A restaurant born out of adversity, Kuala Lumpur’s Eat and Cook can be construed as one of the pandemic’s greatest gastronomic success stories. The two chefs behind it, Lee Zhe Xi and Soh Yong Zhi, both lost their jobs working in hotel kitchens, but immediately vowed not to rest on their laurels and set about defining the concept for a new, authentically Malaysian restaurant that borrows from their skills in classical kitchens and leans heavily on local ingredients.
What initially arrived was a diminutive six-cover space, opened in 2020 as Xi and Zhi looked to test their concept on the local audience; a full reservations diary duly followed. Just several months post, the restaurant relocated to larger premises in Bukit Jalil City in March 2021 and now welcomes up to 20 guests around a kitchen counter, with a semi-private dining space seating 10 for group gatherings.
'Malaysian omakase' is the self-defined concept behind the cuisine. The cooks head to market immediately after each dinner service to ensure they have access to the best produce available in Kuala Lumpur for the next day. The menu is developed in ‘chapters’ with the team currently delivering Chapter Three, which focuses heavily on seafood. While the chefs note that Malaysia does not have seasons, such as autumn and winter, they insist that the vegetables and proteins that they harvest are at the pinnacle of ripeness for that particular time of year.
An outstanding and innovative tom yum bread course has been a perennial across all menu chapters so far told, alongside the chefs’ signature Ipoh mountain duck, which features burnt-ham choy, herb-braised duck leg and with duck liver chocolate. Many of the plates are inspired by traditional Malay recipes learnt from the chefs’ grandmothers, but served in a minimalist, modern fine dining style.
A restaurant with heritage but delivered in contemporary interpretation, Eat and Cook is growing apace and well-deserving of the American Express One To Watch Award 2022.
Now read the interview with chef Lee Zhe Xi and watch the video:
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