Time Out says
Cilantro is back; it is in fact one of the more eagerly anticipated returns KL has ever seen. Foodies flocked to the freshly refurbished restaurant in quivering anticipation of what the hiatus would produce, both in terms of chef Takeshi Kimura’s culinary creativity and the perennially sleek interior of arguably KL’s best loved eatery. I would probably not be exaggerating when I say the magnitude of Cilantro’s return was to KL-ites the gastronomic equivalent of a Beatles tour, assuming John Lennon could somehow be brought back to life. Let’s not forget however that during that year, sister restaurant Sage had been deservedly earning plaudits for its obviously Cilantro-inspired cuisine. Challengers to the throne were also clamouring for attention. Throw in the hype about the impending relaunch and it was obvious Cilantro had to really dazzle in order to justify the excitement.
Which is why the unshakeable sense of sameness not just to the décor – the same beige-cream-off-white hues dominate the same circular seating with banquettes at the side – but also to the service (albeit rather more perfunctory this time round) and the menu made the landing all the more discomfiting. Perhaps the management wanted to ensure a sense of continuity but it sure felt disturbingly reminiscent of a friend who left many years ago only to return untouched by time and trends, telling the same well-worn jokes and wearing the same style of attire he had always done, when we had all obviously moved on.
That’s not to say the food and service have deteriorated. Au contraire. The same faces with the same impeccable manners continue to serve the same signature Cilantro classics, which brings me to my original point precisely: what, if anything, had changed?
Certainly not the freshly baked bread and complimentary truffle butter that is a peril for those with a low resistance to temptation of the tasty kind, nor the panfried unagi with foie gras, a masterclass in fusion done with alacrity. Even the gold standard – the angel hair pasta crowned with sea urchin – can still be found, and it continues to scintillate with its mouthwatering juxtaposition of flavours and textures, with the al dente pasta providing a perfect foil for the creamy sea urchin roe.
Perhaps I’m missing the point but the prodigious talents of chef Kimura would have been better served had he given us a fresh glimpse of his culinary innovation with this revamp rather than more of the same. Fay Khoo
Cilantro Restaurant and Wine Bar won Best Fine Dining in the Time Out KL Food Awards 2013 and 2011. It was shortlisted in the same category in 2012. Our food awards are 100% voted for by the people of KL. This way, we guarantee that popularity and consistent performance are rewarded.
Food 40 is our monthly, definitive guide for where to eat in the Klang Valley. No entry into the Food 40 has provided any Time Out team member with a free meal or other incentive. If you have eaten somewhere that you think should rank amongst KL's top 40, email us and we'll check it out: email@example.com.