A surprise at every turn

Cold Cuts and Dips – Smoked Paprika and Cocoa Husk Lamb, and Ayam Kampung Ham with Turmeric Leaf. The dips are Faux Liver Pate and Cerapu Jam.

Expect the unexpected at MadHatter Desserts in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur. Much of it is a result of chef/owner Marcus Low’s experimentation with native and home ingredients rather than imported items.

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Our review started strong with the platter of Cold Cuts and Dips, comprising slices of Smoked Paprika and Cocoa Husk Lamb and Ayam Kampung Ham with Turmeric Leaf. The dips were Faux Liver Pate made with cashews, nam yue, blackened kulim, and cerapu jam.

Foccacia with tomato and Kulim olive oil.Foccacia with tomato and Kulim olive oil.

The unique pate tasted saltish, with garlicky hints from the kulim while the cerapu (a native mangosteen) was a little tart and reminded me of marmalade. Both went well with the bread on the platter. The flavourful lamb, with a rub of smoked paprika and cocoa husk, reminded me of smoked beef and did not need any embellishments. The corn-fed chicken mortadella, too, stood on its own with a hint of fragrance from the turmeric leaf.

The Smoked Mackerel Pate topped with salmon roe was served with Cocoa Husk crisps. I liked the crackling bite of the thin, toasted slices of sourdough cocoa husk (I didn’t know it could be eaten!) with the fish pate.

I loved the Kukur Mushroom Pate on a Pizza Foccacia. Wild split mushrooms were ground into powder and the high cellulose content was the binding factor in the smooth, delicious pate. There was a subtle mushroom aroma and garlicky hints from kulim oil. They sat well with the crusty and fluffy focaccia bread.

Kukur Mushroom pate pizza foccacia.Kukur Mushroom pate pizza foccacia.

Deep-fried Pomfret with Tempoyak Mayo had fish fingers laid over a slice of toasted bread and slathered with creamy tempoyak mayo with slivers of kaffir lime leaf in it. The mellow tempoyak was fermented durian duri panjang. It’s a yummy open sandwich I would go back for as I love tempoyak and anything durian.

Beef Tongue Stew with Chimichurri and Bagel was one of the best bagels I’ve had. There were tender slices of stewed beef tongue sandwiched within the bagel, topped with a tangy and spicy chimichurri sauce and covered with a slice of Swiss cheese. I sank my teeth into the bagel, relishing the lightly sweet, juicy beef tongue, its richness balanced with the sauce. At the side was a salad of cabbage (a cross between coleslaw and sauerkraut) and cherry tomatoes.

Smoked mackerel pate with sour dough.Smoked mackerel pate with sour dough.

Kacang Pool Madhatter, made with chickpeas, red beans, chilli and cumin, was topped with a fried egg and served with bread. This wasn’t one of my favourite items, but I liked the light Hainanese bread that came with it.

The breads and croissants are ranked highly at MadHatter. The almond croissant stands out for its buttery note, and the lightly sweet and delicious almond paste inside. The croissant dough had a hidden ingredient in it – gula Melaka, given a master baker’s touch. The Pain Aux Bidara was studded with chopped red Indian jujube. I thought the buah bidara tasted like apple.

Deep-fried pomfret open sandwich with tempoyak mayo.Deep-fried pomfret open sandwich with tempoyak mayo.

The Banana Bread with Cardamom Cream was heavenly, more like a moist banana cake rather than bread. The chef had used two different bananas for this – the sweet pisang raja and the pisang nangka for its acidity. The balance was perfect, the fragrance of the bananas evident complete with the exquisite cardamom cream.

The Local Chestnut & Coffee Tart had sweet chestnuts from Pahang blended into a paste and paired pleasingly with coffee. Other attractive desserts on the counter were Raspberry Rose Lychee, Chocolate and Cherry, Chocolate Calamansi and Apple Cinnamon. Every item had an exotic ring to it as Low’s imagination moved boundaries and made the ordinary extraordinary.

Beef tongue stew with Swiss cheese.Beef tongue stew with Swiss cheese.

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