Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hakka Republic @ Menara Hap Seng KL

Hakka Republic is no food joint for Hakka food or gathering of the Hakkas. You wouldn't find your "mui choy kau yoke" on the menu. It's a fine dining outlet with a bar that serves a big variety of wine by the glasses.

So why it is called Hakka Republic? It was actually a celebration of the spirit of those people that founded what many consider to be the first modern Republic in the the world, the Hakka Lang Fang Republic in 1777 (ten years before the USA became a republic) in West Kalimantan. You can read more about the history here. However, i still find it weird calling a fine dining restaurant Hakka... It's like calling "TGIF" a Tomoe Kampachi (whatever it means...).

Drinking wines here could be a little more interesting with the use of the wine enomatic machines. Here you can order a wide variety of wine by glasses which many food joints do not do because once the bottle is opened, the wine has to be finished within that day itself. With these machines, the wine can be kept up to 10 days. But of course as a wine lover, I wouldn't want to drink them on the 9th day!

The enomatic machines

The menu is also very interesting because after every dish, they do list the names of the wine to be paired with your dish. The wines listed are all sold in glasses, from RM25 to RM125 a glass! It's not a very big menu but they do have a few good signature dishes like pasta and steaks.

From Left:
Marinated Tuna Tartar with Green Tea Cold Soba (RM25)
Spinach Salad with Sashimi Seabass (RM25)
Shrimp Bisque and Egg Drops (RM22)

US Prime Rib 180g (RM120)
Recently, I saw the menu and it's only 150g....

I don't think the starters impressed me. In terms of taste, there's nothing special and the sashimi wasn't very fresh. However, the US Prime Rib (off the menu) was done very nicely. They do serve wagyu (normal item on menu) here with the same price and the above picture is just half portion. The chef has done a very good steak and if I have to come back, it's the steak. It comes with a blue cheese infused butter for the pastry. Yummy!

It beats Prime @ Le Meridien (which charges 3 times the price) anytime!

The desserts are nothing to shout about.

Actually I find the desserts disappointing. An outlet like this should serve good desserts. But anyways, we had a night of great wines from Australia (courtesy from my wine kakis). We called it an Australian night yesterday because we had a few bottles of Australia's best wines! I know that I always make fun of Australian wines like Yellow Tail and my used to be favourite Wyndham Estate Bin 555 after drinking French and yesterday's dinner was the night to prove me wrong.

The wines that we had...
This is how we taste our wines side by side. Cheeky friend's fingers.

We started off with Henschke's Hill of Grace 1998 from Eden Valley. This single vineyard has been producing wine for more than 130 years, and some of the vines - which the Henschke family fondly call “The Grandfathers” - are as old as that. It's a very elegant wine with spicy Shiraz aromas.

After that, we compared it with a bottle of Wirra Wirra Chook Block Shiraz 2002. They called it Chook because it comes with a tag with a rooster on it. Chook Block is a unique wine which is not made except in exceptional vintage like 2002. The label at the back of the bottle states the vineyard, grape, year, number of bottles produced and also the bottle number. The bottle that we had was 1 of the only 250 dozen bottles and has only been made twice since 1998. On the palate, this wine is big, lavish and full of fruity notes and plums. I liked this better than the Hills of Grace.

The next two wines that we tasted side by side was the Penfolds Grange 1998 and 1999. Robert Parker gave the 1999 a 99 pointer and the 1998 a 100 pointer. So, we wanted to know which one is better according to our own preference.

I started off with a 1999 bottle. This is the first Grange with 100% Shiraz since the 1963 bottle. The nose itself was good. Full of luscious malty oak and crawling with deliciously plum, berries and fruit, it’s gorgeously fine and supple and long, with a smooth, balance and finesse. It's almost second to none. This bottle is retailing at around RM1800.

Then the 1998 came. The 1998 vintage is predominantly Shiraz (97%) with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon (3%). The nose is intense with hints of plum and licorice. The palate displays intense layering of berries and it has velvety ripe tannins. Very good wine, but I still prefer the 1999 despite the 100 pointer from RP. This bottle is easily sold at RM2000.

And the last wine, Chateau St Jean 2000 from Sonoma County (US), errr.. you can might as well forget about it. For one thing, I really don't like US wines. Period.


Overall, the dinner is enjoyable. The theme is unique, ambiance is nice, with dimmed lights, private rooms and a bar counter. It's a romantic place for any couples to dine. But come here for the steaks as the rest is really not up to my expectations. And they do charge corkage if you bring your own wines. My friend paid RM250 for the corkage charges alone! The whole dinner is around RM1300 for 6 of us excluding wines.

Note: They are very strict with corkage charges which is @RM60 a bottle and min RM50/bottle even how hard you try to pull strings. I think this is really a bummer if you are drinking wines by the bottles like my friends and I. I think coming here just for the steak and a glass of wine or two is fine.

Lot 2.05, Level 2, Menara Hap Seng, (used to be MUI Plaza)
Jalan P.Ramlee
50250 Kuala Lumpur

Tel: +603 2078 9908


Anonymous said...

More of a place for drinking than dining, the food presentation is certainly not fine dining.

KY said...

wahh lavishhhh

Anonymous said...

Steak like USDA prime and grade 5+ wagyu is nice by any cook except when overcooked i.e. well done. On top of sauce, butter with blue cheese is added to the steak say a lot of the confidence level of the cook.

-eiling- said...

Anon: Maybe you're right.

KY: Ah yes... go try it!

Anon: I think the wagyu is better off doing the syabu syabu style. I prefer the prime rather than a wagyu steak.

suituapui said...

Cute doll! Hakka here has got nothing to do with the Chinese Hakka dialect, I see. At first, I thought it was some Hakka restaurant...and you were a Hakka as well.

Myhorng said...

have to agree the weird name. the waiter should be able to speak hakka then.

expensive but not to the extend of extreme though. can consider going if there's an opportunity.

-eiling- said...

STP: I'm not a hakka! Hehe...

Horng: can. you can afford! It's good steak!

Anonymous said...

EiLing, I enjoy your reviews as you seem a very earthy down to earth person. However, with wine the cardinal rule is that you always start with the lighter or more elegant wines and finish with the biggest wines. Many wine drinkers even so called connoisseurs forget this. The Cinq Cepage from Ch St Jean is a marvellous wine but even a Romanee Conti or a Lafite will be tasteless or flat after a Chook Block and the Grange (which is a totally overrated wine). You have a great style and I hope to see more of your blogs.What would be nice is anyone can taste an expensive wine and say it is great but to find great inexpensive wines... ahhh that is a challenge worthy of you.

Anonymous said...

Ohhh and from what you say the prices are very reasonable. It seems more of a good theme bistro. It is marvellous that now Asia can come up with theme outlets that can give Hard Rock and other worse outlets from the US a run for the money. I must visit Hakka!!!

-eiling- said...

Anon: Thanks for your advice. I think I really need to try more of the less expensive and overrated wines. I can be very snobbish in my posts I know but most of the times I'm nice... heheh

Anon: Oh yes. I believe more bistro cum restaurant like this should make us Asians proud!

Anonymous said...

A rich man might might typically have ordered a Pommard, because it was listed at a higher price...He would have never learned about other wines. A man who is rich in his adolescence is almost doomed to be a dilettante at table. This is not because all rich men are stupid but because they are not impelled to experiment.
A.J. Liebling, American writer, (1904-1963) in Between Meals

-eiling- said...

Anon: Thanks for the wise words. I'll remember that.

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