Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Qba Latin Bar & Grill, The Westin Kuala Lumpur

Qba, Westin KL
Qba Latin Bar & Grill, The Westin Kuala Lumpur

Qba Latin Bar & Grill, The Westin Kuala Lumpur
A Taste of Cuba with Guest Chef Alain Mediola


Words by Patricia Podorsek
Photos by The Yum List (Monica Tindall)

There are guests and then there are guests. As a beautiful hotel located in the heart of Bukit Bintang, the Westin has no shortage of them, but until August 22, patrons of the Cuban restaurant Qba can enjoy the gifts of one very special guest, Chef Alain Mendiola, direct from the award-winning Hotel Saratoga in Havana. 

Along with his suitcase and sense of adventure, Chef Alain has brought along signature dishes of his menu from “Anacaona Restaurant Bar” at the Hotel Saratoga, a delightful culinary detour from the usual delicious inroads of Chef Alfredo. A romantic respite from the urban bustle of Bukit Bintang, Qba’s soft lighting, Moorish architecture, and Latin music set an elegant backdrop to this culinary foray. 

We began with two of Qba’s signature cocktails, the mojito and the caipirinha. Freshly prepared with loads of mint and lime, these refreshing drinks take the edge off the afternoon sun.

Qba, Westin KL
Mojito
Qba, Westin KL
Caipirinha
With our beverages, we nibbled on Chef Alain’s “Fritura de Malanga con Aderezo del Panal”, wonderfully crisp fritters made of the South American root vegetable, taro, and tossed lightly with citrus-infused honey. I found the interior flakier than a potato, almost like a fish cake, but with a subtler flavor. The satisfying crunch of the exterior makes these little bites highly addictive.  

Qba, Westin KL
Fritura de Malanga con Aderezo del Panal
Of the starters, we sampled the regal “Coctel de Camarones con Salsa Rosa al Ron Anejo” (RM38+). Two intertwined jumbo prawns sit elegantly atop coconut cream, rum salsa, and a bit of salad like a royal couple on a throne. The jewel in their crown is the deceptively delicate flavor of coconut in what appears to be thousand island dressing. Chef Alain bases the sauce in coconut cream rather than mayonnaise for a healthier and more tropical flavor. Add the pineapple and rum salsa, and you practically want to grab your maracas!

Qba, Westin KL
Coctel de Camarones con Salsa Rosa al Ron Anejo
From the soup options, we tried the “Crema de Malanga con Camarones y Aceite de Albahaca” (RM32+), a puree of taro infused with basil oil. Taro holds a such a subtle flavor that the rich simplicity of the basil dominated the dish, and created a delightful enhancement to the grilled prawn.

Qba, Westin KL
Crema de Malanga con Camarones y Aceite de Albahaca
Our first main, “Magret a la Miel Perfumado con Hierbas Aromaticas” (RM52+), paired grilled duck breast with colorful seasonal vegetables for a very festive presentation. The medium-rare cut was tender, and flavored with a soulful cabernet reduction. 

Qba, Westin KL
Magret a la Miel Perfumado con Hierbas Aromaticas
My favorite dish of the night, however, was the “Enchilado de Langosta,” not to be confused with the stuffed tortillas of Cuba’s neighbor. In this main, Chef Alain marries tender pieces of slipper lobster with smoky cumin and roasted tomatoes, underscored by a subtle heat that lingers tinglingly on the tongue for several moments after each delicious bite. The bit of chile is offset by a cool, creamy risotto for a well-balance plate.

Qba, Westin KL
Enchilado de Langosta
To satisfy the sweet tooth, Chef Alain’s menu supplies a treat most commonly eaten in Cuba during Semana Santa, where bread is soaked in milk and then pan-fried after an egg wash. His creative adaptation, “Torrijas de Chocolate en Almibar de Canela” (RM20+), uses chocolate bread rather than white, for a deeply moist and decadent cake not unlike tres leches. Alternatively, guests can indulge in the “Tarta de Almendra con Zabayon al Vino Blanco” (RM22+), a caramelized almond shell filled with icy smooth custard and topped with chopped pistachios.

Qba, Westin KL
Tarta de Almendra con Zabayon al Vino Blanco
A sizeable wine and cocktail list accompany the regular and guest menus at Qba, and it is well worth noting that Happy Hour at Qba, from 5:00 - 8:00pm Monday - Saturday, is an incredible value with select cocktails, house wines, and house beers all served at 50% of their normal price. This means that a glass of tasty Miguel Torres Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, or Rose can be enjoyed for an impossible RM13, net! Few places in Bukit Bintang can boast this value, made even more attractive by the surrounding colors and sounds of Latin America.

Qba, Westin KL
Happy Hour Wine priced at only RM13 Net per glass
Qba, Westin KL
Cabernet Sauvignon
Special guests rarely stick around for long, so enjoy the culinary detour Chef Alain Mendiola brings to Qba only until 22nd August.

Reasons to visit: The regal prawn cocktail, the tender and smoky “Enchilado de Langosta,” and the comforting Torrija brought to KL directly from Havana on the creative wings of visiting Chef Alain Mendiola.

Qba Latin Bar and Grill
Westin Kuala Lumpur
199 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+60 3 2773 8581

17 comments:

  1. Wowwww!!! The place sure looks fantastic. For a while, I thought this must be some place abroad. Food is equally stunning.

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    Replies
    1. Sure is a beautiful place... and with two Cuban chefs, Latin food and live music - it really has an authentic feel.

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  2. This "Westin" is really opulence on a decadent scale - would even
    stun Sally Bowles of Cabaret fame!
    How in hells name without well-heeled tourists, trade delegations from
    foreign countries etc etc plus the "you know what" of KL can a place
    like this survive??
    Far far above the costs that an average paid person could afford, even
    to walk through the front doors!!!
    Certainly newer and far more grander than the Hotel Saratoga in Havana,
    but without the history and never likely to have anything like the history of that
    Cuban establishment.
    If I had a choice and could still travel, I'd take the Hotel Saratoga, Havana
    any day.
    Isn't the Saratoga the hotel linked to Ernest Hemmingway??
    Now hasta la vista as I gallop back to reality.
    Cheers
    El Colin Cordobes, the middle triplet.
    PS: And still most un-August weather here. I wonder did
    August this year get lost in space???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'd be surprised at how affordable the hotel is here - especially compared to the Aussie version. You're right however, for local salaries it's just as expensive as what we find it at home. If you're a lucky expat, or traveler with foreign currency, it's a bargain! I read recently that Malaysia is one of the most affordable countries in the world for a 5 star vacation. With the state of the currency at the moment, it's a great time for travellers with hard currency to visit.
      Now, with two Cuban chefs, and a band from from Latin America, it's a wonderfully authentic taste of home for those homesick Latinos living on the other side of the world. :-)

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  3. Looks very grand, the food and drinks look fabulous! Thanks for sharing your visit! Have a happy week!

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    1. It is a beautiful space, and the food and ambience are a welcome taste of all of the things we miss from South America.

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  4. I love the regal, elegant and cozy ambiance, and the lighting is just perfect....not too bright, not too dim. I have had duck (the leg), but I haven't had it in quite some time. What I remember is that it takes longer to prepare than chicken, but it is very tasty. :)

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    1. For me there's a very fine balance in getting duck just right. It's a tricky one to do really well. This one was made even more beautiful with all of the colourful veggies on the side.

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  5. Cuba ?! That sure is something new to me!

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    Replies
    1. Yes! Isn't it great to get authentic cuisine from the other side of the world right here in Malaysia. :-)

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  6. So much for that lovely sunny weather here.
    A storm came from nowhere - the families at the Brisbane EKKA
    will be drenched! Such a pity.
    A real tropical downpour with wind gusts - rain on a 45 degree angle.
    Yep with the currency exchange rate, I'd have to agree and after the MH
    problems - tourism is so important for bringing in hard cash to the economy.

    The storm lasted 10 minutes!!!!! Now sunshine again, as if nothing happened,
    but it will be back - you know what the tropics is like weatherwise, eh?
    Colin

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    1. Hope the rain didn't scare off the show attendees too quickly. Such a lot of work goes into the planning of those things and it can all too easily be ruined with some misbehaving skies. ;-)

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  7. Hmm I've tried Cuban food before. :)
    They use a lot of beans. He he...

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    Replies
    1. Yep, rice and beans are pretty common in this region.

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  8. Such an interesting treat, dear! Mmm........ don't think I've tried such cuisines yet...... xoxo

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  9. I don't know if I could pronounce the names of the items shown, but they do look yummy!

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  10. I really do like the decor. It's different.

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