I've had this post in my drafts folder for over a month already. I was quite disappointed with the meal and I thought I ought to give it some time so I might look back at it with a more impartial view. So here goes...
I had read glowing reviews about Hakka Republic at Menara Hap Seng. I know, like you I assumed it was a Chinese restaurant. The decor may have Chinese accents but the food is about as Chinese as Prince Charles. Hunky and I were excited to try this new restaurant that served "steamed wagyu". Up until quite recently, Menara Hap Seng had been MUI Plaza for as long as I can remember. Its an odd place similar to Menara Weld. After 5pm its completely dead. Good thing is parking would be in abundance! Hunky and I walked from Changkat Bukit Bintang. The 10 minute walk would've been a 40 minute drive as the roads where completely congested at 7:30pm. The place certainly looked promising as we exited the glass lift and into the restaurant. I like the voluminous ceiling and sexy lighting. Definitely a place for first dates as the lighting is very forgiving. Not the best place for a blogger to take photos especially when you have a compact like mine. We were seated in the dining area, facing the surprisingly green courtyard which I never knew existed. What is truly impressive about this place is the thick wine list. Thanks to a enomatic wine serving machine, its possible to have a single glass of the finest wines.
Pastry & Gf turned up and we ordered a bottle of chianti (RM266+) to share with our meal. For starters we ordered the steamed wagyu and seabass sashimi with spinach salad and yuzu dressing. We wanted to have foie gras terrine but it was not available that night. It was with much anticipation as we waited for the steamed wagyu to arrive. Perhaps I had gone on about it a bit too much. When it arrived in the bamboo steamer everyone just looked at it doubtfully. It certainly smelt nice. It was impossibly tender. The meat just melts into nothing. Don't expect flavour as this is purely for texture's sake. The ponzu dipping sauce complemented the meat perfectly. The seabass sashimi was nothing spectacular but I had a problem with the local spinach that they served us. I felt the texture too coarse for the sashimi, I think baby spinach would've been nicer. On the upside, the wine was lovely.
Do you know its been so long that I have trouble recalling my main course. Thank goodness I took a photo of the menu. Grilled garlic, mustard and herb crusted Black Angus tenderloin (RM72, 180gm). It was accompanied with chilli roasted potatoes and portobello marsala reduction. I don't remember the potatoes being spicy but they were lovely. The reduction was aromatic and intense. The tenderloin itself was a delicious cut of steak but it was completely overpowered by the crust. I remember I had to scrape off the crust to truly appreciate the meat. Hunky had slow braised Black Angus beef cheek with creamy polenta (RM52). It was delicate, tender and devoid of complaint from Hunky. He did comment that "the one at Frangipani is better". I have a feeling he might just have been ever so slightly biased. Pastry ordered the wagyu steak with blue cheese infused butter (RM120, 180gm). I had a bite and it was much better than the steamed wagyu. It really is just the novelty of it being steamed and served in a bamboo basket. If its flavour you are after, go with the steak.
By this time, I decided that I wasn't going to do dessert. Somehow I just knew that it would be disappointing. I have super high expectations for desserts. It doesn't have to be lavish. It just has to make me feel like I just died and gone to heaven. Too much? Anyway, they ordered three desserts to share. Hunky of course had to have Baileys infused croissant and butter pudding (RM18), Pastry had chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream (RM22) and Gf had vietnamese hot coffee chocolate cake with Kahlua foam and coffee ice cream (RM25). This was probably the most disastrous part of the meal. Where do I even begin? The baileys was barely infused into this rather stodgy lukewarm lump. Chocolate fondant was nice enough but a little stingy on the portion for that kind of price. "Vietnamese hot coffee cake"; the cake was not hot, it barely tasted like coffee and it was dry! Very disappointing.
To summarise, my impression of Hakka Republic is first and foremost a wine bar that happens to serve food. I appreciate their efforts to pair a selection of wines with every course which is great for people like me. I think their huge wine menu is fantastic and it would be perfect if they improve on their menu. Unfortunately when you charge this kind of prices, expectations will be high. Our bill for that evening was just under RM1000.00. For that kind of price, my friends and I expect to be wowed.
For more information and contact details - Hakka Republic . More reviews: A Whiff of Lemongrass, Masak-Masak, Cumi & Ciki