The Locker & Loft, Damansara Kim
My first visit to The Locker & Loft, I made a fool of myself because I couldn't find its entrance. Who would have thought a shoddy-looking, battered row of lockers would turn out to actually be a secret door to a place I would consider sui generis as far as bars go?
But The Locker & Loft has a remarkable sense of individuality in its interior design. Upon entering the hidden bar, you will find yourself face to face with Paul Dass’ and Deepak Gill’s favourite photograph of working men having lunch at the Rockefeller building site. The bar counter itself is a work of art. Sip cocktails, chug beers and snack on beer food at the 25 foot long copper bar and appreciate its beauty. It is also surrounded by a network of copper pipes, exposed bricks and contrasted with warm lighting.
The Locker & Loft's individuality extends to their menu as well, where they infuse plenty of Malaysian recipes and local ingredients into their food, making it a fusion heaven.
We started off with breaded catfish fingers with Creole-seasoned plantain chips, served with ginger torch tartare (RM17). I sang praises the moment I bit into the piping hot catfish fingers. They were crunchy on the outside, but soft and fleshy on the inside. The plantain chips, more commonly known in Malaysia as pisang tanduk, proved to be a fitting match to the salty catfish fingers because of its contrasting sweetness.
Mutton Varuval Quesadillas (RM17), which seemed to be a favourite among all of us eating that night, were savoury and got our appetites going. The mango chutney was a pleasant twist to the dish and turned out to be so good that I wished they had put more of it inside the crispy, warm tortilla.
The grilled watermelon salad (RM20) was another dish we enjoyed immensely. It is a quirky recipe that puts together grilled watermelon with lychee, feta cheese, tomato chips and kesum leaves, dressed with tangy Japanese vinaigrette.
The slow-cooked Char Siew baby back ribs (6 ribs RM55, 12 ribs RM98), yet another dish that blew our minds, were grilled to perfection under the rich Char Siew sauce. The meat is packed with exploding oriental flavours, and so succulent and tender it falls right off the bone with the slightest lift.
The baked tilapia with asam pedas sambal (RM32) piqued my interest because, hailing from Negeri Sembilan, my mum makes great asam pedas soup on a weekly basis. Served with sautéed spinach and baked potato, the dish was a pleasant clash of spicy and creamy tastes in my mouth. I loved the tilapia, but I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t taste the subtle sweetness and a slight sourness that’s supposed to be present in any asam pedas recipe. I believe it could have been enhanced by adding in a pinch of sugar and tamarind pulp.
The smoked duck Aglio Olio (RM28) was a beautiful dish in both aesthetic and flavour. Linguine is tossed with smoked duck breast, lap cheong, Thai chilli flakes, garlic, coriander and cashews to make for a flavourful dish.
We tried the crispy Pain Perdu (RM16) - basically fancy French toast - for our first dessert. The toast itself had a buttery, salty taste that amplified the homemade butterscotch sauce topping as well as the mango and ice cream it came with. This dish got me smiling from ear to ear.
Our last dish was a more traditional Malaysian dessert, sago Gula Melaka (RM15). It was refreshing and soothing on our palates after our heavy variety of gastronomic dishes for the night.
The Locker & Loft 40A, Jalan SS20/10, Jalan Damansara, Damansara Kim Open Tuesday to Saturday 5PM to 1AM, Sundays 12:30PM to 12AM