No I'm not introducing you to Azhang. Some of you probably have visited this place long before today. This refers to my being introduced to the oft mentioned name where foodies lurk. Azhang is a restaurant that has it's roots from Joo Chiat before moving to the current location of Mohd Sultan. The owner of the establishment is Patrick Zhang and his partner Ava. Having heard the name mentioned over numerous occasions and the food talked about does pique curiosity and I was informed (by Patrick) that I had to at least eat once from the regular menu before I could experience their unique service of catering to pre-requested and customized dishes according to the customer's tastes. Which is essentially what dinner tonight was about. To taste the what Azhang has to offer for the first time and to qualify myself to their special menu items. I think the kind forumers at Makansutra probably have done Patrick a measure of disservice because I think I have set expectations too high and I know for fact, that I'm not the only person who felt that way.
Dinner was a mixed sampler affair of the various offerings that are available in the limited menu of the restaurant. There were goods and there were not so goods. The overall feeling when I left is that I'm not really impressed. Sad to say it is.
Here's the famous freshly roasted corn salad which I've heard some ravings about. I think it's roasted after you've placed order for it so, really it doesn't get much better than this. Honestly, it is tasty. I haven't actually had roasted corn salad before anywhere else, so this being the first was quite the experience. Azhang's corn salad does comes with the sharp tang of garlic and onion, so it could get a little zesty for some. The only gripe I have with the salad is that it comes mixed with coriander which is personally the bane of my eating experiences. I cannot express my dislike for that vile herb enough and I don't really know why it is decided that having them in the salad enhances the enjoyment of eating it. I certainly didn't. But that's really a personal thing here. Apart from the coriander, I can say that I really enjoyed the roasted corn salad.
On first sight, the ribeye here was rather impressive. It's a decently sized hunk of meat over pilaf, topped with onions sauteed in red wine. At least that's what it tasted like. I generally go very easy with onions. These are exceptions because they're very appetizing and well flavored from wine. However, this is pretty much it for the steak that's really exceptional. The doneness did not have consistency and for medium rare it wasn't exactly at a level of tenderness I had expected. I think it's quite accurate to describe it as a tad too chewy. The taste was on the whole edible. Nothing more. Couldn't help thinking that this is really way below expectations and making comparisons to Hog's Breath. Yes, I am aware that they're of different cooking styles and it isn't a good comparison.
This Azhang combo platter is visually very impressive. Visually. One can imagine the size of this platter in comparison with the rib eye off the top right corner. This was basically a seafood platter in the same bed of pilaf as lamb and beef kebab skewers and their tandoor chicken. Of it, the squid scored some for having a fragrant char grill. Grilled squids are a pet preference of mine. The salmon belly is pretty decent, oily and flavorful of the natural taste of the fish. The large and delicious looking prawns on sticks were unfortunately quite disappointing. It's actually a lot smaller when stripped of the shells which stick quite persistently onto the flesh which is a tad too tough. I know I've had better. The chicken tandoor's dominant flavour was of the burnt variety. It tastes burnt, and I couldn't really make out what exactly are the spices involved in its cooking. The lamb and beef skewers are on the other hand, drowned in the seasonings used, resulting in a lack of the natural meat flavor. For something that looks that good, I'm honestly disappointed that it didn't quite go right.
One commendable aspect of dining at Azhang is the very attentive service which I appreciated thoroughly. It's something that can be seen and felt, which says much more than can be said of many other restaurants. Funny it seemed that most of the hospitality was extended through Ava and Patrick hardly said a word.