The Honest Food Review – Mantra Bar & Lounge

Ok, so we normally go for sit down restaurants and for this review we were let down by an establishment that said we were not allowed to be critical on any dishes…….which sort of defeats the whole point of the honest food review!

Seeing that I already set the night aside to review somewhere and being a Bangsar resident, I decided to choose somewhere close by. Then I remembered that I have been hearing a lot of hype around a new place called “Mantra Bar” So myself and a friend went along to see what it is all about!

I had a little look at the menu online and to be honest, it was not really what you would expect. The statements of the cuts of meat and the array of high end food was not like many other bars around. It was certainly aiming at the higher end dining experience, but in finger food/tapas style. Most of the dishes have a pretty obvious Asian twist, to fit in with its punchy cocktails.

When we arrived it was certainly reminding me of a well set out and highly finished place. It reminded me of going to Marinis near KLCC and it even has its own view of the towers. Not as impressive as the view from Marinis; but once it turned dark, it was certainly a pretty view from the top of Bangsar Village 2. We felt that the inside at night looked amazing and I don’t think there is a better looking bar in KL.

If you go here, take a few minutes to appreciate the architecture and finishing of the place; it could be in any capital city and look simply stunning. Wooden beams moulded along the ceiling curves, funky moulded glass light fittings along the bar and its undoubtedly had a lot of money spent on the place and with great effect.

Warren the Manager was extremely helpful and the staff were very attentive; we asked them for a wide selection of food and they certainly delivered.

The first thing out was the “Housemade Sweet Potato Fries”, which were what they should be, the dip it was served with made them come alive. We then had the “Deep Fried Crabbies” arrive, which were fried in a slightly spicy batter and were coin sized little crunchy delights. Great finger food and very moreish with a cold pint of beer; choose these over a bowl of peanuts anytime!

We then tried a wide array of Mantra man tau sliders, from Indonesian style beef, Softshell crab with a spicy sauce, Lobster slightly curried and a chicken bun that was my favourite. All of these are great when in a group and you could throw a fair few down your throat before getting bored of the flavours. These were the most reasonably priced (RM8) items for quality to RM ratio and you could easily have a fair few in one sitting!

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The only thing we would change is that some of the buns were a little too sweet for a savoury dish, but that’s maybe our British pallet not liking too much sugar in our bread, which happens in many places across KL.

It was great to see a tapas version of our beloved sprouts that were char grilled and even if you don’t normally enjoy this vegetable, this execution could sway you towards liking them and was one of my favourite things I ate that entire evening……..go on, give it a go 😉

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A few of the dishes that night were a little on the pricey side, but the quality of meat and ingredients throughout, was pretty high. One of Mantra’s signature dishes was the “Grilled Lamb with a Korean Soy Glaze,” the meat was melt in your mouth tender, but maybe a little pricey for RM68 for three pieces. There was one thing that could have made this dish better and that was to render the fat a little more on the edges; ours had a high fat ratio and could have benefited from being grilled a little longer along the sides so they didn’t feel so heavy. If that were done the next time I go, then it’s a perfect dish that you would order time and time again, even though they are a little pricey.

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So the food is pretty good and we sort of skipped the desert round…….why you may ask?

Simply because we were being fed sweet tasting and delicious cocktails all evening. Warren insisted on the signature cocktail named the “La Unica” and it came with a macaroon on the side (desert), which tasted as good as any I have had anywhere. I have to say for me the highlight of the night was that cocktail. I am going to email Warren and ask for the ingredients, so I can make it at home 😉

I went to Mantra a second time with 4 more friends and we all ordered that same cocktail again and again……it really is that good.

We tried a number of other cocktails and all were high quality; one that could do with a little more work is the gin and tonic cocktail. For me the flavour was a little flat, it either needed stronger tonics or more Gin or a bit of both. I know the guys brew their own tonics, so this should be an easy fix!

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My Conclusion

It’s difficult for me to set out a starter, main and desert for this bar; because that’s not what this place is about.

It’s there to enjoy the view and have some great drinks in a classy establishment and order dish after dish until you are full. Wash them down with even more cocktails and not to mention a good selection of beers on tap. It really has impressed me to use this as my Marinis in Bangsar and I would prefer this place every time.

Ambiance: 8/10

It’s a high end bar, so it’s always going to be buzzing and have something about it. It’s the sexiest bar in Bangsar and I think you could use this place as an early dinning spot or a late night party joint; it fits the bill in both scenarios.

Appearance of the Establishment: 9/10

Wow, it simply is a wow. The interior is as good as it gets, the only reason it dropped a point, is because some places have a better view.

Service: 8/10

Good solid service, waiting a little sat on the balcony for drinks, because most of the staff are based inside. But you would still come away with a good experience and the place is relatively new, so things will take a couple of months to smooth everything out.

Food: 7/10

You won’t be disappointed, it’s a bar and not fine dining; but it’s not trying to be that either. Its high end party food that everyone can share. We enjoyed that it had Asian twists along the entire menu and we want to try the things we were didn’t get to try last time.

Price: 7/10

A little pricey we feel, but they are busy most nights already and why wouldn’t an establishment that serves high quality ingredients charge that little more when the place obviously cost a fortune to get looking so great.

39/50

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