A while ago Sollie and I had lunch at Ben's, a somewhat new Western-Asian fusion restaurant in KLCC located at where the California Pizza House used to be. For the life of me I cannot recall what made us WANT to try that place -- it could have been Sol's idea but I cannot be sure.
And you know how people say first impressions are important? Well, we had a very good first impression of this place. And I must say, I chose the right dish as my first try, so yeah, this place is a definite must-go-to-again place and stays on my list as having a "thumbs-up" :p
One thing I found really cute about the place is their menu. Sol and I actually spent a good amount of time studying it, not just because the variety of food they have there is substantial, but because of the FONT itself. Haha. It looked like it was totally handwritten but that wouldn't be practical would it? However what made us suspect that it could be handwritten was the inconsistencies in the loops and shapes of the alphabets -- some "A"s looked non-similar and yes I know that totally sounded like something out of C.S.I.
Decor-wise, the theme is black. Rather dull colour but it was nicely done and gave off a very reserved, classy appeal. Not too classy that you feel coming in with your jeans and T-shirt makes you look like a ho-bo but classy enough that you FELT classy WITH your jeans and T-shirt (if that made sense at all). Tables are adequately spaced and we arrived just before the lunch crowd descended, so we got good seats. It can get quite packed during rush hours apparently (as with most KLCC F&B outlets, of course).
I ordered this for myself : Crispy Duck Confit Spaghetti cooked in aglio. IT WAS AMAZING. It could do without the cow-load proportion of grass on top but the spaghetti itself was fantastic. I am a big fan of most spaghettis cooked aglio-style so I usually order something along those lines if I go to a new place, as a means of measuring a restaurant's standards. It was not too oily, it had the right amount of spices that contributed very nicely to its taste, and the duck itself was succulent without being watery (a.k.a hanyir). Definitely a signature dish, and apparently this runs out pretty quick during the rush hours.
I cannot recall what this is called exactly but this is basically Nachos with Tomato Sauce and Cheese Dip. Think CHILLI's Bottomless Tostada Chips... okay maybe not so similar as that. This was a great appetizer and was served in a moderate enough proportion so as not to overwhelm our entree.
Sol ordered Spaghetti Carbonara. If I usually order Aglio Olio style spaghetti as a means of measurement, she would order carbonara style. And for something that is made with milk and meant for kiddies (no offense Sol :p) this really had some kick to its taste. Nowhere near as delish as Sunway Giza's D'Italiane's Spaghetti Carbonara but decent enough. Portion looks huge though and Sol had some trouble finishing it... which is usually the case with carbonara. You get full pretty quick and it is not something that I would usually order for myself anyway.
And because we were so impressed by that first visit, we came back to Ben's a few days later with our whole family. My parents, bless their hearts, are not big fans of Western-style food and had a go at their Asian cuisine... to their disappointment. Presentation looked nice but I have to agree the food tasted bland and lacking. Methinks someone in the kitchen excel at Western cooking but fail miserably at Asian foods -- as Asian foods rely heavily on the different spices and even a good amount of salt/sugar so when used very minimally the taste will definitely be compromised. The above is actually the nasi lemak with chicken rendang -- not very tasty in my opinion.
Our overall verdict with regards to :
The Food : 7.5/10. Variety was available in terms of Western and Asian cuisine, but the Asian cuisine left much to be desired. What we have tasted of the pastas though, was excellent.
The Ambience : 8/10. A nicely-decorated place that looks both classy and business-like.
The Location : 8/10. It's in KLCC, and now there is also one in Pavilion. Prime locations to attract customers.
The Pricing : Moderate high, as is standard with the upper-end restaurants in town.
Baby-friendly? : There are baby chairs, but that's just about it. Letting an infant or a toddler loose in here is akin to asking for trouble because of the crowd and the slightly cramped space between tables when the place gets busy.
Lot 140 First Floor
Kuala Lumpur City Centre