A culinary meditation at Il Tempio.

Also guest blogging at Backseat Radio: An ode to the great Wainwright-McGarrigle family.

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Snuggled at the edge of the jungle just a few minutes from the modernised city of Kuala Lumpur is a soothing temple of comfortable blue walls and running waters. Living amongst the peaceful setting, however, are not praying monks, but a fine serving of Contemporary Italian cuisine and a Picasso of food that makes the most meticulous food composition for the visiting diners.

Il Tempio means ‘the temple’ in Italian, and it is put together with structural and conceptual designs inspired by elements of Asian temples. The restaurant built itself around the natural setting and opens out to the neighbouring tropical enclave.

The main dining area is the veranda, which is a replica of the ones available in the Thai temples for monks to pray in. Coinciding with the blue theme are cascading water walls and a staircase fountain, which during Valentine’s Day, waiters set up tables in to serve food to the diners. Il Tempio is also equipped with an open concept kitchen, where diners can watch the house chef Daniele Sarno, going at it with all his live cookery action.

Being one of the 28 participating restaurants for the 2008 Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF), Il Tempio has whipped up a full course menu of its signature dishes that is worth every penny in your pocket – a total of RM400, to be exact.

Basil and Prosecco.

Welcome drinks: Basil and Prosecco.

Diners are welcomed to awaken their taste palette with Il Tempio’s welcome drinks: the Basil mixed with lime to give a sour tingle to the senses, or the Prosecco, a sweet sparkling wine made from the white grape of the same name to gently probe the taste buds to life.

Beef fillet carpaccio on parmesan chips, puree of green asparagus, and cherry tomatoes with balsamic salad dressing.

Beef fillet carpaccio on parmesan chips, puree of green asparagus, and cherry tomatoes with balsamic salad dressing.

Begin the culinary journey through modern Italian with the appetiser of Beef Fillet, levelled on crunchy parmesan chips and layered with puree of green asparagus, finally topped with cherry tomatoes bathed in balsamic salad dressing.

I thought it was quite a nice start. Face it, anything with cheese for me is good. And I was even being a good girl and ate my veggies. Just goes to show how good the food was. For me, anyway.

The choice of wine to correspond with the appetiser is the sweet Torrealto Prosecco Di Conegliano 2007.

Porcini mushroom cream and truffle oil with stewed spring onions, topped with foie gras and vanilla salt.

Porcini mushroom cream and truffle oil with stewed spring onions, topped with foie gras and vanilla salt.

Next on the menu is the Porcini Mushroom Cream and Truffle Oil soup. Complemented with stewed spring onions and topped with foie gras and vanilla salt, it is heavy on the tongue like warm comforter on a winter night, yet not filling enough to ruin the rest of the meal.

Seal the deal with a sip of the La Segreta Bianco IGT 2005, a pleasant Sicilian white wine with its expressive aromatics, and you are off to a good start for the night.

Saffron Risotto with salmon carpaccio and chives.

Saffron Risotto with salmon carpaccio and chives.

The entrée is a favourite among constant diners at Il Tempio – and became a quick favourite of mine, being a risotto-lover myself: Saffron Risotto with Salmon Carpaccio and Chives.

The risotto is not overcooked, preserving the seedy and crispy texture to coincide with the soft texture of raw salmon, cooked solely with the heat radiating from the rice. The dish is also soaked in cheese that is not thickening and heavy that it kills the appetite.

Going hand in hand with this fine delicacy is the Antinori Campogrande Orvieto Classico DOC 2006 from Umbria, Italy, a white wine that is rich, soothing and pleasing to the palette, whilst fruity and elegant to the nose. Probably my favourite wine, as it goes so well with the risotto.

Braised wagyu beef cheek with deep-fried white truffle polenta and glazed white onion.

Braised wagyu beef cheek with deep-fried white truffle polenta and glazed white onion.

Hogging the main course spotlight is the Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek, accompanied by deep-fried white truffle polenta and glazed white onion.

I have never tasted beef that is that soft before. Every piece sits perfectly on the tongue like clay in mould. For something crispy is the polenta, in golden crunch on the outside while being soft and creamy on the inside. The glazed white onion finalised the dish with a sweet tinge at the end.

Balancing up the dish is the La Segreta IGT Rosso 2006. Made from a blend of Nero D’Avola, Merlot and Syrah, it hits the nose with the smell of crushed strawberries and spice, while caressing the tongue with a soft and silky touch that is rich and concentrated at the same time, giving it a long and elegant finish.

Honey and ginger iced mousse with strawberry and mango compote, star anise-flavoured sauce and crispy wafer.

Honey and ginger iced mousse with strawberry and mango compote, star anise-flavoured sauce and crispy wafer.

Last but not least, the refreshing dessert to reset your palette at the final stop of your fine dining journey: Honey and Ginger Iced Mousse, with a harmonising strawberry and mango compote, star anise-flavoured sauce and crispy wafer.

It is a perfect culinary matrimony to wed the sharp-sensed ginger with the smooth honey. However, for me, I did not enjoy the tinges of ginger hidden in it. I did not take time for this like I did the previous dishes because Chef Daniele has come out from the kitchen and we had quite a talk that the iced mousse has somehow melted when we were done. Besides, with such an awesome menu before this, it did not really matter to me if we still have dessert.

And to wash it all down, the Bottega Petalo Dell’ Amore 2007, a semi-sweet white wine to appease the senses, its extravagant aftertaste lingering on your tongue as you take your slow drive home, reminiscing one of the best meals you just had.

Many may find solitude and peace in temples with praying monks and the serene chiming of the bells, but here in Il Tempio, diners will encounter a different form of tranquillity. Top notch food from people who take it serious on what they put in their mouths (with  ‘live to eat’ as their restaurant tagline, you know you are in good hands), a complementing setting that is entirely up to Mother Nature, and an excellent waitering service, it just gives you all the reason in the world to step out of the city for a change to try out something that pleases all five of your senses.

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Il Tempio
Jalan 1
Taman Tun Abdul Razak
68000 Ampang
Selangor Darul Ehsan
Malaysia
T: +6 03 4256 8200
W: http://www.tamarindrestaurants.com

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3 Responses to “A culinary meditation at Il Tempio.”

  1. detman Says:

    oh wow! looks absolutely scrumptious! well taken photographs..kudos. would like to see more of the place though if you have pics…
    and what’s the pricing like?

    great post!

  2. The view atop the Tamarind Hill « Small Time Traveller Says:

    […] Hill is like the child spawn of the more recluse parents in the Tunku Abdul Razak Park in Ampang, Il Tempio and Tamarind Springs. From the moment you step into the restaurant to the moment your meals are […]

  3. L-Methionine Dosage Says:

    find dining might be expensive but the menu and service is always the best :”‘

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