TO DINE at De.Wan 1958, it is recommended that you make a reservation – preferably, a week in advance. You may try walking in but chances are there will be a long wait.
Bookings are only accepted via restaurant booking app TableApp. The restaurant does not entertain phone calls or accept reservations through email. In addition, dining time is limited. For example, if you arrive for lunch at 11am, you’ll have to leave by 12.30pm. If you’re late for your reservation, there’ll be less time for you to enjoy your food.
This is how Datuk Redzuawan Ismail, better known as Chef Wan, is managing diners since his restaurant’s opening four months ago. According to him, this system was put in place so he “can please everybody”.
De.Wan 1958 serves fine Malay cuisine and adheres to the founder’s philosophy that every dish must be as authentic as possible. None of the ingredients in the restaurant’s dishes have been frozen, premixed or are instant in nature.
Chef Wan makes a strong stand against the use of preservatives, additives and artificial flavourings. Nothing perplexes this 61-year-old more than a kitchen team that is not of the same view.
Indeed, within 56 days of the restaurant’s opening, six chefs were asked to leave for insisting on “ready-to-use ingredients”, citing they would save cost, time and labour. Chef Wan would have none of it.
Finally, Zabidi Ibrahim, formerly of The Gulai House and Ibunda, was picked to become De.Wan 1958’s executive chef. Helming a 22-man team, he ensures that all of Chef Wan’s wishes are met.
Coconut milk must be pressed in-house; seafood must either be delivered the night before or the morning itself; all sauces for the spring rolls, cucur udang and barbecued seafood – right down to the kerisik in rendang dishes – must be made in-house. Each dish is to be garnished with herbs or edible flowers from the boss’ garden. And lastly, smokers are not accepted in the culinary team. This is to ensure that everyone’s taste buds remain clean and sharp.
Diners are captured from the first dip of De.Wan 1958’s house-made sauces. Imagine, there are raisins in their chilli sauce! This perhaps explains why their juicy giant grilled squid is only marinated lightly so diners can fully savour the accompanying sauces.
Meanwhile, the prawns in their cucur udang are colossal. Filled with bean sprouts and chives, the batter has a light crispness that shatters easily, with the soft parts yielding like bread balls in the mouth.
We were told that instead of resorting to baking soda for that added crisp, the kitchen uses a “dancing” frying technique to encourage aeration in the batter.
The kerabu pucuk paku kerang from the salad section comes with a fresh crunch as only young and tender shoots are used.
For rice, diners have a choice of white turmeric or nasi telur Terengganu – the latter said to have been derived from the state’s royal palace. The basmati rice dish contains a mix of dried shrimp, diced chicken liver and shredded egg omelette for a fragrant staple.
Other highly recommended dishes are lamb kuzi, chicken kapitan, green beef curry with pea eggplant and Nyonya-style prawn and honey pineapple curry.
The last has an addictive quality with cooked pineapple cubes yielding bursts of syrupy sweetness in every bite.
To end your meal on a sweet note, try the banana and jackfruit wrapped in kataifi with coconut and palm sugar sauce. The black glutinous rice porridge topped with durian ice cream and garnished with yam and sweet potato is just as delicious.
De.Wan 1958 By Chef Wan, The Linc KL, Lot 2-2, Level 2, 360, Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur. Opens 11am to 10pm. Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the writers’ personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.