Cover Passion fruit soufflé at 2OX

French-Mediterranean bistro 2OX brings a slice of la belle vie to Asian Heritage Row for those who fancy French classics but dread forking out wads of cash

2OX, an abbreviation for 'two oxen,' is named after its original owners' Chinese zodiac signs, but looks to la France for inspiration. Minus the views of Gustave Eiffel's pièce de résistance, a meal here might just as easily take place on rue St Dominique in Paris.

With the global rise of 'fusion' food, quintessential French cuisine is fading as fast as croissants au beurre (croissants containing real butter instead of margarine), but at 2OX, there is little urge to build unprecedented flavour profiles. All the French classics are present and pass the test. French onion soup? Check. Foie gras? Check. Fish à la Meunière? Check.

Topped with aromatic puff pastry baked a golden brown, the stock-free soupe à l'oignon takes a page from Paul Bocuse's recipe book. Affectionally known as the Lion of Lyon, the French chef would likely have approved of 2OX's foie gras starter. A classic combination if there ever was one, gamey liver is complemented by fruit compote and precious slices of Barbie doll-sized brioche. 

Without butter, without eggs, there is no reason to come to France.
Paul Bocuse

Easily the best dish at 2OX, the braised ox tail is everything one craves in 'break up foods' — creamy, comforting and lightly laced with booze. We were just as wowed by the barramundi lightly dredged in flour. Paired with melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi, you have yourself a match made in heaven.

As with most streams of positives, a "but" usually follows. Our only misgiving about 2OX is its leather-clad menu and wine list; you definitely don't want to drop this tome on your foot. It takes flipping page after page after page after page (you get the gist) to finally arrive at the à la carte offerings. Less a clever way of coaxing customers into caving in to the set menus and more cause for annoyance, this confusing compendium begs revision.

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Above Executive Chef Phillip Dominic

According to executive chef Phillip Dominic, his biggest challenge is serving RM120 prix fixe menus without compromising on flavour.

"Anyone can cook delicious dishes with unlimited resources," asserts the Gaggan Anand / Mark Ruffalo lookalike. "But that would drive our prices up and drive away our customers. Try maintaining authentic French flavours with local ingredients — now, that is the real challenge."

In any given relationship between guest and hostess is a delicate balance of power — of duty and delight, expectation and prediction.

Julienne Huh, director and owner of 2OX, manages to be charming to a T without cosseting our team.

The Korean restaurateur with a passion for education dabbled in fashion before falling in love with 2OX's light-filled antiquey space.

It is in Malaysia where she now resides, revelling in the friendliness of our nation and our perpetual summer.

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Above Director and owner Julienne Huh

Of the seven sweet endings at 2OX (not including ice creams and sorbets), two are particularly worth the potential cavities: the textbook tarte au chocolat and the passionfruit soufflé.

Derived from the French word souffler, meaning 'to blow,' 'to expand' or 'to rise,' the latter contains no more than 10 ingredients, but proves one of the trickiest French desserts to perfect. You whisk together hot milk, cream, sugar, flour, cornflour, egg yolks and egg whites in separate batches using varying techiques and for different durations, and pour the resulting batter into generously buttered ramekins. After 10 to 15 minutes in the oven, your soufflé should emerge voluminous and billowy, begging for a cool companion — ice cream, crème fraîche, or a sauce, as in the case of 2OX, work equally well.

  • PhotographyKhairul Imran
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