• Ronn Tan

A Raw Review: Shook! at The Starhill Dining

Hello there, it's Ronn!

A Raw Review. My column where I give my honest reviews of all the noms I have had the opportunity to try; delivering the true essence of food reviews: raw.

It's fun, casual, and simple; and I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts as much as I enjoy writing them for you.

Having spent a lot of my childhood at The Starhill (then Starhill Gallery), here's one that's close to heart and mind. Earlier this year, it was announced that the mall will reopen in the first quarter of 2021 with a new name and appearance.

The Starhill will be home to a plethora of first-ever exclusive flagship stores in Malaysia — including Balmain, Philipp Plein, Tom Ford, Stefano Ricci, and Patek Philippe as well as the first ever Eslite branch in Southeast Asia. #Exciting.

On 11 December 2020, The Starhill Dining reopened with a multitude of updates. At the Lower Ground Floor, you will find establishments such as the popular Shook!, Luk Yu Tea House, Alchemy Bar, and of course, Jogoya. In addition, Mari*Star — a new caviar seafood bar by The Marini's Group — will. be fronting the street at The Starhill.

I had the opportunity to check out Shook! and I was thoroughly impressed with the restaurant's all-new aesthetics. It's bright, spacious, and inviting; contemporary yet reminiscent of the good old days. If you're wondering, Shook! is no longer a buffet spot. The restaurant — helmed by Chef Mo and Chef Rafizan — now offers a fresh menu filled with a diverse spread of gastronomic creations. Here are my favourite dishes from my session at Shook!:

1 | Satay Enak

Appetiser alert! My meal began with satay, a local delicacy we all love and adore. Shook! prepared chicken, lamb, and beef skewers (one each) to kickstart the culinary adventure. Grilled on an open coal fire and served with chunky peanut sauce, the first things you'll notice are the vivid colours and enticing aroma.

It's easy to go into this with the idea that one can get good satay anywhere in Malaysia. However, there's just something really unique about Shook!'s concoction. Think your usual go-to but juicier, thicker, and elevated.

The lamb satay really takes the cake here. Grilled gloriously, I love how lush and succulent the meat was. The peanut sauce complemented the skewers; providing adequate heat and sweetness. Enak, indeed.

2 | Decadent Seafood Chowder

Next on this gastronomic journey is butter-poached seafood chowder — served with crispy nori crackers. charred sweet corn, and truffle oil. If you're a massive fan of seafood, anything soupy, or both (why not?), here's one for you.

Rich and hearty, the chowder had a rather unique flavour profile. The amalgamation of its light yet creamy and indulgent consistency with drops of truffle oil is really interesting. Although I'd prefer if the chowder's a tad lighter on the sapidity, the earthy truffle oil did its part to alter the flavour of the chowder.

There's no overpowering here. Expect a palatable finish and an enjoyable dish before you head to your mains. That's one way to add dimension to traditional seafood chowder.

3 | Ayam Goreng DJ Istimewa

Put your hands up if you adore fried chicken! I definitely do. The first main on the menu is crispy fried chicken. According to the culinary team at Shook!, the meat was coated in a time-honoured family blend of flour and spice before frying in a custom-made tri-ply pot.

It's easy to look at this dish and be turned away by its simplicity. However, it's exactly because of its appearance that one should be more curious about how the dish tastes and feels in the mouth. If I'm being honest, the plating first took me by surprise and I do think that it's plating — reminiscent of Shook!'s buffet day — could be better.

I love how tender and flavourful the meat was; a result of a well-preserved recipe. It's a simple dish but it does make you feel at home. It has the right amount of fat and salt for anyone to drool over. Sapid yet spiced adequately (especially when paired with the savoury mustard sauce), fried chicken is the ultimate comfort food and Shook! has done quite a commendable with their creation.

4 | Miso Lobster Linguine

Last but not definitely not least is linguine with miso-marinated fresh rock lobster. The pasta comes sprinkled with chilli flakes, spring onion, and garlic oil. What is it about this dish that warrants your attention?

Served al dente (as it should be), every fork-full of linguine was met with sufficient zest and firmness. It's easy to over-season pasta but the general consensus during the meal was that Shook!'s version had just the right amount of gusto.

Throw in bits of toothsome and mouthwatering lobsters and you have quite a refined dish. The addition of miso provided hints of sweetness and fruitiness; upping the ante on the overall experience. It's a sassy finale and not one you'll cringe at.

Have you been to Shook! before its refurbishment? If you haven't, it's now time to give the restaurant a go. I had a good experience while I was there and I'm sure you will too. I'm looking forward to more from the culinary team and I'll be returning — not just to Shook!, but also to check out the other F&B establishments at The Starhill Dining.

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