Bref by Darren Chin is probably the most exciting restaurant opening in Kuala Lumpur in 2018. In a city pretty much bereft of outposts by foreign celebrity chefs (okay, there’s a Nobu at KLCC, but, IMHO, it is a pale shadow of its counterparts in other parts of the world), unlike Singapore or Bangkok, KL thus relies on talented local chefs like Darren Chin to set the benchmark in international-class culinary excellence for Malaysia.
Darren Chin, of course, first came to the notice of local foodies with DC by Darren Chin ([Kuala Lumpur] DC Restaurant by Darren Chin), with his straightforward, precise interpretation of French classics, and use of excellent quality ingredients, locally-sourced where possible. The restaurant was a runaway success from the time of its opening in late-2014, and is often touted as Malaysian’s best fine dining restaurant to-date.
With Bref, Darren Chin branches out with a more casual, relaxed spin-off of DC, although it did look and feel more sophisticated than the “vision of a contemporary Parisian bistro” we’d pictured in our minds from reading its pre-opening description. We started the evening off with a Mimosa and a Bellini.
As in DC, Bref serves Darren Chin’s little French croissants - the best in KL, bar none, although one needs to pay for the croissants here: RM12 for 3 pieces, whereas DC serves them gratis. Still, a small price to pay for these dainty little morsels of buttery-deliciousness.
What we had:
Italian burrata, with Hollandaise & mandarin, pickled sardine fillets & fresh purple basil
I love burrata and would eat it with practically anything. Not so sure about the pickled sardine fillets here, though. I’d have gone for “sweet” (e.g. peaches, honey) rather than sour to accompany the cheese.
Chef Han’s Caesar salad, with crispy beef cocina
I don’t know what they did to the beef - but those wispy, wafer-thin leaves of crisp beef were absolutely divine, and with an umami flavour and texture which lifted the otherwise run-of-the-mill Caesar salad to a whole new level altogether. It was one of the daily specials when we were here - do NOT miss it if it’s available.
Salt-baked beets, glazed in beet jus, and served with Brillat-Savarin triple cream cheese
Spaghettini with fresh red prawns from Kuala Selangor, tomato passata and fresh basil
The intense, almost lobster-like flavour from the red prawn stock, thickened with passata really made the dish. Absolutely delicious.
Shanshui free-range chicken slow-roasted in hay, wild mushrooms in sauce Vin Jaune, fregola from Sardinia, and chestnut puree
Plated at the table personally by the Chef de Cuisine Lim Wei Han himself, it was a feast for one’s eyes as much as for the palate.
White chocolate ice-cream, vanilla panna cotta, macerated summer berries, meringue, dusted with matcha (green tea powder)
AOP French cheese platter, with Chiangmai wild honey, dried apricots, toasted almonds, raisins, and water biscuits
Very satisfactory dining experience here. Love the convivial feeling in the dining room: there was a baby shower, and a small birthday party group at the other tables in this 40-seater restaurant, lending the place an almost festive atmosphere.
Bref by Darren Chin
26A, Lorong Datuk Sulaiman 1
Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 77315032
Opening hours: 6pm till late, Mon-Sat. Closed on Sunday