With its gilt-framed mirrors and plush pink seats, Magenta has always existed on the periphery of my vision as I’ve walked Publika’s corridors but consistently blindsided in favour of other, more interesting restaurants. One weekday lunchtime though, in pursuit of a great set meal, I ventured in to test those plush pink chairs and their claim to excellent lunch sets.
It’s hard to dine cheaply in Publika, beautiful as the place may be. So Magenta’s deluxe lunch set for two, coming in at RM39.90, seemed reasonable, if not an absolute steal. You can choose two main courses from a selection of their signatures and bestsellers, which would go anywhere from RM25 to RM40 on the a la carte menu. So far, so bargainous, plus they throw in two glasses of pink guava juice, a vastly underrated beverage in my opinion. We chose the grilled chicken chop with black pepper sauce and a spaghetti carbonara with sausage and bacon for the set, and threw in a pumpkin soup to start.
The pumpkin soup looked beautiful – topped with dainty swirls of cream and sprinkles of dried herbs, along with two slices of golden garlic bread on the side. Texture-wise, it was impeccable, with a light, velvety consistency neither too gloopy nor too thin. The taste was... complex. There was pumpkin in there, but a slightly sour aftertaste more reminiscent of tomato soup, and a lingering undercurrent of something unidentifiable. It seemed to me like the brine of a fish stock, while my dining partner hazarded a guess at beef stock. We left it unfinished, though the garlic bread was well received.
Mains arrived promptly after, my chicken chop a hammered out thigh, crisped on the grill and drenched with a pool of black pepper gravy. The accompanying chips were excellent – crunchy on the outside, fluffy inside and pleasingly fat. When a chicken chop is done well, it can’t be touched for pure satisfaction – unfortunately this one fell fairly short of the mark. The meat was tender and well-cooked, but lacked the appropriate seasoning. A part gravy from the sharp, overpowering, the chop itself had been liberally doused in black pepper, making for a meal more firey than I’d anticipated.
The carbonara had mixed results too. There was plenty of it, piled high in the plate and studded with chunks of sausage and ‘bacon’. The flavour was decent but the consistency terrible – you could see solid flecks of egg white clinging to each strand of spaghetti, where the egg had failed to meld with the sauce, and the meats added texture but next to no flavour. For RM20, you could get a better carbonara at two or three other outlets in Publika, and you might even get real bacon with it. So points for effort, Magenta, but none for delivery. Emma Chong
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G2-42, Publika Shopping Gallery