The Saujana Kuala Lumpur,
Jalan Lapangan Terbang SAAS, U2,
Shah Alam, Selangor.
Tel: 03-7843 1234 ext. 4068
Tuesday to Sunday, noon to 2.00pm,
7.00pm to 10.30pm.
Closed on Monday.
NOTHING speaks romance more seductively than an intimate dinner for two.
Ambient lighting, soft jazz, and quiet conversations shared over a meal is a proven formula to celebrate with a spouse, serenade a date or even charm an acquaintance.
My focus is on regional Italian from my home with a modern twist.
The ingredients are most important — I cannot work without a good tomato. -GIOVANNI RICCI
That’s why at Senja at The Saujana Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Valentine’s Day is a prioritised occasion, with a new, prix fixe four course menu designed for romancing patrons.
Head chef Giovanni Ricci left his home in Marche, Italy two years ago to serve up some of Malaysia’s finest modern Italian cuisine.
In less than two years he has already won critical acclaim for the restaurant, including accolades at the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival and Malaysia’s Best Restaurant Awards last year.
Ricci said he wanted to bring his passion for simple Italian ingredients and culinary refinement to Malaysia.
“My focus is on regional Italian from my home with a modern twist.
“The ingredients are most important — I cannot work without a good tomato.”
Many of the dishes at Senja combine a blend of fresh local produce with imported Italian ingredients, including Buffalo Mozarella and Gorgonzola cheeses.
“You can get these here but the quality and taste is not really the same,” he added.
Whether grown in Malaysia or Italy, the food at this restaurant is delectable.
Beginning with a complimentary plank of house made bread, ricotta dip, sun-dried tomato tapenade and olives, the set menu is exciting and relaxed, inventive yet rustic.
Far from being the typical bolognese and magherita pizza items, it takes the diner on a food safari that stretches from traditional trattoria to fine dining.
An appetiser salad of prawn, scallops and mussel works a treat, lifted by the sweetness of a cherry tomato confit and peppery single strands of arugola.
There is a touch of citrus and olive oil here too, a delicate combination that complements the serene lakeside environment.
Senja, translating to ‘dusk’ in Bahasa Malaysia, is a luxuriously renovated restaurant in the Saujana Hotel complex.
Alfresco dining is a drawcard here, with many evening patrons opting for the balmy outside dining experience.
However, the newly renovated interior is equally impressive, with stained glass windows, a plush cigar lounge and an intriguing double bass and grand piano entertainment corner.
Even with this setting, the restaurant only plays a supporting role to the food.
While a simple, second course of Borlotti Bean Soup with Maltagliati (literally meaning “badly cut”) seems as if it was transported to Shah Alam directly from a provincial Italian kitchen, a main of seared Silver Cod is outstanding.
Presented with a slick of Cennellini bean “velvet”, green asparagus, saffron potato ‘chips’ and a Livornese sauce, the dish contrasts textures, rich seafood flavours and a Mediterranean tomato sauce.
The alternative main of Veal Ossobuco, Saffron Risotto and Gremolade, while not as complex, is just as gratifying.
The veal and risotto are both tender, and the fragrant saffron and gremolade (lemon zest, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and parsley) add colour and body to a homely and heart-warming dish.
It is the perfect accompaniment to a Valentine date — soft, aromatic and satisfying.
To end on veal and rice would be almost blasphemous however, with the ritual of dessert arguably the most decadent and intimate food offering.
Here, Senja excels even further with a delicate chocolate mousse.
Divided into a white and milk chocolate and lined with butterscotch, berries and orange jus, the dessert is near flawless in its silky mousse, ganache, citrus and caramel combination.
You may be looking out onto an intimate lake in Shah Alam, but the flavours coursing through your palette are all modern Italian.
Senja’s Valentine’s Day Dinner is priced at RM148++ per person or RM258++ with wine pairing. Other prix fixe menu specials will be running throughout February. This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.