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Publication Date : 12-10-2013
The experience of savouring an Italian meal is enhanced when dining in a restaurant that is reminiscent of a city in Italy
A place that transports guests to Venice, Italy, albeit for a brief moment over lunch or dinner, is Favola at Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur.
Step into Favola (which means "fable" in Italian) and be impressed by the open galleries leading into its posh dining area where attractive Venetian carnival masks adorn the walls.
The menu pays tribute to the City of Masks with emphasis given to sumptuous risotto and seafood dishes.
Risotto can be a very tricky dish to plate up but junior sous chef Mustafana Mohd Syariff observed important cooking techniques in making the dish and served an impressive buttery rendition of Risotto Nero (70 ringgit, US$22.10).
Although a main ingredient in the risotto, the slipper lobster lost prominence to the squid ink.
With its dark black grey hue enveloping the rice grains, the squid ink mixed with lemon and butter was delectable alongside sauteed slipper lobster, broccolini, lemon rind and cherry tomato.
“We fondue the onions and garlic in clarified butter, add the rice and stir it with chicken stock until it is cooked.
“Lemon zest, more butter and Parmesan is added at the end to give it that added tang and richness.
“The sweetness in the risotto comes from a spoon of Vincon, and the jus of the pan-fried scallop is drizzled on the rice just before serving,” he said.
Be warned that squid ink leaves a trace, indicating to others what you just ate as it clings to your teeth, making you look like a relative of Captain Jack Sparrow.
The Risotto con Carne di Wagyu (70 ringgit) with wagyu beef strips, garlic, basil, chilli and Vincon wine is the other option, if squid ink is not to your liking.
We began lunch with likeable starters - Garlic and Thyme Roasted Portobello, Spinach and Lombardy Taleggio Cheese (45 ringgit) and Capesante Scottate (65 ringgit) featuring seared jumbo sea scallops, sauteed white mushrooms trifolati and truffle.
In the Zuppa di Pesce alla Marinara (45 ringgit), a herb brioche rests at the bottom of the bowl, topped with squid, fish, prawns, mussels and clams.
The traditional homemade soup, cooked with lots of fresh tomatoes, drowns the ingredients, as it is poured into the bowl before the guest.
Personally, I would have preferred more spoonfuls of soup because the bread soaked up quite a bit of what was served.
After enjoying the appetising risotto, the kitchen served the Conchiglioni Marinara al Cartoccio (50 ringgit).
Yet another seafood dish, the reddish hued seashell pasta is coated with lovely and tangy tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs and Parmesan.
Once the pasta and seafood are cooked, the dish wrapped in parchment paper, is finished off in the oven for a couple of minutes for the flavours to infuse together.
The parcel wrapped pasta is aesthetically appealing and is an invitation to tear it open and dig into its contents.
Next up, after a hearty dose of carbohydrates, was the main course of 340gm Charcoal-grilled Grass Fed Angus Ribeye Fiorentina (135 ringgit) with grilled lemon halves, balsamic vinegar and grey salt.
The meat, unfortunately was a little too well done, which came as a surprise as the hotel’s other restaurant has carved a name for itself as a steakhouse.
There was no holds barred when our desserts, the Cassata (30 ringgit) and Illy Coffee inspired Tiramisu (30 ringgit) were placed before us.
For dessert enthusiasts, the advice is to go easy on the savoury dishes as the sweets are simply too tempting to refuse.
Favola’s Tiramisu, said chef Mustafana, was a layering of Illy espresso jelly, foam of milk, chocolate croutons, mascarpone, homemade ladyfingers biscuit and pop up sugar which pops right in the mouth.
The Cassata is for ice-cream lovers as this is a heavenly mix of Haagen Dazs’ vanilla, strawberry and pistachio ice-cream.
The chefs are rather generous with their simply divine dessert portions, which is good news for the sweet-toothed.
*US$1 = 3.18 ringgit