Second Chances
Grace Lim 
Modern European cuisine without breaking the bank at Deuce

When is an avocado not an avocado? When you are dining at Deuce.

There is an item on the dessert menu that says “Avocado” but is actually a combination of glutinous rice, pandan and coconut. It is head chef Ng Hun Yan’s version of kuih seri muka but served on avocado skin. The flesh has been removed earlier to make the avocado ice-cream that accompanies the Malay cake.

The signature avocado dessert

It is a taste of what this casual modern European restaurant has to offer. Deuce is owner Tricia Kandiah’s second venture in the same space – hence the name – but she also shares that the number “2” is her birth date, which she also claims to be her lucky number. “We even opened on Nov 2,” she quips.

Becoming a restaurateur was furthest from the 28-year-old’s mind when she returned to Malaysia after getting her Masters in Finance in the UK. Her first passion was fashion. “I even went as far as getting a company to make shoe samples for me because I was into shoe design.”

Deuce is Tricia’s second attempt at the restaurant business

At that time, her older brother Kevin had just opened Barfly in Publika, and much to everyone’s surprise, it was a success.

“On really busy days, the whole family would help out. Mom would wash the glasses, dad would help with the service, and I would be stationed behind the cashier. It was a truly family affair.”

That was when she started toying with the idea of opening her own restaurant. “When I travel, my itineraries tend to focus quite a fair bit on food,” she chuckles. “I love the idea of modern dining, but I’m not the type who would always order a main course. I prefer to order a few starters so that I could try more things. I also like the sharing concept. I wanted a casual vibe but at the same time, elevated dining.”

She opened her first restaurant, Coquo, last year. “I realised that the concept was too ahead of its time for Kuala Lumpur. Many people had this perception that it was a fine dining place because of the ambience and plating. The ‘casual’ aspect wasn’t apparent enough.”

When the head chef and sommelier left, Tricia had a tough decision to make. “My father once shared that the Chinese character for ‘crisis’ is a combination of the words ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. I chose to see the challenge as an opportunity to realise my original vision.”

She persuaded Ng, a Malaysian sous chef at the acclaimed Tippling Club in Singapore, to return home and work on her new project.

“I’ve brought what I learnt at Tippling Club but perhaps less refined as I wanted the food to be, for want of a better term, ‘easy-going’,” says Ng.

Inspired by cuisines around the world from Hong Kong to the US, Ng also injects his own twists to differentiate them. For instance, the pan-seared snapper is served on a bed of zucchini fettuccine. Coquo’s seasonal mushroom dish was restructured to include a poached egg, truffle mousse, pine, and hazelnut crumble.

“I love the freedom here. I’m free to do things that are fun and, hopefully, people find unique. And I love cooking in an open kitchen,” says Ng, who clearly relishes the idea of being able to see his customers enjoying his food.

Compared to Coquo, Deuce definitely has a more relaxed vibe. The open concept extends to even the front entrance, where doors are conspicuously missing.

There is also a seating bar that goes around the kitchen so that customers can watch the chefs work, as well as have direct interaction with them. In fact, the chefs will serve you the food themselves.

“I wanted a complete dining experience, not just focused on the food and the wine. When people dine here, I want them to create a happy memory. If you’re treated well from the time you make a reservation to the time you leave, you will get a good vibe and you will come back,” Tricia opines.

“If you are serious about food, you can sit at the bar and interact directly with the chef. However, there is also a separate dining area where you can just relax with friends. What is unique about Deuce is that we offer different experiences in the same space.”

D1-G4-6, Solaris Dutamas
Mont Kiara
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 6211 2822

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 262.