It’s been a bit of a bleak year for KL’s fine dining scene, but just as 2014 packs up, Darren Chin flies in with all the prowess of a pro. He might seem familiar to you and that’s because he is – Darren’s father is the founder of Dave’s Deli Group, the company that owns 1 Utama’s Dave’s Bistro & Grill, and most recently, Darren’s new fine dining project in TTDI.
After ten years of working in Malaysia (most of which were spent helping his father run the Dave’s business), Darren flew to Paris for rigorous training at Le Cordon Bleu. Classical techniques were taught by the best, inspiration was imparted in fancy French phrases, and ingredients were painted with master strokes. In the midst of it all, Darren soaked it all up like a sponge. He bid adieu two years later, landed back in KL, and DC. Restaurant quickly became a by-product of his whirlwind of ideas.
The food cannot be simply dubbed ‘modern French’. At least, according to Darren. ‘I use classical French cooking techniques; however I don’t serve classical French recipes,’ he says. ‘I would say it’s progressive or innovative, or to a certain extent, experimental. But experimental without using the clients as guinea pigs.’
His objective is clear from the get-go. He’s not too bothered about catering to the needs of KL’s affluent; there are plenty of restaurants that easily tick that box. His aim, however, is to put KL on the fine dining map, and if lucky, maybe sneak into the San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants List. ‘Sometimes the customer says “I want a rack of lamb” and I have to put lamb on the menu just to suit the customer. But that’s not what our objective is,’ Darren summarises. ‘The objective here is to elevate the fine dining scene in Malaysia.’
Relatedly, it shouldn’t come as a shock that the restaurant doesn’t offer an à la carte menu. Restaurant DC is one of those ‘tasting menu’ restaurants that cities like London and New York City are choked with but KL is starkly absent of. The menu changes weekly and is largely dependent on Darren’s whim.
This could mean cold soba noodles with Boston lobster consommé one week and beef tartare with bitter sorbet the next. Or charcoal rice crisps with eggplant caviar one week and yam puffs with guinea fowl confit the next. The binding factor for most of these? Spices (supplied by Darren’s trusty Sri Lankan supplier) and herbs (picked from Darren’s self-cultivated herb farm on the restaurant’s ground floor). Despite the promise of big flavours, Darren’s food is clever in practicing restrain, a rare treat this part of the fine dining world.
Menus come in two, three and five courses. Somewhere in between your course, you might find Sam Harper, the stellar maître d'hôtel, roll up a cheese cart to your table. Or you might find yourself being served an extra amouse bouche if Darren’s up to it. Or just for kicks, a post-dessert quenelle of kachai ginger ice cream.
It all sounds a bit nice, doesn’t it? But let’s back up a minute. Are we really talking about a restaurant that’s in KL that's not led by someone with a European accent and not set in a semi-fancy hotel chain? Yes.
|Venue name:||DC. Restaurant by Darren Chin|
44 Persiaran Zaaba
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sun, 7pm onwards|
|Price:||Two-course menu, RM148++; three-course menu, RM198++; five-course menu, RM288++. Reservations must be made 48 hours in advance.|