KUALA LUMPUR: At the mention of Portugal, the first thought that comes to most is perhaps either sports icon Cristiano Ronaldo or delicious egg tarts.
If you’re here to read about the football ace, sorry that FMT Lifestyle couldn’t get an interview with him.
But if you’re hungry for egg tarts, you’re in luck. There’s a new bakehouse in Central Market that offers authentic Portuguese egg tarts and other delectable delicacies associated with that country.
It’s called Bartolo Lisboa Bakehouse and its owner is Lisbon native David Gomes da Silva, 30.
“People here may think they know Portuguese egg tarts, but I tell them to forget all they know,” he told FMT Lifestyle.
“The ones available in Malaysia usually have been adapted to local flavours. But we’re the first bakehouse here that serves the original. Ours is a traditional recipe that goes back three or four generations.”
Da Silva has been living in Malaysia for nearly six years. Originally here to work with a food delivery service, he ended up falling in love with the F&B business. He first opened a restaurant in Bangsar with two friends but afterwards sold his shares and moved on.
For his new venture, he wanted a place that was “quiet, a bit secluded and by the river”. He happened to spot something like that in Central Market when strolling with his girlfriend one day.
He said many of Bartolo Lisboa’s distinctive tiles and decorations were bought from Lisbon’s famous Feira da Ladra market or passed down to him from his mother and grandmother.
He has apparently put a lot of thought into making sure the items on the menu interacted well with one another. The offerings are based on the Portuguese concept of “petiscos” or “small snacks” and are therefore mostly light fare like sandwiches and savoury bites.
“We bring out Portuguese traditions in our dishes,” he said. “My grandmothers were very good cooks and a lot of our food are from their recipe books or were inspired by them. So doing this has a lot of emotional weight for me.”
Codfish is one of Portugal’s most famous culinary ingredients and makes an appearance here in the form of Pastel de Bacalhau, or codfish fritters. They are infused with potato and coriander and served with smoked paprika aioli, making for a good appetiser.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try the octopus salad, an eclectic mix of tender cephalopod chunks with capsicum, red onion, coriander, crackers and olive oil. It’s a bit of an acquired taste, but is ultimately quite satisfying.
The baked delights are simple but sumptuous. Bartolo Lisboa serves four types of bread: sourdough, white, rye and flatbreads. These are accompanied with four kinds of dips: extra virgin olive oil, Romesco sauce, herb butter and sea salt.
One highlight is definitely the Pastel de Nata, which is Portuguese for egg tart. Its pleasantly flaky crust blends well with the rich golden filling, resulting in a sumptuous treat which simply melts in your mouth.
Bartolo Lisboa opened less than a month ago, and da Silva says the response has been encouraging. He plans to start a dinner menu soon and hopes it will go a long way in introducing local diners to the joys of his native cuisine.
“Malaysia and Portugal are very different although there are a few things in common,” he said. “One of the things I love is that we share the same love for food. I hope that through the food we make, more Malaysians will discover and develop a passion for delicious Portuguese flavours.”
Bartolo Lisboa Bakehouse
Mezzanine Floor Lot 204-206
Jalan Hang Kasturi
Annexe, 50050 Kuala Lumpur
10am to 8pm (closed on Monday)