Veteran chef Daniel Cheong wows diners with his Franco-Japanese cuisine at Romani Sky Dining

Perched on the rooftop of Avanté Hotel in PJ, the restaurant is part of the Rotol Group’s fast-growing F&B empire.

Miso-glazed cod with foie gras and white miso sauce (All photos: Low Yen Yeing/ The Edge Malaysia)

Please don’t let the mawkish installation of two white bicycles adorned with plastic plants and flowers set against a backdrop of (also fake) purple roses scare you away. Fortune, as they always say, favours the brave and those with pluck — and the ability not to pass judgement at first impressions — will find their palates duly rewarded at Romani Sky Dining.

Perched on the rooftop of Avanté Hotel in Petaling Jaya, on the 34th floor and next door to 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Romani is part of the Rotol Group’s fast-growing F&B empire — headed by the affable Datuk Seri Garry Chua — which includes the flagship Thai Chakri Palace, café brand Raintree and Italian trattoria A’Fresco. And while the approach is twee to say the least, those who appreciate good food will be thrilled to know this is where veteran chef Daniel Cheong, 53, now holds court.

Having made his name at two of the finest Klang Valley restaurants (Sage at The Gardens and Cilantro at Micasa for 10 and 16 years respectively), Cheong left to pursue other culinary interests for a while but has settled down at Romani since last December. The interiors are, praise be, more subtle. Tables clothed in white and navy are offset by the deep red of velvet curtains, which may be drawn at any time to demarcate space or for greater privacy.

Cheong’s trademark Franco-Japanese flavours has, happily, remain unchanged but he is more than happy to create off-the-menu specials at short notice as well. What will thrill diners is that Romani’s pricing is as friendly as the chef. Nothing is priced above RM48++ for starters and the choice ranges from Hamachi sashimi (RM38++) to tuna carpaccio with smoked caviar (RM32++) or, the fail-safe crowd-pleaser of warm capellini with seafood (RM38++). Prices for mains start from RM52++ for the pan-fried sea bream with tiger prawn in yuzu beurre blanc to RM168++ for a very lovely strip of Australian MB/7 wagyu (150g) with piquant yuzu kosho.

The tasting menus, however, are the best way to rekindle fond memories of Cheong’s cooking and, to Romani’s great credit, will not result in a phone call from your banker or accountant. The menus change from time to time, of course, but a sample lunch set features the aforementioned tuna carpaccio with smoked caviar and shaved black truffles, duck breast risotto with grated foie gras and port wine sauce, sorbet, your choice of pan-roasted bream and ika (Japanese squid) or grain-fed striploin with Dijon mustard sauce, and baked fresh cherries in almond frangipane and cream for just RM180++ — a bargain, given the price surge painfully felt in most Klang Valley establishments of late. In the evenings, the dinner menus are priced at RM218++ and RM498++, with every course guaranteed to please. Gilding the lily is a very generous corkage waiver for the first two bottles of self-brought wine.


Cheong preparing putting the finishing touches on the truffle risotto with Cherry Valley duck in Périgord sauce

The restaurant’s name might initially conjure up ideas that this is an Italian restaurant or, perhaps even Hungarian or Romanian, evoking the colourful nomadic Roma-Magyar ethnic groups that may be found in most parts of central Europe and the Balkans. But in tribute to Cheong’s cuisine, which has a decidedly French streak cutting through it, we are told Romani instead stems from a playful twist on the most hallowed name in the wine world — Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

As Romani occupies only part of the expansive sky deck, you may be tempted to wander across to the other side once dessert is done. Here, you will find SkyHill cocktail and wine bar, an equally friendly casual dining spot also operated by Rotol, with a spacious balcony where postprandial cigars may be enjoyed. Local fare is the order of the day here, but with an upmarket accent. If basmati nasi lemak with grilled lobster or wagyu beef rendang made with cuts of karubi sound good to you, you now know where to go.


Romani Sky Dining, Skydeck at Avanté Hotel, 1, Persiaran Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama, PJ. Daily, noon-2.30pm; 6-9.30pm. 016 227 7161.

This article first appeared on July 10, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.


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