Kuala Lumpur – All restaurant locations have history. This one is steeped in it. Housed in the historic Lee Rubber Building from the 1930s, Else Kuala Lumpur is a design-forward destination hotel concentrating on holistic healing, tranquillity, and nature at the heart of Chinatown. Now, there is a good place to eat. Yellow Fin Horse has been in the works for two years, but boy, does good things come to those who wait.
Ingredients are key at Yellow Fin Horse, paying homage to elemental cooking that uses open fire, preservation, fermenting, curing, and aging. Time is utilised as an ingredient. Yellow Fin Horse is rooted in a profound insight into the ingredients used, taking cues from its surroundings in Chinatown.
“We make everything here in-house. Our cuisine is entirely ingredient-driven and goes back to a close-circle ethos of using produce for what it is along with its by-products,”
says chef Jun, who leads a beautiful open-concept kitchen alongside her strong team of five BOH chefs.
Wong and her handpicked team champion bold flavours and technical excellence without restricting themselves to a singular cuisine, a breath of fresh air in contrast to the expected Malaysian narratives.
Exploring a time before technology, primitive cooking takes centre stage where YFH delivers a medley of dishes treated with minimal intervention and marked by clear intentionality.
At its core, Yellow Fin Horse constantly explores elemental cooking. The open fire is the primary source of inspiration; time is used as an ingredient, along with a forward-thinking approach that combines gastronomy and culture.
“Fine dining was all I knew. The intensity and rigour shaped me, but it also forced me to acknowledge that it’s not a sustainable path to continue on. I knew that if I stepped out on my own, I wanted to create a space that would be as kind to its people and the planet as it would be to its guests. I wanted the technical finesse of fine dining with none of the fussiness. Hospitality is fun, and it’s nourishing,” adds Wong.
We began with Longan sourdough with smoked creamy butter. The team should consider packaging the butter into bottles to sell, oh-so-good! No words like “in-house” or “housemade” are on the menu because everything is made in-house.
Next was crudo of local Malabar snapper, cucumber, dill buttermilk. The closed-circle ethos was evident here, where the cucumber dill buttermilk was the by-product of smoked butter.
Seemingly simple Potayytoe potato chips and smoked potato dip (top left) that was highly addictive. And beneath the bed of finely sliced radish and onions sits a “Sinaloa style” aguachile with Japanese obsiblue prawn dressed in light coconut milk (bottom right)
The restaurant would get as much of its produce from local farms like this light and refreshing Summer Salad with Cameron Highlands purple corn, pickled pumpkin, raspberries, and garden herbs
After that, as a sign of the deeper ambitions at play here. Perfectly executed Miyazaki char siew short rib charred to a thrilling shade of rust and caramelised brown with YFH ‘chicken rice chilli’ inspired by local chicken rice. The meat has a depth of flavour and a crispness to the fat that crunches and melts. One might wish to lie down after such a glorious dish…
At which point, perhaps you should take refuge in the charred sugarloaf cabbage with sesame ginger gratin
And then there is the genuinely spectacular Binchotan charcoal grilled locally sourced whole baby bass with kelp gravy. We spooned the sauce and polish off the dish. We would if we could lick the plate or suck on the bone.
Desserts are equally well executed with Cashew dairy-free curd with burnt citrus fruits and honeycomb. Every ingredient holds together well in this sweet breakfast in a bowl.
The cocktail programme is inspired by local flavours, named in the local language, like Mentega, Rempah, and Nasi Bakar. Curated by award-winning Proof & Company, a selection of natural wines, homemade kombuchas, and sparkling wine is available. Homemade coffee raspberry kombucha and smoked tomato, strawberry and tea infusions replace coffee and tea selections.
And the service is a true joy. After all, Yellow Fin Horse is in the business of looking after people as much as the care and attention to the treatment of ingredients. Most importantly, there is a menu that is certain of its mission. That’s exactly what Yellow Fin Horse did.
View this post on Instagram
Address: 4th Floor, Else Kuala Lumpur, 145, Jalan Tun HS Lee, 50000 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 6 PM to 12 AM. Closed on Monday and Tuesday