A cosy place for that cross-cultural feeling
I’ve been in an Italian mood for some time now… probably for the past 10 years! It’s one of my favourite types of cuisine and I thoroughly enjoy it whether alone or with friends. An afternoon lunch with friends who had returned from overseas brought up another opportunity to go dining out.
So, off we went to Mon’t Kiara and upon the suggestion of a friend, we settled for a place called Porto Romano. Housed within a single row of shops close to the residential condos, its ambience is warm and breezy. Dark wooden panels line the floor, contrasting nicely with the white tables and cushioned chairs. Thinly curtained windows allow a little bit of sunlight into the room and looking outside, trees sway gently to the wind. You get the feeling you’re somewhere near the Mediterranean yet strangely, somewhere in Japan, as there are a number of Japanese expatriates who call Mon’t Kiara their home away from home. As we sat at our table looking through the menu, a chattering of Japanese words echoed around us.
To further enhance the Japanese presence, our appetiser, Carpaccio di Salmone (RM26) was a close relative of the Japanese menu – thinly sliced Norwegian smoked salmon on a bed of crispy lettuce and a sprinkling of lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. As I’m not a fan of raw fish (in fact, most things!), I was apprehensive; but for the sake of my job, I ‘sacrificed’ my taste buds this time. Pleased to say, I actually enjoyed it. The tangy lemon blends smoothly with the olive oil to compliment the saltiness of the salmon and the crunchy lettuce contributes to the well-rounded texture of the dish. The Garlic Bread (RM8) was a suitable companion to this – richly buttered with chunks of garlic and a sprinkling of herbs on focaccia bread.
If the meal had stopped there, I would have been satisfied. However, the following main courses were rather disappointing. To start with, the Stinco d’Agnello (RM34) (that’s Lamb Shank for us non-Italians) was at best average. My friend simply commented, “It lacks character”. I don’t think he would’ve been so critical had they not boasted about it in the menu – ‘You’d walk a mile for Porto Romano’s Lamb Shank!’
Then again, he’s a hard man to please. My personal dish, the Spaghetti Porto Romano (RM29) was also a let-down. I intentionally order seafood pasta whenever I want to gauge a restaurant’s standing. Seafood such as squid, prawn, clams and mussels need careful attention. Under-cooked and they turn out slimy; emanating a strong sea-water odour. Over-cooked and they become hard and dry. On this occasion, it was the latter. Apart from that, the spaghetti was a little soft for my liking. The tomato-based sauce is probably the only stand-out in this dish, with different shades of spiciness, saltiness, sourness and sweetness.
At the end of the meal, I was very reluctant to order anything else, so I skipped dessert altogether. It brought a somewhat unsatisfactory end to a promising start, which is a shame considering I give it top marks for a wonderfully relaxing ambience.
K-1, Mon’t Kiara Banyan,
28 Jalan Kiara, Mon’t Kiara, KL
Food : 2.5/5
Drinks : 2.5/5
Service : 3.5/5
Ambience: It’s a comfortable and relaxing Mediterranean-style retreat with a touch of Japanese, courtesy of its regular patrons.
Pros: Obviously, its soothing ambience offers a welcome retreat, especially on a hot afternoon. There’s also a bar on the ground floor where you can relax with friends.
Cons: Maybe some inconsistencies in food quality as my Italian food-loving friend tells me the Porto Romano outlet in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail served him and his friends a nice meal the other day.