By Jack Foo
Boom! There goes the sound of your taste-buds exploding to the pervasive aroma of grilled meat whilst at the same time basking in an elegant dining experience that is second to none. You wouldn’t expect to find this here in humble Ampang Baru, so it might surprise you a little but that doesn’t even compare to the taste you are going to be indulging in.
Sourcing his expertise in cookery by travelling to various European countries (such as France) to master his craft, chef Chai Wee Khun and his team are offering a unique and exclusive range of free-range meats, homemade breads and freshly-brewed soups to spoil the public. The restaurant follows a rotational menu that changes on a weekly basis.
The restaurant’s signature dish is undoubtedly their ‘Dry Aged’ Angus Rib-Eye, which is prepared very unconventionally and it’s so distinct to the point where calling it exotic would be an understatement. Why? It is because of dry-aging, where the meat (only high-grade meat can be dry-aged) is hung or placed on a rack for several weeks. This involves considerable effort as they must be stored to near-freezing temperatures which means constant monitoring of temperatures. (Fun fact: There are only three known restaurants in the whole of Malaysia to offer this method of preparation!)
“There are a few ways to prepare the meat,” said Wee Khun, the owner chef of the cafe. “We dry age it for a few weeks, sometimes even several months, to make it more tender and delicious.”
He added that this method of cooking is considered ‘primal’ in the sense that cavemen used to bury their meat, lift it up, remove the mould formed on the exterior – which actually aids in adding tenderness and flavour – and roast it for safe consumption, “Most are aged for 120 days in -4 degrees Celsius, and kept in a humidity of 75-85%.”
The exclusive Angus beef hails from Australia and it uses its own natural enzymes to break down some of the connective tissue in the meat, enhancing its tenderness. The ultimate effect of dry-aging beef is to concentrate and saturate the flavours of the beef, as well as to make it a lot more tender.
Freshly baked homemade bread on offer will be their walnut and raisin wholemeal bread, amongst many others which changes daily. Make no mistake as their bread is extremely soft, non-sweet and warm. This is paired with their soup-of-the-day, such as their Watercress Soup, which caps off the appetizer section of the menu.
Other signature and much recommended dishes include their BBQ Pork Ribs, marinated with smoky barbecue sauce and with a hint of citrus; their Iberico Collar, made from pigs native to the Iberian Peninsula and cooked without a lot of marinating to retain the pure flavour of this pork species – both dishes accompanied with steamed, creamy sweet potatoes that literally melts on your tongue and sauces such as their homemade Thousand Island and a mint sauce that’s made with cream and supplemented with a slight hint of vinegar to titillate the senses; leaving nothing but a good impression as you leave the cafe.
“Our loyal customers love our food,” said Wee Khun. “But most of them eventually get bored so we have to change our menu often and keep surprising them!” he laughed.VOLCANO GRILL CAFE 31 Jalan Ampang Baru 6b, Kampung Ampang Baru, 31350 Ipoh. Tel: 011 3140 4800 Open: 6pm-11pm Closes on Mondays.