Ben’s Pavilion Kuala Lumpur: Best New Restaurant of the Year?

Frank and I have regular date nights. While it’s lovely to savour a home cooked meal then curl up on the couch together enjoying one of the movies from his ginormous collection, it’s also important for us to occasionally dine out, do some window shopping, soak in the busy city atmosphere etc etc. Seeing that our first date was in Pavilion some 18 months+ ago, it’s only natural that we frequent that place. And last night was one of those nights.

Not kidding about the DVD collection and it's still growing....

Since the Time Out Kuala Lumpur Food Awards, I have made a mental note of which restaurants to visit, and last night we picked Ben’s Pavilion KL, as it took out a gong for Best New Restaurant of the year. Now I’m not a self proclaimed food critic, though many years of living in a city with great produce and overwhelming choices of quality restaurants, my tastebuds, I guess I could say have been spoilt. The less than desirable experience at another one of BIG Group outlets, Plan B, a few months ago was still etched in my memory (long story short, poached eggs were runny white with cooked yolk, I mean… how do you even achieve that?!), we walked into Ben’s not quite sure of where to place our expectations.

The outlet itself is located on level 6 of Pavilion (actually, right next to Al-Amar who won Best Middle Eastern cuisine and Kampachi for Best Japanese Cuisine, coincidence much?), Frank was impressed by the giant lamp smack bang in the middle of the entrance. Decor was simplistic and easy on the eyes, the lighting was just comfortable, we didn’t check out the outdoor area though.

We were confronted by an extensive menu. When I say extensive, we took over 15 minutes before deciding on what to order. Because both of us were suitably starved, we decided to order some nibbles while continuing to study the menu.

Onion rings with Dubious Aioli

I had a strange craving for onion rings so I decided to follow my heart. Though have you ever seen onion rings cut so thick? The batter was just right and addictive but because the onion pieces were too large for my small mouth I have to cut in pieces, causing the batter to just crumble in the process. The Aioli was weird, I couldn’t get the taste of garlic but there was a sourish undertone that almost taste like off milk. Frank asked for extra side of just plain mayo but they still gave us the same thing. So we just did without.

Nevermind….. we were promptly distracted by this.

Would you like more Nachos with your cheese?

This was the saving grace. The corn chips were literally drowning in oozy Mozarella cheese, and the tomato salsa. We fought for the last piece, Frank won. And he wanted another serve. Oh boy.

We finally ordered our mains while working through the Nachos and Frank opted for the Portobello Mushroom Burger but was told they have sold out of this dish. So he picked the Wild Mushroom Spaghetini instead. They also ran out of Heineken by this point (7:30pm).

Wild Mushroom Spaghetini with Lemon Zest and Truffle Oil

The dish would have been a winner if there wasn’t so much salt, like it was going out of fashion. The flavours of truffle oil permeated and lemon zest lifted. Way too much cream too.

Soft Shell Crabs Spaghetini with Curry Leaves and Chili Padi (?)

Again, looks really promising! Yet another cream based pasta, but this time spiked with curry powder with fragrance of curry leaves, I liked it, almost addictive. Pasta was also cooked right except for a small congealed piece. They were generous with the soft shell crabs which would have been nice if they weren’t overly fried. At the end there was this much left.

Youch!!

It wasn’t terrible, but I don’t think it deserves the gong. Personally, we have been to Brotzeit KL which was also shortlisted and were more satisfied with our meals there. However, the concept is good, and abovementioned are easy things to fix, so hopefully they continue to improve. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to visit other winners and hope not to be disappointed again.

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15 thoughts on “Ben’s Pavilion Kuala Lumpur: Best New Restaurant of the Year?

  1. Not going back. Ever. The only saving grace was the bowl of cheesy nachos.

    Everything else was below-average. And if this is The Best in KL I’m worried about what The Worst has to offer.

    2/10.

    And it would take a lot to get me back in that door.

    The reviews lied. This place is nothing special.

    The company made up for the average bill of fare.

    Er. And no Heineken! *SCREAM!!!!*

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