[编辑 Editor 吕大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer 刘大人]
So familiar, yet so different from what was used to be.
The name, the surroundings, and the people, everything about the place is still so surreal from 3 years ago when we first step through the tall cast-iron gates into what feels like a secret enchanted garden. Having changed ownership after a year of review and reflection, we could be excused for wondering what exactly is taking so long..
With words going around on social media on its impending reopening since early this year, one could now get their carnivorous cravings fixed. Not about to jump on the bandwagon, we took to the enchanted garden much later, not knowing what to expect. Our worries were unfound six months on, as everything about the space is still growing strong, and well alive.
The reopening of Rowan & Parsley (RnP) could be described as a triumphant return to the local casual dining scene. The outdoor landscaped garden still providing the source of many organic ingredients that go into their carefully crafted plates. In fact, many of the early seedlings from Muar to Masai has now outgrown their creators, with abounding creepers etched into the walls forming a unique green scape.
Beauty is everywhere. Perhaps, “it is not that she is lacking to our eye, but our eyes which fail to perceive her” by François-Auguste-René Rodin, the French sculptor best sums up how we feel about this 9,000 sq ft space. Little did we know RnP was born from the ideation of their interior designer that first gave the food atelier its character before the culinary identity took over. From the shape of the dining tables and chairs to the exact mood of the lampshades; or the texture of the wall fixtures, the native from Ipoh, with over 2,000 collector’s items revealed the lengths that go into recreating the interiors of the restaurant that continues the previous legacy. Dishing slow-cooked specialities that combine traditional wood fire smoking and grilling techniques of Texas, RnP hopes to reintroduce barbecue that epitomises the American style with a modern and innovative culinary twist.
When we think “barbeque“, we tend to think of meats slathered in sauce and placed over a grill to cook. Rarely do we consider the American style with meats marinated with dry rubs and cooked in a smoker. That’s where the new Rowan & Parsley Smokehouse comes in, amid challenging conditions in a soft market and not in the best of locations. Even without the range and diversity of culinary capitals like Singapore and Bangkok; or foodies’ destinations such as Penang and Melaka closer to home, we are sure RnP would have thrived in cooking up the perfect American-flavoured storm. Perhaps, it’s the calling of our friend, Peggy Loh’s “Masai-chusetts“, from the classic Bee Gees’ tune that inspired them in making a difference to the local F&B scene.
The Island, Lemongrass Tea & Cafe Latte
To each our own, the three of us ordered the “best-in-class” thirst-quenchers from their beverage menu. Namely, The Island, Lemongrass Tea and a Cafe Latte, the signature The Island, in particular, stand out for its refreshing and chilling factor!
Smoked Tomato Salad
Resembling a smoked salmon appetiser from the offset, the Smoked Tomato Salad was quite impressive in presentation and texture, which is kind of crispy. With its smokiness and sweetness, we swear the smoked tomato tastes just like “bacon” and has to be one of our favourite vegetables at the moment.
Texas Hot Wings
Wanting to relive some nostalgic past through food, we ordered one of our childhood favourites, but with an American twist. Nevertheless, the kind of memories and feelings chicken wings bring back is priceless. Fast forward to RnP, the Texas Hot Wings served here seems to orientate more toward the expat crowd. More tangy than spicy, these “hot chicks” are marinated with Franklin’s Texas Barbecue Sauce before being cooked. Still crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, dipping into the Cucumber Yoghurt sauce gives the wings a refreshing sour flavour. The only non-authenticity, though, is the lack of celery sticks and blue cheese, but we’ll make an exception because they are so damn gobsmacking delicious.
Made up of ground-up Roasted Eggplant which gave it that satisfying savouriness, this is a welcome surprise given that the restaurant serves mostly meat items. The creamy consistency of the hummus, in combination with crunchy lightly browned toast, allowed for a close-disintegration in the mouth. The hummus accented a contrasting tanginess, while the addition of red bean did well to add range and accentuated the sweetness of the dish.
Beef Brisket Benedict
Craving for some oozing poached eggs smothered in glorious hollandaise sauce any time of the day? The Beef Brisket Benedict delivers proper nutrition and a hugely satisfying punch for our ultimate wake-up call. With the right amount of collagen and “tender” loving fat, we also finished the accompanying beef brisket before being reminded that we had more meats coming up.
With such a wonderfully irresistible combination, we could eat this breakfast food all day!
Blame it on the “Maillard Reaction” for making meat look ever-so mouth-watering, our main course arrived with a train of thick and succulent Pork Belly slices that were addictively sweet and piquant. The glistening layers of fat that interlaced in between the flesh was undeniably soft and chewy, and definitely worth our calories.
Honey Glazed Spare Ribs
Finally! This is what we’ve made the return pilgrimage to RnP for. Slowly gaining a loyal following hooked onto the meat like bees to honey, this solid 360g Honey Glazed Spare Ribs was braised for many hours and smoked with applewood chips. Not only was the exterior stickily sweet, but the meat inside was permeated with sweetness throughout and taste divinely good. The balanced, flavour-packed combo of Italian parsley and crunchy Japanese cucumber was also straight-up satisfying. To derive maximum enjoyment when eating ribs, we did not hesitate to eat them the right way, with our hands, of course.
Apple Cobbler with Vanilla Ice-cream
One of the best Apple Cobbler we have ever had, the crumbles were so fragrant, buttery, and in proportion to the amount of apples and cinnamon. Not to forget that the refreshingly cold scoop of Vanilla Ice-cream on top, the dessert isn’t just a course to end off our meal, but an edible piece of art and a complete experience by itself.
The familiar semblance at RnP evokes a sense of deja vu in us. But, for the effort the new owner has put in to perfect the authenticity and art of American barbecue, we’ve no qualms this would be our go-to place to kick back and relax, get our hands dirty and have a down-home BBQ dinner from 6pm onwards.
By the way, the portions at Rowan & Parsley are also American-sized too, so you will get your money’s worth!
Rowan & Parsley Smokehouse
📍 17, Jalan Cenderai 20, Kawasan Perindustrian Kota Putri, 81750 Masai, Johor
📞 +6012-727 5717
🕙 11:30am to 11:00pm (Tuesday to Thursday & Sunday), 11.30am to 11.30pm (Friday & Saturday). Closed on Mondays
💻 ROWAN & PARSLEY food atelier