and Chili Squid, classic Chinese dish of crispy deep fried squid with a good dose of salt and pepper to flavour the dish, is further pimped up with oil torched green chili, dried red chili and Szechuan peppercorn. What makes this dish even more favorable was the whole cloves of roasted garlic… super addictive snack. I believe we fought for the roasted garlics that night!
Lamb Patties was unexpected as it came with a generous sprinkling of cheese. Braised lamb patties were well-seasoned and tender but the camembert cheese gave this an element of surprise in flavours. Oh, did I tell you that this is served with a sambal mayonnaise sauce? What a fusion combination!
I did like the Ikan Bilis Fritters as it was really tasty and crispy but the ikan bilis used was a tad too hard. Nevertheless, this was still polished off since we enjoyed the light crispy fritters that had really yummy notes.
Last of the snack pack was Grilled Chicken Wings. We loved this to bits. Absolutely finger-licking yum! The wings were grilled beautifully and the marinade of spices with chili and lemongrass is the bomb. It tasted almost like the Western buffalo wings but the twist of local spices rocked the flavours even better. Must order….
There were only two salads and a soup on the menu. Hey, good stuff doesn’t need numbers. They just need to be delicious. We had Fern Leaf Salad with Grilled Prawns (RM24) and Peppery Lamb Soup (RM18). Taking on the kerabu, the Fern Leaf Salad is a kerabu concoction of paku leaves, shallots, coconut, ginger flower, sambal and lime juice. This one came with two large grilled prawns. Spicy, tangy and sweet, its what a kerabu should be. The Peppery Lamb Soup was decent in my books. The soup flavour was delicate and had small cubes of vegetables and lamb. I wanted more robust peppery note to give this a boost in flavours. Still, my other foodies enjoyed the delicate flavours of this happily.
With a name like Naughty Noodles, one can’t help but to order it. Out of four Naughty Noodles choices, we settled for Curry Spaghettini (RM28), Opium Wantan Noodle (RM28) and Crispy Duck Noodles (RM28).
All three rocks individually in my books! Curry Spaghetti has thin spaghetti noodles in an unctuous and glorious creamy curry laksa with lots chicken, prawn, tofu puffs and vegetables. The coconut curry laksa reminded me of Katong Laksa ala Singapore style. I loved the dried shrimp and spices in the creamy laksa broth so much so that I kept going back for spoonfuls of the laksa. If I am back at Opium, I am so going to reorder this dish.
Opium Wantan Noodles is another dish that literally threw us off for a moment as it didn’t resemble the classic wanton noodle in appearance. What we got instead was a dish covered in crispy battered spinach and oyster mushrooms with a side of shrimp wantan soup. Thin egg noodles lies beneath the mount of fried spinach and mushrooms doused with soya sauce and sautéed minced chicken. I must say that the modernized wantan noodle is really scrumptious. It tasted just like it said, wantan noodles but the additional crispy spinach and mushroom with minced chicken gave this dish a very memorable flavour and texture. Quirky, delicious and definitely naughty…
The Crispy Duck Noodles fared really well in flavours and textures too. The crispy yee mee noodles are smothered in an eggy rich brown sauce and topped with slices of smoked duck. It’s hearty and comforting and plus the fact that I happen to like duck a lot, I enjoyed this dish.
Main dishes come with an option of Lotus Leaf Buns or Poppy Seed Rice. We got to savor all 6 main dishes with the buns and rice. All main dishes are served in cast iron pots with a side salad.
Beef is prepared two ways here. Reigning supreme in the beef quality is Wagyu Rendang (RM38). The high quality cut of wagyu beef is slowly braised ala Rendang style with coconut, lemongrass, spices, turmeric leaves and kaffir lime leaves. Dressed up with coriander and a pretty edible flower, the wagyu rendang flavour is divine. Creamy with a heady balance of spices, the beef is as tender as it can be. Some may say it might be a waste to use wagyu but I think the high fat content in the wagyu makes the rendang even more delectable in flavours.
The second beef is Beef Brisket & Tendon Stew (RM35). Beef brisket and tendon are braised for hours in a special spiced soya sauce till tender and robust. Grilled eryngii mushrooms added texture and earthy notes. It has a rich depth of soya sauce flavours enhanced with star anise and cinnamon. The dish reminded me of home cooked comfort food perfect with steamed white rice.
Another braised dish also took form as Braised 5 Spice Duck (RM35) where duck breast is beautifully slow cooked with a 5 spice sauce till tender and tasty. The duck is moreish and goes really well with the lotus bun or poppy seed rice. What I enjoyed even more are the pieces of melt-in-the-mouth radish braised in the same sauce!
Stewed Chin Baung Chicken (RM35) has a very unique aroma and flavour. Chin Baung or Kenaf leaf belongs to the hibiscus plant and is eaten quite widely in some Asian countries. Here, it is stewed with chicken and chili. A little hint or sourness, the dish has a wonderful herb aroma of the leaf. This one definitely needs the poppy seed rice.
Seafood is next and we had Creamy Butter Prawns (RM42) and Cod Fish in Curry Sauce (RM38). The Creamy Butter Prawns will always be a favorite of many. It’s a perfect rendition of the popular creamy butter sauce that is now widely consumed in many seafood places. This version is so creamy with a good dose of garlic and chili flavours. Lots of curry leaves are added for aroma. Make sure to mop up the sauce with the lotus buns just like how everyone savors it.
Cod Fish in Curry Sauce has chunks of cod fish cooked in a yellow creamy coconut curry sauce. The curry sauce is not spicy in heat but rather mellow with a delicate note of spices. Its rich and paired best with rice.
By now, we were stuffed! Then desserts came in the form of Cheesy Banana Fritters (RM18), Opium Ice Glass (RM18), Sago Gula Melaka (RM15) and Melon Ice (RM15). The foodie gang went after these happily despite being full. Cheesy Banana Fritter is crispy fried banana served with grated cheddar cheese and banana ice cream. It’s light, crispy, sweet and salty with a hot and cold sensation on a plate.
Opium Ice Glass resembles our local Ice Kacang but has a twist on the ingredients. Shaved ice is accompanied by cincau, waterchestnut, basil seeds, mung bean paste, corn and peanuts all doused with a mixture of coconut milk and gula Melaka. Ice cream crowned the dessert beautifully. Sago Gula Melaka and Melon Ice are more classic desserts which are favored by many. These are served in glasses for easy enjoyment.
Opium certainly has a point to proof in the F&B industry here in the city. Its bold, unique, creative and fun injected into one restaurant cum bar. Opium is loud and gorgeous in many ways and yes, it looks like the word is out as lots of customers were certainly having lots of fun at Opium the night we were there. Kudos to the Werner Group for a truly unique dining experience in the heart of the cosmopolitan city!
50 Changkat Bukit Bintang,
50200 Kuala Lumpur,
Tel: +603 2142 5670
Sundays to Thursdays: 4pm – 1am
Fridays to Saturdays: 4pm – 2am
*More photos available at my Facebook: ChasingFood Dreams