August 9th, 2022
Cricket Carbonara at Gastro Bar, By Burgeon: Review
This review is brought to you in part by Gastro Bar By Burgeon.
When we mentioned Gastro Bar By Burgeon’s cricket pasta to a friend, his first response was, “Why on Earth?” That’s a fair question that this ceaselessly inventive restaurant is happy to answer. Chef Justin Yap and his kitchen brigade are all about telling stories through their food, harnessing both local and foreign inspirations to create pretty special offerings that bring together the familiar and the strange.
For much of Gastro Bar’s menu, the team regularly scours the markets of Taman Megah and Taman Tun to source for produce, but for their latest effort, they headed to the town of Banting for carrot-fed crickets (reared to feed birds and completely safe for human consumption), crafting the first insect-themed recipe we’ve seen in a Malaysian eatery.
You’ll find 12 pomegranate-infused and curried crickets on your plate of squid ink durum wheat pasta, entangled with morsels of Chinese lap cheong and Cajun-spiced tiger prawns in a mix of kaffir coconut cream reduction and cilantro-garlic emulsion that’s meant to evoke Peranakan flavours (think of this as a Southeast Asian carbonara).
It’s as enjoyable as any well-executed pasta, with fresh, pleasing flavours – the crickets (which remain live in the kitchen until orders come in) serve a purpose, supplying a light, almost airy crisp, with a slight grit for textural contrast. In terms of flavour, they’re much milder than the fried insects of Bangkok; so beyond the visual shivers, they’re as inoffensive as, say, croutons.
Plus, if insects truly are the protein of tomorrow, it’s time Malaysian restaurants get a head start on the future. This is well worth trying, but hurry – it’s a bug’s life for this week only at Gastro Bar, everyday till Sunday (June 12). The cricket pasta (affordably priced at RM28) is part of a newly launched exploratory menu that aims to showcase a uniquely different dish every week. Advance reservations for this dish are recommended, since the restaurant offers limited servings daily.
But for the genuinely entomophobic, no fear: You can still savour insect-free pastas and noodles from Gastro Bar’s regular menu. The recipes maintain a sense of elegantly versatile playfulness – caramelised sweet onion pasta with grilled striploin, Parmesan tuilles and cilantro-horseradish cream (RM38) and mee sua with Shaoxing-cooked prawns, napa cabbage and crispy shallots in a prawn-and-pork broth (RM28) are only two examples. Click here for some of Gastro Bar’s other a la carte highlights.
And if you need liquid courage to help you confront the crickets, the bar comes prepared: The strongest cocktail available is the Caipirinha (RM38); or even better, have the Amrut Fusion whisky (RM35; distilled from barley from Scotland and India).
For teetotalers, Gastro Bar offers distinctive mocktails (the cucumber-elderflower soda and rambutan ice-blended with red dates, raisins and butterfly pea flowers are both beautifully refreshing), most of which can also be transformed into cocktails (spike your lychee-plum soda with gin and your pineapple-mango soda with rum).
And for the final touch, experiment with what wine pairing works best with crickets – it’s probably debatable, but we’d opt for the house white for the cricket pasta and save the red for the steak pasta and prawn noodles. Many thanks to Gastro Bar for having us back.
Location & Details
Gastro Bar, By Burgeon
8 & 10, Jalan BM 1/2, Taman Bukit Mayang Emas, Petaling Jaya.
Now open Tues-Sun, 6pm-1030pm, except public holidays.