THE first dish that catches our attention at a restaurant hailed as the Best Place for Meat by a lifestyle magazine for three consecutive years, is the Watermelon Salad with Pickled Radish and Homemade Ricotta.
Nowhere has the humble and much-loved watermelon been thus honoured.
Cut into thick cubes, sprinkled with homemade ricotta cheese with slices of pickled white and red radish inserted in between, its composition is not complex. The resulting combination of flavours is.
Sweet, salty and sour with slight pungent notes, the ingredients act to awaken the taste buds.
It would seem that the sprinkling of paprika, the soft and subtle tartness of the ricotta cheese and pickled radish slices had heightened the sweetness in the watermelon.
Shaun Leong, the marketing manager of Ante, which has branded itself as a premier pork steak restaurant, said the kitchen sourced the goat milk for its homemade cheese from a local supplier.
The result is a complex, flavoured dish as a prelude to its scrumptious pork steaks.
Five years in the business, Ante is known for its 2cm-thick slabs of ribeye, striploin and shoulder cuts which take 20 minutes to cook.
Using imported corn-fed pork from Spain, the early days saw many diners questioning the kitchen about the “redness” of its pork steak, with many presuming the meat as being undercooked.
Using the Chermoula Spiced Pork Shoulder as a case in point, Leong said its pinkish blush is attributed to the natural colour of this cut that comprised 100% red meat.
Assuring that all its steak are served well done, they are grilled beforehand to seal in the juices before going into the oven and baked at 200ºC.
The temperature of the middle, near the bone and outer rim of the steak, must read 70ºC before it is taken off the heat.
Crushed potatoes with roasted mushrooms are served as sides to go with the meat. This is basically whole spuds deep-fried to a delicious crisp and then smashed.
The dish is given an earthy note with roasted mushrooms and generous sprinklings of parmesan.
The Creamy Polenta topped with corn, cherry tomatoes and spring onions is a personal favourite.
Made from cornmeal, this silky, soft textured dish reminds the diner of mashed potatoes but unlike it, is not heavy and starchy. Look out for the yummy bacon bits on the top that are coated in caramelised gula melaka syrup.
Bacon lovers looking for a bigger bite should go for the full-sized house smoked slices. Served on a bed of polenta, the meat and marbling in the pork belly slices are distinctly layered.
Made in-house, an entire belly slab is first air dried in a cold room before it is smoked.
Hickory chips give off sweet and savoury hints to the meat. For the ultimate experience, Leong recommends that diners pair the dish with focaccia bread or cheese stuffed baguette for the ultimate bacon sandwich.
Rightly they should also consider including the chunky house-made mushroom soup, which comes with a drizzle of parsley oil.
Diners who still have room in their tummy can look to the Crispy Skin Miso Pork Belly or some Iberico Baby Ribs.
Sporting the kind of crackling that goes crunch with every bite, the pork belly is marinated in yukosho paste, a combination of citrus junos, chillies and salt.
The ribs, all 500g of it, are deep-fried and coated in a honey soy sauce.
For want of a break from porcine pleasures, try Ante’s Seared Duck Breast.
Flanking the meat is a peach and chilli salsa, and a pureed green peas curry. To enjoy this dish, cut off a bit of duck, coat it in a bit of green pea curry and then top it with peaches. The result? Magic.
Highly recommended from the dessert section is the Philadelphia Cheesecake with a soft meringue top and a side compote of berries swimming in a mandarin and lemon gel.
But the main crowd favourite is the lavender and honey ice cream which comes with the white chocolate ganache, waffles and poached pears in red wine.
ANTE, Lot F346, First Floor, Rainforest, New Wing, One Utama Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. (03-7732 5204). Business hours: 10am to 10.30pm. Non-halal.
This is the writer‘s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.