Tuesday 15 July 2014

Opium, Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

The latest restaurant / bar on the Changkat strip is Opium, complete with sub-heading - Drink-Man-Woman. Instead of judging this book by it's cover, I'll ignore this caveman-like discourse and move on..
First of all, Opium is a beautifully-decorated place, evoking a 1930s Shanghai theme from its hanging lanterns, red velvet curtains to portraits of sultry Chinese women. Without being too ostentatious it all works very well, making Opium a much welcome oddball amongst the rather humdrum collection of offerings on the street outside.

Opium had certainly caught our attention, but was it actually any good?

The menu (no pork) presented a collection of all things Asian without settling on a specific theme. It's an eclectic mix so we ordered some beers while we mulled things over.

When they arrived they looked like this:
Not what we were expecting....In fact, they appeared to come in all shapes and sizes.
This is how it is drunk:

There's something charmingly absurd about drinking tiger beer in a manner befitting of a much more refined beverage. In practical terms, the beer was kept nice and cool, was drunk at a much slower pace than it would be out of a more sensible receptacle. The only real negative was it seemed to be less than a pint in measure for RM22.

In terms of food we started off by ordering some dumplings. 
These were chicken and coriander flavoured, and were tasty although perhaps slightly stingy for RM12.

Next up was the peppery lamb soup - RM15

This somewhat watery-looking soup had a deep, peppery flavour in spite of its appearance, and had nice firm cubes of carrot and potato. Perhaps most important though was that the lamb was tender and well cooked. Our only criticism at this stage was that without any rice or bread to accompany the soup, we were left still feeling peckish. 

Next up were the Opium Wanton Noodles, RM28.

These noodles came with crispy spinach, battered oyster mushrooms, minced chicken and thai style noodles - definitely a winner. There was enough 'special soya sauce' to keep everything nice and moist and the spinach and mushrooms were great additions. We would definitely order it again.

Our friends ordered the five spice duck RM35
...and the Wagyu Rendang RM38
Although I didn't try enough of these myself to give an accurate review, the feedback was definitely positive from the other side of the table and both bowls of food were empty in no time.

A nice touch were the Chinese style pancakes designed to mop up the sauce:
After all the main courses were finished, we were still slightly hungry which perhaps highlighted the fact that the portion sizes were on the small size; either that or we were just very hungry. 

Anyway, we decided to round things off with some banana fritters topped with aged cheddar cheese and banana ice-cream RM18.
There wouldn't appear to be anything wrong at all with mixing bananas, cheese and ice-cream - these were really quite good, causing rather animated divisions of the two portions ordered between four. We would definitely order these again too.

Overall - I haven't given Opium's dishes individual ratings yet, as we went there on their first day and I'm sure kinks are still being ironed out. What I will say though is that it is certainly a welcome addition to the Changkat strip and the imagination and creativity behind it warrants a lot of credit. The decor is inviting, the service was friendly and most of all, the food was good. 

We'll be back not least to try the cocktails which we were promised were special!

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