I have been to the KLPAC (Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre) many times and each time I drive through that lush park known as “Sentul Park” with its narrow winding road flanked by gorgeous matured (read: tall, huge & shady) trees, I hold my breath at the majestic beauty of this green haven in the middle of the city. It’s as if I have been transported from the busy dusty Jalan Ipoh behind me into this serene tropical oasis.
So, recently we went through that same narrow winding road but instead of heading to the KLPAC, we went a bit further in, just before the koi pond, Samira by Asia Terrace welcomed us. There’s this rustic brick wall with the welcoming signage and from the entrance, walk through a short maze and then a few more steps, you will be greeted by this beautiful restaurant, up on a little slope. To reach the restaurant, walk through a wooden bridge over a pond with golden shimmers on the surface fueled by the last remaining rays of the setting sun … what a sight!
Built using dark woods and with a wide serambi (verandah) surrounding it, Samira is an arresting structure, especially in the golden glow of dusk. Ornate gilded lamps are scattered on the serambi injecting an appealing romantic vibe in the air. The interior is intimately dim, thanks to the dark wooden paneling but one side of the wall is “carved” with ledges holding flickering lights… just perfect for warm cosy meals.
We started off with a Yam Seafood Salad, which according to our two lovely hosts, Joanna and Josephine Tan, is a new item and is not on the menu yet. Long thin strips of yam, fried to a crisp, were atop chunks of poached seafood and tossed with a piquant tangy dressing made from lime juice, fish sauce and sugar. Of course, no Thai salad is complete without sprinklings of chopped peanuts and lethal chilli padi and thin slivers of Bombay onion. As if this was not enough to “open up” our palate, another kerabu came right after – Pomelo Seafood Salad (RM24). Similar dressing and seafood… but instead of the fried yam, fresh pomelo gives this a refreshing change. I can’t choose between the two – I love both! If you are not partial towards yam or pomelo, go for the Catfish Salad – a mountain of crispy crunchy catfish flakes which had to be broken up and eaten together with the tangy slivers of young mangoes, Bombay onions, chilli padi and carrots – it’s like a fireworks of flavours and textures exploding on the tongue!
Yam Seafood Salad
Pomelo Seafood Salad
Traditional Thai Thick Tomyum with Seafood (RM20) is not for the faint-hearted. This is a hearty thick spicy tomyum, loaded abundantly with Thai spices and herbs… all those fragrant stuff that go into making a lethal soup. Prawns, squids, fish fillets give the tomyum a strong umami rendition. The only little snag was: it would have been nicer if it had been piping hot – that would have multiplied the “shiok” factor tremendously.
Thai Thick Tomyum with Seafood
Thai Massaman Beef Curry
The Thai Massaman Beef Curry (RM28), River Prawns with Lemongrass Sauce, Grilled Norwegian Salmon with Basil Leaves, Grilled Fish Fillet (RM32) and Spicy Chicken with Chef’s Special Sauce (RM22) stood out for me. Beware of the Massaman Beef Curry because it will cause you to pile on the rice – the thick spicy yet slightly-sweet curry, rich with spices and cooked with tender beef slices was addictive. I give them additional points for the chunks of potatoes in the curry – simply delicious with the absorbed flavours of the curry!
Causing lots of “ooh’s” and “aahh’s” was the River Prawns dish as a few massive prawns were propped to attention by stalks of lemongrass. Impressed by its visual presentation, the taste did not disappoint either. The prawns were very fresh, with lots of roe and the lemongrass sauce while aromatic, did not overwhelm the marine sweetness of the prawns.
Grilled Norwegian Salmon with Basil Leaves
I love basil leaves for their sharp assail to the tongue and nostrils. While some people abhor this, I always enjoy any dish that uses this fragrant herb. So, when the Grilled Norwegian Salmon came with a thick sauce made from basil leaves, I dug in and truly enjoyed this dish. The basil leaves balance out the fatty salmon perfectly while the delicate mixed-herbs sauce gives it an authentic Thai twist.
Grilled Fish Fillet
The Grilled Fish Fillet is similar to otak-otak but it’s grilled covered with foil instead of being steamed. The spice paste enveloping the fish fillet has all the nuances of a good otak-otak version. I scraped off all the fish and paste from the corners of the aluminium foil pocket – not a scrap was left of the delicious stuff.
We (my fellow diners and I) like the Spicy Chicken as the Chef’s Delicious Sauce tastes suspiciously like the traditional ayam percik sauce … full of fragrant spices in thick coconut milk – a combination that seldom goes awry.
Thai Tom Kha with Chicken
Pineapple Lamb in Coconut Sauce
The Traditional Thai Tom Kha with Chicken (RM16) and Pineapple Lamb in Coconut Sauce (RM30) had meats cooked in coconut milk. A bit sweet on the side, the pale looking sauces somehow lack a punch – I prefer my sauces to be more vibrant, colour and taste-wise.
Pineapple Fried Rice
We tried other Thai one-dish staples too like the Pineapple Fried Rice (RM18) and Pad Thai (RM16) – both were executed well. The rice was fluffily fragrant, each grain well separated and the fried flat pad thai noodles were not oily and came half-wrapped in an omelette blanket.
Pan-fried Bananas with Ice Cream
Fresh Mango with Sticky Rice
For desserts, the Pan-Fried Bananas with Ice Cream (RM12) and Fresh Mango with Sticky Rice (RM18) ended our meal on a sweet note. The bananas were a teeny bit over-riped, therefore it tended to be sweeter, especially when eaten with the ice cream. They’ve got the texture of the sticky rice just right and the accompanying coconut cream, while rich and creamy, wasn’t too sweet which was excellent to go with the fresh mangoes.
For beverages, wines, cocktails and typically-Thai mocktails and juices are available. Check out their Asian Terrace Mojito, Inner Sense and Virgin Mojito, prices ranging from RM13-22. I like anything lemongrass, so my favourite’s the Passion Fruit Lemongrass and Lemongrass Juice!
Samira by Asian Terrace
Lot 268 Sentul Park
Off Jalan Ipoh
51100 Kuala Lumpur
RSVP No: +6012-9213880
email: reservation@samiraasi[email protected]