The drive to Dewakan took a solid hour. If you didn’t know any better, you’re likely to turn back just as you’re nearing the location as it would seem like you had mistakenly ventured into some prohibited industrial area without signages nor street lamps! But drive on, and when you spot faint lights in the distance, you have found Dewakan, well, almost! This obscure restaurant, barely a year old, is housed within the grounds of the KDU University College, where head chef, Darren Teoh, had also lectured. Being tucked within a school surely didn’t cramp Dewakan’s potential.The main dining hall is beautifully furnished and exudes the same fine dining ambient of a city restaurant. The service is efficient, friendly and attentive. The menu is fixed, 5 courses at RM170 and 10 courses for RM240.The restaurant limits their servings to 30 pax a night to ensure quality. Yes, it is long drawn meal so I should get going on the food!Before even the first starter, the kitchen prepares 4 different snacks…
Clockwise from left- Choy sum seaweed, freeze dried then deep fried, served alongside mayonnaise laced with fermented anchovy sauce; Keropok like cracker topped with a dollop of watercress emulsion with a teeny smoked chili hidden within, and finished with a dust of soy sauce powder; Yogurt infused with kafir lime zest and cuttlefish powder wrapped in roselle flower; And finally, a mild creamy curry flavoured with sweet mango. It’s nice to be served an array of interesting pre-dinner snacks. Not only do you get first tastes of Chef Darren’s creativity… the generous gesture and visual entertainment were surely welcomed.BLUE MACKEREL Cured Mackerel, Ulam Raja, Pomelo, Local Flowers….. Oh, c’mon! This is just too damn pretty to eat!! The delicate fish is cured for 4 hours with brown sugar and sea salt.. and it tasted marvelous! It’s flavor is mild and pleasant with still a hint of the ocean (works of the sea salt?) The lovely local flowers, petals and leaves added a lovely fragrance and texture to the fish while the rose water lime leaf oil dressing gave just the needed light moisture.ROAST MUSHROOMS King Oyster Mushrooms, Green Curry Paste, Yoghurt, Dried Mackerel Flakes… Prepared two ways, raw and roasted and served with green curry pesto and topped with local flowers. Start with the raw mushrooms and finish with the roasted. Another looker, this one! I adore mushrooms but this did not live up to my expectations. The highlight green curry pesto paste failed to do much for the woody funghi. I have a heavy palate for taste so this just shouts bland.BRAISED AUBERGINE Aubergine braised in Mushroom Stock, Jackfruit Seeds, Black Bean Sauce and Garlic Emulsion… The aubergine gets a facelift with Kai Lan purée. The unrecognizable plant looks adorable with a crown of delicate potato glass. Click on the photo and get a closeup of that “glass”! It’s amazing how they made that! And check out the cute twigs that are totally edible and if I had tried twigs, I think they might have nailed that taste too! For me, the strong black bean sauce overpowered the aubergine. The garlic emulsion, on the other hand, was truly lovely.HOME MADE NOODLES Steamed Ming Prawns, Brined Radish, Dried Vegetables, Cold Prawn Broth… I would google Ming prawn to learn more but since it tasted pretty much like a regular prawn, I didn’t probe further. The sweet crustacean and the springy transparent noodles were immersed in a chilled prawn broth and doused in a party of dried kang kong(water convolvulus), dried spring onions, crushed sunflower seeds and finished with a hint of smoked dried chilli. The result was a refreshing bowl of chilled goodness with a nice umami-ish kang kong fragrance!
PIKE CONGER Smoked Pike Conger, Custard, Fermented Long Beans Relish, Roasted Okra, Clams Foam… A layered dish of custard, okra, relish, eel and clam foam. I enjoyed everything in the bowl, from the slimy okra to the smooth custard. Usually an eel lover, this pike conger eel, I did not quite love. I thought it was a tad fishy, and the smokiness was almost absent. BARLEY RICE PORRIDGE We enjoyed a bonus bowl of porridge, compliments of the chef. Yearly harvested rice from Sarawak is braised with barley grains, crab meat and salted seaweed. Stir it up gently to infuse the flavors of the ingredients and ready yourself for a warm, comforting, creamy experience.
DUCK Roast Duck Breast, Beetroots, “Blood” Sauce… First of all, what a piece of art! Love the splatter of “blood”! The pink duck flesh was excellent against the oil free, glossy, crispy skin. Tender, moist and crisp all in one bite. The unique use of beetroot blood added a little zing to the lovely meat. It’s almost like a cross breeding of a smoked and Peking style roast duck. Nicely done! QUAIL Roasted Quail with Masala Spice, Beef “Serunding”, Candlenut, Century Egg-… my favorite dish of the evening. This bird was wonderfully seasoned and beautifully cooked. So tiny yet so succulent. I’ll bet there were 3 timers set to avoid over roasting this little fella a second too long! The crumbly condiments that accompanied the quail were very appetizing and went so well with the meat. And I liked how the century egg adding a familiar taste against the exotic local spices. MULBERRIES Mulberry Jam, Cardamom Ganache, Cashew Brittles, Pucuk Gajus, Mulberry Snow… This sweet sour mulberry snow had the most wonderful texture. And the flavor was simply out of this world. It’s so refreshing after a full meal like this. Paired with cashew nut biscuit and bits of cardamom white chocolate… Crunchy, sweet and zesty… All in one chilly mouthful of fine snow. It’s a delicious brain freeze! And that smokin’ pink snow!? Seriously, can’t look more mesmerizing than this!GULA MELAKA Gula Melaka Marquise, Sour Meringue, Pulut Ice Cream… this one’s got an interesting combination of ingredients. On its own, they’re just palm sugar, sour meringue and ice cream.. so, take a bit of everything together for a better experience.CHOCOLATE TART Warm Chocolate Tart, Caramelised Jackfruit and Gandum Ice Cream– Very mild jackfruit bordering on bland. The Chocolate wasn’t too rich. The gandum (wheat) ice cream made with palm sugar was quite good but rather redundant with this dish. It’d probably hold better ground on its own.Dewakan is refreshing and exciting, and Chef Darren’s creative use of humble local produce and herbs undoubtedly spiced up our taste buds for the evening! For a breath of fresh air in both culinary experience and literally away from the polluted city, Dewakan is definitely worth the long drive.
Thanks to our Malaysian foodie comrades, Sek & Sha, for recommending this exquisite experience 😀!
DEWAKAN @ Lower Ground Floor, KDU University College, Utropolis Glenmarie, Jalan Kontraktor U1/14, Seksyen U1, 40150 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia