My family has been really cautious during the pandemic, so we haven’t dined out in the last seven months. With things starting to open up again, it was a nice surprise when my parents decided that we could all sit down and have lunch at a restaurant proper. Of course, I had to suggest a place worthy of such a momentous occasion – so KomPassion at Damansara Kim it was.
Renowned for its Thai fusion cuisine, KomPassion is helmed by chef-cum-owner Nikom Uatthong, who came to Malaysia when he was just 20 years old, in search of a better life. From selling noodles and salad at a bazaar, he slowly worked his way up to become one of Malaysia’s top Thai chefs (he is also behind My Elephant, another popular Thai restaurant chain).
I first dined at KomPassion years ago, when I did a story for the magazine I worked at. Back then the decor was a lot more different, and the restaurant only occupied one shoplot. Now, the space has expanded to two lots and the interior looks much more chic: white walls and lots of wood, with tasteful art decor adorning the walls.
The restaurant dubs its cuisine “progressive Thai”, so expect classic Thai flavours but with a creative spin. While they do offer traditional dishes like Panang Curry (red Thai curry), Green curry and the like, there are also unique dishes such as Smellylicious Pork Belly (pork belly cooked with stir-fried minced pork, Thai belacan (shrimp paste) and cincalok (fermented shrimps)) and Duck Leg Confit Salted Egg Laab (laab is a salad served with protein).
For thirst quenchers, the bro and I ordered Iced Thai Milk Coffee (left) and Iced Thai Milk Tea. I like coffee, and KomPassion’s has to be one of the best I’ve had. It has a salty-sweet taste to it (like salted caramel) but the flavour is perfectly balanced. They also use flavoured ice cubes, so the drink doesn’t get watered down even when the ice melts. Granted, the beverage is quite milky, so those who like their coffee strong might not appreciate the taste.
We ordered four dishes – one vege, one pork, one fish and one soup. Orders were timed well so the dishes were served around the same time (efficient!).
My mom loves basil, so we got the stir-fry eggplant with basil. The dish had both the white and purple variety, alongside chilli, basil and shallots. Now, I don’t usually eat eggplant because I find that a lot of places don’t prepare it well (they become soggy, mushy and soaked in oil), but KomPassion’s version was fresh and tasty, and was well-seasoned with a good blend of flavours and textures. If every vegetable dish out there was like this, I wouldn’t mind eating my greens!
Nothing beats a belly-warming soup-based dish, and the Tom Kha Chicken Soup delivers with aplomb. If you like tom yum but can’t take much heat, then this is the perfect compromise. It has the sour, appetising tang plus all the goodies of regular tom yum –lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves – but toned down with cooking cream and coconut milk for a rich, creamy flavour. Our dish was also chock-full of mushrooms and tender, boneless chicken pieces.
The star of the show for everyone was the Grilled Fish Unagi Eggplant, which featured a generous chunk of filleted catfish sitting atop a bed of eggplant. Catfish is considered a ‘cheap’ fish due to its easy availability, but its also quite difficult to prepare due to its ‘fishy’ or muddy aroma (catfishes are bottom feeders) – which is why they are often deep-fried or cooked with lots of ginger and garlic to mask the smell. In my humble opinion, the chefs here have managed to elevate this poor man’s fish into a gourmet dish. There was no muddy taste at all, and it just tasted like a clean, soft and sweet white fish. The unagi sauce gave it a nice caramelised exterior, and everything just came very well together. 10/10 would recommend!
Last but not least of the main courses, we ordered the chef’s specialty, Chef Kom’s Roasted Pork Ribs. This is good enough for four people. The ribs were tender and juicy, and I can see why they’re a signature at the restaurant. But personally, this was not my favourite, as I felt that the sweet sauce was a bit similar to the catfish dish, and the pork had a strong smell (some people prefer this, but I don’t. Each to their own, though!)
There was still room for dessert. I had the coconut ice cream with red rubies (Tub Tim Grop) and corn.The red rubies are essentially water chestnuts wrapped in a tapioca-based jelly. Very refreshing, especially in Malaysia’s hot weather! Dad ordered another coconut ice cream but with gula melaka, while mom had a salted egg ice cream (not pictured – very mild salted egg taste, but still good nonetheless).
Our meal for four, inclusive of drinks and desserts, came up to RM250++. Considering the setting, as well as quality of food and service, I think this is a reasonable price. There are plenty of other dishes that I’ve yet to try on the menu, so I’m looking forward to my next visit.
Reservations are recommended, but you can try walking in too.
5, Jalan SS 20/11, Damansara Kim, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Open for lunch and dinner