Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Wondermama: New Wonder Tapas Menu

By Aiman Azri

Has it been more than half a decade already since Wondermama first opened, bringing its own playful brand of Asian comfort food to Bangsar Village? The team here continues to find new ways to keep things intriguing for customers, recently launching a Wonder Tapas menu that's poised to be crowd-pleasing, available both in Bangsar and 1 Utama.

True to Wondermama's culinary philosophies, these are tapas that take inspiration predominantly from Malaysia, proving that Southeast Asian small plates are every ounce as satisfyingly worthwhile as Spanish ones. 

Some of these Wonder Tapas can be enjoyed on their own, while others are made to be complemented with rice or pita bread. Each costs RM15.90; for two customers, three to four plates should be sufficient for a meal.

For a feel-good snack, possibilities include the Otak Prawn Toast, a fresh take on a traditional kopitiam favourite, blending the flavours of otak-otak, prawn and squid on crunchy bread with sesame seeds with a Thai-influenced dip - a tasty, no-fuss start to a pleasant lunch.

We like how there's more than meets the eye for many of these specialities: The house-made WM Beef Meatballs might sound like typical meatballs, but the first bite shows otherwise - the saucy blend of peanuts, Parmesan cheese and spicy Napoletana sauce turns out to be a unique Malaysian-Italian hybrid with surprising nuances that evoke a local satay sauce.

And while the Smoked Duck Tapas may seem European at first glance, the combination of dynamics is unmistakably Asian, with the mixed vegetables, pickled radish and sprightly Thai dip lending a tangy, umami-rich bent to the tender fowl.

Speaking of fowl, there's a diversity of temptations for fans of chicken - our personal favourite is the Bittergourd Chicken Soup, comprising minced chicken quenelles, bittergourd, black fungus and egg floss, soaked in a beautifully fulfilling broth that might remind you of a lovingly home-cooked meal. It might be in the tapas section, but it's hearty enough to be a complete meal on its own.

The Miso Soya Chicken is one of the many tapas here that would work well with rice; the mix of miso with sweet soy sauce is gentle and mellow, allowing you to absorb the aromatic dimensions of this dish. And if you're looking for something to savour with pita bread, the Middle Eastern Chicken Bowl is one of the few recipes here that look for inspiration from another region (while remaining a treat for Asian palates), featuring a well-balanced ensemble of garlic chicken with onions, sesame seeds, capsicum and corn.

The Portuguese Grilled Seafood takes patrons on a stroll down Malacca's memory lane, reinterpreting a highlight of the southern city's Portuguese settlement with its lip-smacking mix of ikan pari and sotong with vegetables and spicy sambal sauce. That's another forte of Wondermama, serving up fare that's simultaneously nostalgic and new by putting its own spin on much-cherished, time-honoured staples like rojak, assembled here with assorted fresh fruits, peanuts, tofu, char kwai, rojak sauce and sesame seeds.

To lend some spice to your feast, round out your order with the Four-Angled Bean with Sambal (minced chicken with sambal, dried shrimp, kacang botol and sesame seeds), and the Marpoh Doufu (tofu and minced chicken saturated Szechuan chilli bean sauce) - both contenders for the hottest of Wondermama's new petite plates.

All in all, the Wonder Tapas represent a nice effort by Wondermama in response to patrons who want to customise a meal for sharing in the Malaysian spirit of ordering a variety of food to share with friends and families.

Longtime Wondermama devotees, have no fear that the restaurant's most popular recipes are still firmly intact on this refreshed menu. At the end of a long, hard day, Mum's Nyonya Laksa (RM 18.90) is like a warm hug, bountiful with prawns, sambal sotong, fu chuk, fish cakes, tofu pok, cucumber and egg. If you prefer your noodles less soupy, the Famous Mee Siam (RM 19.90) puts together vermicelli rice noodles with fried chicken, sambal sotong, tofu pok, ikan bilis, cucumber, green chillies and egg, with some spicy gravy to kick it up a notch.

And of course, the signature Wonder Nasi Lemak series has been maintained, currently with three variants. For the ultimate indulgence, the Nasi Lemak Salted Egg Chicken (RM 23.90) doubles down on the salted egg by serving both salted egg yolk chicken and half of an actual salted egg. The flavours and textures prove well-tuned, with all the accompaniments proving expertly executed, especially the lovely sotong and prawn sambal on the side.

Many thanks to Wondermama for having us.


G6, Bangsar Village 1, Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur. Mon-Fri, 9am-11pm, Sat-Sun, 9am-1130pm. Tel: 03-2284-9821

Monday, December 11, 2017

Taketei @ Taman Desa

Taman Desa's latest spot for Japanese soul food mainly tackles ramen - the Jiro Ramen (RM16.00++; add RM5.30++ for chashu) might not exactly be the massive bowl with a mound of pork shoulder meat, cabbage and bean sprouts like its Tokyo inspiration, but it's reasonably substantial and satisfactory enough for its price.

Worth sharing: The Okonomiyaki Gyoza (RM16++), an indulgently tasty hybrid of two Japanese staples.

Ground Floor, Wisma Miramas, Jalan 2/109E, Taman Desa, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: +6012-231-3343

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Taste Fiji Kitchen @ Nadi, Fiji

One of Fiji's best contemporary cafes, Taste Fiji Kitchen pays homage to this South Pacific nation's produce with creations like bay herb salads; ota wild ferns with shredded coconuts and sauteed chicken liver, Votualevu free-range eggs with root crop crisps; prawns with green papayas, braised Yaqara beef cheeks with garlic mash and tempura okra; and caramelised Vuda pork belly with moca spinach. A satisfying brunch.