A Quarantine with Darren Chin

When Darren Chin invites you to come over for lunch, you never say no. It so happen that we wanted to have a catch up as he had some stock to use up, which I happily obliged. As you would have it, it turned out the be one of the best ways to spend a quarantine… with Darren Chin.

Darren Chin | A Quarantine with Darren Chin | Food For Thought

This time around I did not invite a friend with me, as it was the start of the quarantine period, people were beginning to avoid large groups. At that time, it was advised to not be in groups of more than five, and also, I wanted to have a proper catch up with Darren as restaurants were given the notice to shut and not only essential services were allowed open.

“Come over Nick, I’ve got some food I need to put away.”

Obviously, I obliged.

Croissants | A Quarantine with Darren Chin | Food For Thought

As usual, we started the meal with his signature Croissants with a heavy-handed grate of pecorino. The croissants he presented at his home is the exact one used at both DC Restaurant, Bref and Café-Bistrot David, but perhaps I may be biased, that anything handmade in front of you must feel fresher. Nevertheless, I still claim that this is the best croissant you will find in Kuala Lumpur.

Morey-Saint-Denis Les Larrets Blanc 2016 | A Quarantine with Darren Chin | Food For Thought

We proceeded to begin our meal and conversations over a bottle of white, a Morey-Saint-Denis “Les Larrets” Blanc 2016, quite buttery for a French chardonnay, which went swimmingly well with the pasta and poultry.

“This is quite an interesting white which uses a Chardonnay grape which comes from the area of Burgundy, famous for its reds.”

As we chatted and caught up about the state of things, with fear that the country was going into lockdown, Darren was lamenting how he had stock left which he needed to move, specifically a few boxes of uni, caviar and some black truffle.

Pici Cacio E Pepe | A Quarantine with Darren Chin | Food For Thought

In addition to a live demonstration on how he makes his Pici Cacio E Pepe, he shaved a generous shaving of black truffle to bring out the flavours in his pasta dish.

“I can only keep these luxury goods for so long, we might as well savour it ourselves. The pici pasta itself comes from Italy.”

The black truffle really adds that extra aroma and texture to the dish, especially with the thickness of the pici. With a noodle that is thicker, a strong flavour is needed.

Khao Man Gai | A Quarantine with Darren Chin | Food For Thought

Up next was a preparation by Madam Nuanta, Darren’s mother in law who hails from Chiang Mai. It is because of her that patrons at Café-Bistrot David were able to enjoy the Khao Soi a few weeks past, and the Khanom Jeen Nam Ya the week after that. We were lucky enough to savour her Thai chicken rice, also known as the Khao Man Gai. In addition to a beautifully fragrant rice, the key ingredient here which makes it unique is the chilli sauce used. If it were not for the Movement Control Order, we would’ve been able to savour this dish I suppose.

Pomelo Yam | A Quarantine with Darren Chin | Food For Thought

Madam Nuanta also prepared a Pomelo Yam, a Thai salad compromising of pomelo segments tossed in lemongrass and a fermented fish sauce similar to budu. However, the dish came off a little unbalanced due to the pomelo being too sweet as Nana said the variety you find in Thailand are usually more sweet-sour, giving the dish a better balance. First time really that a fruit did not sit well because it was too sweet.

Le Serre Nuove Dell’ Ornellaia 2015 | A Quarantine with Darren Chin | Food For Thought

As Darren started heating up the barbecue pit we continued onto the bottle of red, the Le Serre Nuove Dell’ Ornellaia 2015. This bold and structured wine was quite easy and not overtly tannic, working well with red meats.

“This is one that is similar to Bordeaux wines but from the Bolgheri region which is interestingly known for its whites rather.”

As the coal heats up, we head over to the barbecue pit to get things going. He uses a mix of binchotan and coconut briquettes instead of binchotan only as the balcony is not equipped to handle such heat, but nevertheless, it did an outstanding job. You can always trust a chef like Darren to know better. The lamb chops went onto the grill, followed by the wagyu patties, but we’ll come back to that later. This is where he prepped the Wagyu Croll Burger.

“I like my crolls burgers simple, just a few slices of pickle and ketchup. Some like it with more condiments but I like it simple. At CBD my dad uses cornichons and gruyere.”

The thing about the croll burger is that the wagyu patty itself is full of flavour, both from the quality of the meat and coming from the umami char on the barbecue, requiring very little to support it. I found that the crisp of the croll manages to absorb more of the flavour from the fat when it is unadulterated. A dollop of ketchup and mustard was sufficient. You do however see some people who’ve ordered the takeaway dressing it up quite fancy, with a version using prosciutto and eyringii mushrooms.

Lamb Chops | A Quarantine with Darren Chin | Food For Thought

The courses came to its penultimate dish, the Slow Roasted Lamb Chops. The thick cuts were a good balance of meat and fat, and was especially flavourful, with many slabs piling on top of each other.

“These chops are so good that I hardly need to do anything to them. Just throw them on the barbecue with a slow fire and it does the job itself. It’s the same ones we serve at Café-Bistrot David.”

The lamb chops were perfectly cooked and did not have that overtly strong musky flavour, which puzzled me as I couldn’t figure out how it was achieved without any strong seasoning. This dish however, is a definitely must try, and if you ask really nicely, I’m sure Darren Chin will be doing deliveries for this amazing dish.

Le Serre Nuove Dell’ Ornellaia 2015 | A Quarantine with Darren Chin | Food For Thought

We ended the meal with a fortified wine, the Dow’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port. As the meal came to an end, the port made a nice dessert pairing with its sweet almost chocolatey notes.

“I really like this port, as they age they get even better like the 20-year-old, but this one is good enough.”

Chocolate Mousse | A Quarantine with Darren Chin | Food For Thought

The final dish was prepared was the Chocolate Mousse, a French classic now available at Café-Bistrot David as well. The fluffy mousse was perfect, not too sweet, and paired well with the home-made vanilla ice cream.

“I feel we tend to lean more to the French side from my influence at CBD, that’s why we decided to remove the apple crumble, and what is more French than chocolate mousse? We actually prepare them at DC itself.”

Food, Wine and Quarantine | A Quarantine with Darren Chin | Food For Thought

As our lunch ran from 2 to 6 pm, I decided that I had to take leave, albeit very reluctantly. As you should expect, a lunch at Darren’s is no mere simple lunch, but really a feast. It was only after I left I realised I left before the cheese course, so, you can imagine the heartbreak.

For our previous reviews, see DC Restaurant.

Café-Bistrot David
135, Jalan Aminuddin Baki,
Taman Tun Dr Ismail,
60000 Kuala Lumpur
+603 7732 0332
Opening Hours:
Mondays to Mondays, 10.00 am to 6.00 pm
Closed on Tuesdays


Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic and drinks writer and is the editor of independent publication Food For Thought. He has been a freelance journalist for the 15 years and has previously worked as a lawyer and in digital marketing. He currently is the Principal Consultant of A Thought Full Consultancy, a food and beverage marketing consultancy.

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