Beyond brunch: Taman U Thant’s If Only, where plate sharing shines, is also good for dinner

KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 — If Only, located on the ground floor of the Regal House, looks straight out of a Bali resort holiday brochure.

The restaurant’s interior is replete with woven rattan chairs, chandeliers and a color scheme that includes shades of white, cream, taupe and brown, all the result of a major refurbishment completed last August.



Although the restaurant was founded in 2019 with a clear focus on brunch and daytime dining, it already started launching a dinner menu in September last year.

I recently visited with a large group, a choice that proved wise when we started perusing the menu, which was clearly intended for sharing.

The kitchen is led by Bryan Tan, formerly of Rare The Food Company, so you can expect a similar product-focused approach with influences ranging from Japan to Thailand.

One half of If Only’s indoor dining room.

The Japanese fruit tomato salad was one of my favorites of the evening.

Coincidentally, that evening’s dinner naturally veered towards grazing – the ‘small plates’ section of the pork-free menu is by far the most extensive and offers plenty to love.

A salad of Japanese fruit tomato, potatoes, grilled cabbage, pickles, nuts and a spiced sesame dressing (RM42) was a surprising contender for one of my favorite dishes of the evening.

These tomatoes are sweeter than your usual variety and complement the predominantly savory sesame dressing.

Certain snacks, filled with potatoes and cabbage, reminded me of gado-gado. Grilled white corn with Yuzukosho butter (RM18) was a fantastic demonstration of keeping things simple with great produce, combining sweet, sweet corn with the hot and citrusy elements of Yuzukosho.

The Cherry Valley duck spring roll (RM30) made for a delicious bite or two, with chestnut and shiitake rounding off the rest of the filling, and a solid kimchi mayo match.

Duck spring rolls were simple but delicious.

Grilled egg hire isn’t reinventing the wheel, but it is so delicious when done right.

If it all sounds like a lot of food, it is. That’s why it’s best to come with a large group to share.

A salty, chewy one izakaya classic, the grilled egghire (RM22) was another simple crowd favorite.

Unfortunately, the oyster katsu (RM40) served on a bed of scrambled eggs struggled to impress. The oysters were perfectly cooked, nice and crispy, while the scrambled eggs were perfectly cooked, nice and silky – but the textural contrast just didn’t work. Instead of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, what is on the board ultimately becomes individual parts of a whole.

The best of all the small plates was yam cake (RM35) topped with Sakura ebi, burnt eggplant and drizzled with a chili-caramel sauce. Crispy, fluffy, savory, soft and glazed in a sticky, hot-honey concoction, every bite was pure bliss.

Before we moved on to larger sized dishes, we had one last ‘small plate’. You can definitely make a meal from this portion alone, and the grilled one char see lamb ribs (RM75) are a meaty, juicy – ​​if a bit gamey – example of this.

When If Only does well, they do it really well, like with the yam cake.

Grilled char siew lamb ribs are an example of how filling the smaller plates can be.

The ribs were a little on the sweet side, with a small dollop of red yuzu kosho offered a fiery response.

The Wagyu bacon don (RM62) features crispy egg side, a shoyu vinaigretteseaweed butter and sticky, short-grain rice, powerfully flavored with dashi. There is also extensive use of pickled mushrooms, which serves its purpose of balancing the rich, savory beef with sharp, sour flavors presented in a spongy, almost meaty texture – a welcome change from the usual crunch of pickled vegetables, which can also be found in the dish.

The beef itself is entirely savory, a bit like bacon, but thickly sliced ​​to emphasize its fatty, tender texture.

The best meat of the night was a dish of twice cooked Angus short ribs (RM189/420g) with cauliflower puree and that delicious chilli caramel sauce.

The huge block of meat is peppered with fried shallots, which fall off to reveal a crispy, jagged exterior and a soft, tender interior when sliced. This wasn’t a short rib that fell off the bone and was braised for 300 hours until it turned into mush, but one with just enough resistance to ensure a tasty bite.

The Wagyu bacon don uses one of my favorite types of pickles: mushrooms.

Twice cooked Angus short rib is a brilliant dish, undoubtedly one of the best on the menu.

The Roasted Duck Breast (RM85) has the potential to become a showpiece dish for large groups, presented as a true medley of Peking Duck, ssam and tacos.

Tortillas, lettuce, a Thai variant name Jim and finally, guacamole accompany slices of perfectly roasted duck, awaiting assembly.

Unfortunately, I felt this was guilty of the same problem as the earlier oyster katsu: By the time you take a bite of the whole package, there’s just a little too much going on to actually pick up anything. That’s a real shame, considering how well executed the duck breast was.

Does not matter. A good dessert goes a long way in making up for it, and the mochi bowl (RM33) did just that.

The description on the menu mentions no fewer than six elements, but at its core it is the textural play between soft and chewy mochi and the hard, crumbly earth and cookie are the star here. Easily one of the most playful and delicious desserts I’ve had this year.

The mochi bowl is an intricate, playful dessert.

The sign from the front of the Regal House.

As long as it’s a restaurant

Ground Floor, Regal House, 1, Jalan U Thant, Taman U Thant, 55000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Open daily from 7am to 6pm; Tuesday to Saturday, 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Tel: 017-288 2243

Facebook: @IfOnlyKL

Instagram: @ifonlykl

*This is an independent review where the writer paid for the meal.

*Follow us on Instagram @eatdrinkmm for more food gems.