Tucked in a quiet corner of Seputeh, away from the drone of traffic is Wisma Ruyi. The building is an oasis of calm and peace, an aura that emanates from the lobby all the way up to the rooftop bar. The entire building has been designed as a wellness hub of sorts and is replete with a luxury confinement centre, a rejuvenation and revitalisation space, and spa, among its many features.
Amid all this is Ketuhar, a beautifully-appointed restaurant hidden on the first floor of the building. The eatery’s décor offers an interesting lesson in how varying shades of brown fluidly meld to form a visual treat.
“In terms of the restaurant’s colour scheme, I was looking for something that represented Malaysia. I wanted a local touch,” says Datuk Sharon Foong, the founder and managing director of Ruyi Holdings Sdn Bhd.
The earthy tones she selected evoke a rustic charm that is further buoyed by a large mural at one end of the restaurant, depicting the small town charm of a paddy field.
Foong was inspired to come up with Ketuhar in September last year after realising that she needed a restaurant in the building to complement the other services on offer. While the eatery largely caters for the confinement centre and internal clients, it is open to the public as well. The food in Ketuhar is in line with the building’s wellness ethos, which means MSG is totally banned from the kitchen and food is made with both flavour and health in mind.
In its nascent stage, the restaurant offered only Malay food, but the menu has now expanded to include classic Chinese dishes, as well as a selection of healthy options to reflect the wellness aspect in play.
To ensure the authenticity of the Chinese cuisine, 60-something chef Lim Hok Beng was coaxed out of retirement to help run the restaurant kitchen.
Lim is a seasoned chef who is perhaps best known for his stints in Restoran Kari Kepala Ikan Rampai in Taman Sri Rampai and Fusion Corner in Damansara Utama, where his fish head curry was a runaway success.
In Ketuhar, this iconic fish head curry (RM40 for a small portion) makes a triumphant return to glory. Lim spends three to four hours working on the chilli paste that forms the base of this dish and the resultant coconut milk-rich curry is a well-crafted work of art. The curry is floating with generous chunks of grouper fish, ladies fingers, long beans and tofu puffs. It is rich, creamy, slightly spicy and so delicious, you could (and probably will) happily polish off an entire bowl yourself. If you’re looking for perfection, your search is over because, folks, this fish head curry is the genuine article.
From the Chinese options on the menu, you might also want to try the butter chicken (RM25 for a small portion). While butter chicken is de rigeur on most Chinese restaurant menus, Lim says his dish is boosted by the inclusion of one extra secret ingredient: milk powder! Consequently, the butter chicken is really yummy – crispy pieces of chicken that are tender on the inside, with an overall sensation of understated sweetness from that now not-so-secret milk powder addition.
Then there is the sizzling tofu (RM23), which features homemade tofu, eggs, peppers, carrots and onions. The tofu is the star player here, silken and full of flavour, while the vegetables form able supporting acts in what proves to be a competent ensemble cast.
From the Malay menu, there is the classic nasi lemak ayam rendang (RM15). The hearty local favourite is enhanced by a spicy, onion-infused sambal which is the major attraction in this offering. All the other accoutrements are executed reasonably well, but aren’t really ground-breaking, by any stretch of the imagination.
If you’re after something from the healthy menu, try the heart-healthy set meal (RM72) which offers a serving of grilled salmon, alongside the avocado and asparagus salad. The salmon is delicious – perfectly seasoned, with crispy skin and tender, flaky flesh inside. The avocado and asparagus salad is slightly bland, but does offer a different flavour dimension when juxtaposed against the rich aquatic flavours of the fish.
There is also a vegan option (RM35) which features black sesame fried rice and sweet potato fries. The sweet potato fries are finger-licking good – perfectly-battered sticks of crispy goodness that will prove to be instantly addictive.
For dessert, indulge in a local staple – sago gula Melaka (RM15). The dessert of pandan-flavoured sago pearls, coconut milk and palm sugar balances the sugar quotient gracefully – dextrously avoiding being too sweet and nailing the flavours of the dish perfectly in the process.
Foong says while the restaurant has come far since its early days, there is still work to be done to get it where she wants it to be. “We still need to improve – we have to give it time to make it better and better,” she says.