CLEO Eats: Distinctly Chic Malaysian Cuisine At ATAS Modern Malaysian Eatery

The rustic yet complex flavours of Malaysian food are what we take pride in. We love our delicacies that we find on the streets or casual restaurants but Atas Modern Malaysian Eatery is where you’ll get to indulge in local, much-appreciated flavours and ingredients prepared with contemporary finesse.

The seasonal menu at Atas has been given an update by Executive Chef Tyson Gee who constantly reinterprets locally sourced heirloom ingredients into unique presentations that will ignite a new-found appreciation for Malaysian flavours, and #TeamCLEO was treated to a fancy, sedap culinary journey.

Upon approaching The Ruma Hotel where the restaurant is located, you will have your breath taken away by the simple, yet luxurious home-like facade and interior of the hotel. After going through the floor-to-ceiling swinging door entrance, you will walk through the chic lobby and up the spiral stairs to Atas (‘atas’ coincidentally translates to ‘upstairs’, and it also stands for ‘upper class’ in Malay).

We were welcomed by the restaurant’s spacious open-floor plan, with a show kitchen right by the restaurant’s entrance. In line with the hotel’s minimal style inspired by Malaysia’s tin-mining industry, the ambience was warm but with an edge — from the tin decor pieces, industrial-style lights and racks to the walls, partitions and ceilings.

Image credit: The Ruma Hotel and Residences

Chef Tyson shows his love for indigenous ingredients in his menus for ATAS, but this new menu is introduced with a different flair — pairings of premium ingredients with Malaysian flavours using alternative techniques.

Hit play to hear more from Chef Tyson himself about what inspired him to create the gastronomical masterpieces and his journey in discovering Malaysian ingredients.

Back to the food — bread rolls paired with butter and Sarawak black pepper were served around the table and its softness got us wanting more. For appetisers, we started with Pai Tee that is filled with creme fraiche and topped with Malaysian caviar, a luxe version of the Baba Nyonya snack that is shaped like a top hat. We also tried the Cured Ocean Trout with sambal dressing, local herbs and puffed tapioca, and the Blue Tiger Prawn with betel leaf and charred coconut sambal — both of which are slightly acidic and spicy, preparing our stomachs for the meaty mains.

The rest of the meal was undeniably fancy yet unpretentious thanks to the earthy and spicy flavours from the buah keluak and fermented chilli sauce that accompanied the succulent, slightly charred Cornfed Chicken. The Dry Aged Duck Breast on the other hand had a perfect balance of sweet and sour from the sauce that is a mix of kedondong (Ambara fruit), mulberry and bronze fennel. The juicy 8+ Wagyu Sirloin served with roasted shallots, ginger torch and anise jus created a luxurious sensation in the mouth, while the Tiger Grouper with wild spinach stood out among the rest with tanginess from the tuak (Sarwakian rice wine) used in the sauce — it was a surprise for our palates. 

We highly recommend pairing mains with accompaniments like the Jasmine Rice Salad that is mixed with chicken skin for extra crunch and XO sauce that spices things up. The meaty texture and earthy flavours from the Red Braised Mushrooms with peanuts and Thai basil also went well with the mains.

Our meal ended with three desserts that hit the sweet spot. The Mangosteen Parfait that includes a scoop of mangosteen sorbet topped with Thai basil and marigold was definitely a refreshing one to round up a mostly savoury meal. Those who like something creamy and thick would enjoy the Milky Whey Goat’s Cheese Cake that is balanced out with keluat honey, honey comb and local strawberries so it doesn’t have an overpowering aftertaste. Foie gras may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but its buttery texture tied in with the Pahang Single Origin 70% Dark Chocolate served with some roselle sorbet and chocolate crumble.

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Bread rolls with butter and Sarawak black pepper; image credit: Lucas Loriot

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