Words: Monica Clear Photos: Monica Tindall
I tend to judge restaurants on what I will call the “Goldilocks and Three Bears Effect.” As I am pushing back my chair to stand up and walk out, am I satiated without being too full? Do I notice myself dying to get outside to escape the blasting air conditioner? Am I happy to leave music that is too loud and enter the silence of the night? Do I need a cup of coffee to wake up my carbohydrate-loaded brain and belly? Do I feel too much, too little, or just right?
After a meal at Sitka, I was one happy Goldilocks. It had been a clean and delicious pleasure to sample their food. And here’s why:
|Sitka Restaurant, Damansara Heights|
Before opening in April 2014, Sitka spent six months setting up their behind-the-scenes food delivery systems. They found a trusted fish guy, a humane chicken and meat guy, and a proliferate vegetable farm; all vetted on quality; many independent suppliers; all local.
While open everyday from 9am – 6pm, serving delicious coffee, fresh pastries, cakes and breakfast selections (until 11am) and a full lunch menu, they have limited their dinner hours to Friday and Saturday nights, and go by the name of Test Kitchen on those evenings. As the name implies, this allows them extra time to plan, prepare, and experiment with dinner cuisine – a luxury most restaurants don’t enjoy.
As head chef Christian Recomio, (of Moonfish Café in Aberdeen, Scotland fame), talked us through Sitka and Test Kitchens’ philosphy on food, it became clear that the restaurant isn’t about following a market trend like “farm to table” or the locavore movement; it is simply about doing food right. To prepare good food, it must be fresh; to get fresh, it must be local. Walking that talk, Christian described to us with a twinkle in his eye and a sly smile, his recent delight in foraging edible wood sorrel greens from outside the restaurant along the historical Jalan Batai, and his innovative use of the lemon-flavored clover on the dessert menu.
It doesn’t get more fresh or local than wood sorrel outside your door.
We started with a refreshing lemon and ginger ice tea and flavorful cappuccino. The art of the coffee is well-refined at Sitka, as they use the same beans and preparation methods as Feeka, one of their sister restaurants located in Bukit Bintang.
|Latte, Iced Tea, Fresh Orange Juice|
|Roast Beetroot with Citrus (RM20)|
|Lamb Taco (RM27)|
|Beef Taco (RM25)|
We then moved onto the fried chicken entrée – half a buttermilk-fried spring chicken with honey and thyme. In the USA, we eat fried chicken with our hands. Thus the barometer of a good fried chicken (for me) is how much grease is leftover on your fingers. Is it finger’lickin’good or finger-lickin gross? Do you need one napkin to clean-up your hands and face or eight?
Although I did use a fork to eat this dish (we were sharing), it was easy to see that Sitka’s chicken passed the grease test with flying colors. The outside was a delicious crispy coating of honey-sweetened batter without an oily sensation, and the inside, a moist, juicy, flavorful, and perfectly-done meat. The secret of success appeared to lie partially in the preparation, as the chef described that the chicken is bought fresh, brined for 24 hours, blanched, and then deep-fried. This dish was also served with a lovely side salad with dill flowers. With a sensory sensation of flavors and textures done right, this is a dish meant to be chewed and savored slowly, and so the portion size was just right.
|Fried Chicken (RM23)|
|Bao Platter (RM30) – Soft Shell Crab, Fried Chicken, Korean Brisket|
|White Chocolate with Thai Basil and Wood Sorrel (RM30)|
|House Wine – (RM25) Down Under Semillion Sauvigon Blanc|
Go fresh. Go local. Go Sitka.
Reasons to visit: low carbs, fresh local ingredients, reasonably priced wine, Roast Beetroot with Citrus, Beef Taco, White Chocolate with Thai Basil and Wood Sorrel.