By the time I'm writing this post, our visit to Fresca is already nearly a month old, and I don't think it can be considered all that new anymore! But even so, Fresca is still (one of?) the newest kids on the Gardens / Mid Valley block. Don't look down on the new kid on the block though; we think Fresca is going to build up a following pretty quick. =)
Situated next to The Han Room, some might say the location isn't entirely ideal since it doesn't get much foot traffic. It's a valid reason, but we also think the slight detachment from the rest of the crowded mall will work in their favour. Taking the corner lot also gives Fresca more space, which is why they can comfortably design booths, tables, and a bar all without too much hassle.
Usually I'll start with the food and end with drinks, but this time I'm going to show off authentic Mexican Aqua Fresca, or thirst quenchers! Special mentions go to the white one in front called Horchata (RM 8.50); a milky drink made with ground rice and cinnamon. It wasn't very sweet, and the rice inside tasted a bit like a barley drink. It was overall quite refreshing and not as thick as a lassi. The Mango (RM 9.50) was not too bad either, with a tinge of lime and honey.
For starters we shared a Pico de Gallo (RM 15), their house classic Mexican salsa served with tortilla chips. The dip's freshness of tomatoes, coriander and onions was definitely noticeable, tasting a lot more authentic than the usual stuff found in places like Chilli's. I'm still not entirely sold on salsa dips though - give me dips with meat sauce any time!
Next up was an Ensalada de Chorizo (RM 21)! Unlike the more conventional leafy salads, this was a more substantial platter, chock full of roasted peppers, cucumber and onions and my favourite bit, chorizo sausages!
We enjoyed this very much, and I particularly loved the sausages since I don't eat much greens =P The salad was dressed with honey mustard sauce; a nice change from all the usual salad dressings more commonly found.
Next we lined our stomachs with the Tacos Ensenada (RM 19) with beer battered fish and a coleslaw-like filling.
The name itself sounds so unusual that I wasn't sure what to expect. Whoever heard of fish in a taco? Apparently just not us, as this classic taco filling originates from Ensenada in Baja California. But after I took a bite I wonder why I hadn't had any earlier! The combination was so perfect, with just the right amount of fish and coleslaw which complemented the flavour of the fish. If I was at Fresca for lunch I would make this a meal on it's own. =D
So while the appetizers fully justified themselves, it's the main courses that really make or break a first impression of a restaurant. We shared all our mains, beginning with this Costilla Asada (RM 43), a large beef short rib! This turned out looking and tasting a lot like the usual fare at other rib places like Tony Roma's, so we weren't exceptionally impressed. The barbecue sauce was tasty and the meat was tender, a result of 3 hours of slow cooking, so we wouldn't write this off completely, but we think there's more special things to be had here at Fresca. =)
What other special things? Take the Cordero a la Tamarindo (RM 60) for example! Sometimes we can tell whether food will taste good or not by the way it looks, and this definitely looked good! The well marinated lamb was cooked to a medium / medium well tenderness, perfect for this subject matter. The sauce was also brilliant, a strong tamarind yet minty flavour. There was a thick slab of fat though, which not everyone will be comfortable with, but that's again down to personal preference. Overall an interesting dish, and proclaimed the best of the night, but be prepared to cut away fat if you're not the kind that loves it.
While the beef short ribs are normal and the rack of lamb slightly special, the dish that will probably have everyone talking about Fresca is this Pollo con Mole (RM 26), chicken in chocolate sauce! If you grimaced at the thought of that, you're right; this dish with its sauce containing nearly everything from chocolate to nuts and fruits, will probably only have a very small group of fans. Even the waiters will say it's not for everyone. But apparently this is an authentic Mexican dish from Puebla, Mexico, so it had to be included in the menu. =D
For us, one mouthful was enough to confirm whether we were going to like it or hate it, and I think everyone else will feel the same way too. In fact, my opinion is people will either not mind it or hate it altogether; I can't imagine who would really want this a second time! The chocolate flavour was noticeable if the chicken was eaten with enough sauce, otherwise it tasted just like any ordinary roast chicken leg. It was a novel thing to try, but definitely the first and last time for us. Try it just to say that you have! =D
It's not often that we find ourselves short of food during Sunday night dinners (usually there's way too much on the table!), but this time we all felt we could put away one more dish, so we decided to try one more - a common Mexican choice, the Fajitas with a mix of beef and chicken (RM 41).
Fajitas are perhaps one of the most value for money items on Fresca's menu. Fajita dishes come served sizzling hot with accompanying guacamole, salsa and cream, and three pieces of tortilla. Customers have a choice of chicken, beef, or chicken and beef, with the chicken and beef mix costing the most of course. The chicken option is cheaper, but I actually felt it tasted better in a fajita compared to the beef. That's not to say the beef wasn't good; the meat too was nice and tender, but we preferred the chicken.
So while Mid Valley and The Gardens still some way to go before they catch up with the more special dining options in 1Utama, Fresca is certainly a step in the right direction. With an interesting menu, good food, and good, warm service (all the waiters we saw were Malaysian, so no problems with getting lost in translation with foreign workers), We're pretty sure Fresca is going to be around for awhile. =)
Fresca Mexican Kitchen & Bar | Facebook
(opposite The Han Room)
Lot G-242A, Ground Floor,
The Gardens Mall,
Tel: +6 03 2201 2893
Opening Hours: 10am-10pm (11pm on weekends)