Review: Yellow Fin Horse Revels in Open Flames

There's no horsin' around here.
yellow fin horse

A name like Yellow Fin Horse begs the question: Why? (Read to the end to find out what inspired this strange creature). But as we discover later through the menu, head chef Jun Wong is deadly serious about the food.

Located on the fourth floor of Else Kuala Lumpur Hotel, Yellow Fin Horse is a restaurant two years in the making. Past the reclaimed stone benches and the pool area, push through the heavy doors and enter Chef Jun Wong’s realm. The open kitchen is immediately obvious to guests, where they can feast their eyes on the action that typically goes behind the scenes. The concept here is “elemental cooking”, and the dishes have been designed to be as simple as possible to let the ingredients’ true flavours shine. Local seasonal produce is the mainstay here, typically cooked over an open flame to bring both familiar and experimental flavours to the fore.

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Within the menu, you’ll notice the dishes are split into four categories. You have your starters and small sharing plates, larger sharing plates, vegetables, and desserts. As with most newer restaurants, the food here has very much a family-sharing style concept, enabling everyone to try everything—which was what we did.

Two features that Wong aims to do at Yellow Fin Horse are keeping things zero-waste and making everything in-house as much as possible. Take the Summer Salad, for example. Purple corn was used in the salad, but it doesn’t just end there. Its husk is then used to make tepache—a fermented drink typically made from the peel and rind of pineapples—which is used in the restaurant’s zero-proof cocktails.

We also thoroughly enjoyed the Longan Sourdough served with smoked butter, which we later learned was house-made. The byproduct after churning the butter was later used in the Crudo dish, comprising local Malabar snapper and cucumber dill buttermilk. It had a slightly tangy flavour from the dill buttermilk but wasn’t overpowering at all—in fact, the cucumber added a refreshing element to the dish. Another similar dish on the menu was the “Sinaloa Style” Aguachile; a take on the Mexican dish with local live sea prawns in coconut milk. Unlike the Crudo, this one was spicier and packed with more punch from the coconut milk, chilli peppers, lime juice, and onion.

Jeow Mak Len Salsa.

Seafood takes centrestage at Yellow Fin Horse, with plenty of options taking up the menu. A must-try, in our opinion, is the Flame-Grilled Local Squid, which champions the squid in all its natural glory. Flame-grilled to textural perfection with a bit of char to add flavour, the squid is presented alongside a smoked buah keluak sauce and charred okra. Have all three elements together in one bite and marvel at the flavours dancing on your tongue. The Jeow Mak Len Salsa is also worth a mention: local XL clams prepared in a Laotian-style spicy tomato dipping sauce alongside chilli lime groundnuts for a zingy dish that whets the appetite for more.

If seafood doesn’t pique your interest, fret not—there is still a selection of meat-based dishes that will surely gain your approval, as it did ours. A particular standout dish we had was the Charred Caramelised Wagyu Karubi, which tasted curiously like Chinese char siew. Indeed, that was the flavour that Wong was going for, except this wagyu version had a richer taste than you could ever expect from your regular char siew—so make sure you’re sharing this with others. Served alongside charred kailan and YFH “chicken rice chilli”, this is the elevated chicken rice shop dish you never thought you needed.

The Coal Roasted Duck Breast is another meat dish that’s needs mentioning. Albeit simple looking, it’s a dish that allows the ingredient to shine best. Roasting over coals gives it a nice, smoky char, taming the typically gamey—but rich—flavour of duck. The sides don’t overpower the duck breast either—soft, juicy daikon topped with homemade salted mustard greens complement the dish perfectly.

Desserts are kept to just two items, so no one has the trouble of choosing what to have after a feast of mains. Choose from the Cashew Dairy-Free Curd prepared with burnt citrus fruits and honeycomb, or the Dark Chocolate Water Ganache with interestingly-paired black bean crisps.

Our verdict? Come with a large group of friends—there’s much to try. It’s where you go to when you want a great setting with crafted cocktails, natural wine, and great-tasting fine cuisine by a top-notch chef. As for the story about the name? Else Kuala Lumpur co-founder Javier Perez was the one who came up with it. Or rather, the name came to him when he was driving around in Florida as a 20-year-old in university. “A voice told me the name and said that it would be a restaurant…little did I know it would only happen years later, in Kuala Lumpur,” shared Perez over cocktails.

Address: 4th Floor, Else Kuala Lumpur, 145, Jalan Tun HS Lee, 50000 Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 6 PM – 12 AM