Ante @ One Utama
Before I go off waxing lyrical about the place, be forewarned that this post might be a tad biased. Ever since Ante opened its doors in 2012, I have seen many variations of its menu and even named it my favorite restaurant of all time.
So, when I found out that Ante would be opening its second branch in One Utama, I was jittery with excitement to visit it.
Ante's maiden branch in Publika is the type of place you'd bring your date to get them in the mood for romance, while Ante at One Utama is bright, airy and cheerful - perfect for Sunday brunch with the family.
When I first entered the shop, the turquoise and wood facade gave me a sense of familiarity and comfort. It highly complemented the natural light that flowed in from the panel windows.
Ante has streamlined their menu at both outlets to give customers the crème de la crème of their dishes. Having experienced every single variation of their previous menus, I can readily admit that this version is by far incomparable to the rest in terms of quality and presentation.
Of course, they've kept the award-winning (Best Meats by TimeOut KL) dish, which is the char-grilled pork steak (RM52), on the menu. Ante is also keeping favourites like the carbonara (RM30), the char siu curry cream pasta (RM33) and the pork Diane (RM42).
But a new addition to Ante's menu is the tasting platter (RM38, recommended for two to share). It consists house-cured salmon, Jamon Iberico ham, smoked duck breast, confit onions, candied olives, cherry tomatoes, pickled beetroot, multigrain bread and French butter. It truly has (almost) the best of everything Ante has to offer on one plate (minus the much-raved about pork steak).
A popular starter at both outlets is their roasted pork belly (RM25), marinated in honey soy sauce and sliced up into bite-sized pieces. It is crispy on the outside, succulent and tender on the inside.
The cured loin salad (RM24) is one of the more interesting dishes in a sizeable selection of Ante's hot and cold starters. The loin is cooked sous vide, then cubed and served with capers, shallots, celery leaves, tomatoes and a tuna cream base.
Their Jamon Iberico pork is what I would consider a cold parallel to the cured loin salad. The pork is served with apple slices, shaved radish and chive flowers. It is Iberico pork, need I really go on? Both salads are like yin and yang, they go perfectly together.
But a trip to Ante need not be an entirely porky affair. Non-pork eaters can sample the finest Norwegian salmon (RM52), poached and miso honey glazed, with a seaweed crust, served atop a bed of juicy shiitake mushrooms and torched leeks.
Dessert is considered a very important part of a meal. Some, like myself, would go so far as to say that no meal is complete without it. It would be a grave mistake to leave the premises of Ante without at least tasting one of their decadent desserts. If it is one dessert that is a must-try, it is their Valrhona chocolate delice. It is a perfect harmony of strawberries, blueberries, hazelnut feuilletine and earl grey tea cream. I like to call it the dish that has everything I look for in a life partner.
With such an all-rounded menu, it should come as no surprise that Ante is one of my favourite places to go for comfort food.
Ante Kitchen & Bar @ One Utama Lot F364, One Utama Shopping Centre, New Wing, First Floor, Rainforest, Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya
This article has also appeared on www.thelevel.my.