What is it about Babe and Chef Jeff Ramsey that makes you hold your breath a bit, even at the very first encounter? Well, first of all, when you walk in to Babe Restaurant on the 11th Floor of Work@Clearwater just as dusk is approaching, wouldn’t you hold your breath at this view?
Stunning view, no?
Next, in walks Chef Jeff Ramsey in his very hip skinny pants and very American sneakers and he proceeds to regale you with his modernist cooking philosophy on “Japas Dining”, you will catch your breath at things like his “Dinosaur Egg”, “Manga Crab” and “Roast Kabayaki Ikan Keli”, among others. As the first and still the only American chef (he hails from Washington D.C.) outside of the US to help his establishment (in Japan) earn a Michelin Star, Chef Ramsey’s eclectic culinary background stands him in good stead as he shapes Babe’s distinctive menu.
Chef Jeff Ramsey
Look out for the Welcome Drinks which are mischievously and aptly named “Down The Rabbit Hole” – you’ll never guess what you’ll be drinking, from those innocently-looking tubes!
As you may have deduced, from the uniquely coined “Japas Dining”, it’s all about serving up Japanese-accented tapas in Babe. Recognizing that a bit of localization always helps, the latest menu in Babe has now incorporated some familiar Malaysian flavours. Additionally, the recently-introduced festive menu, available until 30 June 2017, is a good change from the usual offerings around town. My “fun dining” experience in Babe started with…
Foie Gras and Jackfruit – crispy shell with roasted halal foie gras, jackfruit and spiced chocolate kabayaki. This has to be eaten in one big bite to fully savour all the contrasting flavours! Who would have thought foie gras, jackfruit and chocolate can go together?
Onsen Chowder – potato mousse with smoked coconut, 63oC egg and chives. This was a firm favourite with my dining companions. It’s such a warm, comforting nutritious item and pretty filling on the tummy too.
Laksa Injection Canape – style injection tube of laksa with prawn. This was such a fun contraption! Strict instructions came with the serving of this: place entire prawn inside the mouth before squirting the laksa sauce from the tube!
Mango & Curry Sphere – Spherification of sweet & sour mango with curry powder. Loved the explosion of tangy spicy juices flooding the mouth from these pretty spheres!
Crispy Chicken Terrine – layers of crispily-rendered chicken skin & cha siu sauce. This was so decadently good that for a moment I was speechless – the layers of gorgeous chicken skin tasted exactly like porky cha siu! Forgive the comparison if you are sensitive that way but this was really amazing.
Marinated Roasted Kabayaki Ikan Keli – minced ikan keli with avocado and pink peppercorn. Another excellent rendition from Chef Ramsey in this “imitation bak kwa” which, to the uninitiated, would have thought that this was the real thing (read: porky bak kwa). I honestly could not detect any “fishiness” in those slices and could have sworn they were made from pork!
Prawn & Curry Leaf Ice Cream – ice cream in cones with a savoury aromatic twist. The curry leaf aroma was a bit understated here – I would have preferred a stronger nuance but those deep-fried shrimps were the bomb! They brought such a fun “umami-ness” to the ice-cream in those petite crispy cones.
Manga Crab – an edible cartoon of softshell crabs and coriander sauce. Just look at that meticulous drawing of lines on the slate – it’s hand-drawn for every single serving and that slash in the middle depicts a sword cutting the crab into two. See how the 2 halves of the crab are placed as such? Such whimsical presentation
Snow Crab Donburi with Sambal – Japanese crab rice bowl with homemade sambal and dashi jelly. The tangy spicy sambal from Chef Ramsey was his local touch to this popular Japanese rice dish. Personally I thought the sambal was a bit overwhelming and overshadowed the sweetness of the snow crab.
Smoked Chicken Percik – 4 hour smoke, percik glaze, charred vegetables. Beautifully flavoured and roasted spring chicken – it’s good enough even without the percik sauce.
Stanbroke Farms Striploin with Japanese Sambal – cubes of beef on a charcoal grill with yuzu kosho sambal. This was another big hit – faultless execution of the striploin. With “medium” done-ness, every piece of the beef was superbly tender and juicy.
Dinosaur Egg – daun kadok, yoghurt, tropical fruits on a nutty “bird’s nest”. A signature item from Chef Ramsey, it was an appropriate finale to the dinner. It’s a conversation-stopping piece, for sure!
Check out their Torch Ginger Ale – it’s so refreshingly good!
Seriously this tasting menu has been one of the most fun and enjoyable experiences I’ve had for a long time. I love the creative ways Chef Ramsey twisted the dishes, some whimsical, some just pure fun in the modernistic approaches he took, elevating them to a most interesting experience.
This 12-course Tasting Menu is priced at RM300++ per person, available till 30 June 2017 and that’s a real good deal, if you ask me. Portions are very adequate, diners get to taste 12 very different representations of the chef’s creativity – it’s time well spent to savour, compare and contrast the variety of flavours in every one of the well-executed dishes. Definitely a fun and unique meal to relish!
Besides the Tasting Menu, there are also a la carte items in the menu, offering exquisite mix of flavours and textures in true “Japas” style.
11th Floor, Work@Clearwater
Jalan Changkat Semantan
50490 Kuala Lumpur
Open Tuesday-Sunday: 6pm – 11pm
Closed on Monday
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