"This is not a food court," Brolly founder TY Ooi stresses for the third time. You can sense a tinge of frustration in her voice but maybe it is due to having to defend her new baby once too often.
Hey, not with me though, I totally get it.
Brolly is not a food court. It is an umbrella (brolly - get it?) of dining experiences with nine different menus to offer. A central kitchen processes all the orders, and you don't have to remember your table number when making one. Now what is so difficult to understand about Brolly's concept?
It is located on the ground floor of Menara Felda, right smack in the prestigious Persiaran KLCC vicinity. Welcoming you at the entrance is a bright red bus - the Brolly's Bang Bang Baller Bar, where you can get their most popular concoction, the Beergerita. A perfect union of beer, tequila, and fruit purees in six different flavours, the Beergerita is fizzy, strong, and gives the right kick to start a good meal.
Inside, the decor pays homage to the space's previous tenant, an automobile showroom. Converted truck tyres are now sinks, gasoline pumps work as water taps, rear and side view mirrors are used as vanity mirrors, and the most telling sign is the vintage Datsun that hangs upside-down over the pool table.
The place is bright and inviting, and has a nice ol' skool feeling without being too pretentious. "I kinda stole the records from my friend's mum," says Ooi pointing at the record collection adorning the wall behind her. Now I am insipired to buy a record player, but I digress.
Ooi is an avid traveller who uses Brolly to recreate her favourite food growing up, and from all her travels. Flipping through the menu, her eyes light up every time she comes across a particular dish that brings back many fond memories.
"When I was in Tasmania, Australia, I carried an oyster shucker during my diving trips and just ate the oysters fresh from the sea," says Ooi. Under the Moley's Oyster Bar menu, Ooi serves Fine de Claire No.2 oysters and Kelly's Gigas Oysters No.4, flown in fresh every week from France and Ireland respectively.
Taking Ooi's cue, we have the oysters without a squeeze of lemon or a dash of Tabasco sauce. This way, we get to taste the essence of the sea in every mouthful.
The Fine de Claire No.2 goes for RM12 each and Kelly's Gigas Oysters No.4 is priced at RM8 each, and these are considered the best prices in town for oysters this plump.
From the Crab Factory menu (yes, Ooi also owns the original Crab Factory in SS2), we order Canadian red lobster (RM190 [S$63] for two), yabbies (RM88 per 500g) and spanner crabs (RM19 per 100g) to be prepared in the Louisiana seafood boil style (see top image). The prices of seafood are adjusted depending on the market price.
There are four types of sauces to choose from; zesty lemon, garlic butter or the spicier Jamba Jamba and Signature Southern Bang. What we get in the end is an absolutely messy affair. Waiters upturn buckets holding the seafood on top of our table that has been covered with plastic sheet.
"Go crazy," says Ooi as she hands over a crab cracker.
I was more perplexed as to how to open the yabby - an Australian freshwater crustacean. The menu comes with step-by-step instructions on how to crack open its abdomen shell. I break a nail, but the sweet and succulent seafood more than makes up for it.
This is a great meal to have with family and friends without the interruption of mobile devices. Trust me, no one is going to hold their phone, or even have it anywhere near the table, when their hands are this messy.
We soak up the sauces with hush puppies, and still find space for the Fried Prawns Po Boy (RM22). A Po Boy is a traditional sandwich from Louisiana, and here deep fried prawns, onions, tomatoes, salad mix and sauces spill out from the specially-made French bread. It is definitely filling, that's no joke, but the taste is slightly muted for my liking.
Don't bother cleaning your fingers if your next dishes are coming from the My Wing Man or vari.Eat.y menu. Now, the easiest way to my heart is with either a Chanel handbag or deep fried chicken wings - but no prizes for guessing which one I usually get. The oatmeal coated chicken wings come in nine different sauces and we try Tomato Tango and Cencaluk.
I don't usually find anything wrong with chicken wings, but the Tomato Tango didn't just do it for me at all. The cencaluk chicken wings on the other hand? I can have that crispy, slightly pungent, salty plate of wings for days.
Vari.eat.y offers a variety of grilled meats, snacks and finger foods. I love the calamari tentacles stir-fried with onions, chillies and sprinkled with Vari.eat.y's signature Sichuan mix. It is addictive and don't be surprised if you finish the entire basket of the fried goodness without any help.
Ooi has included the grilled Camembert Cheese, a sweet dish that she first tried in Japan in this menu as well.
Sweet, milky and buttery, the cheese, grilled with honey and rosemary is served with crackers and definitely hits the spot for cheese lovers.
But the star of this menu for me is the fried onion as big as the palm of my hand. "The onions are specially imported from Australia. It is coated in a special batter and deep fried," says Ooi.
The onion is served with a special brown sauce and is nothing like the other onions I have tasted before. It is sweet, crunchy, crispy and forever changes the way I look at this bulb vegetable.
Ember & Bara is a throwback to Ooi's memory of good barbies when she was in Australia, where a mix of Australian and Malaysian BBQ were the order of the day. "Barbecuing is not exclusive to the Western menu. Asians grill their meats too, remember?" And as if to prove that point, Ember & Bara serves a wide array of grilled meat - from beef to lamb to seafood to chicken and even vegetables.
I peek at the menu and see the Raksaksa Mirai's Big Bowl Challenge, where you have to finish 1.5kg white rice, 700g Tori Garlic Mayo or Beef Yakiniku, 100g julienned cabbage and 500ml curry sauce in 20 minutes. And if you cannot, then get ready to pay the RM85 price tag.
Erm, no thanks. Expanding my stomach beyond recognition is not on my plan for the day, so I have the regular sized Tori Garlic Mayo with a bowl of signature rice dish instead.
I enjoy mixing the strips of chicken with the thick and flavourful curry, and the combination works wonders with the flavoured rice. Ooi visited 11 places in Tokyo just to learn about the way the Japanese make their curry, and finally figured their secret out. "It wasn't all just Japanese spices, but a good mix of Indian spices thrown in as well."
The next dish surprised me a lot - a green pizza. There are nine varieties of pizza from the Nov 9 menu and ours is the Lambogarlic.
Topped with minced lamb and lamb sausages with garlic sauce, the Lambogarlic (Ooi is very happy to have come up with the name), has a green base. "I threw my chefs a challenge to come up with the best pizza dough, and one of them created the thin spinach dough that takes these pizzas to a whole new level," she explains.
The Lambogarlic has a strong smell that could be off-putting (lamb AND garlic, what would you expect?), but otherwise, it tastes great. The topping is generous, the crust is thin, and at RM26 it is quite the value meal.
Now what meal is complete without a good sugar rush and that is exactly what I get with the Grilled Montel Banana Parcel (RM16) from the Sweet Endings menu.
The parcel of baked banana, cinnamon and maple syrup topped with whipped cream is my personal slice of heaven. It is sweet, rich and something I am going to try to recreate at home until I get it right or the oven breaks down.
I am already giddy with excitement at this point, but the realisation that I haven't tried the other parcels snaps me back to reality. They also have Grilled Green Pear Parcel and Grilled Red Washington Apple Parcel, apart from tiramisu, creme brulee and rocky road.
Oh well, that just gives another reason for me to visit Brolly and go on this insane gastronomic journey all over again.
Ground Floor, Menara Felda
Tel: 03-2181 4122
Opens daily from 11am to 11pm