Dancing queens in the group initially got excited, then downcast and, finally, wistful when dinner was suggested at Loo Loo. As international travel continues to be a deterring pain in the bum, it was only natural, we suppose, that collective ears pricked up with ill-informed glee at the acoustic similarity between Loulou’s, the celebrated nightclub of 5 Hertford Street, London, and that of the newest dining room to open in the Sri Hartamas district.
Loo Loo of Block B Plaza Damas is infinitely more casual and low-key. Even its name is simplicity personified, an amalgam of the proprietors’ surnames: head chef William and co-founder Nicole. There are no A-list celebrities or British royals to be spotted here but, rather, families and friends sitting down to the pleasure of sharing a good meal.
The decor is almost spartan, but the vibe is still warm, thanks to the constant hum and chatter from happy diners and the steady stream of delicious scents wafting out as plate after plate is brought out.
The menu is to the point: a few starters, a couple of pastas, a rice dish and the usual selection of proteins as well as three puddings. Despite its succinctness, the little ones are also not ignored, with two special and nourishing selections — spaghetti with chicken meatballs in homemade tomato sauce (RM12) and a salmon-butterfish combo with homemade chips (RM14).
If you come as a party of four, chances are you could well order one of everything on the menu and finish it all off, with room for dessert.
There is a decidedly Japanese streak running through the menu, which can first be detected in the cold noodle appetiser with prawn, cucumber, tobikko and citrus dressing (RM16) as well as the butterfish main, served with tofu, bok choy and onion dashi (RM32). If you are a fan of David Chang of Momofuku fame or have just got your hands on his newly launched memoir, Eat A Peach, do not miss the lovely hoisin-glazed smoked duck steamed buns stuffed with scallion and shredded cucumber (RM10 for two).
The beef dish of Australian marbled rib eye, with lovely crispy potatoes and green beans on the side, was expertly prepared, oozing jus and umami. And at RM48, it seems improbable that this little dining room in an upmarket neighbourhood chose to keep prices so friendly. A tip: Be sure to order extra potatoes on the side. It is worth the extra intake!
Although the prawn pasta (RM22) is hailed as Loo Loo’s star dish — and indeed it was flavourful, lusciously coated with creamy prawn essence that took 48 hours to distil — it was the seafood baked claypot rice (RM22) that proved a palpable hit, combining “all the seafood we have” with squid ink and short-grain rice.
My advice would be to order it early and let it rest for a few minutes, allowing that fabulous caramelisation of the bottom layer of rice rendering the grains crispy and savoury to form. The Spanish poetically refer to it as socarrat but, in Malaysia, fan jiu (Cantonese) or kerak nasi (Malay) sound no less evocative.
Alas, there was no rose-scented crème brûlée (RM14) the night of our visit, but we were amply consoled by the wobbly charms of the gluten-free chocolate soufflé (RM16), which came with a scoop of well-made hazelnut gelato, as well as the ethereal Honey 3 Ways (RM18) — fresh honey sponge served with honeycomb gelato, salted honey butter and earl grey ice cream that immediately brought back memories of a summer in St Petersburg, where I tried medovik, the famous Russian honey cake, for the first time.
Nothing on the menu is priced above RM50. And if I can be transported someplace wonderful in a bite and at a steal, I can’t think of a better place to dine in this year of clipped wings.
Loo Loo Casual Dining, B2-7, Block B, Plaza Damas, 63 Jalan Sri Hartamas, KL. 011 2729 7311/011 2313 1737. Closed on Tuesdays, Noon-10pm.
This article is part of our Plaza Damas article in Fare Trade column published on Sept 21, 2020 in The Edge Malaysia. Stay tuned for more.