March 4th, 2021
The Red Beanbag at Solaris Dutamas: New menu review
Much has changed since The Red Beanbag first emerged in December 2011. Back in those halcyon days before flatlays and flat whites, before soft-serves and smoothie bowls had to be ‘on point,’ in the year of The Royal Wedding, Moves Like Jagger and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, when much of Solaris Dutamas remained a maze of barren hallways cloaked in construction dust, a fledgling cafe with a quirky name quietly surfaced on a secluded corner, hoping customers would like a taste of the things we now take for granted – eggs, baked and Benedict, plus fluffy pancakes and French toasts – served with a side of smiles and sincerity, skills and smarts.
Nearly five years later, KL has feasted ravenously on tens of thousands of Big Breakfasts throughout countless cafes, but The Red Beanbag still stands as a vital touchstone for how a restaurant can make an uplifting difference in the everyday lives of its patrons, having welcomed and warmed, fascinated and fed enough people to populate a town. As it approaches its half-decade jubilee, after giddy highs and blistering lows, this place isn’t half-done making memories – if home is where the cafe lover’s heart is, RBB might feel like family to many, and it’s eager to introduce six fresh-faced babies to intrigue you for a reunion: A beguiling brood of new recipes born of chef Fhaizal Mustafa and his cohorts’ colourful imagination.
Explorations of RBB’s recently relaunched menu should start with the Potato Jammin’ (RM18) – potato skins, jam-packed, literally, with beef bacon preserve, gorgonzola and dukkah. Festooned with edible flowers and sprouts, it may look like a cross between T.G.I’s cheesy snacks and a Monet masterwork, but it tastes comfortingly uncomplicated in its nectarous lusciousness.
Also staking a claim as baby food for adults, the deserved bestseller of RBB’s newbies is Smokey Robinson (RM25), touted as a terrarium of treats – lift the lid, and a slight vaporous swirl escapes, conveying the heady earthiness of the contents, compelling diners to dig into a creamy-soft pea-and-mint ‘panna cotta’ (more textured and much less gelatinous than the dessert), layered lovingly with beetroot-cured salmon, mixed mushrooms, a runny poached egg and bacon crumbs, alongside sourdough slices.
The RBB Rice Pudding (RM22) is swathed in the sweetness of coconut milk, but the bowl’s best bits may be the bumper crop of fresh fruits – enlivening berries galore, caramelised bananas and juicy dragonfruit – buoyed by chia and pumpkin seeds for bite.
Holy Crab burger
Possibly our favourite soft-shell crab burger so far, RBB’s Holy Crab! (RM32) should calm crustacean cravings, offering hefty mouthfuls of soft-shell crab with a breaded crunch that yields cleanly to crispy-tender flesh, splashed with a moderately spicy, mild-flavoured sauce that evokes Singapore chilli crabs, completed with a fried egg and Asian slaw – sufficient building blocks for a successful burger, coupled with warm, tasty fries. P.S. Dear John, your unsinkable beef burger still hasn’t left the menu here.
Cured salmon pizza
RBB’s sole pizza is one with personality, laden with beetroot-cured smoked salmon on every slice, smeared in a blue cheese sauce and showered with feta & rocket leaves (RM25). The caveat is that the crust might lack the rich character of its toppings.
RBB serves three kinds of pancake stacks; the latest, Who Zoo Yuzu (RM22), seems the most elaborate, a citrus enthusiast’s fantasy flapjacks, with mandarin segments, candied orange and yuzu sauce, as well as crisp basil leaves and roasted almonds. And since Fatbaby ice cream makes everything better, a scoop of Berry White (strawberry and white chocolate) can only help.
RBB is still the ideal venue for your Smooshie Juice fix; a mellow-yellow thirst-quencher of coconut water, pineapple, lemongrass, chia and basil seeds (RM8) was specially concocted for Urbanscapes 2016, but it proved so popular, it endures today on the roll call. As for coffee, the cafe has been a breeding ground for many good baristas, and a bad latte here is far rarer than a Porygon (or so we hear); currently, RBB serves single-origin Honduran beans by Perth’s Grand Central roasters.
And while the cocktail list isn’t really extensive, it’s reasonably distinctive, with a couple of fruit-focused choices like ice-blended watermelon with lychees and a shot of vodka (RM23) – a decent celebration drink. Thanks to the RBB team for having us back.
Location & Details
The Red Beanbag
A4-1-08, Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur.
Note new operating hours: Mon-Thurs, 10am-6pm. Fri-Sun, 930am-10pm.