Food & Drink

Small Plates Fit for a Sumo

Missed Valentine's Day? Nevermind. Wine down with the BFF/SO here for Chap Goh Meh

BY Jason Tan | Feb 27, 2018 | Opinion

The food fight mural at Deuce. Spot the foodie culture reference. (Food shots: Jason Tan.)

There are some places in the world you’d go, if you knew they existed. And could find them. Even if they were located in the GPS-proof parts of Publika, that Bermuda Triangle of Shoppers. Deuce is here. Somewhere.

Get here, if you can. Your reward for braving the nasi lemak turbulence along your flight path are small plates -- sumo-size for plumpness of flavour and satiety. Okay, we'll make it easy for you: Go to Barfly Publika. Stand outside. Look up. Right above it is Deuce. You have arrived at your destination. Now you just have to find the right staircase that leads to the front door.

Tricia Kandiah had a brush with the fashion industry before she turned f&b entrepreneur. Her current creation is Deuce, the reincarnated Coquo, which whooshed through the KL dining scene like a shooting star last year. (Barfly, by the way, is owned by her brother.) To cut to the chase, Kandiah fell for the charms of Euro dining culture and set out to bring home its surprise and delight; that uplifting experience of discovery and novelty grounded in real ingredients, fine technique and service – without the sticker shock. 

So Deuce is Kandiah’s second throw of the dice. Gone are Coquo’s enclosed entrance and leather furniture, but the beautifully and precisely wrought solid-wood counter, the well-equipped open kitchen it surrounds, and tables and inch-perfect benches remain. Sit at the kitchen counter for a private gallery view of the quietly humming team at work. Kandiah found head chef Hun Yan from Tippling Club in Singapore, and smuggled him across the Second Link. That balance nourishing fullness, tweak of sunshine and generally crisp finish in Deuce’s food is not unlike the man and his team’s laidback vibe.

Coquo might have suffered for being too foreign for Malaysians who seek comfort in the familiar, and Deuce is meant to more gently persuade us there is bounty beyond chicken rice and banana leaf. And nasi lemak.

To be sure, Kandiah hasn’t given up on Europe; not when she still travels for new degustation experiences and meets their creators, even if it means staggering back to her hotel after umpteen courses acrobatically plated morsels. Deuce has survived Valentine’s Day and will no doubt also sail through the pre-dating app ritual of Chuck Uneaten Mandarin Oranges into the Sea Day (Chap Goh Meh, the first full moon of the Chinese Lunar New Year), any one of which has your name on it. This means You.

Did we mention the bar? Deuce’s offers cocktails such as the Di’s Gin & Tonic, Russian Mermaid, Smoky Mendoza and a 40-label wine list. It's now offering a very civil daily Wine Down selection of six labels for RM68++, free-flow. We didn't try the drinks, but good thing you should already have found the place by then.

Esquire was invited by Deuce to sample: 

Cauliflower soup with smoked paprika creme fraiche and D.O. Manchego cheese
Ricotta-stuffed tortellini with pumpkin, fried sage and curry oil
Duck breast with salted duck egg crumble, spiced carrot puree, smoked yoghurt and coriander veloute 
Avocado served with pandan, coconut (kerisek) and glutinous rice

Deuce, D1-G4-6, Solaris Dutamas (Publika), Mont Kiara 50480, Kuala Lumpur. Sharing platters are priced between RM18 and RM88