Given the price of fish these days, it’s hard to imagine anyone’s wallets stretching to accommodate daily meals made up of seafood. But growing up in Sabah, that’s exactly the sort of diet Charles Devan and his brother Patrick Devendran were fed on.
“Seafood is an extension of our childhood. We ate a lot of fish and prawns almost every day because seafood there was so cheap,” says Devan, who has memories of eating in fishing villages where he could literally see boats delivering fish to the restaurants.
When the brothers came to KL to pursue their degrees, they found that they could no longer enjoy good seafood, as what was available to them was either sub-par or way too expensive. So they decided to take matters into their own hands, and started a business importing Scottish smoked salmon, which they sold to gourmet supermarkets like Ben’s Independent Grocer.
Eventually, the brothers realised they had to expand their business and began importing award-winning olive oil, flour and other goods (which they hand-picked from the Guild of Fine Food) before finally deciding to dip their toes in the restaurant business. With childhood friend Andy Hiew, they set up artisanal eatery Ingrained by Ironwoods and cocktail bar Los Flowerpecker, both of which have proved immensely popular.
But the call of the sea proved too difficult to resist and a few months ago, they set up Poseidon Caviar & Seafood Bar, in tribute to their love for seafood.
“The opportunity came when our friend, who opened the place downstairs (S’mores), said, ‘Why don’t we share this lot? It was good for us because we were very new in F&B, and we didn’t have deep pockets,” he says.
And so Poseidon Caviar & Seafood Bar was born. The eatery is ensconced in DesaPark City’s Plaza Arkadia in an upstairs lot that is cosy, with a distinctly Nordic feel (accentuated by the simple but functional Danish brand Normann Copenhagen’s furniture dotted across the space).
The menu imbibes this good quality, fuss-free approach with premium seafood cooked simply with little in the way of embellishment. It is an ethos that the restaurant’s executive chef Chan Khai Ming lives and swears by.
“There’s only one type of rule to me: don’t mess around with the seafood too much. If it’s fresh, it will shine,” says Chan.
There’s plenty to whet the appetite of seafarers of every stripe, but you’d do well to start with one of the restaurant’s specialties: oysters. The eatery is so popular for it that Devan says a table once ordered 200 of these babies!
For us regular plebs though, the Fine de Claire (RM120 for half a dozen) will do nicely. The French oysters are from the largest oyster-producing region in the world and are dipped in salt ponds for one month to enhance their flavour. The result is a naturally briny oyster – plump, with a tender, velvety core.
Next up, try the clumsy squid with wasabi caviar (RM30) which is spaghetti tossed in Sicilian squid ink sauce, topped with wasabi-infused flying fish roe. While some squid ink pastas have a strong, inky cephalopod taste, this one appears as an undercurrent rather than making its presence felt too strongly.
Then there is Captain Davy Jones (RM40), a riff on the monstrous sailor from Pirates Of The Caribbean, who literally had tentacles coming out of his face! In this iteration, the tentacle in question is a fat one from Peru that has been grilled and glazed with butter and chilli flakes. A serving of cherry vinegar on the side serves to add a cheek-pinching tartness to the offering. But the focus is on the tentacle, which offers the contrary combination of tenderness and a firm bite.
Perhaps one of the most exciting things on Poseidon’s menu at the moment is the newly-launched Toast to Tarama (RM25) which features a trio of salt-cured roe spreads (sourced from cod, carp or grey mullet), served with blinis. The mounds of roe are easily distinguishable from their colours – the rose petal infused one is a pretty pink affair, while the sunny unagi-flavoured spread has strong umami flavours. The most triumphant spread of this threesome is the pale-looking truffle spread, which is hedonistic and luxuriant.
The Wagyu from the Bay (RM45) is a reference to skipjack tuna loin, which is reputed to have a velvety, melt-in-the-mouth quality. Here, the fish has a smokiness to it that enhances its appeal and is tender but also holds its shape without breaking apart at the slightest inclination.
The pan-seared Argentinian black cod (RM65) too is exquisitely bare-boned, allowing diners to really taste the supple, silken fish without sauces drenching it or accoutrements getting in the way.
At Poseidon, the much-anticipated caviar comes in many forms, from starter French Kaviari packs that come in 15g portions to Russian Beluga caviar, which typically sells for RM800 a tin. I had a tiny spoonful of the French caviar, a salty, poppy affair that offers just a sample of what life is like for rich Russian oligarchs.
“We wanted to make caviar something everybody could try, so making it affordable was a leap of faith. Now, people are looking to us for caviar, and we sell 40 to 50 cans a month,” says Devan.
Although Poseidon isn’t typically a restaurant where you would expect much in the form of dessert, the Pardon My French Toast (RM20) is a celebratory, not-to-be-missed affair. The caramelised house-made brioche is stuffed with cheese and strawberry compote in what proves to be a doughy, happy union of soulmates.
Opportunities have already come a-knocking since Poseidon opened and the siblings recently opened Poseidon Reserve, selling premium seafood at the upmarket Atlas Gourmet Market at the brand new Four Seasons Place KL.
Poseidon Caviar & Seafood Bar
H-G-1 (M), Plaza Arkadia
52200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 017-252 6206
Open Tuesday to Sunday: Noon to 3pm; 6pm to 11pm