Having drove through Changkat Bukit Bintang numerous time, these vintage Chinese posters caught my eyes. Could it be a brand new Chinese restaurant or a dim sum restaurant? I made a mental note to check out this place someday.
The visit finally happened when we found ourselves sitting by the al-fresco dining area of Opium on a fine Thursday evening. Opium is the name of this new establishment, and it is Werner Kuhn’s latest experiment, after the success of El Cerdo, The Steakhouse and Dining in the Dark KL.
Opium is a cool bar cum restaurant with a stunning Chinese opium den theme. The vintage furniture and dark, intimate setting create a cool atmosphere unlike anywhere else.
I was told that Werner and his team members flew all the way to Vietnam to source some of the decorative items such as those China lanterns, oriental theme windows with stained glass and even the wait staff’s uniform.
The restaurant is divided into a few sections: cocktail bar area, communal dining area, personal couple style den area with veils and rose room located at the back of the premise. The communal area is spotted with a wall of shelves displaying the custom-made Chinese ceramics traditionally used to store Chinese wines such as nu er hong, gao liang, etc. It sure looks and feels like a Jackie Chan movie scene.
Just like Werner’s other sought-after outlets, the same care and attention to details is devoted to Opium.
Beers and wines are served in traditional Chinese wine pots and patrons will drink it from a bowl.
What makes Opium worth visiting is the extensive cocktail list, specially crafted by Joshua Ivanovie, KL’s most sought-after bar consultant. I had the tea-themed cocktail Peking Man (RM32++) which contained vodka, pu-er tea, longan, lime juice, egg white, and orange bitters.
I also could not resist having the Ti-Lung Bramble (RM32++), concocted with gin, lemon, dragon fruit, and crème de cassis as it came highly recommended by our friends. Both cocktails were absolutely delicious – Peking Man exhibited many varied flavours with a beautiful creamy texture due to the egg white, while Ti-Lung Bramble was smooth and fruity but potent enough to leave me feeling tipsy.
For non-alcoholic drinks, Opium’s specialties Mango Assam Boi (RM15++) and Calamansi Apple Ginger (RM15++) were highly recommended. The “mouth feel” was full and rich, with a fresh fruity flavour that was so refreshing.
Lamb patties (RM18) – braised lamb, camembert cheese, and sambal mayonnaise
The lamb patties that we ordered were so moist and fork-tender, and the braising sedated most of the gaminess from the lamb which is a plus point for me. The combination of sambal and mayonnaise can be addictive – I was so tempted to order a huge plate of fries so that I could wipe the sambal mayonnaise clean.
Their hearty lamb soup was the perfect comfort food on a chilly evening. The combination of lamb and vegetables added great flavour to the soup.
Fern leaf salad with grilled prawns (RM24) – wild fern leaves, prawns, sambal, ginger flower, shallots, coconut, lime juice
The fern leaves (sayur paku) of the salad were cooked just right – neither too soft nor too fibrous. I liked how Opium KL turned it into a salad dish with a versatile blend of fresh herbs and bright flavours.
The beef satay (RM18) came accompanied with peanut sauce, cucumber, onions, and rice cakes
The cod fish in curry sauce (RM38) was my favourite main dish in Opium! It was such a delicate and simple dish but packed a punch in terms of flavours! The snow-white, tender fillet that flakes beautifully went really well with the creamy and rich curry sauce.
We have had wagyu beef many times but wagyu rendang (RM38) is a first! The wagyu beef showed wonderful fork-tender quality. All main dishes came with an option of lotus leaf buns or poppy seed rice. For us, the cod fish matched perfectly with the poppy seed rice whereas the beef rendang went really well with the buns.
Crispy banana fritters served with aged cheddar, and banana ice cream
Their banana fritters (RM18) were also the best that I have ever eaten! With a comforting combination of sweet and salty, soft and crispy, hot and cold; this was a sure winner.
Opium ice glass (RM 18) – shaved ice, grass jelly, water chestnuts, basil seeds, peanuts, corn, mung bean paste, coconut milk, gula melaka, and coconut ice cream
Showcasing an original combination of flavours and textures, the ice glass was perfect for the balmy Malaysian weather.
Opium: Eat Drink Man Woman
50, Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
Daily, 4pm-1am (2am on Fridays & Saturdays). Tel: 03-2142-5670