Gnaw on this!

Executive Chef Moretto Fabrizio presents
his signature crispy pork knuckle
at The Bierhaus
I have meat on my mind as I head off to The Bierhaus, a pub restaurant tucked away in the Daiman Bowl Complex in Johor Jaya, a suburb of Johor Baru.  

Two other carnivores with me are also eagerly anticipating a mouth-watering meal of the perfect combination of beer and pork.  By the time we turn off the expressway and leave the after-office traffic, we are so ready for a hearty meal at the only German pub in town.

As Executive Chef, Moretto Fabrizio, welcome us into the slick and sexy interior, I thought that the trek to the restaurant is well worth our time and trouble.  In the dim light, I see clusters of customers seated along rows of tall, dark wooden tables with matching bar-stools, chatting over drinks and large platters of fast disappearing food.  I can feel a pulsating chill vibe as my eyes adjust and are riveted to a busy long bar and a brightly lit wall cabinet lined with neat rows of premium wines.

Fabrizio, who has lived in Malaysia for 15 years, worked in Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada and Kuala Lumpur before moving to Johor Baru.  With an established reputation in another restaurant that serves authentic Italian food, this Italian chef started to think about a venture with a different concept to please all his customers.  Familiar with the European style of dining that starts with Happy Hours till late Fabrizio knew that the time is ripe for Johor Baru to have a place that serves German beer and pork.

Crispy pork knuckle with a frothy glass of Paulaner beer
Meat Mains

When I see the pork knuckle served with a knife stabbed in it, I get a vision of barbaric diners in a medieval age restaurant lit by flaming torches, slashing savagely into it and savouring the juicy meat with relish! 

I’m distracted by this chunk of sizzling roast.  Later I notice that it comes with a side of tangy sauerkraut and mashed potatoes, mustard sauce and applesauce.  While this delightful dish is prepared in its traditional German recipe, Fabrizio added his special touch to turn it into a winning combination of crispy skin and juicy meat.

Pork ribs marinated in Guinness stout
He said that the meat can be pre-cut upon request but we were impatient to sink our teeth into the crunchy skin and tasty meat.  Mmm…we nodded in agreement as every mouthful yielded juicy, meaty flavours, so tasty that it made us quite content. 

The taste is reminiscent of crispy siew yok or Chinese roast pork, while a dollop of the sauces add to its flavour and the tangy taste of sauerkraut helps to cut any grease.  We have no trouble sawing our way through the meat but we agree that the best way to thoroughly enjoy the pork knuckle is to savour meat, fat and skin in every bite and shamelessly gnaw the knuckle to the bone!

The Bierhaus has weekly specials like sausage specialties or chicken breasts wrapped in smoked, streaky bacon and this week, its juicy pork ribs marinated in Guinness stout.  The meaty ribs, served with a side of blended Guinness sauce, are so tender that the meat was ready to fall off the bones.  Another worthy main is the Mix Sausage Platter made up of three different types of grilled German sausages with a generous portion of my favourite grilled mushrooms and fried potatoes. 

A section of the bar at The Bierhaus
Tempting Treats

I love the juicy morsels of fish, squid and mussels in the tasty Pasta Marinara and to strike a balance with the meat dishes, I welcome the refreshing taste of greens like lightly blanched spinach flavoured with garlic and olive oil, and broccoli florets tossed in garlic and butter.  

Two star choices from the snack menu are Loaded Potato Skins topped with pork bacon and cheese and Crispy Mini Pizzas smothered with sausage meat and lots of cheese.  For seafood, there’s Grilled Prawns wrapped in pork bacon on skewers to dip in avocado and sour-cream. 

A sweet ending to our memorable meal comes in the form of smooth Crème Brulee and traditional Apple Strudel.  I can feel the creamy texture of the Crème Brulee glide so smoothly down my throat and I find myself scraping every bit from the bottom of the bowl.  Then the slightly tangy taste of baked apple slices, in stark contrast with the strudel’s sweet flaky pastry, tastes just right to round off our rich meal.

The Bierhaus offers 18 types of imported beer including Paulaner, a German beer which ranks highly among Germany’s best breweries – the perfect complement to their signature meat dishes.  German beers are brewed for maximum flavour and its robust taste makes it more than a mere tipple but the perfect partner for the pork knuckle.  The interesting meat and beer menu offers a different eating and drinking experience in Johor Baru and certainly lives up to their claim as the only German pub in town.  

Fast Facts

The Bierhaus, located at unit G5, Daiman Bowl Complex, No. 2 Jalan Dedap 3, Taman Johor Jaya, Johor Baru, is open daily from 2pm to midnight.  Tel: 607 – 3540776.

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Life & Times on 20 October 2011

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