Review: Locus, the Newest Restaurant in Town That Places Emphasis on Rotating Chefs

The focus is on Locus.

Locus isn’t your regular restaurant. In fact, when we heard about its concept, we wondered if it could even be called a restaurant—there is no main chef and no fixed menu. Yet, after our five-course dinner, Locus seems shaped to be the next big thing in the KL food scene. 

But first, a little context about the “restaurant”. Brought to you by the trio behind cult favourite eateries like LI and Provisions, the name Locus itself means “a place where something occurs”. Lee Ziyan, one of the founders, explained that the restaurant’s concept was planned even before COVID-19 hit the world. They wanted a space where talented chefs who didn’t have their own restaurant could take over the kitchen and create a different menu each month, host wine pairing sessions, workshops, and more. The possibilities were endless. 

After several years of delay, Locus was finally brought to life in a little corner of Damansara Jaya, right behind LI and Provisions. From the outside, the wooden door and closed curtains give us a sneak preview of the cosiness that we were soon to experience within. Inside, the restaurant is small but enough. A long, onyx counter table takes up most of the seating space, allowing guests to be closer to the chef and see what goes on in the kitchen area. There are smaller tables around the space, for those who prefer some quality time with their companions. 

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Red Snapper Umai.

As for the inaugural menu? Of course, it had to be co-founder and head chef Lim Heng Kit (fondly known as Chef Kit) to take charge. When we visited in September, Lim designed the five-course menu to be ongoing until the next guest chef came in. For those familiar with LI’s occasional LI-neage menu, think of this one as a refined extension of LI-neage, featuring familiar Malaysian dishes with a tendency for sustainability. We were first served a steaming bowl of red snapper broth, a comforting start after a harried journey to the restaurant in the traffic and rain. It carries the same sustainability link in cooking, as the broth is made out of discarded bones and parts from the first course. The broth wasn’t meant to stand out in the course of the dinner but to whet your appetite with a gentle taste, guided by undertones of the red snapper’s deep sea flavour. 

With our tummies warmed and souls comforted, we begin the first course of Locus’ inaugural menu. Chef Kit presented us with a Red Snapper Umai, a ceviche made with Malaysian ingredients. Acids used to “cook” the red snapper sashimi include local citrus fruits such as passionfruit, while Jambu Bol–a cross-breed of jambu air (rose apple) and peach–is added for a nice, crunchy contrast in texture. Served over coconut milk to offset the acidity of the fish, the Red Snapper Umai was a charming dish that tantalised the senses and proved that local produce–from A Little Farm on the Hill, no less–has star power. 

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Next, we got to try Soy Milk Egg Custard, a creamier chawanmushi dish reminiscent of a savoury tau foo fah. It may look like a simple, vegetarian dish, yet it showcased Chef Kit’s exemplary skills in getting the right balance between texture and flavour. Keen to add variety to the otherwise soft texture of custard, he also added deep-fried tempeh, chopped and sprinkled over the dish for a nutty, crunchy flavour. There is also shiitake mushroom in the mix, cooked down in a tasty, savoury sauce to add a kick to what would otherwise be a mild-tasting dish. 

locus restaurant
Kai Lan risotto.

The third dish of the course takes us back to Chef Kit’s childhood. He shared that one of his most memorable childhood dishes was a humble one that his grandmother would make for him. A bowl of kai lan porridge, cooked with ikan bilis broth. That night, we tasted an elevated version of the dish that would have certainly made grandma proud. Using Langit Collective rice, Chef Kit transformed the porridge into a risotto with a concentrated anchovy broth as a base. The kai lan element in the risotto was also prepped in three ways: pickled, dehydrated, and charred for a range of textures and flavours. 

For the mains, Chef Kit does a current crowd favourite among Malaysian fine restaurants: aged duck. The Cherry Valley duck from Penang was aged to increase depth of flavour within the meat, then charred to achieve a crispy skin. Complemented with citrus jus and greens, one could find no fault with this main dish. 

Dessert, on the other hand, is an homage to Cameron Highlands. Featuring strawberries and local mulberries atop milk ice cream with earl grey caramel and lemon granita, anyone with a sweet tooth would surely approve of this. It was rich, sticky, sweet, and crunchy—a surprisingly decadent dish compared to the rest of the tasting menu. Yet, it was a good end to the entire experience, capping off a delightful meal. 

Chef Kit’s inaugural five-course tasting menu can still be had at Locus. Book a seat at the table here

Address: 72, Jalan SS22/25, Damansara Jaya, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Opening Hours: Thursday – Sunday, 6PM – 11PM. Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.