“There’s no hill there!”, my mother insisted.
“Yes, there is!”, I shot back.
My Mum didn’t relent: “I worked in that neighbourhood for years and I’m telling you, there’s no hill there!”
I sighed. I gave it one last shot: “I’m very sure the car went UPHILL before we arrived at the restaurant. It’s behind the Philippines Embassy.”
“Ahhh! Behind the Philippines Embassy! Why didn’t you say so? Yes, there’s a small hill there.”
And that was my early-morning conversation with my Mum. What triggered this exchange? Where I was the night before; at a lovely French restaurant called Maison Française, indeed atop a small hill not too far from Kuala Lumpur’s iconic Petronas Twin Towers. I was very excited with this discovery and I had to share my experience with someone… and my Mum was first in line!
Maison Française (or French House) is a French fine-dining establishment, housed in a renovated historic mansion in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, a stone’s throw from the KLCC. It has three levels: a poolside terrace for parties; a second level where the restaurant/bar is located; and a lounge upstairs. It has arguably Kuala Lumpur’s most extensive list of French wines: 150 premium wines in total; and a true gem of a chef, Franck Lamache, who has worked with some of France’s culinary masters including Alain Ducasse.
I arrived to find a plain, white-washed mansion, with the bright lights from the restaurant streaming through the large windows. Inside, a cosy bar awaited. From here, I could see the kitchen staff and Chef Lamache busy at work. I loved the bright, open spaces, punctuated every so often by a piece of art. Contemporary, luxurious and understated were words that sprang to mind. I couldn’t wait to get started!
My dining experience at Maison Française
The waiter came to our table with a bottle of St. Emilion. A rich ruby colour and a full palate of ripe fruit, chocolate, a hint of tobacco and silky smooth undertones greeted me on my first sip. Divine! Not long after, a basket of bread was served along with a light, fluffy cucumber mousse: a delicate start.
The first appetiser arrived soon after: a Provençal vegetable terrine with crispy goat cheese. The colourful vegetable terrine with its fresh citrussy flavours was perfectly paired with the mild yet flavourful deep-fried goat cheese. I loved the subtle blend of flavours and the clever use of textures.
This was followed by my favourite dish of the night: grilled cod coupled with home-made mini tagliatelle. The grilled cod was beautifully complemented by a light buttery sauce whilst the home-made tagliatelle was nothing short of brilliant!
The main course consisted of seared duck with vegetables and garlic, and a red wine sauce. The duck was prepared superbly, creating just the right texture.
Before long, our dessert arrived: a delicate raspberry bavarois with matching raspberry caviar. The caviar was a stroke of genius: it pops in your mouth releasing rich raspberry flavours. I was impressed!
After our meal, Chef Lamache dropped by our table for a chat. I’ve met many top chefs around the world including Ferran Adría (El Bullí) and the Roca Brothers (Celler de Can Roca), and they all have one thing in common (well, aside from their boundless passion for food): their innate ability to market their culinary concepts. I love watching how they do it. Language is not a barrier. Their passion for their craft and how they express it is a universal language that anyone would understand. Before you know it, you’re drawn into their story and you’ve fallen in love with the creations even before that first bite! Chef Lamache was no different. His twinkling eyes, spirited tone and exuberant arm gestures told us a story that exuded passion and romance. He is one with his craft, and it was magnificent to see.
I left the French House at the top of the hill, deeply impressed and truly inspired.
Kuala Lumpur is, in my book, one of the great culinary capitals in Asia. Chef Lamache has definitely succeeded in bringing dollops of fine French flair to the city’s already colourful culinary landscape. If you’re looking to indulge yourself with some French haute cuisine, head for Maison Française!
Note: a huge thank you goes to Maison Française for their wonderful hospitality. An even bigger thank you goes to U Mei Teh from CC Food Travel, for generously contributing her photos – my camera was having a bad day! As always, all views expressed above are mine, and mine only.