Note: La Vie En Rose is closed until further notice.
It takes a lot of guts and conviction to convert a house that has been abandoned for 15 years – not least because it has an immensely inconvenient entrance that necessitates a torturous U-turn and a vertiginous uphill climb to access – into a fine dining restaurant. Enter Jean Michel Fraisse, owner of La Vie En Rose, a Toulouse native who has called Malaysia home since the 1990s. No shrinking violet, Fraisse rose to the self-imposed challenge with aplomb and conjured forth arguably Malaysia’s best French restaurant to date, and the dilapidated bungalow, like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, now looks like a totally different creature.
Timing, as they say, is – next to location – everything. Fraisse, who also launched the French Culinary School in Asia, must have gauged the zeitgeist just right, and realised that the collective Malaysian food psyche was ready for classic but creative French food that ventures far beyond the confines of the ubiquitous escargots, frog’s legs and steak tartare. At La Vie, the food is anything but pedestrian or clichéd. Complimentary amuse-bouches can range from the unpredictable (salmon rillette with grapefruit jelly) to the slightly more conventional but no less delightful chicken terrine.
This mood of playful impetuousness is evident throughout the menu. Nourishing tasty soups are given a decidedly playful tweak: to wit, a crayfish bisque is paired with parmesan crackers while the cepes mushroom broth plays host to several slivers of smoky grilled duck ham. Similarly, the unmistakably rustic salads (some of the best I’ve had in a restaurant to date) are distinctive because they dare to be different. The salade des mousquetaires – although there is no vestige of d’Artagnan et al – comprises a tousle of salad greens with smoked duck bacon, duck confit, sautéed mushrooms and a shy but voluptuous violet dressing, while the more feisty gorgonzola salad is an adept exercise in textures, with pear, duck crackling and Manuka honey all playing off each other eloquently.
For mains, a duck leg confit is paired with truffled mashed potato and a sweet and sour sauce, while tripe gets as dance companions Pantalleria caper berries, saffron sauce and steamed potatoes. The juxtaposition between different flavours, textures and aesthetics meld most serendipitously and it’s this winning formula that has diners reasonably touting La Vie as the Next Big Thing. For novices to French food who are leery of diving into the deep end, the traditional French weekend brunch using only the best ingredients will serve as the ideal introduction. For the rest of us Francophiles, La Vie is cause for celebration indeed.
|Venue name:||La Vie En Rose||Contact:|
39 Jalan Raja Chulan
|Opening hours:||Tue-Fri, 12noon-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm; Sat, 9.30am-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm. Sun, 9.30am-2.30pm|