By EU HOOI KHAW
Japanese and Italian came together with aplomb in the Black Pearl Rice at A’ Perfetto, a restaurant that embraces elements of both cuisines in its menu. It was near perfect, the short, plump grains of Japanese rice poached in black squid ink and fried with garlic, squid, prawns and basil.
A raw egg stirred into the rice gave it a lovely stickiness. It was rice we couldn’t stop eating as it scored for flavour and texture; as did the prawns which were transparent, springy and sweet.
It was just as well we had a hit in this Black Pearl Rice (RM26). Lunch had started meekly and slowly in the flavours realm at this SS2, Petaling Jaya outlet.
The dishes, such as the Sakura Chicken Salad with Honey Mentaiko Dressing (RM12), had sounded so promising on the menu. I love mentaiko, that salty, creamy and rich marinated cod roe. But the mentaiko was sadly lacking in the dressing. I tasted a sweetish tomato sauce in it, covering the cubes of grilled chicken, Japanese sweet potato on a bed of mixed greens. More mentaiko could have saved the salad; we also thought the raisins had no place in it.
The Spicy Lotus Root Chips with Sakura Ebi (RM9) grew on us with each crunchy bite. There was a slow burn from the chilli but where was the ebi? We asked, and it came back with the fried dried shrimps that made it even better.
Pizzas are not the classic Italian ones at A’ Perfetto. The base here is a thin tortilla, with your choice of toppings. We had the Seared Scallops with Mango Pizza. This came with avocado paste spread on the tortilla, topped with cubed scallops, diced mango and flying fish roe. If the scallops had been given a hearty searing to release their flavours, it would have been perfetto! The combination of ingredients was not quite right but at least the tortilla stayed crispy till the end.
The Wagyu Beef Hako-Zushi with Truffle Sauce (RM33) hit all the right notes. The beef was lightly seared and sat atop a piece of nori, then sushi rice that had hints of sourness tempered with sweetness, that came together quite wonderfully.
Seared Salmon with Yuzu Sauce had cuts of salmon topped with bonito flakes resting on thin lemon slices (see top image). The dots of mayo on the long plate were slightly tart with lime juice. If only there was some yuzu zest on the mayo, it would have lifted it up to a different plane.
Naughty Duck is duck leg confit (RM30), finished with a flavourful spiced sauce, and served with potato tempura. The texture of the duck was not quite as a confit, but it was delicious with the deep, dark sauce fragrant with cinnamon, star anise, clove, fennel and Sichuan pepper.
There are no desserts on the menu but we asked, and were offered bread and butter pudding and tempura ice cream, neither of which appealed. We still ended lunch on a sweet, fruity note, with two ice-blended drinks – Sweet Potato Orange and Dragon Egg, both at RM10.50.
I could taste the blended, powdery sweet potato in the first drink, cleverly combined with slightly tart orange, and milk. It was surprisingly refreshing. Dragon Egg was dragon-fruit with watermelon, egg yolk and milk. It was more watermelon than dragonfruit and tasted more like a fruity drink than a blended, creamy one with protein in it.
At the end of the meal, we found out that the chef was off on a culinary jaunt to South Korea, which explains why one of my companions, a repeat diner there, felt let down by the less-than-sterling execution of several dishes.
With its stylish modern look, A’ Perfetto stands out in a Chinese neighbourhood in the older part of SS2. It opened eight months ago, with a chef originally from Ploy, which explains the mirroring of certain dishes here. There is still much to explore in the pork-free, modestly-priced menu – from the A’nergizer, comprising sliced Australian wagyu on top of mixed caviar rice, to Tasty Corned Beef with Angel Hair and Baked Scallop Dynamite – but make darn sure you do it while the chef’s in town.
This review first appeared in Flavours magazine’s September 2015 issue.
22 Jalan SS2/10
Tel: 03-7865 5139
Open daily except on Thursdays, from 11.45pm to 3pm, and 5.45pm to 10pm