Any of us who are familiar with the Bangsar watering hole scene would have heard of Knowhere. The new kid on the block has brought a breath of fresh air to a row of shoplots that was previously best known its filter coffee.
Managing partner Shalini Surian appears at 6 pm sharp, and is all hands on deck as the wait staff rush from table to table, balancing the beautifully coloured cocktails through the crowd.
Shalini may be the only female bar owner in Telawi, but that doesn’t stop her from shattering the horribly misogynistic ‘Boss Bitch’ stereotype. Shalini is warm and friendly, and takes inspiration from her aunt, who was a bartender in the 90s. In spite of Knowhere being her first foray into the food & beverage line, her knowledge on the drinks and food served is on point, and she easily prattles off the best pairings the establishment has to offer.
From the colourful mosaic tiles that adorn the five foot pathway, to the thousands of tiny lights that adorn the ceilings, if this eatery and bar is known for anything, it would be the attention to detail. The mythical vibe translates from the murals of large keyholes painted on the feature wall to the leather bound drink menu.
Just shy of its one year anniversary, Knowhere boasts a Malaysian head chef who is trained in Mediterranean and fusion cuisine. While their wait staff comprise of locals and foreigners alike, the service is commendable. Shalini tells us that the entire customer experience is very important to Knowhere, and it shows. The waiters are on the ball, and were doing their best in spite of a full house on the night of our visit.
Shalini also explains that Knowhere tries hard to be environmentally conscious. “All the organic waste at the end of the day is donated to Kebun Kebun Bangsar. We also avoid using any kind of plastic, and there have been no plastic straws since day 1,” she tells us. Knowhere uses beautiful bamboo straws that are sourced from a social enterprise, the Usuk Initiative based in Tenum, Sabah.
Knowhere’s leather bound cocktail menu itself is impressive, with a myriad of cocktails to choose from. Aptly divided into Signature, Seasonal and Classics, it is no wonder that Knowhere is best known for their drinks. The cocktails themselves are pieces of art enthrall more than the sense of taste.
It was a nice personal touch to note that the ice used in the establishment is made, carved, cut and stamped in house.
When Shalini is on ground, she gives the patrons a little background on the individual cocktails, something she refers to as educational cocktails. The head bartender, Emran, is a thrill to watch as he mixes, throws and shakes each cocktail with as much passion as the first for the night.
The establishment also offers a large range on liquors, including a carefully curated collection of Spanish gin.
The Bird of Paradise is a marriage of Bols Genever Gin and exotic flavours of peach, vanilla, coconut and passionfruit. This cocktail comes with a beautiful rim of blue salt, and it is as easy on the tongue as it is on the eyes.
The Food – A brilliant twist on Amma’s cooking
While Knowhere does excellent Malay-Western fusion dishes, their Indian-Western fusion dishes are on another level.
Amma’s fish sambal comes to mind with the Sambal Smoked Salmon spaghetti, a combination unheard of up until now. Knowhere did the Italian ‘sambal’ justice and should probably consider patenting this delectable serving. The spice level does not disappoint.
Knowhere’s pizzas deserve a special mention. Especially the Italian Mutton Kari Pizza. Any Malaysian bar worth its salt carries a mutton curry pizza, to cater to a certain demographic, but it doesn’t always work. The pizza at Knowhere melds the right amount of spice to the crispy thin crust, and will go down bloody well with an ice cold beer. This dish would rank in our top 3 mutton curry pizzas in KL.
The Nang Nak Knowhere Pizza is probably one of the most unique pizzas in town. Featuring bits of rehydrated banana and slivers of jackfruit, this dish is divine, and is one of the most creative Malaysian pizzas we have seen in a while.
What we loved about the food menu was the number of times duck appeared on it. Not many bars are able to cook the dark poultry, but Knowhere does it justice.
We also enjoyed the Duck Confit Pizza. As us duck connoisseurs are aware, the meat can sometimes come of as tough and salty, and it needs something sweet to enhance the flavour. Knowhere has this down pat. The duck pizza layers the sweet hints of caramelized onions, and thus embodies all these flavours and actually creates a little party in your mouth.
The Fumed Duck was not only beautifully plated with strategically placed cucumber swirls to hold the basil leaves, it was also delicious. The mash that came with the dish was scooped onto the plate with utmost precision.
Knowhere’s Whole Roasted Chicken Leg was the correct amount of juiciness for our taste, while the chat potato frites it came with was the real star of the dish.
The Lime Cured Beef Tongue served with a lovely onion chili jam tartine was a beautifully pickled dish. The touches of sweet, sour and salty come together thanks to the consistency of the tongue that is chewy but not gamy.
For sharing, they recommended their Seafood Platter which consisted of prawns in garlic tomato salsa, grilled calamari, mussel sambal and crispy baby shrimp. For us, the highlight of this dish was Knowhere’s sambal belacan that came with it. Spectacular.
As for the crowd..
We aren’t sure if it was the drinks or the night in question, but the patrons of Knowhere are the usual Bangsar kakis, albeit better dressed, and the establishment was packed to the brim just before 8pm.
Would we recommend Knowhere? Hell yes. If you’re looking for unique, delicious dishes and drinks that aren’t too experimental, save yourself the Googling and head to Knowhere. Be warned though, you might be spoilt for choice.
Knowhere does a Men’s Night every Thursday – RM59 for free flow of Naked Grouse whiskey. Ladies Night is on Wednesday – RM19.90 for unlimited red and white wine, as well as tuak cocktails.
Keep up with Knowhere’s latest promotions here.