Review: Beta KL Gets Into a Celebratory Mood For its First 2024 Menu

Celebrations all around, in food and in atmosphere.

Fresh off their one Michelin star award last year, the team behind Beta KL has certainly been in a celebratory mood—as they should be. Inspired by the concept of celebrations, head chef and co-owner Raymond Tham fashioned his first menu of 2024 around the festivities celebrated by the many different cultures and ethnicities that make up Malaysia. Unlike previous times, Beta KL is now only offering one menu—the Tour of Malaysia—priced at RM490 per person, but it’s the only menu you need, bringing your taste buds on an educational trip around Malaysia. 


beta kl review

We begin our journey in the East of both the Peninsula and the greater Malaysia: Pahang, Kelantan, Terengganu, Sabah, and Sarawak, where we are served a trio of bites to start our dinner, served alongside crisp champagne as a welcome drink. We dive deep into the waters of Sabah and explore Coral, a cold dish reminiscent of oyster-flavoured ice cream with a salty aftertaste and creamy mouthfeel thanks to the cocoa butter. Sprinkles of latok (or sea grapes) added a cute burst of oceanic flavour and texture. Next is Sago, a warm sago croquette inspired by ambuyat, a starchy, gooey dish made of sago that originated from Brunei and is typically found in Sabah and Sarawak. Finally, East ends with Mackerel, showing off the rich, multifaceted flavours of cured mackerel and fermented tuhau. The latter is a type of fermented ginger made by the Kadazan-Dusun people, allowing the dish to leave a lingering heat on the tongue, while the deep-fried betel nut leaf adds a salty, umami flavour to the overall appetiser. 

The 0.00% Yeast Bread from the previous menu makes an appearance in the Season 1/2024 menu yet again, wowing our palates with the chewy, tapioca bread and red chilli emulsion in place of a dip. We quite nearly asked for seconds, but there were more dishes we needed to save space for, so we moved on to the south of Malaysia. 


Down south is where it gets interesting, as Tham’s hometown is part of the three states included: Negeri Sembilan, as well as Melaka and Johor. Upon the first bite of the Humble Salad, we found the flavours very familiar—we were biting into our first celebratory dish: the yee sang. What could be more reflective of celebration than the tossing of the yee sang during Chinese New Year to ring in good fortune for the coming year? Of course, the dish on our plates looked nothing like the yee sang we knew, but all the elements were there: pomelo, cucumbers, peanuts, and the addition of kulim, also known as jungle garlic. As the waiter doled out a sauce of calamansi and plum, we were encouraged to toss it up before eating, like our own personal yee sang

Next on the menu is Scallop, a comforting dish of scallops enveloped with pumpkin and wrapped up in a Chinese cabbage leaf, served atop a fish maw broth. Comforting to the soul in its warmth and flavour, the celebratory dish is inspired by nasi kemuli; Nyonya Wedding Rice. In the final dish from the South, we head to Johor to have Tiger Prawn, a riff of gulai masak nenas. Here, the team from Beta KL has artfully smoked the pineapples for an interesting depth to the prawns, while the gulai foam added texture and gave the dish its rich flavour.  


As we arrive at the mains, we settled into the North of Malaysia: Perlis, Kedah, Penang, and Perak. There are three mains to choose from, and all are winners in their own right. The Cornfed Chicken, sourced from Perak, features chicken mousse and a sauce made from yellow rice wine. It’s inspired by the Foochow community in Sitiawan, and yellow rice wine chicken noodles are usually eaten for celebrations, whether it’s a birthday, Chinese New Year, or others. 

Lamb Rack is another option of mains, inspired by the Indian Muslim community in Malaysia. The koji-aged red meat is wrapped in roti jala and has a spicy gulai sauce on the side, making the entire mains extremely reminiscent of a famous nasi kandar restaurant in Penang. With a seafood-heavy selection of appetisers, this rich lamb mains was a welcome change in the entire course. It was also masterful in its execution, proof that even our most simple and humble dishes can be elevated and placed in a white tablecloth restaurant. 

Just when we thought we were done with the mains, Tham brought out a little bonus: Abalone Lawas Rice. It’s available as an additional course on the menu for an RM99 top-up, but we say it’s worth a try if you have space in your stomach for more. Lawas rice is only harvested twice a year, so this is no regular rice dish. Cooked to a risotto-like consistency, every grain of rice is still intact yet soft, coating every piece of caviar-topped braised abalone and finished with a zesty, kaffir lime oil to add zing to the dish. 

Finally, we came to the conclusive desserts, which are like mini celebrations themselves. Beta KL’s signature kuih loyang makes a comeback in this menu, named Loyang Vol 5, but without any of the funky bambangan that we saw in the previous menu. Instead, Tham has opted for black sesame in the form of a solid, ice cream-like kuih, paying homage to the Winter Solstice celebratory dish of tong yuen

The next dessert was an interesting one: Bananas. Tham said he wanted to capture the versatility of the banana: “It’s such a simple and humble fruit that can be interpreted in so many ways.” A scoop of banana leaf ice cream sits atop banana fibres and banana kombucha jelly, bringing together so many different flavours and textures, yet they don’t feel out of place in the dessert. It’s a fitting end to a Tour of Malaysia, and the Michelin-starred restaurant proves just why it deserved that award: the ability to bring local ingredients and flavours to an international standard. 

Make a reservation for Beta KL here

Address: Lot 163, 10, Jalan Perak, Kuala Lumpur, 50450 Kuala Lumpur

Opening Hours: 6PM–10PM, Tuesdays to Sundays.