Bite-size portions at Bukit Damansara restaurant allows diners to sample more dishes

(Clockwise from left) Cata Pizza, charred Iberico ribs and Shrimps Tomato Basil Garlic Pasta are among the dishes to try at the restaurant. ­­— Photos: GLENN GUAN/The Star

HEALTHY eating may seem like a modern trend but for people from the Mediterranean region, it is a way of life.

With an emphasis on fresh produce and quality ingredients, Mediterranean food is ideal for those who like simple flavours.

This is what you get at Cata in Bukit Damansara.

Fresh and vibrant offerings typical of Spain, Italy, and France greet the palate at this restaurant with earthy tones in its decor and a homely touch apparent through photos from head chef Karl Rathswohl’s family album.

Antique furniture and wall hangings from his personal collection add to Cata’s rustic charm.

There is the anticipation of tasting extra virgin olive oil mixed with lemon, sea salt, olives and capers as well as a variety of cheese and appreciating fine meats and fresh seafood when dining here.

At this Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, gourmet wood-fired pizzas and a hearty array of tapas keep diners’ satiated.

Headed by veteran Austrian chef cum owner Karl, who previously operated Karl’s Biesl, there are also Mediterranean beverages and wines to go with your meal.

The restaurant also acts as a platform to train budding chefs and in its employ are graduates of famed culinary school Le Cordon Bleu and Sunway University’s Hospitality School.

Junior sous chef Terry Thum from Le Cordon Bleu graduated four years ago and is honing the skills he learned while keeping diners’ appetite satiated.

Together with Nelson Lam and Joanne Chin, graduates from Sunway University, the three young talents work in sync to ensure customers’ expectations are met.

Co-owner Ming Rathswohl said instead of reviving Karl’s Biesl, the couple decided to appeal to gourmands’ cravings.

Marinated pan-fried sardines with lemon on the side.Marinated pan-fried sardines with lemon on the side.

It was apparent, she said, that there was a market for Mediter-ranean food with many people opting for healthier choices.

“Mediterranean food is the diet trend now as it has proven to be consistently healthy judging by the lifespan of people in the region, ” she said.

“We use fresh produce and the focus is on dishes common to Spain, Italy and France.

“Tapas is what we feature here as small plates allow diners room to try more and sharing is an Asian concept.

“We are also proud of our gourmet artisan Italian pizzas baked in our wood-fired oven which give a different outcome in terms of flavour, taste, and texture, ” she said.

Ming said the secret to good food was in the cooking.

Charred Sirloin (left) as well as Charred Octopus and Capers.Charred Sirloin (left) as well as Charred Octopus and Capers.

Staying true to its name Cata (which means “taste” in Spanish), the couple with years of experience in culinary arts, are bent on creating an impression with their food.

High-quality sashimi and top-grade scallops, fresh mussels, and shrimps, as well as Spanish Iberico, are among the ingredients in the tempting tapas.

Some ingredients, Ming said, are locally sourced from the market like fresh sardines and vegetables, while others are imported.

Signature items reminiscent of Spanish flavours include Patatas Bravas, Padron peppers, gnocchi, duck confit, slow-cooked, and charred to finish Iberico ribs, marinated pan-fried sardines and roasted quail.

Escargot with garlic parsley butter.Escargot with garlic parsley butter.

Ming said Karl’s passion for cooking gnawed at him for some years after opting to retire.

At 72, Karl is focused on bringing back artisan-style cooking while giving a twist to his dishes.

“It is also a chance for me to offer variety in the food scene and return to what I love doing best — cooking, ” said Karl.

The restaurant has monthly guest chef events featuring degustation menus with wine pairings and has plans to launch its EVino wine bar soon.

Cata is also having a promotion until July 31 in conjunction with Bastille Day featuring special French tapas and wines.

Cata Potato gnocchi with brown butter, sage, baby artichokes, capers and anchovies.Cata Potato gnocchi with brown butter, sage, baby artichokes, capers and anchovies.

CATA RESTAURANT, Plaza Damansara, 50-G, Jalan Medan Setia 2, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.

(Tel: 03-2011 8587)

Business hours: Noon to 3pm, 5pm to 10.30 (Tuesday to Friday and Sunday). 5pm to 10.30pm (Saturday).

Closed on Monday. Non-halal.

This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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