Pier 12 Seafood Tavern’s inception began with Pampas, a group of restaurants that specialise in mouth-watering steaks. Like most good restaurants, they don’t just do steaks. The brand has a couple of seafood options on the menu, and those offerings became so popular that requests started pouring in for Pampas to open a seafood restaurant. And that’s exactly what they did!
Pier 12 Seafood Tavern opened in August 2015 in Kuala Lumpur’s Old Malaya, amidst a stretch of watering holes and upmarket restaurants. Initially, the restaurant’s directors were worried that it wouldn’t be as warmly received as Pampas, as they were venturing into totally foreign territory.
“We thought it was going to be a difficult hurdle because seafood is something new that we’re venturing into. And it can be tricky, people can be fussy about how their prawns and crabs are cooked. So we were a bit sceptical, but thank God we made this move – we’re so happy we did,” says Nanthini Theva, the group’s director of communications.
The restaurant has indeed been doing well, making it to the No 1 spot on TripAdvisor’s list of eateries in KL within a year of its opening. Although the restaurants in the top spot tend to ebb and flow according to customers’ predilections and the rise of new eating joints, at the time of writing, Pier 12 had captured the No 1 spot, beating out nearly 4,000 other contenders in KL.
As its name implies, the eatery specialises in all manner of seafood, cooked in a variety of fusion styles that borrow from different communities and ethnic groups.
“We cater to all groups of people, so our seafood cuisine at Pier 12 is basically fusion – there are Spanish, Indian and Chinese influences, among others,” says Nanthini.
The eatery sources its seafood from multiple suppliers, and gets crab flown in every two days from Indonesia; its scallops and lobsters come all the way from the United States.
To begin your aquatic adventure, try the house-favourite garlic prawns (RM28). The fat, fluffy prawns are sautéed with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. It’s a simple, fuss-free affair that really gives you the chance to savour the natural flavours of the prawns.
Another great offering is the pan seared scallops in white wine butter sauce (RM38). The brightest star in this constellation is the scallops – fat, supple creatures that are lightly seared for a few seconds on each side, so they have a nice char on the outside while inside yields velvety soft mouthfuls.
Then there is the mulligatawny soup (RM25), an Indian-British offering made with curry powder, vegetable stock, shallots, cream and crab meat. The soup is filled with crab chunks, with undertones of the Indian sub-continent rising to the surface in the form of the curry powder in the mixture. It’s a simple affair that is not bad, but doesn’t really leave an indelible impression.
From the fish selections, you might want to try the popular tandoori flavoured halibut fish fillet (RM38). The restaurant makes its own tandoori paste to coat the surface of this pan-fried fish. The tandoori flavours are omnipresent but not overwhelming, so you can still taste the fish, which is very, very fresh and well-cooked.
Then there is the poached butter fish medallions (RM38) which features fish stuffed with spinach and mushrooms and served with a red bell pepper sauce. The fish is tender, flakes beautifully and pairs incredibly well with the piquant tones of the pepper sauce.
The chink in Pier 12’s armour comes in the form of the seafood ravioli (RM32). The house-made ravioli is a tad thin, so it doesn’t have a very good bite. The seafood mixture in the ravioli is a tad bland and the pasta is strangely watery, as though it has been dredged in a bath and then served on a plate.
The garlic chilli crab (RM18++ per 100g) thankfully offers a return to form. The crab is bathed in a light olive oil, dried chilli and garlic sauce that melds harmoniously with the crustacean. The best part about this offering? You don’t even have to crack the crabs yourself! If you’d like to keep your clothes and hands spotless, the wait staff will (smilingly) don gloves and hammer away at those shells, prying apart crevices and joints to extract the meat inside.
End your meal at Pier 12 on a tropical high with the salted caramel coconut panna cotta (RM20), which is silken smooth and boosted by bold coconut flavours and crunchy nuts on top.
Pier 12 also has an extensive range of cocktails to sample, and you’d do well to try a few of them. Of the lot, the blue lagoon (RM20) and porn star martini (RM28) are the stand-outs. The blue lagoon is made with fresh lemon, blue Curaçao, mint leaf, salt and sparkling water. The mint gives it a nice herbaceous quality and freshness that will instantly satiate thirsty alcohol fiends.
The martini, on the other hand, really begs to be taken out for a spin. Made with vodka, passionfruit liqueur, passionfruit puree, sugar, lime and a shot of prosecco, this flamboyant show-off is zesty and fresh with a buzzy aftertaste from the prosecco in the mixture.
Overall, you’ll enjoy your time at Pier 12. The food is well-cooked, simple and unpretentious and service is woven with good manners and smiles aplenty. It is this recipe for success that Nanthini says has made the brand consider expanding to other countries as well.
“We’ve had queries from people overseas, asking us to open in Sri Lanka and India. It’s still in the discussion stage, so we’ll see how it goes lah,” she says.
Pier 12 Seafood Tavern
Lot 12 Old Malaya
Lorong Raja Chulan
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2078 5548
Open Sunday to Thursday: 5pm to 2am; Friday to Saturday: 5pm to 3am