The Asia Diaries: De.Wan 1958

Located at: The LINC KL, Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Visited on: 01st October, 2022

Chef Wan is one of Malaysia’s most recognised celebrity chefs whose television shows we would sometimes come across on the Asian Food Network, during our time in Malysia. He is known for his flamboyancy as much as for his media presence and his food, and this was certainly reflected at his restaurant at The LINC KL. Colourful, contemporary, floral, bustling and with a tropical vibe are some ways in which one might describe the interior of De.Wan 1958. The menu cards were enclosed in bright batik fabrics and everything, including the paper serviettes, were adorned with eye-catching flowers and birds. Having taken it all in, we were keen to explore the food.

The beverage menu had some pretty interesting mocktails and we decided to sample three of them. The first was HoneyB Eden – lime and mint in a slightly spicy, herbaceous honeyB (a locally produced beverage of carbonated water infused with 100% Australian honey) concoction (MYR 18.00). The second was HoneyB Berries Mint Fizz – mixed berries with honeyB (MYR 18.00). And finally, there was Assam Boi Pineapple Mojito – pineapple, mint and lemon assamboi (sour plum – a sweet, salty, dried and preserved plum) in sparkling water (MYR 16.00). All three had a unique flavour to them that was quite distinct from most beverages you would come across at local restaurants. Quite sweet, but also quite interesting in the individual flavours they presented. Very tropical in appearance, too.

L-R: HoneyB Eden, HoneyB Berries Mint Fizz, Assam Boi Pineapple Mojito

We tried their Cucur Udang appetiser – deep-fried tiger prawns, dried shrimps, bean sprouts and chives (MYR 28.00). This was a chef’s recommendation and came in the form of what looked like a giant, intertwined pakoda. The accompanying peanut sauce was great, but the appetiser itself was quite oily and had just about a couple or more of the tiger prawns that we were looking forward to enjoying. The oiliness meant that one could only consume a limited quantity of the appetiser.

Cucur Udang

Sotong Sambal Petai (a chef’s recommendation) – squid with edamame in a sambal chilli paste (MYR 68.00) was one of the dishes we ordered for the main course. The squid seemed to be a touch undercooked and, contrary to the menu description, we didn’t get much sweetness in the sambal curry. It was generally okay, but we were expecting something a bit more enthralling.

Sotong Sambal Petai

The second dish was Masam Manis (another chef’s recommendation) – deep-fried seabass fillet (MYR 78.00). The menu description mentioned being “generously doused with sweet and sour tamarind sauce until dry and fragrant”. I’m not sure how exactly this was meant to translate onto the plate as the fish fillets didn’t appear to be or taste like they had been doused in sauce. However, the accompanying sauce was quite good. Perfectly balanced, and made this dish the tastiest of the night. The fish itself was nicely seasoned, too.

Masam Manis

The third dish was Deep-fried Bendi and Tempe Goreng (yet another chef’s recommendation) – okra and tempe, a sort of tofu-like block made from soya beans (MYR 22.00). This, too, came batter-fried like the appetiser and the fish. It tasted alright, but maybe it was a bit of an overstatement for the menu to describe it as a “deceptively plain fare”. Perhaps we should have opted for something with a bit of sauce or gravy instead.

Deep-fried Bendi and Tempe Goreng

De.Wan’s offers an unlimited choice of three types of rice at MYR 7.00 per person which their staff come around and serve at the table. These rice options include Nasi Lemuni Beseri Perlis – rice cooked with a herb known as daun lemuni and originating in Beseri in Perlis, Malaysia; Nasi Telur Terengganu – rice prepared with the dried roe of a certain type of fish (terubok), originally served in Terengganu royal households; and Nasi Putih – white rice. The first two types of rice were a novel experience for us, and I quite liked the flavour of the nasi lemuni which is the darker of the two varieties (with dark spots) in the image below.

Nasi Lemuni Beseri Perlis (L) and Nasi Telur Terengganu (R)

Overall, the food at De.Wan did not quite live up to the hype of the name and celebrity status of its acclaimed chef. It is evident that Chef Wan has intended to go for a contemporary take on Malaysian ingredients, coming up with a rather attractive and seemingly vibrant menu, but falling short in terms of taste. We were expecting the flavours to be as flamboyant as the man himself. Unfortunately, the dishes that we tried fell short of our expectations.

Yummy Rating: 3.5 / 5.0

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