Jewel in the Oasis
By Jacqueline Benita Paul
Once, Oasis Square was mushrooming with new eateries but over time more foodies ventured to Kuala Lumpur to visit the Insta-worthy cafes. However, in an ironic twist, Champignon (Mushroom in French) has stood strong over the years. On our visit, we were determined to uncover the reason for Champignon’s longevity.
We entered through monochrome façade furnished with timber, expecting the interior to exude the same rustic charm. Instead, we found ourselves in a contemporary and modern space, with scintillating artworks by the master of colours and lines, Jeremi CA (customers may purchase these works) adorning the crisp white walls. The space does not just transform from outside-in but the settings are vastly different during the daytime and night. Daytime are for the lunch crowd who will get to enjoy the polished timber tables and the dinner crowd may enjoy an evening of elegance with the picturesque French fine dining table setting. Special requests can be made to have the dinner setting during the day, just call ahead and let the staff know.
Founder and head chef of Champignon, Gary is in the midst of creating a new menu but regulars need not fret as he plans to retain the signatures. On our visit, we sampled a mix of crowd favourites and became willing guinea pigs for his new culinary creations. For starters, we had a sizeable Seared Foie Gras presented on sliced, pickled grapes with the aromatic vinaigrette, topped with brioche and shaved almond. Each bite was an explosion of flavours – a mix of sour, pungent and slightly sweet– which offered a delightful aftertaste. More dimensions were added to our dish while taking sips of the house poured white wine, Al Galera Mistico 2017.
A fair rival to Foie Gras was the Chef Gary’s latest addition to the menu, the Beef Tartare with Bread Chips. Finely diced beef blended with chopped onions topped with raw egg created the perfect moisture level to enjoy the dish, balanced with the crispy bread chips. Next was the soup du jour, a sublime crab bisque that lets you have a bit of interactivity by pouring the hot soup into the crab meat mix.
The starters fired our senses, filling us with anticipation and excitement to guess what Chef Gary had in mind for us for the main course. The first of the mains to arrive was my favourite poultry, duck. Evident from its slightly pinkish flesh, the duck was prepared via sous vide and playing by Chef Gary’s strength, a mushroom puree added an earthy depth. Noting the unique aroma emitting from the dish, he pointed out his use of Sichuan pepper, an ingredient he no doubt discovered when he was the executive sous chef at Mandarin Oriental, Macau.
We were further amazed by Chef Gary’s ability to transform the most prosaic of proteins, chicken, to become the star of Champignon’s menu. To fully enjoy this dish, layer your fork in this format: slices of glazed beetroot, cuts of chicken breast dipped with the mushroom puree and chanterelle mushroom cream sauce. For a play on texture, dig in the rosti potato underneath the poultry. Our last main course, the Pan- Seared Black Cod Fish with Streaky Bacon was nothing to scoff at either. The crispy skin and tender flesh of the black cod carried the white wine sauce immaculately. When we didn’t think it could get better, we took a mouthful of the green pea puree flavoured by the streaky bacon strips.
Chef Gary treated us to something special for dessert – Pandan Crème Brulee topped with gula Melaka ice cream. The pandan comes from his fathers own garden which ensures a mild flavour but an explosion of aroma to produce a perfectly balanced dessert. We get it now – Champignon is a gem in oasis square for good reason. Chef Gary’s inimitable interpretation of classic French cuisine and his own twists to fit Asian flavours and modern epicureans is why Champignon will continue to stand against the test of time.
Address: Champignon *Modern european (Non-halal)
B-G-02, Oasis Square, Ara Damansara, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tel: 03-7832 2629