Sunday, 28 July 2013

KomPassion – Not a lot of it for your wallet

No. 5, Jalan SS20/11, 47400, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

KomPassion is the new fusion restaurant by ridiculously popular Thai restaurant chain My Elephant.

This apparently means uber-cool industrial-chic décor; the exact same IKEA-bought, black-and-white photo of New York City my boss has on his office wall; intriguing combinations like tom kha carbonara linguine and stir-fried angel hair with salted fish; and prices that… well…

Now, I wouldn’t normally be so fixated with the price if the food had been stellar, but it just wasn’t – not really. Not all of it was bad; there were some pretty awesome dishes, but a few of them seemed to miss the mark by quite a bit.

Anyway, my folks rolled into town last weekend and we wanted to take them someplace nice for dinner. This place seemed like a good choice – it’s got great reviews (which may have raised my expectations a little too much) and it’s located in Damansara Kim, a place filled with great food that I just don’t visit frequently enough.

This two-seat table was placed right up against the glass at the front of the restaurant... because no romantic dinner is complete without total strangers passing inches away from you while you're trying to act all cool and suave.

The meal began with complimentary watermelon cubes sprinkled with powdered ikan bilis. An auspicious start, both because of the red of the watermelon and the nice balance of sweet, refreshing fruit against the spicy/salty sprinkles. It really wakes your tastebuds. And we’re not talking a gentle shake, either. No, this is full-on, bucket of ice water on the head kind of stuff.

This complimentary watermelon snack beats the crap out of the pre-packed peanuts which many other restaurants usually provide (and charge you for).
We wanted to try as much variety as possible, so went for a weird combo of two pasta dishes, a salad, two bowls of rice and a curry pork dish. How was it? Let me break it down for you.

The stir-fried angel hair with salted fish had generous amounts of seafood but didn’t taste enough of salted fish. In fact, you only get a hit of it when you bite into one of the little pieces of salted fish hidden among the noodles like salty landmines. There weren’t enough little pieces so the dish tasted largely like a plate of Chinese stir-fried noodles. I also thought the prawns were a little overcooked. It was the dish I was most interested in when we ordered, and while it wasn’t bad, it didn’t really turn out as I had hoped.

Stir-fried angel hair with salted fish... might have been a lot more true to its name if that big chunk of fish at bottom right had been salted fish instead of regular fish.

The tom kha carbonara linguine was a great deal better. The carbonara sauce was rich without being overly heavy, balanced off by just the right hint of spiciness from the tom kha. The pasta was not al dente, but the softer texture seemed to work well in this dish. This was again a seafood-heavy dish, with fish, mussels, slightly overcooked prawns and more.

Tom kha carbonara - flavours as carefully balanced as a tightrope walker without a safety harness.

The pork panang curry was my least favourite dish of the night. The pieces of pork were tender and nicely cooked, but I found the rich panang curry to be overly sweet. The day before, I had lunch at My Elephant and tried the fantastic duck panang curry there. That one had grapes and lychee in it, but still didn’t taste half as sweet as the pork one at KomPassion. 

Panang pork curry - so sweet I thought it was dessert.

Brown rice which was actually kinda purplish in colour... and quite pricey at RM3.50 per small bowl.

Finally, let’s end this post on a relatively high note with the bacon, smoked salmon and kimchi salad. This one was a riot of textures and flavours that made my tastebuds feel like it was on some hallucinogenic substance. Pumpkin seeds, cashews, fresh crunchy lettuce, generous amounts of salty smoked salmon, some tangy dressing, a hint of mint, white sesame, black sesame, cilantro, bits of bacon and more stuff I couldn’t identify. It was great! Only two complaints: there wasn’t enough bacon (but then, can there ever be enough bacon?) and I didn’t really taste the kimchi at all. Why put kimchi in the name of the salad if it wasn’t going to feature prominently in its flavour profile? It might make more sense to call it the smoked salmon, bacon and cashew nut salad, no?

Bacon, smoked salmon and kimchi salad - kind of like a Thai fusion yee sang.

So that was our meal. It was above average but not great. It might have been better if I’d ordered those dishes that other food bloggers were raving about, like the smoked duck and pomelo salad. But I’ll have to wait till I’m feeling a little wealthier first…

Industrial chic: single-handedly making zinc roofing sexy since 1968.

Snack-sized review
Thai fusion food that offers up interesting new combinations. Prices are a little on the high side, and not everything is fantastic, but you should check it out if you want something completely different from what you get at most restaurants.

Hours: 12:00 to 14:30 / 18:00 to 22:30

Price: Quite high. Signature dishes cost up to RM70 or so. Pastas are about RM20. A meal can set you back from RM30 to RM60 per person.

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