Racks is the latest outlet to debut in the increasingly packed, high-end Changkat Bukit Bintang scene. What makes this newbie stand out in the Kuala Lumpur dining scene? Two words say it all: pork ribs.
What it is: Racks is building a name for itself by specialising in pork ribs, and, more generally, in fresh, homemade food. Everything is cooked to order and their bread is baked in-house. The restaurant is run by Paul and Shu Min, the owners of two other successful restaurants in Changkat Bukit Bintang – Havana and Magnificent Fish and Chips.
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The look: The initial design for Racks was a tongue-in-cheek barbecue-cum-S&M outlet with leathers, chains and other assorted paraphernalia adorning the walls. This idea was scrapped though for a more subdued look: the simple brick walls covered in witty quotes. It's a somewhat more cliched design approach, but Racks somehow manages to pull off the look. The only remnant of the restaurant's original S&M theme is the stylised handcuffs that makes the 'c' in 'Racks'.
The limited space at Changkat Bukit Bintang outlets is maximized at Racks, which offers bar seating in addition to regular tables. The al fresco area allows you to watch the nightlife at Changkat Bukit Bintang from your prime location in the middle of the street.
The food and drink: Racks specialise in pork dishes, evident in the liberal usage of this particular meat across their menu.
In addition to their sensational ribs (the place is named after this menu item, so it better be good), Racks' pork burger (RM28) is a delicious four inches of smoked bacon, with a home made pork patty and dried tomatoes. Despite the humble nature of the burger, this flavorful and juicy patty makes this one of the more remarkable menu items. Racks even oven dries their own tomatoes over a low heat.
Racks Bar and Baby Backs also has a full bar. They offer everything from apple martinis to shooters dubbed “Racks of Ruin”. The latter costs RM200 for a rack of 12 and comes in various concoctions ranging from “Test Tube Babies” (vodka, peach schnapps and dash of cranberry) to the intriguingly named “The Molotov”.
The Molotov is akin to a vodka Red Bull without the caffeine – in the sense that it really wakes you up.
“It's called The Molotov for a reason,” quips owner Paul Corrigan with a grin after seeing many reactions to the shooter. The Tabasco sauce inside this shooter is enough to cause lesser men to run for the nearest source of milk.
Must-try: The pork ribs are, of course, the highlight and pride of the restaurant. The menu staple currently comes in either Hot & Spicy and Sweet & Sticky varities. The ribs (RM58) are slow braised and glazed on the spit with the latter slathered with marmalade glaze and topped with scallions. The entire process takes six hours and is evident in the way the meat falls off the bone.
Verdict: The pork ribs makes for messy eating, but the sweetness of the glaze permeates the meat and there is a certain primal satisfaction in picking up the ribs and eating it off the bone with your hands -- especially in this high-end neighbourhood.
Racks Bar & Baby Backs, 18-1, Changkat Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, +60 03 2110 1550
For more on the Kuala Lumpur restaurant scene, read on at the LifestyleAsia Kuala Lumpur Wine + Dine section.