If you, like me, have overindulged during the recent festive season, it’s time to opt for meals that revolve strictly around super-fresh, premium ingredients and delivered with simple but first-rate cooking techniques. My recent discovery of UoVo (pronounced 'Woh-Voh'), a nondescript dining room tucked away in Damansara Kim, brought home that point.
To those who understand Italian, it’s safe to say the name is Italian for “egg” (due to the owner initially focusing on a pasta-dominated menu), although if you pick up the restaurant’s calling card, you would see some Japanese characters next to UoVo’s name, which, after consulting a friend, reads as kakurega desu, which means “hidden house” or “den”. And, indeed, unless you are a true PJ-ian, we’d bet our bottom dollar you’d be hardpressed to find this bijou place.
In keeping with its name, the restaurant seats just 45 and reservations are a must. An obvious Japanese streak also runs through the minimalist menu. As someone who appreciates a fine tipple with a good meal, bonus points are awarded to UoVo for its generous BYO policy, which saves guests from having to choose from a list that might not please or worry about having RM100 (or more!) slapped onto their bill simply for wanting a drop of something nice to go with dinner.
We visited the night of a public holiday and UoVo was packed, with two big groups raucously celebrating a birthday. Artworks line the walls and a velvet curtain divides the room — ideal if you want to host a party and don’t want to take up the entire space. Still, the vibe was welcoming and fun and, considering the leanness of the menu, it didn’t take long for us to decide what to order. We began with a flavourful tamagomushi (RM10), soft and savoury, before tucking into juicy and perfectly executed Hokkaido Scallops with Risoni (RM89). The justifiably famous Free-range Crisp Teppan Chicken (RM69) followed and, for all those hardcore KL folk who fear getting lost in the belly of Petaling Jaya, this dish alone makes it worth the hunt and trek. The locally sourced chook boasts the crispiest skin and the meat, when eaten with accompanying kisame wasabi, is certain to put a smile on your face. An elegant tomato salad, topped with blood orange sorbet and anointed with darkly delicious balsamico and slivers of onion, followed.
We were grateful for UoVo’s expert staff who had called us up upon confirmation of our reservation that we should pre-order the Japanese A5 Wagyu (RM220). Accompanied by grilled shiitake mushrooms and crisp garlic chips, it was delectable. We were either very hungry (each dish was wolfed down post-haste) or portions were on the modest side, but we easily found room to try the Hiroshima Oyster with Zucchini (RM49) and Salmon Teppan (RM79).
It would also seem the only things that missed our covetous gaze were the French-trimmed rack of lamb (RM99) and Somen with Japanese Daikon Broth (RM39). So, if it’s your maiden visit to UoVo, I would heartily recommend opting for the tasting menu which, at just RM180 per person, would ensure each one gets his or her fair share of canapés, salmon trout crudo, the teppan chicken, UoVo’s signature prime cut, jowl sushi, soup and a trio of desserts to boot.
For pudding, we decided to exercise a little restraint this time and just make do with three out of the seven items proffered. Our choices of the White Chocolate Cheese Bar (RM32), Chocolate H20 (RM32) and Vanilla Panna Cotta (RM29) were all met with collective murmurs of approval. By the evening’s end, our little party of four had worked our way through a delicious bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, a Pinot Noir, also from New Zealand, and, as a digestif, a precious bottle of Lg5 — Elements of Islay single malt scotch whisky, whose unctuousness, peaty nose and notes of sweet fruit, rich cream, mint and pear served as the perfect finale for a meal, which, by all accounts, celebrated the best of seasonal ingredients with simple but flawless cooking techniques.
UoVo’s respect and advocacy of the drinking diner’s freedom of choice is most laudable and definitely a plus point in their favour whenever I next decide on a dining venue, although, truth be told, the food is more than enough to warrant repeat visits — with or without bottles in tow.
Uovo, 8 Jalan SS20/10, Damansara Kim, PJ. 03 7731 8311. Tue-Thu, 5.30-10.30pm. Fri-Sun, 5.30-11pm. This article first appeared on Mar 26, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.