Thursday, September 3, 2009

Il Padrino. UOA Building, Jalan Dungun, KL. Swim With The Sharks or Sleep With The Fishes.

(non halal)

Don Vito Corleone, Michael Corleone and Luca Brasi. Released in 1972, Godfather the movie, remained deeply ingrained in my young, impressionable mind when I watched it ages ago. The lexicon used in the movie has been assimilated deeply into the American mind and culture while winning a lot of awards along the way. Quotes like "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse", "I don't like violence, Tom. I'm a businessman. Blood is a big expense" and "It's a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.", have worked their way into daily American language.

Filled with violent whackings and creating a huge fan club of Mafia worshipers in awe of dark, powerful underworld figures having a finger in every pie, from drugs to prostitutes and politics with their own code of ethics. Well, the ethics part is debatable. A lot of books have been written about Philosophical reflections on "Godfather" of both the Book (by Mario Puzo) and the Movie (Script by Copolla and Puzo). The central theme of the books will be Moral Agnosticism and Kantian Aesthetics, i.e. why do we find such immoral people so fascinating and is it right for us to be fascinated? Again, I digress. This is not a philosophy blog.

Damansara Heights, home of the lofty corporate figures and well heeled politicians. I have yet to explore this area fully, and yet Boo_licious, Cumi and Ciki and Sean had been to Il Padrino, which prompted me to punch in UOA building in my GPS (a Godsend, for blur heads like me). After a short drive in a relatively uncongested Sunday Night traffic, I arrived without any wrong turns and exits. It was really easy to locate.

Parking was relatively easy at night, but can imagine that it would be hell during office hours due to the large number of offices located in that area.

The name Il Padrino means Godfather in Italian, and the owners of this restaurant are probably great fans of this movie. Pictures of Marlon Brando playing the role of Don Corleone adorned the walls of this restaurant and also the menu. The restaurant itself is fairly pleasant, high ceilings, and open kitchen (which is the trend among Italian Restaurants in KL nowadays). The bottles in the bar are illuminated from below and stands out as the centerpiece of the whole restaurant.

The theme is glossy and industrial with high chairs spilling out to the chromed steeled balcony accompanied by high tables. In general, the ambiance of the place was fairly pleasant. There wasn't a large crowd there on a Sunday night, and the noise level was pleasantly low. I sat at the balcony/terrace and it was beautifully breezy and pleasant.

I started off with the Ravioli di spinaci (Spinach Ravioili) and Il Padrino served it with Sage and butter which is the Lombardy version of this beautiful pasta. It may be served with Ragu Sauce, or Tomato based sauce and there is even a cheeseless Jewish version. The Ravioli I had was al dente and the filling was well sealed. Spinach and Ricotta dominated the taste of the filling and the Sage flavoured sauce was rather rich but satisfying. Luckily there were only 6 pieces of Ravioli, which was probably the maximum I can handle at a single sitting.

For mains I had the Pan fried Chicken Breast with Buffalo Mozzarella served with Asparagus and Balsamic Reduction. The moisture in the breast was well sealed during frying. Good, but not exceptional.

This is a worrying trend for diners in KL, market driven restaurants with an emphasis on casualness and affordability may make the restaurants go down the road of being unadventurous and boring. The menu is generally safe and faultless, probably appealing to the occasional diners.

After reading Nic's post on La Strada in Singapore I realized something was missing here. I wished there there was some opulence and imagination in the menus of Italian restaurants here in KL to cater for the slightly more discerning or jaded diner. Don't get me wrong. The Italian Restaurants here are generally good. But how many Trattoria inspired restaurants do you need in a city? How many wood fired Pizzerias can the square kilometer of the Golden Triangle accomodate? Where's the cannoli?

The food at Il Padrino was good but the food failed to dazzle. It has not realised it's full potential despite having all the necessary settings for ascension to greater heights. Great location in an affluent neighborhood, beautiful ambiance and interior and a team of wonderfully friendly and knowledgeable staff.

They too have opted to swim with the sharks to avoid landing on the seabed and sleeping with the fishes. They too have taken the safe road. It's understandable that after investing so much money in a venture, the main worry is to recoup the investment and get some profit for their effort. But how about offering the choice to diners? Pasta with shaved truffles at a different price for a start?

For dessert, I had sfogliante di mille foglie. The phyllo pastry (which actually originated from Greece) was not as brittle as I would have expected. They also serve Tartufo here, but I was still healing from being stung by a bad experience elsewhere to order it that night.

On a parting note, is it better to swim with the sharks and be part of a school of mediocre tiger sharks (which are not exactly at the top of the food chain) or dare to be different and evolve into an elegant Blue Whale?

Just an after after thought addition. While replying to Thule's comment, I pointed out some items from the starter menu from La Scala and I chose an Italian joint in Bangkok due to it's proximity: 1. Sauteed scallops with roasted pumpkin mousse, goose liver confit and thyme sauce
2. Alaskan king crab and rocket with parmesan, porcini and aioli... Sigh!......

Lot 50 G-1, Wisma UOA
Jalan Dungun
Damansara Heights
50490 Kuala Lumpur

Tel: +


Chalawan said...

Shouldn't it be lofty politicians and well heeled corporate figures? :D Love your obtuse sense of humour. The Cathedral has been revamped. Come over.

thule a.k.a leo said...

you finally ventured out of city centre... although, still KL :)
FYI... I'm sure you know about product differentiation. This applies to human too! Why someone is so immensely popular while the rest struggle to succeed, eventhough they are in the same industry & at the same time??? It's all about standing out from the rest of the pack...
So my friend... IMHO... be the elegant blue whale!!!

Sean said...

it's the same for many cuisines. most chinese, japanese and italian outlets here fail to raise any eyebrows with their menus. which makes it fun to seek out the handful that do.
but maybe what's most important is for a restaurant to excel in whatever it does serve. a great spaghetti carbonara is more satisfying than a mediocre maltagliati bottarga.

Paranoid Android said...

@ Chala : Trust you to be able to dig out the quips.

@ Thule : That's why KL lags behind Bangkok in gastronomical delights, nobody dares to take the risk. A sample of starters at La Scala, BKK: 1. Sauteed scallops with roasted pumpkin mousse, goose liver confit and thyme sauce or 2. Alaskan king crab and rocket with parmesan, porcini and aioli.

@ Sean: Agreed. But even marvelous things can be done to enhance the humble carbonara with a bit of imagination can be transformed into a delightful dish.

550ml jar of faith said...

Re: why do we find such immoral people so fascinating and is it right for us to be fascinated? What else could possibly enthrall so?? BTW are you on Twitter? Would love to follow yr Kantian musings!

CUMI & CIKI said...

so u went huh? why never call me:P

Paranoid Android said...

@ 550mls: He he... You can follow me at @paranoidandroix but no philosophy tweets. Mainly more mundane stuff like what's for dinner? :D But you can follow Nigel Warburton's (who lectures at UK Open U) podcasts at and his twitter @philosophybites.

@ Cumi&Ciki : Didn't know you want to go ma. Would have appreciated your company! Be back after 21st Sep! Let's plan some makan thingy.

rokh said...

wanted to try this out the last when i passed by, now that it was kind of just-another-italian-restaurant, i have to think twice.:P

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