Good things come to those who wait, plus a lot of practice, experimentation, and research to perfect the art. And that is exactly what Gooddam is all about, an Italian semi-fine dining restaurant located in Petaling Jaya in Kuala Lumpur.
Gooddam is a labour of love by duo Miki Lie and Daniel Yap. It was a journey that took time. Miki heads the front of house and spearheads the operations, while Daniel leads the kitchen.
But before there was Gooddam, the duo along with another partner started Pop Up Dining KL, which was their way to experiment, to practice, to test the market, to trial different recipes, to speak to customers, to seek feedback on their food. Pop Up Dining KL worked with several cafes and restaurants around KL to host a one-night dinner serving fine dining food. Since they weren’t bound to a single venue, it gave them an avenue to do their R&D and create an experience for customers like no-other.
Fast forward a couple of years, and Gooddam was born.
Gooddam is a modern Italian restaurant inspired by the rolling hills, natural beauty, and full-bodied wine of Piedmont, a region of Italy located in the north.
Whilst Italian restaurants tend to be associated heavily on pastas and pizzas, this in no way reflects Italian cooking. In fact, Italian cuisine is rich in cooking techniques and methods. And this is what Gooddam inspires to do – to introduce customers to the diversity and complexity of Italian cooking.
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Gooddam, Food Influenced by the Piedmont Region of Italy
Chef Daniel’s spent time studying and working in Italy, learning how to master the art of Italian cuisine.
You see, Italian cuisine is extremely diverse. Depending on where in Italy you might be – whether its north, south, east, or west, the style of cooking and ingredients used will vary.
Chef Daniel spent a year at the ALMA International School of Italian Cuisine in Parma, Italy. From there, he accepted a role in the Piedmont region to work as a chef. It was here that he learned about the food culture of Piedmont, which would become his main influence for Gooddam.
Famous for their rolling hills filled with wineries, it’s hard to drive past Piedmont and not be seduced to stay for a while and savor their food culture. It is so naturally beautiful, that you might even be tempted to buy a villa or farmhouse and live there.
Piedmont is located in the northern part of Italy and it is filled with a thriving food scene that’s rich in flavor. And who can forget the wine, which is deliciously full-bodied. Also, whilst olives are synonymous with Italian cooking, it actually doesn’t grow well in Piedmont. As such, you actually won’t see olives and olive oil typically used in Piedmont. Instead, the cuisine of Piedmont uses butter and lard.
And it is these characteristics which influence the cuisine in Piedmont, which tends to be rich in flavor and full-bodied. In fact, the slow food movement was founded in Piedmont in the 1989 as a way to preserve local food culture and traditions, through using high-quality produced that is locally sourced.
It is all these influences from Piedmont that sets the stage for Gooddam.
Local Produce, Italian Technique
Taking influence from all that the Piedmont cuisine represents, Miki and Daniel so lovingly created Gooddam.
The slow food movement actually started in Piedmont, and is dedicated to supporting local artisans, sustainable food and small-scale producers in order to safeguard local traditions and products. And Gooddam has taken influence from this movement, to work with local Malaysian producers, craftsmen, and artisans to bring delicious and beautiful food to your plate.
While we might not be in Piedmont, the duo has brought to us the cooking and culinary of Piemontese classics, whilst using as much as possible locally sourced high-quality ingredients. They believe that it’s not necessary to import everything from Italy, because hey, there are plenty of fantastic local ingredients that can be used.
From local vegetables from the highlands to single origin chocolate from the east coast of Malaysia, it’s incredible to see how it is transformed into an artform on the plate….and a delicious one at that.
Some examples include Damak chocolate, which is sourced from a small-scale producers who creates the first of its kind single origin chocolate from Malaysia. They also source heirloom tomatoes from the highlands of Malaysia, which comes in various shapes and forms, and taste oh-so-delicious. There is also an incorporation of traditional ingredients such as pandan, roselle, coconut and even bario rice – a rare grain of rice found in Borneo.
The design and décor of the space has also been created using local artisans and craftsmen in mind. From custom design cutlery to hand-making their furniture, Gooddam celebrates Malaysia with inspiration from Italy.
The Menu at Gooddam
Some of the dishes might appear simple, but trust me, it’s far from this.
Every single ingredient used has its purpose, and each item has been meticulously prepared.
Upon reading the menu, it is a bit vague. You get to know what the main ingredients are, but not necessarily the cooking methods or any sub-ingredients.
But that’s the whole fun of it really.
It creates interaction. It creates conversation. It creates an element of surprise.
Upon being presented each dish, the team of Gooddam spend time to explain the dish – they explain each layer, the different ingredients, and the cooking techniques.
The menu invites exploration, with its diverse use of ingredients and techniques. And there are two ways to explore – you can choose the 7-course tasting menu which gives you tasting portions of the signature items on the menu, or you can go a la carte. Either way, the dishes are best shared, so you’ll get to try a variety of things.
Highlights of the Menu
I hesitate when I see beef tartare on the menu, because I am extremely fussy when it comes to this rich dish. However, the Gooddam beef tartare (RM36 | U$8.8) is unlike any that I have tried before, so it intrigued me.
Using a garlic aioli that has been made using black garlic, it is combined with thinly chopped raw Australian wagyu beef and charred garlic scape. What’s a garlic scape you might be wondering? Well it’s the stalks of the garlic plant, and it adds a lovely slightly crisp texture to the beef tartare. Paired with rice crackers and this is a great starter.
The salmon is lightly cured dry using salt and brown sugar mix for about 40 minutes. The house-cured salmon is then combined in a mayo and basil dressing, which is wonderfully creamy and pairs nicely with the salmon.
Gremolata is first plated and then the cured salmon is placed on top of it. Finally, it is topped with sengkuang also known as jicama or yam bean, and is commonly used in the Malaysian dish ‘rojak.’ They have taken the sengkuang and baked it covered in salt, which helps to also steam the senkuang. It is then sliced very thinly and placed on top of the cured salmon.
Ahh the humble tomato. Looks so simple, yet the diversity and complexity of this fruit is amazing…or is it a vegetable? Either way, it packs a punch.
The Highland Tomato dish (RM28 | U$6.8) was one of my favorite items on the menu. The heirloom tomatoes are from Cameron Highlands and they are just perfectly sweet. Combined with house-made ricotta, basil oil and fish roe, the dish is well balanced, light, and refreshing.
Sometimes Italian food can be a bit heavy, so this tomato dish was the perfect compliment.
Wild Rice Risotto
I still crave this risotto.
Made using a trio of rice, the wild rice risotto takes black rice, glutinous rice, and bario rice to create a creamy risotto. Bario rice is rice from Sabah, which doesn’t use pesticides and herbicides, and is cultivated by hand.
Pecorino cheese is used, which is an Italian sheep’s milk cheese adding a mildy nutty and buttery flavor. There’s an ever so slight bite in the cheese which comes from its aging process, giving this risotto a beautiful taste.
Paired with the risotto is baby fennel, which is lightly grilled, so there is still a nice crunch to the vegetable. And to top of this delicious dish is deep fried baby fennel leaf, which adds a lovely texture to the whole dish.
Tajarin Yolk Pasta
Tajarin is a specialty from Piedmonte, which uses a higher propotion of egg yolks compared to more traditional pasta recipes. The result? A rich and decadent pasta, which comes in a beautiful saffron yellow color. The Tajarin pasta is made in-house and is cooked perfectly al dente so that there is still a slight firmness when bitten.
Tossed with crispy cured meat and hazelnut, this dish might look simple but it is oh-so-complex.
Fish of the Day
Depending on seasonal availability, the type of fish may change. For our dinner, we enjoyed seabass, which was confit and beautifully cooked giving the fish a lovely buttery texture. Celebrating the simplicity of the humble zucchini, it is lightly pickled and thinly sliced. Combined with the sea bass and there’s an explosion of complex flavours with each bite.
Using striploin wagyu, it is seared to bring out as much of the flavor as possible. Paired with a delicious beetroot puree, grilled whole onion and fried kale. An interesting addition is the bold espresso sauce – the rich coffee flavor actually paired so well next to the wagyu beef. Plus the beetroot puree has a lovely earthy and sweet flavour, which sits nicely with rich flavor of the espresso sauce.
For the Sweet Tooth
The panna cotta at Gooddam is a play on Malaysia’s ice cendol – a deconstruction of it, but using the cooking influence of making panna cotta.
The panna cotta itself is beautifully creamy and pairs well with the rosella jam. The rosella adds a nice sweetness with a hint of sour, while there is a mild hint of pandan oil in the background. To top it off is coconut milk, which has been mixed with liquid nitrogen, adding a playful texture to this dish.
Pumpkin Ice Cream
I loved this ice cream. It was not too sweet and also had a slight saltiness that cut through the sweet and milkyness of the ice cream – almost like a salted caramel. The ice cream was topped with pickled pumpkin that was not too vinegary and surprisingly worked so well with the ice cream. Adding to it was salted pumpkin seeds and rosemary. This one was a palate surprise!
The Beverage Menu
The beverage menu is simple, with a enough choice of Italian reds, roses, and whites each pairing nicely with the menu. And if bubbles are more your jam, there’s Prosecco and Champagne as well.
They have also created a small selection of cocktails, if you prefer a sweet start before diner. The limoncello bubbles is a lovely play on the traditional limenoncello – it’s sweet yet refreshing and easy on the bubbles.
Gooddam is a labour of love, and it shows every step of your dining experience at Gooddam. Chef Daniel and Miki both has put a lot of heart and soul to bring Gooddam to us, and it really has paid off. All the dishes have been meticulously prepared using sophisticated Italian technique combined with quality ingredients that are locally sourced.
Currently open for dinners, Gooddam is perfectly romantic – a great place to bring your sweetheart or a catch up with those dearest to you.
No compensation was received for this review, however we were guests of Gooddam. All opinions remains my own and I only promote products/services that I love.
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