Exotic Restaurant & Bar @ Desa Sri Hartamas
Exotic Restaurant & Bar @ Desa Sri Hartamas
I’m always happy to return to a restaurant where I’ve had a pleasant dining experience. I’ve found that quite often in Kuala Lumpur, Indochine cuisine can become repetitive, too localized, or just not very authentic.
It was a fresh Tuesday evening when the Red FM gang headed out for that week’s food tasting. It was a particularly special and emotional evening as we said farewell to our wonderful photographer Kah Wai, who has been with The Big Red Food Review, faithfully and skillfully photographing dishes at every single review.
Kah Wai (and his wonderful pictures) will be sorely missed. It was also an evening where we welcomed Han as a new Weekend Announcer, and guest photographer.
What better place then to close a memorable chapter, than at Exotic Restaurant & Bar in Desa Sri Hartamas, or Exotic for short.
It’s easy to find, and parking ample after working hours. Located on the corner of the block after Finnegan’s, you can’t miss it. What you do miss at first glance though is the beautiful outdoor dining area, set back from the road.
You can choose to sit inside the cozy restaurant, with decadent reds warming the room and the gentle sounds of running water setting the backdrop for your meal.
Personally, I prefer sitting outside, where lush greenery and a cool evening breeze set the scene for a casual dinner.
Terry (Red FM Drive), JD & Dilly (Red Breakfast) and Han (Red Weekends) were my companions for the evening, and we were warmly welcomed by part owner and manager Jess Liew, who was the perfect host.
She sat with us, laughed at Terry’s jokes politely (snicker), and gave us a little insight into the business as well as the food we would be eating that evening.
The restaurant itself was previously authentic Vietnamese only cuisine, in a different location just a few blocks away running under the name Little Saigon. Jess, along with her two Vietnamese partners (all female, yeah, go girl power!) shifted to the new location 3 years ago, and the restaurant reopened its doors with a wider selection of dishes from the Indochina.
“Wow, you’ve been here three years?” exclaimed Terry, then proceeded to ask, “So, can we eat now?”
The first time I visited Exotic, I was pleasantly surprised. The food was good, the ambience pleasing and the price very reasonable. The menu also offers less common dishes from the Indochine region, with more emphasis on fresh, authentic ingredients. Consistency is very important, and the head Chef from Vietnam ensures you are never disappointed.
We were served special concoctions of Exotic’s signature drinks. The Vietnamese Coffee is thick and sweet, while the Lemongrass Juice is refreshing and good for digestion.
A rich Mixed Bean drink, or a Jackfruit Shake will certainly fill you up.
Terry’s request did not go unnoticed, and shortly after the Exotic Combination Platter arrived.
The best of all the countries, served to you on one plate.
We had the do-it-yourself Fresh Prawn Roll, which is to be wrapped in lettuce, mint leaves and basil, then dipped in sweet chilli sauce.
You can tell by the expression on Terry’s face that he was salivating by this point.
One of my favourites was the Thai Fish Cakes, and the Thai Treasure Bag, bursting with fresh herbs and spices. JD proclaimed that this was his favourite dish, and he didn’t need anymore. He was sold and happily and devoured the moorish Mango Salad, eaten with crispy ‘Keropok’.
Another do-it-yourself favourite was the Dips in Vinegar Broth.
You can choose to have thinly sliced Beef.
Or you can have succulent, fresh seafood.
A skillful member of staff will demonstrate the rolling method before you are left to your own devices.
To roll and mesh and, well, make it whatever you want. After a few attempts, I realized I would never have the magic touch. Terry, however, rolled out one after the other of near perfect rolls.
I’m still not sure if you are meant to eat the soup as well, or just use it as a base for cooking the meat and seafood. Terry and I liked it so much that we did end up slurping away without a care. Sweet and sour, reminiscent of a lighter Tom Yam, and as the name suggests, with a vinegary tang.
“Is that an omelette?” asked Dilly as our next dish arrived.
Jess knowledgably explained that it was not an omelette, but a Vietnamese Crispy Crepe made from yellow bean, and stuffed with chicken, prawn and beansprouts.
Delicious. Eat it while its hot so it retains the light, crispy texture of the fried batter.
We tried the fragrant Beef around Lemongrass, which was so popular it disappeared in seconds.
Tender meat, minced, marinated and fashioned around a lemongrass stick and grilled to perfection.
For mains, you can choose from individual noodle dishes, or opt to have a Vietnamese Sandwich.
Or, you can do what we did, and share a couple of the aromatic curries.
A dense and flavourful Claypot Fish curry was simply wonderful.
The curry was especially good drizzled over Exotic’s Fried Rice in Coconut.
We also sampled one of new additions to the menu. The Claypot Prawn in Coconut Milk was creamy, and rich, and oh, so velvety.
It complemented the rice very well, especially when eaten with scooped out tender pieces of young coconut flesh.
We rounded off the meal with dessert of Waterchestnut, and with a Tapioca Cake in Coconut Milk.
It was a relaxed evening, a bundle of merriment teamed with good grub. With all the eating and chatter we hardly noticed that soon it was closing time.
With such a lively atmosphere, attentive staff and tasty food, this is the perfect place for any occasion. It is the perfect place to have a truly Exotic meal, on any night of the week.
Starting Monday 12th April, tune in from Eleven2Three to win RM 100 vouchers to Exotic Restaurant & Bar! The Big Red Food Review, with me Aly. Only on Red FM, Today’s Best Music.
A big thank you to Jess Liew, all at Exotic, and theQguides.com for a memorable evening.
Exotic Restaurant & Bar
No. 2, Jalan 24/70A,
Desa Sri Hartamas, KL
T: 03 2300 1196
Opening Hours: 11.30am to 3pm, 6pm till late
This restaurant is bookable at theQguides.com. Book, Eat, Be Rewarded.