Opium KL @ Changkat Bukit Bintang

Exuding the allure of mid-18th century Shanghainese era, Opium is the latest brainchild of Werner Kuhn, a renowned German chef based in Malaysia who owns a conglomerates of restaurants and bars at Changkat Bukit Bintang including El Cerdo, The Steakhouse KL and the now defunct Werner’s on Changkat which has since paved way for the opening of this oriental-themed restaurant at the same location.

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As the name implies, Opium is a throwback to the olden days where opium dens were prevalent in many parts of the world. The management certainly put a lot of thoughts in conceiving the restaurant’s interior with intricate wooden carvings set against the backdrop filled with dimly lit yellow lights and raw bricks.

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“We went to the extent of sourcing out paraphernalia such as smoking pipes and lamps to replicate the look and feel of an opium den. Even the cloned opium cakes were specially imported from Vietnam,” Benjamin Tan, Marketing Executive of Werner’s Group said.

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First time customers would be marvelling at the sight of an opium bed prominently placed in one of their dining room while vintage decorative pieces such as porcelain teapots, gourd-shaped urn and brass lion head door knocker were all nicely lined up on a wooden shelf, adding an authentic touch to its overall ambiance.

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While the restaurant strives to be as faithful as possible to its oriental concept, the menu however, took a more contemporary approach with a zest of creativity in making some of its line up more distinctive. The Fern Leaf Salad with Grilled Prawns (RM 24.00) was a palate stimulating appetiser with a mixture of tangy and spicy flavour from the use of ginger flower, shallots, coconut, sambal and lime juice to cook the wild fern leaves with.

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A departure from conventional Chinese-driven menu, Opium’s Satay (RM 18.00) came with a choice of either chicken or beef. The pleasingly grilled skewered meat was made up of lean meat and has an easily-chewed and chunky texture. Taste wise, the satay marinade was spot on with a sweetness that augurs well with our taste buds.

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Opium also serves a range of snacks housed in a bamboo steamer such as the delectable Lemongrass Sticks (RM 12.00) made from chicken, squid, lemongrass and turmeric.

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The Crab Cakes (RM 18.00) also yields a satisfying bite with real crab meat fillings infused with herbs.

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The restaurant’s dim sum offerings were on a par with those serve at dedicated dim sum parlours. Highlights include the skilfully crafted Phoenix Dumpling (RM 12.00) made with a mixture of chicken, squid, prawn and coriander and garnished with crab roe.

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Putting a twist to our traditional spicy meat dish, Opium uses Wagyu beef for its beef rendang (RM 38.00) that supposedly yield a more tenderised and flavourful meat as a result of slow cooking it for several hours with coconut milk and spices. The flavour of the rendang was not particularly spicy to accommodate to a larger audience but it has a pleasant aftertaste to liven things up.

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Opium’s Wanton Noodle was a bold interpretation of the ubiquitous Cantonese dish (RM 28.00) with the inclusion of crunchy fried spinach instead of leafy vegetables to give a crackling bite texture to contrast with the bouncy thin noodles. The minced chicken was also something uncommon but a welcome addition to this modern take on our traditional fare.

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Beef lovers will find Opium’s Beef Brisket and Tendon Stew (RM 35.00) a hearty dish. Cooked with soya sauce, oyster sauce, star anise, cinnamon, dried chill king oyster mushrooms, the connective tissue and tendons has a soft and chewy texture.

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Cod Fish in Curry Sauce (RM 38.00) has a flavour that will connect easily with curry lovers. Instead of the hit-me-in-my-face spiciness level, the flavour was somewhat more refined, emphasising on the mingling taste of its aromatic coconut cream sauce with fragrant curry leaves.

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Opium also carved out a sinfully delicious dessert called Cheesy Banana Fritters (RM 18.00). A creative twist to our usual ‘pisang goreng’, the fried banana was topped with their house-made ice-cream with chunks of banana bits inside and cheddar cheese flakes.

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The Sago Gula Melaka (RM 15.00) and its signature Opium Ice Glass (RM 18.00) were sweet delights that are not to be missed as well. These concoctions of coconut milk with palm sugar are bound to be a favourite in anyone’s list.

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Opium’s cocktail menu consisting of a rousing mix of oriental tea with alcoholic components proved to be a successful endeavour with KL’s prolific bar consultant, Joshua Ivanovic crafting out unique blends that fit into the restaurant overall theme. From the palate-pleasing Peking Man (RM 32.00) made from vodka, pu-erh tea, longan, lime juice, egg white, and orange bitters to the vigorous Eastern Aviation (RM 32.00) mixed from gin,black cherry liquor and fresh lemon juice and picture worthy Ti-Lung Bramble (RM 32.00) – gin, lemon juice, dragon fruit and crème de cassias, each creation came with its own distinctive taste.

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Opium is also introducing their version of Happy Hour aptly titled ‘Zen Hours’ where customers can enjoy a special promotion (1 poppy flat bread and 1 pot of tiger) worth RM 38.00 from 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. daily.

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Apparently, the name ‘Opium’ was inspired by a story about a man from Thailand who came and opened a takeaway pizza store in New York. He named his store ‘Phuk-It’ which means ‘come in, grab it and go’ in his native language. When he did a radio advertisement, people started taking pictures in front of his outlet. To his surprise, he found out that they mistakenly pronounced his store name with the letter ‘F’ thus generating an unexpected publicity among the locals. Hoping the garner the same shocking effect, the name ‘Opium’ was picked since opening a restaurant with a drug-related name in a Muslim country is also an eye-opener.

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Opium is also synonymous to being a highly addictive drug and the owner wish to have the same level of addictiveness for his food and beverage that will warrant repeated visits.

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Curious customers may also want to know the story behind the theme ‘Eat. Drink. Man. Woman’. Much like the acclaimed movie by Ang Lee with the same name, Werner Kuhn shares similarity with the protagonist where the traditional thinking chef with a father-knows-best-attitude is challenged by his daughter who has a more liberal thinking.

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Stepping into Opium is akin to an experience waiting to be discovered. It is seductive with an alluring charm that bounds to captivate while its contemporary take on local cuisines and exotic cocktails will tease and surprise thus putting a good reason to pay a visit to this exquisite dining establishment.

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Opium KL
No. 50 Changkat Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur

Business Hour: 4:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.

Tel: 03-2142 5670

Website http://opiumkl.com

 

 

 

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