Only in-the-know foodies have been frequenting the Unusual Marketplace ever since it quietly opened last Nov 1. But, given the endless merry-making that is a hallmark of every year-end, it might be a good idea to consider this low-key but high-quality establishment. Founded by the same talents behind Rare The Food Company, diners can expect only the best seafood sourced from around the region, prepared lightly but flavourfully.
Zwischen den Jahren. That’s the poetic term the Germans use to describe the lull between Christmas and New Year. In this country, however, a similar downtime — or more accurately, a mandatory eating impasse — needs to be declared somewhere in early January and before the Lunar New Year, seeing as it is the only possible time the stomach can rest in between the endless feasting. Given how social Malaysians are, it is nigh impossible to say no to hosting or being hosted. If it’s the former and the ball is in your court, consider taking your friends out to the Unusual Marketplace then.
Here, you can indulge in a variety of good things without feeling as if you’ve gone overboard. Case in point: Order a tureen of wonderful milled mixed seafood congee (RM68) using Japanese rice and smoked broth of fish, eel and ago dashi, a superior stock made using flying fish — light, healthy and dizzyingly delicious. The Mala Shandong squid with peanuts and lotus root (RM19) or perhaps the oyster ceviche (RM55) are also a treat for all the senses and will not upset either your trainer or dietitian.
In a rare example of cross-establishment collaboration (and a nod to owner Ken Lai’s great relationship with other chef-restaurateurs), the menu also features the contributing talents of chefs Sricharan Venkatesh, formerly of Nadodi; the Bib Gourmand-rated Hai Kah Lang team and Lee Zhe Xi of Eat and Cook. They have conceptualised and contributed to a few of Unusual Marketplace’s starring dishes, such as the curried cockles, coral grouper fish balls (made fresh daily) and the soon-to-come fish ‘n’ chips, respectively. As all the ingredients are wild-caught and procured on a sustainable basis, expect the menu to change according to availability, the season and even meteorological situation.
There are always weekend specials, of course, and they may range from dry-aged Ora King salmon sashimi (RM68), best relished with a few drops of smoked shoyu, to Pulau Ketam prawns with chilli pepper oil (RM48). For those who like dining discreetly, there is also a private dining room that seats 10 comfortably — but on bar stools and around an island counter.
Unusual Marketplace, The Club at Empire Residence, Jalan PJU 8/1, Damansara Perdana, PJ. Open Wed-Sun, 9am-5pm.
This article first appeared on Jan 8, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.