The view from the sixth floor of The Gardens Hotel & Residences, coupled with the technicolour skyscape the evening has graciously offered, was beautiful. There was no rain. From afar, Wisma Telekom looked like Burj Al-Arab. The milk tea streaming along the Klang River was obviously not a sight for salivation, but like all things gau (dense), it was rich in history and once, aspirations.
One can only be distracted by that much when in Sage.
Transmitting through the generous spaces between tables, the soundscape, consisted of pattering heels, clattering utensils and lushful whispers, diminished progressively to the state of oblivion. The perfect dim played a part as well.
And there was music. The Look Of Love sans the sultry voice of Dusty Springfield. A shame actually, as the original version would have added a touch of sophistication to the overall ambiance. So, there it began, the night of covers of the classics.
As some may agree, Seal's version of Dionne Warwick's Walk On By resembles a polished 1967 Ford Mustang convertible in red. Complete with a Grammy nomination for that extra shine. It may not describe the creative direction of this French/Japanese fusion haven, but the interpretations, to be elaborated later, undoubtedly runs along the applaudable parallelism. To associate it with Kyu Sakamoto's Sukiyaki, however, is a little far-fetched.
Frank Sinatra’s Summer Wind was a personal favourite that could accompany the loneliest of wines. As far as the imagination can go, the bread could perhaps, replace her in the song. The same her that was taken by the summer wind. Soft, fresh, multi-grained brown slices aside, the combination of white bread and marinated, chopped tomatoes was delicious. A substantial sandwich, once extrapolated and laced with cheese and bacon. Apparently, imaginations do travel beyond boundaries.
Sinatra’s version was actually a cover of the original by Wayne Newton.
Remembering Astrud Gilberto’s amusing, inimitable Girl From Ipanema that opened up to the whole João Gilberto experience. An amuse-bouche?
Sage’s amuse-bouche (of the day) came in form of a spoonful gelatinous chicken with miso/sesame dressing and crunchy zucchini slices. A rich dressing that heightened the optimism of what’s to come.
Chef’s Special Of The Day; Magaki Oysters With Ponzu, Cheese And Caviar. A Japanese girl in a classic Saint Laurent number, strutting about the upper side of New York to the sounds of On The Street Where You Live. Nat King Cole’s version, not Vic Damone’s. The taste was as interesting as the imagination. The succulent oyster drenched in flavoursome ponzu was already a baring, natural masterpiece by itself.
Just found joy,
I’m as happy as a baby boy, baby boy...
Meeting Sweet Lorraine was perhaps one of Nat King Cole’s many joys. Despite being a cover of an all-time jazz favourite, it was an infectious, joyful rendition. Like meeting the much talked-about Feuillete Of Anago With Foie Gras and Artichoke Puree. Not mentioned in the menu were a generous amount of shitake mushrooms and crackling pastry (filo, perhaps) to sum up a stunning starter. A bite of the perfectly seared foie gras, combined with the rich anago, savoury artichoke puree, mushrooms and crackling texture of the pastry was sensational.
With another brand new choo-choo choy,
When I met my sweet Lorraine, Lorraine, Lorraine.
Now when it’s rainin’,
I don’t miss the sun,
Because it’s in my baby’s smile...
(Another verse from Sweet Lorraine.)
Joy is indeed infectious. Applicable to tantalising starters as well, apparently. Another starter from Sage; Cold Fedellini with Hon Maguro and Bottarga which translated to an interesting mesh between olive oil marinated bluefin tuna slices and lightly seasoned, al dente strands of pasta. A creative combination of colours and tastes that worked. Not to be forgotten were the light touches of wasabi and avocado dices. And there was the expensive caviar that made the difference.
New on the menu was the Confit Of Muscovy Duck Leg With Sauteed Scallion, apparently a replacement for the guinea fowl. Cooked to perfection, the meat was soft and flavourful. The piece of handsomely seared foie gras accessorising the duck was unexpected as it was not mentioned in the menu. A pleasant surprising indeed and as Tony Bennett would put it, "Oh, the good life...".
Choosing a Beatles song to suit the ambiance at Sage is quite challenge, to be honest. The closest that comes to mind is Michelle. Or the ever-relevant low tempo tune, And I Love Her. A slightly humorous description of the feeling towards the Rump Steal With Carrot Puree And Anchovy Sauce, this. From a cut of the Wagyu type, the meat tasted fresh and subtly sweet which contrasted well with the dense, savoury anchovy sauce. Parts of the flaky beef, with bits of fat (or collagen) still stuck to the meat, were topped with a carrot puree. Tasted almost pumpkin-like, the slightly sweet puree was a good diversion from the savoury anchovy sauce.
And I love her.
Joanna was the girl who made the man a child again, the one Scott Walker couldn't forget. "She'll always be just a tear away", he sang.
Life would have been much easier had Mr. Walker loved the Warm Chocolate Biscuit With Chestnut, Nougat and Rum Ice Cream instead, just like all Sage regulars. Apparently, this is the unofficial signature dessert that patrons come back to. The biscuit was actually embedded under a warm chocolate cake of optimal sweetness.
The Almond Blanc Manger With Mango Sorbet And Passion Fruit dessert was as sweet as the melodies of Te Quiero Dijiste. An explosion of textures; crunchy caramelised wafer, smooth crushed ice, soft manger and bits of gelatin. All of different but complementing levels of sweetness.
Pairing it with a glass of selected sweet house wine was like blending King Cole's voice to the song. Magical.
A cup of tea and a piece of the castella-like biscuit ended the impressive showcase of culinary expressions at Sage. And it would have been perfect had King Cole's Let There Be Love was played instead of the repeat of The Look Of Love cover.
Then again, a tasteful experience goes beyond music and words. It's all about the chemistry of things. And Sage excelled in that aspect.
The Gardens Residences
6th Floor, The Gardens
Mid Valley City
Lingkaran Syed Putra
59200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel:(+603) 2268 1188
* The gourmet dinner set costs RM140 nett; inclusive of a chef's special of the day, an appetizer, a main course, a dessert (excluding the house wine mentioned above) and coffee/tea.
* And to Lyrical Lemongrass, thanks for the wonderful evening of stories and laughters! I still think that Dusty Springfield's version of The Look Of Love is better than Diana Krall's. Haha!
Romantic experiences at Sage:
Cumi & Ciki