Aubergine Restaurant & Bar @88 Marketplace, Kepayan

Underrated, yet versatile and full of potential. This is what a group of talented young Chefs describe themselves, just like the humble gourd that they derive their namesake. And with gritty determination, grabs the culinary scene of KK by the throat, shake it senseless, and boldly declare that young people, too, can wow the taste bud with its continental menu.

Aubergine sets up shop at what is hopefully the next place to be seen - 88 Marketplace, Kepayan. With its rustic yet friendly ambiance, a hungry patron will instantly feel welcomed, and unlike evil conglomerates or shady empires, have nothing to hide with its see-all-open kitchen. Feast your eyes on fiery displays of art against a backdrop of muted chatter, a rare scene when tuning in to hell's kitchen, for well oiled ensemble, such as those lead by Chefs Effardy Ghani and Bryan Emmanuel, are already in sync and in tuned with one another.

Aubergine Restaurant and Bar
Location: Lot10, Block G,
1st Floor, 88 MarketPlace, Lrg.
Pusat Komersil 88/1, Jln. Pintas,
88300 Kota Kinabalu
Facebook: Aubergine Bar Bistro

Tortillas RM16.00
As the red curtain parts, first on tonight's show was the fish tortilla, soft shell tortilla wrapped around crispy flounder fish tempura. This flatfish that used to rest at the bottom of the ocean now have a colorful, aromatic, savoury and slightly acidic bed of salsa for a final resting place. The addition of creamy corn kernels was a delightful surprise that adds a pleasant twist at the end. These fine tortillas costs RM16

Beef Tripe Pasta RM14.50
The humble pasta makes its appearance next, an iconic dish that has won over the hearts of noodle eating nation. With its sour-savoury tomato based sauce, a mild heatiness of spice also creeps in from the aromatic cappers and chillies. An intermittent soft bite comes from sweet mushrooms and beef tripe. Ahh..beef tripe, an important component that KKians usually find in ngiu chap, makes its way into the pasta that does surprisingly tastes in harmony with each other. The pasta costs RM14.50


Grilled Lamb Shoulder RM25.00
Its now time for the star of the show to appear, a stack of grilled lamb shoulder, coated in hot tunisian chilli sauce or known as Harissa. The increased flavor and intensity brought by the sauce is nothing short of boombastic, but not overwhelming at all. The juiciness and sweetness of the meat still make its presence felt in the midst of all the huha. A crunchy topping of Aubergine tempura, adds more bang to the plate with its crunchy coat and warm soft texture inside. With all that fiesta going on, seek refuge at the humble mashed sweet potato, yes, sweet potato, and its the awesome deep purple kind. The sweet earthy potato brings a lot of calmness to the spice laden meat. This fine dish costs RM25
The sidekick comes next in the form of grilled tuna, ahh..but its appearance is disguised like a true superhero.  Covered in generous amounts of mango and gazpacho salsa, the pan seared pasta underneath need not scream out for flavors as it holds a strong body on its own. The addition of seafood mousse and egg souffle, puts a touch of smooth luxury to this dish. The mesclun salad of young leaves adds crunch and munch, a very nice alternate texture. This dish costs RM18
Next comes one of our favorites, a character that is the foe of the main antagonists, and in this case comes in the form of a two patties stacked burger called - the Juggernaut. An imposing name for an antivillian, an as it stands tall, dwarfs the rest of the dishes.  The patties - 2 of them, as if it were not thick enough, are stacked on top of another. Juicy, and fragrant are the keywords here, and in between them, pieces of beef bacon are strategically placed to give it an extra chew and saltiness. The sunny side up on top, playfully oozes the yolk once you press the top bun. That and combined with the cheese now melting from the grill makes eating this a messy affair, and we meant it in a good way. Table manners are optional, as the proprietors encourage a dressdown affair. This massive burger costs RM23
And alas we the climax has passed and our taste bud lead to a plateau, yet the desserts presented to us promises more excitement. Apple and pear crumble (priced at RM12) was topped with whipped cream. The fruits were sweet and sour, held together by a soft crust. The cream was so light, that you can dig in guilt free.
Another after dinner sweet presents itself, and this time it was the Cream cheese pie (RM10). A sweet, a little bit sour and also hint of savoryness, soft to the bite, with that extra crunch that comes from the generous amount of chopped almond. Now if Chef Effardy was taught to leave his attitude at the door (of the restaurant), well we are happy that his character tagged along in the food, because with such a marvelous display as these, we definitely can see their potential, no matter how underrated they may be.

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