I must say from the beginning, this review was my favourite of all times. Where should I start? The name Barat, in Bahasa Malaysia, means West. In tamil, Bharat means union, celebration. So its a culinary journey towards the west cuisine and in the same time a close union with the local food industry.
The restaurant is located on a small little street in Bangsar. The well dispayed sign showed me I was at the right place, even if my local driver thought we were lost. (he’s never been on Lorong Kurau before)
Lingesh, the head chef and the Manager of Barat was expecting us late afternoon for a talk about his place before introducing us to his restaurant and menu. Friendly, very well spoken, Lingesh was educated in the art of fine cuisine for ten years and appreciates quality, sustainable and healthy food. That’s why, most of the ingredients he uses in the restaurant come from his farm where everything is grown organic.
In the end we ended up having a long conversation about the food industry in Malaysia and Asia.
Ganga was the first restaurant on this small street, a local Indian place that brought the food culture in this part of Bangsar. Barat is a Mediterranean vegetarian cuisine, something that you rarely find in this part of the world. It’s either Indian, or Western salads, Chinese vegetarian mock meat but Lingesh felt like making something different with Spanish, Italian influence.
For the past two years he was working on a farm, doing responsible and organic farming. Only 20% of the menu is imported and most of the products are localy produced or from the farm itself. Unfortunately the bigger statistic in Malaysia is that 90% of the food is imported, which sounds unbelievable, considering the good soil quality that exists here. Malaysia buys cheaper vegetables and exports the ones produced locally, with higher quality. It’s un upside down system. Also, I found out from Lingesh that Malaysia has the highest number of green leaf vegetables in Asia but people aren’t really aware of this, just like edible flowers.
Lingesh’s idea is “to make vegetarian food a bit more sexy”, more interesting to the public, because there are a lot of misconceptions about it and the extraordinary diversity it presents. He fell in love with his experience and journey to be a vegetarian and that is one of the many reasons why he’s extremely passionate about his project Barat.
Lingesh prepared a 12 course degustation menu that changes once a year and he is using harvest from the farm that he’s trying to promote as part of the sustainable food industry.
Upstairs there is a speak easy cocktail bar, very cosy, with an open clear design that just makes you want to chill on the couch and enjoy the cocktails the entire day. The natural light and the natural ventilation was specifically designed to create a very environmentally friendly venue and indeed, it looks great!
“What you eat is who you are”, says Lingesh and that’s the main idea of the restaurant and his business model. He’s been in the industry for over 10 years, he used to work in Singapore and Malaysia setting up different venues and restaurants: one of his projects is Mezze, a wine jazz bar in Damansara.
After a few cocktails in the bar upstairs, we finally sat down at the table and started our 12 course degustation menu. And it was amazing! Before we started, we realised that the entire restaurant was packed, almost all of the people inside by reservation.
The first dishes were appetisers, Home-backed bread with apple cider, Roasted pumpkin soup with infused ginger and air dried ginger. We realised from the beginning how the spice taste flavours the entire dish in a unique way that’s not common in other soups like this.
Probably from the dried ginger aftertaste. The next dish was a combination of flavours, a beautiful taste explosion in your mouth would be more accurate: Arugula, Rockets, Sweet Basil, Dragon Fruit, Radish, Tempura Orange roasted sesame dressing and blood orange press with Olive Oil. Fantastic, we were windblown and couldn’t figure out how could someone think of a dish like this and to make it so unique.
The Patatas Bravas with Red Tomato Sauce were together with Pitted Prunes and Grilled sweet peppers and Roasted Romano. Small portions but together they fit just perfectly. The Rosemarie flavour and the blue cheese combined with capsicum make you feel that you are truly participating at a unique food tasting of the highest class. The next dish is always a surprise, with some extra genius spice added for flavour or unique herb to enhance it even more.
Even the pasta, which we expected to be just a good regular dish had something unique about it: the grilled lemons. I’m not sure how many people out here ever had grilled lemons in their life hehe. Great combination of flavours, surprising every time!
Golden fried Tri-Cheese with apricot and pineapple spiced gem. Another one that combined three completely different flavours and made you feel like a child with a curious smile on your face trying to understand what are you tasting and why is it so good.
Four types of berries with Rose Press and Chia Seeds, a guilty pleasure that you can’t resit for sure. Then basil pesto on aubergine, capsicum pesto with wafers, pomegranate dressing and two types of baby carrots, spiced cus cus, everything just seemed to good to be true, to tasty to be true, but it was.
The last main course, Pistachio carbonara with sundried tomatoes, a simple and again aromatic pasta because of the strong unique flavour of the tomatoes which were cooked in a completely different style than what we were expecting. It felt a bit dry because it rebalances the sweetness of the sauce and it opens your appetite again for the extra bytes of desert.
The desert definitely closed the entire culinary experience with a bang and fully satisfied and surprised our stomachs. Twelve courses, all cocked with a huge attention for details and tastes, combined together to blow your mind.
The entire experience is unique and nothing like you ever had before. The design, the atmosphere and the quality of the food is outstanding. The care for sustainability and support for local farming is a plus to confirm the Barat is a restaurant not to be missed.
The design and the artsy feeling of Barat makes you feel like home, cozy and relaxed and in the same time offers you a top notch fine cuisine culinary experience.
Appearance of the Establishment: 9/10
Speak easy style of restaurant, beautiful design, good location and surrounded by another four or five great food venues on the same street. The interior is elegant and bright, except one Keluar sign that stands out too much above the entrance.
The waiters explain to you in detail every course and are very attentive to details. They are not completly fluent in english language though, sometimes they don’t understand you perfectly; which is ok cause you get the chance to meet Lingesh to answer your questions.
The food is the unique. Most of menu is made from local and organic produced ingredients in the restaurant’s farm. That’s why everything tasted much better then other places and because Lingesh wants to show that vegetarian food can be sexy, can be daring, can be wild and it can taste as good as you want it to be and better! The choices of spices, the diversity and the structure of the entire menu shows that everything was thought and perfectly planned by the entire team in the kitchen to give you a high class experience.
For the 12 course degustation menu the price is more than fair, pretty cheap considering what you get, so for sure you won’t feel sorry for paying for the quality .
Barat organizes private events also, it does brunches and parties, it’s a space open for ideas. Please drop by and say hello to Lingesh, he will definitely take care of you in the best way possible. If you want a great cocktail or a 12 year coffee flavoured Nikka, they have all of them upstairs in their little cosy bar:)
You can find Barat Mediterranean restaurant here: