So, the reigning king of KL’s restaurant scene has finally opened up his first non-halal venture. And we say it’s about damn time, cos’ frankly there is only so much duck we can chew on at his other establishments before we move on to the next BIG thing. They were beginning to taste a little stale, or should we say “fowl”? Now, it’s about time we let another meat hog the main stage if you know what I mean.
S.Wine definitely deserves many praises in our books and it’s not hard to see how, in less than 2-weeks since it’s opening, many of KL’s diners are marching straight through its tiny door. Yes you read right. There’s nothing BIG about their entryway. In fact, none of the bad stigmas (incompetent wait staff, long waits and below-par-food to name a few) generally associated to any of the B.I.G group’s new openings are present in this dining room. And with those out of the way, it was easy to just concentrate on enjoying the experience here.
Hidden out of sight – right at the back corner of the Ben’s Independent Grocer’s non-halal section – having a meal here feels more illegal then exclusive. We are after all talking about the forbidden meat here. But we liked it. Styled as a speakeasy (from NYC’s Meatpacking district?), the café fits about 30 people at most in the non-smoking dining room and smoking lounge. None of the usual frills from Benjamin’s treasure throve are present here apart from the broadway-inspired lettering and hand-painted plates decorating its walls. In the house of Ben’s, this is perhaps right down there in the basement’s basement.
As a good friend of mine theorised, “Chickens give you eggs and cows give you milk, but pigs are the only farm animal made to pleasure men.” Indeed. I cannot possibly imagine a world without bacon. And, if pigs could fly, this café would be a freaking airport. The capable 5-men kitchen makes the flyest porcine dishes and at prices that would not necessary break the piggy banks of any frequent visitors of this mall.
Unfortunately, there were no mouth watering Momofuku-inspired buns left when the Panda and I visited last Sunday afternoon – we were informed that a good portion of the menu were either sold out or only available for dinner after 6pm. Bummer. But having said that, what we settled for in the end turned out real swell.
The Peas & Ham soup is a great savoury way to whet your appetite, while the Warm Pork Belly Confit, Watermelon salad tossed with fragrant Asian greens like coriander in a sweet lychee dressing is perfect to dispel the misconception that pork belly is bad for health.
Moving over to the mains, the heavily seasoned with cumin Sloppy Piggy Burger with Mexicana Pulled Pork is waaaaaay better than anything Fat Boys Burger can ever churned out. Its toasty yet fluffy egg-washed bun sandwiching the thick patty is comparable to a cha’an bao, a Chinese dim sum staple. The large and rather flat Hainanese Pork Chop is perhaps a local twist to the Wiener Schnitzel. Drenched in a sweetish tomato sauce with peas, corns and carrots on a mountain of crinkled fries, this reminded the Panda of a long forgotten childhood lunch in Alor Setar.
Speaking of childhoods, you would be delighted to know that Ben has decided to pay hommage something from everyone’s past – the all-time favourite Sausage Roll. This slightly more adult version (get your mind out of the gutter – no puns intended) comes with pork sausage meat with pine nuts, mushroom and garlic, wrapped in a flaky puff pastry and served with a tomato relish, which taste like something you’ll find at a local chicken rice stall. Oh yeah, most of the mains come with a side of salad. But really, who cares anyway when here for the meat.
Now, I don’t usually say this after my first visit, but this much I can say: I can most definitely see myself pigging out here quite often. Oink!
***S.Wine Café inside Ben’s Independent Grocer, Publika, Solaris Dutamas Kuala Lumpur. Business Hours: Open daily through 10pm, starting 11am weekdays & 9am weekends.