Favola, Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur’s Italian restaurant, gifts diners with a small piece of Venice in its setting. Grand arches, fresco murals and paper mâché carnival masks make lively décor. The cuisine however is distinctively southern, thanks to head chef Domenico Piras.
Italian born chef Domenico helms the kitchen and brings with him a resume of impressive international experience. While he has a number of notable achievements under his chef’s coat, he is quick to credit the work of the team for the success of Favola. Growing up in Sardinia he tributes his love of fresh produce to his experiences with food at a young age on this beautiful island.
The current menu is two years of work building on the skills of the kitchen team and sourcing the most suitable ingredients for the Italian menu. While the menu fits attractively onto one page, there’s still a lot to choose from so we leave the selections in the hands of the chef.
While we’re browsing the drinks menu, water and bread are immediately delivered to our table. A trio of warm buns, including olive, wholemeal and ciabatta, are served atop a raft of crostini and three dips – olive oil and balsamic, sun-dried tomato, and potato and truffle. As the waitress tells what each item is, her smile broadens as she reveals her favourite as the potato and truffle.
Salmon and Sea Bass Carpaccio (RM56) has been a signature on the menu since opening for good reason. An incredibly pretty plate of paper-thin shavings of pink and almost transparent fish are livened with salmon roe, Hawaiian salt, toasted pine nuts, parsley sauce and micro cress salad. All of the toppings add petite bursts of moisture or crunch and play faultless partners in the overall composition. The only dressing provided is a seductive drizzling of extra virgin olive oil.
Vitello Tonnata (RM62) is a new dish on the menu composed of slices of poached veal eye round in a thick pond of creamy tuna mayonnaise. Served chilled, capers gherkins and micro greens are not only fetching accessories, but also significant elements in the overall flavour and texture profile.
I choose a glass of a 2014 J. Moreau & Fils, Chablis from France (RM60) to accompany the starters. The golden wine tickles the nose with a young stone fruit bouquet, which continues into a palate of freshness with a whisper of citrus. The lingering ending takes me from starter to main without interruption.
Creamy Carnaroli Rice Risotto (RM98), this month’s special, appears very simple in presentation. The generous shavings of black truffle however give away its decadence before we’ve even spooned it. I hope this is not an insult to the chef as it’s not intended to be, but there is something so warming and comforting about this dish that it reminds me of my mums’ rice pudding – a savoury one at that. I think it’s the milkiness and consistency. The light acidity in my wine cleanses my mouth and only encourages me to scoop back in for more.
A scrumptious aroma makes our mouths water as the Sardinian Mixed Seafood ‘Pingiadedda’ and Fregula (RM158) is delivered. The baby tomato and herb broth is overflowing with seafood. Squid, fish, mussels and prawns are brought to their prime with a murmur of chili, which serves to awaken the tongue, but not overpower the delicate seafood flavours.
A shift from the sea to the land is provided in our second main, the Braised Lamb Shank (RM88). It’s arranged in a tower like structure supported by a sturdy base of mashed potato and seasonal vegetables. It’s another dish that has us salivating with its fragrance. It’s a hearty dish for sure.
A French Bordeaux Blended Red, from Chateau Trois Moulins Haut-Medoc (RM60) is a reliable companion for the lamb. Its deep hue is matched with an equally dark berry aroma. Bold in flavour, the light spicy finish does well with the richness of the lamb.
And what is an Italian meal if we don’t bring it to conclusion without a classic dolce? Favola’s Tiramisu (RM48) is wonderfully aerated and creamy. Mascarpone and coffee soaked lady’s finger sponge are finished with a sprinkling of cacao. It’s a recipe that was passed down from chef’s mentor – the famous 1956 recipe, claimed to be the original. There has to be something to a formula that has lasted over 60 years!
The sole description for the Cassata (RM42) is a quote from chef Domenico, “this recipe was given to me by a friend, an Italian chef. He made me swear on a stack of ice cream that I would never reveal his recipe.” And, I can’t put the squeeze on the other kitchen crew either as chef confirms that it’s only himself and the pastry chef that make it – and they are keeping the precise method a tight secret. It’s airy and not as sweet as some other desserts traditionally from the south. Even though we’ve just devoured two starters, a rice dish, two mains and another dessert, this final plate is a lightweight and so every last drop is spooned up.
Our evening has been very pleasant. Staff have aced the service. The setting is intimate and charming, and the menu has been superb! For those keeping a budget, check out offers with credit cards and SPG reward cards as there are reasonable discounts for holders.
Reasons to visit: it’s difficult to narrow down our recommendations to just a few, but if forced to choose, be sure to order the Salmon and Sea Bass Carpaccio, the Sardinian Mixed Seafood ‘Pingiadedda’ and Fregula, and chef’s Tiramisu.
Favola, Italian Restaurant
Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral
Kuala Lumpur, 50470, Malaysia
+60 3 2263 7888