Two weeks before the opening of his restaurant Two Sons Bistro, Steve Tay had a niggling feeling that something’s missing from its menu. “We didn’t have a unique selling factor. There has to be a highlight to the menu – or Two Sons would just be another cafe or bistro. I needed something that would keep people coming back,” says Tay.
Magic happens when you ask the right questions. What popped into his mind was his love for clams and mussels, and how hard it was to find good servings of these in Kuala Lumpur.
So Tay decided that Two Sons would be where people come for delicious clams and mussels.
His head chef freaked out when given the new business plan with less than a fortnight to deliver a signature dish. “He didn’t know in which way to cook them, how the dish would be served, where to get good supplies of clams and mussels, or where we would find enough pots to fill them,” says Tay.
But Tay stuck to his guns, and in less than a month of opening the restaurant in July last year, Two Sons made it to the top spot of FoodAdvisor’s user-voted list of Best Seafood Restaurants in KL.
The owner of Southern Rock Seafood restaurant, which held the title for three years in a row, paid a visit to its successor.
“I thought he came to beat me up, but he congratulated us instead. He even tried the mussels, and we talked and became friends,” reminisces Tay with a laugh.
At Two Sons, you can’t help but notice that every table has a pot of mussels or clams in one of the 16 flavours available.
Yes, you read that right. Mussels and clams done 16 ways and try as Tay might, he cannot narrow down the numbers as each flavour has its own slew of fans. They are served as a main in 900g (RM43 for clams and RM55 for mussels) or as starter in 450g (RM25 for clams and RM30 for mussels).
On week days, Two Sons serves up to 200kg of mussels and clams a day, and 250kg on weekends. The supplies of chilled New Zealand or Chilean mussels and Sabah clams are delivered about every two days, depending on the demand.
The bivalves are done in four styles: clear, chargrilled, creamed or chillied. For Clear, there’s a choice of flavours: Ginger and Lemongrass, Sour Oregano, Basilisk or Zuppa Vongole. For Chargrilled, there’s Sweet Paprika Butter, Turmeric Lime Butter, Lemon Garlic Butter, Spiced Tomato and Chorizo. And so on.
“The bacon and chorizo that we use are made from beef, and no alcohol is used when we flambe the seafood to get the chargrilled effect,” says Tay who has been in the F&B industry for almost 18 years.
In fact, F&B is Tay’s expensive hobby. His real job is in the construction business, which he says doesn’t take as much of his time as does the restaurant.
The Mussels in Lemon Garlic Butter taste slightly tangy and are really delicious. But the dish pales in comparison to the pot of Clams in Butter Cream that smells and tastes like liquid heaven. Creamy, slightly sweet and spicy, I cannot stop dipping the garlic bread into the sauce and scooping out the fresh clams from their shells. And I don’t even like clams that much!
“I am so glad that many of our customers also love mussels and clams as much as I do. Here, we serve food that we would cook at home and enjoy with family and friends. The menu is derived entirely from our repertoire of comfort foods at home,” says Tay who runs Two Sons with his wife Ida Razila. The restaurant’s name is a homage to their two boys, aged three and one.
“When we first got married, she was a terrible cook,” says Tay with a laugh. “But I love food and that passion rubbed off on her and now, she is one of the best cooks I know. Send 30 guests to her and she would know how and what to serve them. She and I worked with our head chef to come up with the recipes for this restaurant.”
Located in Publika, Solaris Dutamas, Two Sons can seat 80 guests indoors and about 40 outdoors. It is very minimally decorated, but is bright, spacious and airy – all plus points in the kind of weather we have.
During dinner and on weekends, every seat is quickly filled. Business is slower in the morning and at lunch time weekdays.
On top of its regular menu (yes, that means you can have clams and mussels for brunch!), Two Sons also features a more localised special menu. You can have Ayam Goreng Berempah, Chicken Kapitan or Salted Egg Yolk Chicken with buttered rice, slaw and pappadom for just RM16.90.
Meat lovers can try the well seasoned and perfectly cooked ribeye (RM70 for 250g) or tenderloin (RM75 for 250g), served with potatoes (roasted with rosemary, french fries, or hash browns) and in garlic herbed butter, rosemary garlic, blue cheese or porcini sauce.
I try the tenderloin and the meat cuts really well. So minimally prepared but with maximum flavours, the steaks are highly recommended here, too.
There are six choices of tapas – choose Golden Salted Egg Yolk Chicken (RM18) and Prawns A La Plancha and you’re good to go. The chicken dish is really a dai chou favourite given a new breath of life … and the sweet and succulent tiger prawns in a spicy sambal-ish sauce? You can thank me later.
Better yet, order it in its Spicy Prawn Pasta form (RM32). You’ll get the prawns, the delicious sauce, and good ol’ carbs to go with it.
You can also have Aglio Olio (RM21), Carbonara (RM21), Vongole (RM29) or Crayfish Aglio Olio (RM30). Each pasta dish is served with a side of toasted garlic bread and your choice of spaghetti or linguine.
Another favourite at Two Sons is their Supreme Stuffed Chicken (RM33). Grilled chicken breast with winglet stuffed with jalapeno peppers, sundried tomatoes and cream cheese is served with porcini sauce.
“The chef cuts a pocket in the chicken and places the ingredients inside to cook with the meat. So all the flavours are combined, and you can taste them in the chicken,” explains Tay.
The chicken is tender and very flavourful indeed, and is quite filling on its own. But of course, there is always space for Philly Cheese Steak Waffle (RM28) – an open-face waffle sandwich with grilled steak slices and sauteed onions topped with mozzarella and smoked cheddar cheese.
“We call this the ‘waffle that broke the toaster’. When we first introduced it, so many people ordered this that the waffle maker kept breaking down. We have had to upgrade our waffle maker a few times,” says Tay.
The single waffle is fluffy, the steak is well seasoned and cooked and the cheese is just the right amount. The taste? Not a disappointment, I tell you. There are also Belgian Waffles (RM26) and Buttermilk Waffles (RM26) under the All Day Waffles menu.
You know how they say a sweet dessert allows the stomach to make room for more food? The saying was proven yet again when they bring out Key Lime Pie (RM18) and Baked Apple Creme Brulee (RM18). Tangy and tart, the pie is a refreshing finish to a well enjoyed meal. I love it more than the sweet and caramelly baked apple, which has a strong hint of cinnamon.
I never had a reason to go to Publika, but Two Sons might just give me one.
Two Sons Bistro
Jalan Dutamas 1
Tel: 017-223 8018
Open 11am-11pm Friday to Sunday and 11am-3pm and 6-11pm Monday to Thursday