PETALING JAYA, Nov 30 — When Flamenco first opened in the mid-90s, it was one of the first restaurants to bring Spanish cuisine to Malaysian diners, receiving acclaim for its tapas and paella.
Angie Hiew was Flamenco’s larger-than-life chef and proprietor.
After Flamenco’s closure, she transitioned into the corporate world, managing and consulting at Sky51 and Sabayon, respectively, for the Equatorial Group.
After a brief hiatus, Hiew stepped back into the kitchen with TIFA, offering comfort European fare as well as a fully customisable private dining experience.
The well-lit interior at TIFA.
Initially located in KL Trillion, TIFA recently moved to Empire Damansara, where it stands amidst the quiet first floor of Heritage Lane.
From the outside, the exposed brick facade lends itself to the simple setting of the restaurant.
Inside, a wall of windows allows soft beams of sunlight to bathe everything in the room, including a spiral staircase leading to the rooftop patio, where Hiew plans to host full tapas spreads in the future.
The menu is small, divided into tapas, a daily bread/bruschetta section, paella, pasta and dessert.
The Signature Pâté comes topped with candied nuts.
We started with the Signature Pâté (RM17) — so good we downed heaps of it on bread in a flash.
Candied nuts, sprinkled over the top, were a nice touch. It was a good start to the meal.
Aside from a daily chef’s special included as an option in the two-course (RM58) and three-course (RM78) set menus, one other item stood alone, beyond any section and at the very centre of my intrigue.
Chicken Pot Pie (RM25) is the unsung hero here, with peas, mushrooms and plenty of chicken thigh in a creamy blonde gravy.
Respect the silky smooth smear.
The addition of Pommery whole grain mustard brought a tangy dimension to the dish that’s more than welcome, topped off with a perfectly flaky and crisp crust made from puff pastry.
The result is a beautifully browned and buttery square that cracks as you cut into it, all the while retaining just the right amount of pull as you come up with a composed bite of pastry and poultry.
I don’t know about you, but most chicken pot pies I grew up eating were made up of hard bits of dough with a grey, lukewarm filling that made the fictional Mrs Lovett’s meat pies from the tale of Sweeney Todd, look like heaven.
Here, Hiew does right by the plain but comforting staple — not by throwing a bunch of exotic and expensive ingredients at it — but by simply taking care to execute every single aspect to a high level.
Tearing into the puff pastry top of the pie (left). A perfect bite of pie (right).
The Signature Tagliatelle is simple but excellent.
A similar degree of care and pride can be seen in the Signature Tagliatelle (RM42) with smoked chicken, manchego cheese and chorizo.
Dyed just the faintest shade of orange from the chorizo, the creamy sauce balanced a trifecta of smoky, buttery and slightly spicy notes, all while perfectly coating every inch of pasta.
It looks so simple, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken my fork to a plate of creamy pasta and tasted bland, gloopy mediocrity. Cream should be the medium, not the message.
A fully customisable private dining experience is also available, which allows one to see the full extent of Hiew’s culinary repertoire.
Notable dishes include Oven-prepared Beef Ribs and a Braised Beef Cheeks dish that’s an all-timer in my book.
The front of TIFA.
TIFA by Chef Angie — Private Kitchen & Tapas
F16, 1st Floor, Heritage Lane, Empire Damansara, Jalan PJU 8/8A, Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya.
Open Monday to Saturday, 12-2.30pm, 5-10pm
Tel: 017-358 1338
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