Bridging the gap

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Malaysia’s multicultured and multi-facetted food scene has received a new injection of flair and flavours with the opening of Isthmus restaurant at Northpoint, Mid Valley City.

An isthmus is a geographical term for a bridge linking two land masses across a body of water and is the perfect name for this restaurant that aims to blend quintessentially Asian flavours with the latest western culinary elements. This is cosmopolitan cuisine without boundaries.

The menu at Isthmus captures Kuala Lumpur’s diverse culinary influences, reflecting the rich flavours of the Asian palates but also draws on the 18 years of business that their sister restaurant Istmus of Kra has enjoyed in Melbourne.

Beh Kim Un is the culinary soul behind Isthmus. A Teochew born in Penang, he has merged his Malaysian sensibilities with those of 30 years’ living in cosmopolitan Melbourne, letting the influences of European, African, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Turkish, the organic food movement and vegetarianism contribute to his citizen-of-the-world persona.

Isthmus’ cuisine definitely demonstrates the global approach of Chef Beh, with more than a nod to good ole’ Malaysian cooking. For example, Kim Un’s Memory of Soup Kambing has nothing to do with the sup kambing Malaysians are familiar with, as it is made with lamb shank. But therein lies the intrigue – the dish merely alludes to the memory of the famous soup.

Our meal began with two starters. The Pan Seared Half Shell Scallops with Pomelo Salad and Mirin Aioli dressing had an intriguingly pleasant taste – the sweetness of the dressing playing against the slight bitterness of the pomelo.

It was a taste sensation that was to continue with the second starter, a Smoked French Duck Breast rolled with Japanese Enoki Mushroom, Japanese Seaweed with Honey Mayo and Thai Basil Oil. The smokiness of the duck was distinct and worked well with the saltiness of the seaweed. A sip of lovely Annie’s Lane Riesling rounded it off perfectly.

The main dishes began with a delicious Grilled Medallion of Beef with Chickpea Topped with Rich Red Wine-based Veal Reduction Sauce paired with Olive Tapenade Cod and Yam Cake. A drizzle of Cointreau orange sauce gave the plate a memorable twist.

U.S Rib Eye followed. Grilled over lava rocks and accompanied by sautéed vegetables with French herb butter and balsamic reduction sauce the execution of this dish was flawless. The meat could not have been more tender and I was almost inclined to ask for another immediately.

Finally we moved on to Australian Salmon together with Australian Spinach, lightly Curried Button Mushrooms wrapped in Puff Pastry netted with Thai Basil Cream Sauce paired with King Prawn rested on a platform of Pea Sprout and succulent Pineapple Sauce. Despite the excellence of the beef I was taken by the light taste and the slightest hint of curry in this dish, which made it my pick of the evening.


A Banana Parfait with Palm Sugar and Strawberry Melba finished me off, although – like everything at Isthmus, it certainly wasn’t a bridge too far. It was simply the perfect link from happy to utterly content.

Source: The Expat Magazine

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