SINGAPORE (July 30): In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, the after-hours social is not confined to drinks at a trendy bar. Frequently, it also means roti canai with fish head curry and a cup of teh tarik at the local mamak. The food is cheap and good, and sometimes there is nothing more you can wish for.
For those times when you do want something more, however, there is Nadodi. A trendy restaurant in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Nadodi reinterprets South Indian cuisine with high-quality ingredients and avant-garde techniques.
The restaurant serves just two degustation menus nightly: a nine-course one (RM460++) and an 11-course one (RM490++). The menus change every quarter, but on a recent visit, Options savoured a banana leaf rice-inspired amuse bouche that looks like a dollhouse version of the real thing. A chlorophyll-based false meringue has been shaped into a leaf and dotted with tamarind, ginger, pumpkin, beans, red-rice daal, papadum and mango chutney. It is designed to be eaten in two or three bites, with every bite spreading the instantly recognisable spices of traditional banana leaf dishes over the tongue
There is also a tiny vadai, made with fermented lentil batter that has been fried and rolled in dehydrated yoghurt, and then stuffed with a lentil and coconut chutney. Texturewise, it is less oily and fluffier than a traditional vadai, but it packs a powerful flavour punch.
One of the mains, called Heads Up, is inspired by fish head curry. It is served in a mug reminiscent of the Japanese chawan mushi, but has the layers of an English trifle. Bottom-most is a layer of steamed fish. Next comes some lemony basmati rice. And, finally, there is a coconut and tamarind curry foam and a sprinkling of seaweed. The overall effect can be likened to a fish head curry soufflé — airy and rich at the same time.
Nadodi also offers wine pairings (RM280++) and cocktail pairings (RM260++) for both menus. For those with no firm leanings either way, the cocktail pairings will have the greater novelty factor in their favour. Nearly every cocktail looks good for eating. The Bloody Mary, for instance, could pass for a tuna tartare. It consists of a granita made from tomato, lime, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and vodka, as well as vodka that has been congealed to resemble pearls of caviar.
A trendy restaurant in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Nadodi reinterprets South Indian cuisine with high-quality ingredients and avant-garde techniques
Among the exceptional pairings is the rasam cocktail, which was created for the Heads Up dish. It is a mixture of cold vodka that has been blended with rasam spices, and warm foam of egg white, lime and powdered rasam. It has just the right sour notes to offset the sweetness of the coconut curry. And the cold-hot contrast is surprisingly pleasant.
Not every dish is a flight of fancy. The final course before the desserts is called Nomads Globe and features a sphere that breaks up, tiffin-style, into three tiers. Inside are some solid, no-nonsense staples: a crab salad flavoured with turmeric, onions, ginger and garlic; a lobster curry with a smooth, creamy finish; and one of the best briyanis you will find in town, chock-a-block with apricot, raisins, prawns, shallots and cashews.
Nadodi, which means “nomad” in Malayalam and Tamil, is all about selling memories. For those who grew up with fond memories of South Indian cuisine — whether in their home towns in Tamil Nadu, Kerala or Sri Lanka, or in the mamak stalls of Kuala Lumpur — the restaurant hits the sweet spot where familiar flavours and first-rate ingredients meet.
183 Jalan Mayang, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 2181 4334
Monday to Saturday — 6pm to 11pm
This article appeared in Issue 841 (July 30) of The Edge Singapore.