Friday, March 26, 2010

Seafood @ Hoi Peng Seafood Restaurant, SS2, Petaling Jaya

grilling tofu puffs

Hoi Peng or Hai Peng??? Recently, I had a chance to compare the two places, when we dropped by Hoi Peng for Precious Pea's farewell dinner. Well known in Petaling Jaya, Hoi Peng is actually a branch of the old stalwart seafood place Hai Peng located on Old Klang Road. While you would think the branch won't do as well as the main outlet, I must admit I felt the branch's food was way much better than the original outlet.

tofu bakar from Hoi Peng

Literally a neighbourhood hangout, Hoi Peng is definitely a place you need to book ahead as it is packed during the weekend. If not, you get relegated to a small table that can barely hold everything together or one that faces the kitchen and bathroom. Unlike Hai Peng that has a vast space after they expanded to the back of their single shophouse, Hoi Peng is quite cramped. The other thing we also noticed from eavesdropping on the loud conversations in nearby tables is the crabs tend to finish quite fast. Some regulars book their crabs ahead to avoid the dinner crowd.

clams and tofu bakar from Hai Peng

The menu for both outlets are carbon copies - at Hai Peng there's a stall outside that gives you quick snacks while you wait for your main meal. Ditto for Hoi Peng but again there is a difference in the taste. At Hai Peng, the tofu bakar stuffed with cucumber slices don't make the mark as the extra cucumber juice has not been squeezed out making it a soggy mess when you bite into the crispy tofu puff layer. Even the sauce seems watered down with just a hint of prawn paste. Hoi Peng's version was so much better - crunchy cucumber shreds and a thick brown sauce with a strong hint of prawn paste. We also tried Hoi Peng's chicken wings as a starter - not fantastic as the meat didn't have much taste and it was a tad too dry from the deep frying.

ginger fried clams from Hoi Peng

More comparisons: the ginger fried clams. Weirdly enough, this one Hai Peng got it right as Hoi Peng's version was too thick and laden with corn starch to taste great. The ginger taste seems quite muted here too at Hoi Peng.

Hammer time

Next up, it was the battle of the noodles - their signature fried mee sua. It comes laden with prawns, shredded cabbage and beansprouts. At Hai Peng, the noodles still maintain quite a lot of moisture making it slightly soggier. As the places are pork free, no lard is used but they compensate that missing taste with teeny weeny crunchy small prawns or har mai. Strangely enough, even though Hai Peng also has these prawns, the Hoi Peng version tastes better as it seems crunchier, more aromatic while the noodles are also drier. For this battle, Hoi Peng wins hands down!

fried mee sua at Hoi Peng

Crabs was a lot tougher to determine who is the winner. Both places don't use local mud crabs but instead they go for the Indonesian version, that yields thicker claws and more meat. At Hai Peng, a minimum order of 1kg is required while Hoi Peng does not seem to limit you on the number of crabs - we had one crab done in sweet and sour and another in salted egg yolk.

sweet and sour crab followed by salted egg yolk crab from Hoi Peng

For the salted egg yolk crab, the crabs seem to have gotten a fairy sprinkling of salted egg yolk. It's so thin that it just covers the tops of the crustaceans. While I prefer my salted egg yolk crabs laden with lots of cholestrol laden sauce, this is not to say this version is not tasty. Just I reckon not too satisfying for a glutton like me.

Hai Peng's sweet and sour crab

The sweet and sour crab - their signature dish has a nice thick sauce with bits of eggs. While it may not seem spicy, it did tickle my throat that night. I would have preferred a more sour taste.
In terms of comparing both restaurants, I would say in this dish, they seem quite similar. Maybe but then this just could be a figment of imagination, I felt Hoi Peng's version was thicker and tastier. No clear winner here.

kon cheen har

Last but not least, it was their soy sauce prawns or kon cheen har - a last minute add on since the Ravenous Rabbit didn't eat the clams. While it was coated with lots of chopped garlic and soy sauce, I felt it was just too salty and it seemed to lack the sweet taste of prawns. Definitely another thing we will not reorder again.

Thus in this battle between the two, I must say Hoi Peng wins hands down while I'll try and avoid Hai Peng for a while more. Nevertheless Hoi Peng is also not perfect since some dishes ain't too great like their chicken wings and kon cheen har. Personally, I didn't think the crab dishes were that fantastic though. They tasted decent but I reckon places like Robson Heights does a better version for their salted egg yolk crab and places in Klang are way better. However, if you don't want to travel all the way, this makes an excellent choice especially if you live in Petaling Jaya.

Hoi Peng Seafood Restaurant
30, Jalan SS2/24
Petaling Jaya

Tel: 03-7874 2199

(Pork free. It is only open for dinner. Same row as Nonya and New Formosa. For more pictures, see
their Flickr set.)

Hai Peng Seafood Restaurant
Lot KS-5 Taman Evergreen
4 1/2 Miles, Jalan Klang Lama
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-7982 5072/79816982

(Pork free. It is only open for dinner. Near the entrance to the turn off to Taman Desa. For more pictures, see
their Flickr set.)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gelato @ Bar Italia, Gelato Fruity, Gelatissimo and Kopi Bar, Centrepoint

creamy pistachio gelato from Bar Italia

Our hot crazy weather (paired with those stormy nights) seem to demand that we indulge in some icy frozen confection to counteract the heat. Lately there have been a number of gelato places springing up around the Klang Valley and I thought the best way to tackle the sweltering heat would be chilling out with this famous Italian dessert aka gelato (or it should be gelati, as it's known in plural). While this review does not cover all the gelato places in town (I am sure there are more lurking some where), I hope this gives you enough choices to get through this madness of a heatwave we're experiencing.

chocolate hazelnut, the brass handles on the majestic door at Bar Italia, pistachio seen from the top, they use a flat scoop here to get to the gelato just like Italy

Bar Italia's offerings can be found at their rustic looking outlet at Jalan Berangan, the juice bar located at O Gourmet at Bangsar Shopping Centre (BSC) and their sister outlet Vineria, also in BSC. Flavours available are stracciatella (a kind of cream based gelato with chocolate folded within), mango, white chocolate, coffee, fruits, pistachio, nocciola or hazelnut and bacio (dark chocolate with hazelnut) and etc. My favourite has to be their pistachio - creamy with a melt in the mouth texture yet with a not overpowering rich tasting that you can thoroughly enjoy it after a full meal. It is priced around RM8 per scoop, with the gelato piled high above in a cup.

rum and raisin with profiterole flavour gelato from Gelatissimo

Gelatissimo hails from Australia and can be found at The Gardens and 1 Utama Shopping Centre. They serve a mix of gelatos, sorbets and yogurts at their counter. Also available on the menu is affogatto aka espresso with gelato. There seems to be quite a small selection of gelato -ferrero rocher, rum and raisin while most are sorbets like mango . The sorbets are said to 100% fat free, while the gelatos are 90% fat free. I tasted the rum and raisin and felt the taste was not very strong. You can mix a few flavours together in a cone or a cup - one flavour is RM8.90 while two flavours is RM12.90. I liked the phrase on the side of their carton, "he who goes slowly, goes safe and far". The gelato is creamy, not very icy and melts quickly. Similar to Bar Italia, they tend to pile the cup high with gelato.

very berry with durian gelato

Gelato fruity seems to have popped up overnight, taking over the places where Lecka Lecka used to operate from. A crowd favourite (all the outlets always seem packed with people), they have two kinds of gelato, one made with milk and another that is water based that they call sorbet. There are fruit flavours like soursop and durian, and other flavours like black sesame seed, green tea, rum raisin, bacio, chocolate and etc. I tasted their rum raisin that has an artificial taste while the durian was nice - strong but not overpowering smell and taste. I felt the gelatos lacked a creamy after taste. Each order is usually flattened down unlike Bar Italia and Gelatissimo. The stalls also sell fruit juices and toppings for RM1 pre packed. Two scoops of flavour is RM9.80
stout with rum and raisin ice cream, chocolate nuts and strawberry, vanilla oreo and mint chocolate gelatos from Kopi Bar

Last but not least come the alcoholic gelatos made at this small kopitiam place. A variety of flavours (alcoholic and non alcholic) is offered here. The prescence of gelato in their menu is not advertised much or promoted by the staff, so be prepared to ask for the gelato instead.

melting together

Prices are RM3 per scoop and RM5 for two scoops, a steal considering 3 flavours have alcohol within. These are the Stout (Danish Stout mixed with Carlsberg beer), Rum and Raisin (Jamaican rum) and last but not least Kirschwasser (cherry brandy kirsch with mocha swirled). Non alcoholic flavours are chocolate nuts, mint chocolate, strawberry, vanilla oreo. Tastewise, the stout does not have a strong taste but I absolutely loved the rum and raisin as the raisins were well soaked with rum that when bitten into they spurted a little with rum. Our least favourites were the non alcoholic flavours that didn't have much taste. The gelato's texture seems to be icier and extremely creamy tasting, making it so rich tasting you have trouble finishing the gelatos quickly.

So get out there and cool down with a little creamy goodness! More pictures can also be found at the Flickr set.

*A little fact to chew on: gelato is different from ice cream as it contains less fat and less sugar to produce something softer, truly sublime with little formation of ice crystals. Usually whipped in small batches to keep it fresh, it also has less air whipped within, allowing you to enjoy the flavours better.

Bar Italia
29, Jalan Berangan
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2144 4499

LG-K08, Lower Ground
The Gardens
Mid Valley City
Other outlets are at 1 Utama and Gurney Plaza, Penang

Gelato Fruity
FK-06, Mid Valley Megamall
Other outlets are located at Pavilion KL, 1 Utama, Sungai Wang Plaza, Cheras Selatan Jusco, Suria KLCC and Berjaya Times Square.

Kopi Bar
Lot G106, Ground Floor (just opposite McDonald's)
Bandar Utama
Petaling Jaya

Tel : 03-7710 6966

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Dining Out @ Mandarin Grill, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

velvet-like pumpkin soup drizzled with pumpkin oil

Are you a fan of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel?? I reckon I am since I've had quite a long history with them starting even before they opened doors for business (had to negotiate once with their contractors to wrangle some monies for work done by a company we once ran long long ago - really ancient history). Once it flung open their doors, it became a favourite hangout for us, as it was the preferred choice for the far flung blood relatives (they loved the serene park, the easy access to the mall and the LRT) whenever they trooped into KL for family occasions. Lai Poh Heen was also the place one of my former clients always demanded for - simply because he had to have their awesome durian pancakes for lunch. One wonders if he canceled his appointments after lunch or did he dazzle them with his durian breath!

horn-like salt and pepper shakers, roast beetroot salad, breads and five spice butter, the gorgeous jumbo lump crab cakes

The old Pacifica Grill was originally conceptualised as a fusion outpost. One remembers dining here with clients long long ago where we couldn't quite understand the food - was it Asian or Western we just ate? Then came Dirk Haltenhof, the affable chef who used to hold court in a kitchen where he once treated us to lunch cum cooking demonstration. In recent years, it was Jeff Ramsey from Tokyo who dazzled with his molecular gastronomy at the same platform. Then they moved downstairs, where the whole place was transformed into an underwater paradise, which we revisited last year for Jeff Ramsey.

Mandarin Grill appetizer sampler (RM125), from top to bottom: slow cooked lobster with artichoke, crab cakes with apple mikado, sundried tomatoes and basil coulis, smoked salmon loin with fennel slaw, coriander sour cream

Hence when I heard wind of the Mandarin Grill to reopen at the original Pacifica's location, I was mighty curious on how it will turn up. Rumblings from the culinary world said they will be focusing on premium quality beef - always a plus point to us since Splashie Boy loves anything bovine. Also heard in the same breath was a French chef who once worked in Dubai will be helming the kitchen there. More whispers were heard during Chinese New Year that the young chap that used to head the kitchens at Chinoz on the Park had joined them and I wondered, would the soups be as superb as they were before in his former outpost.

avocado mousse with crab meat and tomato jelly, foie gras au torchon served with pear and ginger chutney, beetroot puree and spiced bread (RM82), black angus steak tartare served with homemade tomato ketchup (RM62)

One could feel the resistance crumbling especially when Sean from Eat Drink KL peppered the blogosphere with multiple posts on Mandarin Grill. I reckon with a few more visits, he would have covered the entire menu including their 7 signature dishes. Coincidentally, I got an invitation from their PR, Nicole to dine here and I must admit I bent my rules a little as I was mighty curious to sample their offerings.

choose your own Laguiole steak knife

The place is entirely transformed from the entrance onwards. I always used to think the old Pacifica's entrance wasn't too inviting as you walked into the bar area. The new refurbishment has an inbuilt gas fireplace in the front part and a circular wooden structure. Within the restaurant, there seems to be bovine and animal references everywhere - antelope heads wire frames, papier mache shaped to resemble horns, paintings and even wooden figurines on bulls. What is interesting is amid all these modern interpretations of masculine symbols, it is balanced with a touch of whimsical with the silver fairylike lights made with sparkly crystals. There are even Bottega Venetta-like or what I term as "ketupat" leather weave chairs. A glass wine cellar fronts the MO Bar entrance where you find an impressive collection of single malt whiskies, cosy chairs to sink into after a long day and a piano man tinkling out the blues.

that's the one I want, 1824 Australian grain fed steak

Once you settle comfortably in the chair, it's time to tackle their hefty menu. Here you'll find appetizers (prices range from RM48 to RM110) like Black Angus beef tartare, foie gras au torchon and etc. Luckily there's an appetizer sampler for RM125 that allows you a little of everything (perfect for those who can't decide) in tinier portions - jumbo lump crab cakes, smoked salmon loin and slow cooked lobster. There's also a raw bar selection (price range from RM52 to RM110): yellow fin tuna sashimi, oysters and if you're feeling very generous, there's 30g sevruga caviar for a whopping RM520!! I noticed that a dozen of oysters is RM110, a little less than what High Tide is serving for RM135 but it could not be a fair comparison since the varieties may be different. There are also soups (RM32 to RM48) and salads (RM32 to RM42) including the caesar salad that is mixed on the spot in front of you. This is when I start drawing parallels with Prime, Le Meridien Hotel since they also mix their caesar salad a la minute.

USDA US prime 80% Angus steak gets sliced at the table, the tender melt in the mouth US beef with corn puree and corn in the cob

It's not hard to draw the comparison with Prime, as Mandarin Grill is pretty serious about their meat items. There's a page dedicated to their grill items with five varieties of beef. You have a choice of master kobe grade 10, wagyu grade 9, 1824 (a new type of variety), black angus and prime 80% angus. Most are from Australia with the exception of the prime 80% angus that comes from the USA. Some are grain and grass fed, while different cuts and weight are offered. The smallest is 140gram tenderloin while hefty eaters can settle for the whopping 1kg T-bone. Each have their own special taste and texture - the kobe and wagyu will melt in your mouth with the marbling while the other types have a more robust taste. For those don't like beefy cuts, at the end of the page, you have a choice of Tasmanian lamb and free range chicken. The grill items come with a variety of vegetables, potatoes, butters and sauces. Seafood is also catered for - fresh sole, scottish salmon, boston lobster and a catch of the day. There are also pasta, risotto and gnocchi if you miss Italian food.

gas flame fireplace, roast lamb rack with red pepper coulis and eggplant caviar, pan fried grouper with eggplant chip, braised fennel; both from the lunch set

Don't despair if you feel lost like Alice in Wonderland! There's always the saver (and nope it ain't the white rabbit) - a one page of 7 signature dishes like wagyu beef burger rossini (triple the luxe with wagyu beef, foie gras and truffle mayonnaise!) for RM186, roasted veal loin, duo of new zealand lamb (two types of parts), black angus chateaubriand (350grams all for yourself and not shared like the other restaurants), grilled duck breast, seared sea bream and pan fried scallops. Prices range from RM90 to RM210.

decadent hot fudge sauce for the Coupe Denmark, from the set lunch

On to the selections: the jumbo lump crab cakes were superb purely because I'm so used to seeing it mixed with mash potatoes that the sweet taste is overwhelmed. Here sweet fresh lump crabmeat is encased in a thin potato croquette lightly fried - definitely a nice light starter. Smoked salmon loin was good too yielding a tender texture. The black angus tartare (RM62) is also good, tender and served with a selection of sourdough bread and brioche. For something decadent, go for the foie gras du torchon (RM82) - rich melt in the mouth foie gras paired with a tangy pear and ginger chutney to undercut the richness and a thin slice of spiced bread. I found myself eating most of this since I never can resist creamy foie gras. I admit I wasn't much a fan of the slow cooked lobster - the texture was a little too soft for my liking probably because I expected something different. I loved the roast beetroot salad (RM38) since I like anything with beetroot, goat cheese, grilled portobello mushrooms and walnuts.

hazelnut brulee with yoghurt sorbet and blueberry compote (RM32), so chocolately that Charlie from the Chocolate factory will approve - Valrhona Manjari chocolate ganache wih coffee anglaise, chocolate sorbet (RM32), coupe denmark and chocolate milk gateaux from the lunch set

Steaks were selected - the US prime 80% Angus was carved at the table and was juicy and tender. My 1824 Australian grain fed steak was robust and a little more chewier than expected. It went well with the creamy morel sauce, the tender garlic jumbo asparagus spears and the creamy garlic mash. To make your dining experience a little more special, you even get to select your own steak knives from a selection of Laguiole knives. These hand crafted knives from France come with different handles. A selection of flavoured rock salts are also given to you, if you prefer to add a different kind of flavour - vanilla or even paprika.

refresh with a little H2O, papier mache "horns", part of the interior, sparkly crystals

Last but not least there's desserts (a selection for RM32). I first tasted the Manjari Chocolate Ganache and was bowled over by its decadent chocolately taste. Double it up with the chocolate sorbet and a touch of rich coffee anglaise. Then it was the hazelnut creme brulee that knocked me over - kinda like a Kinder Bueno but on a grown up level with a silky texture and served with a tangy yoghurt sorbet and a blueberry compote to make it less rich. Gorgeous!

While I thoroughly enjoyed the luxe experience, I reckon quite a few people will feel it daunting to fork out that much monies for daily dinner unless it is a special occasion like a birthday, a wedding anniversary or even just a romantic rendevous. Even though the food is "my cup of the tea", it may not be others (for instance, some friends have expressed dissapointment in Sage and Cilantro) as everyone has their own tastes and preferences. The best way to test out the waters - just drop by for lunch. They run a set lunch (available throughout the week including the weekends!) - RM88++ for 2 courses and RM108++ for 3 courses including a selection of tea or coffee. The menu changes weekly (every Tuesday) - you get a selection of four items for each course (meat, poultry, seafood, vegetarian). There's also a small selection of a la carte items like the Caesar salad, the 1824 steak and some selected appetizers. If you wish, you can also order from their dinner menu but be prepared to wait though since mise en place will take some time to prep.

We dropped by one day to experience the lunch and it was good - a little quieter during the day as only the "ladies that lunch" and businessmen were dining there. What made it enjoyable was the pleasant park view we had (always a plus point of this restaurant's location). Food was good, I liked the light flavours of my avocado mousse paired with crabmeat and tomato jelly but wasn't too enthusiastic about my pan fried grouper (a tad too dry for my liking even though the fish flakes beautifully). I loved Splashie Boy's pumpkin soup (I think it's the same one in their a la carte menu) - velvety smooth to the tongue yet light with a touch of air. Definitely a must order for me the next time from the a la carte menu! Even his roast rack of lamb was superbly done, down to the fatty bits. Desserts were excellent - I loved my milk chocolate gateaux that hid raspberry treasures while Splashie Boy's simple coupe denmark was very good with the homemade ice cream.

I reckon lunch will be excellent for those seeking for a quick client lunch (they promise 1 hour for your 3 course meal and 45 minutes for the 2 course meal) or even a quiet respite from the bustling work day. It's also a good way to persuade a loved one to spend more for dinner especially if they're impressed with the food. Who knows unless you give it a try, right? Dinner here will be good with a loved one or even to celebrate a special occasion like a promotion with friends, since you can enjoy a more leisurely meal.

Mandarin Grill
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-2179 8960

(Halal and smoke free. Open for lunch and dinner. Next to the Mandarin Grill is the MO Bar that is reputed to have the largest selection of single malt whiskies in Kuala Lumpur. A larger selection of pictures and more explainations are available in the Flickr set.)

* Notice, only one part of the review was by invitation from the hotel while the other part was paid by the blogger.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Crabs, Prawns, Bali Tong and Lala @ Asia Seafood, Imbi Park, Kuala Lumpur

fragrant prawns

Work has been going crazy as usual - so crazy that I must admit I find it almost suffocating and I have to remind myself to breath every day or else I reckon I may just keel over with the stress. Blogging seems to have taken a backburner too, as blog posts seem to only emerge after two days versus a few hours. Enough of the whinging and back to food.

frying prawns takes a lot of heat

I admit I was toying with the idea of not blogging about this place. Usually the general rule seems to be "I don't blog a place if it's not worth it" but till today I am reminded of one blog reader's request, that I blog about the good, the bad (and even the ugly) dining places in town.

cooking the lala

For the longest time ever, I have heard rumblings about this 20-year old stall that sold seafood right smack within a food court at Imbi just behind the Walter Grenier flats. My friend CS who patronised this place told me they sold amazingly good bali tong and she will often buy back the seafood like crabs and etc, to eat at home instead since it was kinda dingy. She did warn me that on occasions the quality of the crabs can be quite "watery", which I felt was their let down.

yummy siong tong lala packed with lots of ginger and chillies

Taking CS' cue, I also packed back my food. Prior to my meal, I was treated to a visual display of what went on in the "kitchen" since it was all open to see being located at a food court. Definitely an eye opener, the owner was busy at his 5 and more cast iron woks boiling up sauces, cooking the seafood simultaneously. There's a lot of fire action going around and when he saw me snapping away, he even stoked the fire higher for me. Even tourists who walk by can't help but be fascinated with the whole cooking process.

crabby endings

Not being a fan of balitong, I opted for the normal clams cooked in a soupy broth aka siong tong lala. Eaten piping hot the clams were gorgeous with a stock infused with a whole lot of ginger and chopped chili padi or bird's eye chillies. Definitely good to warm up the tummy since the stock starts to burn a little from the ginger and chillies.

kam heong crab

Another favourite were the prawns, dry fried with chopped garlic and chillies. Cooked briefly in high heat, the whole dish is very aromatic and finger licking good. Tasted even good the next day when I had leftovers for dinner.

steamed crabs

The letdown were the crabs - while they came super fresh I'm still not sure if they were picked at the wrong time of the month (I understand from the Crab Queen Precious Pea, there are certain times in the month where the crab meat can be watery). Steamed crabs weren't so tasty as the meat just didn't make the mark. This even ruined their kam heong style crabs also. I won't rule out their crab potential as obviously they're famous for the crustaceans hence I reckon it definitely needs a second visit to test out the theory. To be safe, stick to the lala and bali tong dishes that were very popular. The cooking styles for the dishes are also quite limited - steamed, chili and kam heong for the crabs and similar styles for the other seafood. More pictures can be found at the Flickr set (including those funny expressions from the chef when he is cooking).

Asia Seafood
Stall No. 48
Imbi Park
Jalan Walter Grenier
Kuala Lumpur

Tel:012-629 9568

(Pork free. Stall is opposite Restaurant Then Siong and at the food court area right behind Overseas Restaurant and between Jalan Walter Grenier's flats.)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Japanese Izakaya and Yakitori @ Sumi-Ka, SS15, Subang Jaya

regulars dominate the sake bottles, the main man of Sumi-Ka

Life wouldn't be the same for this blog and its owner (that's me!), if I'm without my weekly dosage of Japanese cuisine. I honestly reckon I can eat Japanese food day in day out, if the wallet permits. Luckily our former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir did me the greatest favour long ago when he started his Look East policy as it meant Japanese companies set up business here, which sparked off the migration of Japanese cuisine here.

cabbage salad, chewy squid, gyuniku done two ways, nope that container ain't for the receipt but the sticks, soft melt in the mouth grilled potatoes with butter

Nowadays, Japanese cuisine has come a long way from those days when only hotel restaurants like Kampachi at Equatorial Hotel or even Chikoyu-Tei at See Hoy Chan Building were frequented by Japanese businessmen. Instead small non descript restaurants like this yakitori cum izakaya (Japanese pub) well tucked within the suburbs of Subang Jaya, remind one of Tokyo with the chatter of Japanese in the smoky background. It's at these places where you'll find their regulars are Japanese white collar workers and even a famous Japanese 5-star hotel restaurant chef.

my favourite - toasted onigiri (RM4) with pickles

This is definitely a place that works on word of mouth since it's almost unnoticeable being on the first floor and definitely overshadowed by Noodle Room signage and etc. Walk through the glass door and you will find three kinds of seating arrangements. If you're Japanese, fluent in the Japanese language or just want to be in the thick of action - it's the ringside seats that fringe the yakitori grill. This is where the owner mans the charcoal grill holds court, chatting with his regulars and doling out the yakitori sticks with friendly advice. Should smoky chatter not be your cup of ocha, then opt for the side seats that gives you a faraway view of the grill but some background noise of Japanese chatter. Obviously those are the prime seats, as it's where you need to book ahead. Should you not abide to the ruling and go with the flow by turning up unexpectedly, you get banned to the window area, a glass enclosed area that blocks out the smokiness and the whole atmosphere. Just imagine being a goldfish in a tank - where you get to see the action on the outside.

happening place, chicken meatballs topped with daikon radish

Once you have gotten your bearings all sorted out, it's time to place your orders while you munch on complimentary pieces of crunchy cabbage drizzled with soy sauce. You will find that the selection is so tempting that it's all systems go. I know I fell into that trap as I ordered almost the whole menu when I first walked in here even though there was two of us.

chicken butt anyone??

On one spectrum, you have the really sinfully good (and fatty) stuff on the menu - items such as seseri (chicken neck), bonjiri (chicken hip but actually I think it's the bishop's nose or chicken butt!) and torikimo (chicken liver) - RM3 per stick. This will appeal to those who love chicken skin that caramelises to a lovely smoky and slightly caramelised flavour after a stint at the charcoal grills.

seseri or chicken neck meat, negima with leeks, lady fingers and chicken breast with mentai mayonnaise

On the other side of the fence, there's the healthier alternatives like chicken breast done in various ways - negima (chicken with leek and a sweetish teriyaki sauce), muneniku wasabi (chicken breast with wasabi) or muneniku mentai mayonnaise (chicken breast with spicy cod roe mayonnaise). They're all equally good, grilled to juicy perfection but the one slathered with a creamy cod roe mayonnaise won my heart (and tummy) over. Vegetables are also a great alternative - okura or lady fingers and piman or peppers. Another favourite is the thukune (chicken meatballs) served plain or with daikon radish. I prefer the daikon radish since the finely grated vegetable gives a texture contrast and even makes the whole ensemble juicier.

chicken breast with wasabi

Seafood is also available - choices such as prawns, squid like ika that tend to be quite chewy and even saba fish. I especially liked the gyuniku miso (beef ribs drenched in miso) or pirikaka gyuniku (a spicy sauce beef ribs) - a little pricier than the RM3-RM4 items since they go for RM9 per stick.

I have been craving for rice cakes ever since I read Oishinbo and here, I love them grilled on the outside (yaki onigiri for RM4) till they taste like toasted rice bits and another one stuffed with piquant plum or ume and wrapped with nori seaweed for RM4. A salmon version is also available. For carbo relief, they also served grilled potatoes with butter (RM7) in foil packets. Another version is with Japanese purple sweet potatoes (RM7) while a blackboard special is with mushrooms (RM10). They tend to go overboard with the butter though, making it kinda difficult to eat after a while so ask them to go easy. Also available are blackboard specials all written in Japanese so ask the Chinese wait staff to recommend the items.

Needless to say, we have been hooked on all this "satay"-like eating coupled with the Japanese atmosphere no other place can recreate and have been back a few times. Definitely one of the greatest discoveries ever that may just fill a gap for Tokyo atmosphere pending me raising enough cash to ever make it to the real deal.

Sumi-Ka Restaurant
No. 19
First Floor
Jalan SS15/4
Subang Jaya
Petaling Jaya

Tel:03-5632 9312/016-2249312

(Non Halal. Place is on the same row with Ayam Penyet, Peppercorn Cafe, Allergo Italian restaurant. More pictures are found in the Flickr set.)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Durian Pancakes & Durian Macaroons @ Durian Durian, Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

durian pancakes - yummy yummy

At this small stall within the food court at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, it's literally a shrine dedicated to the King of Fruit aka the creamy, delectable and unique smelling durian. We stumbled on this place last weekend and had a great laugh at its signboard - "Durian Durian" that reminded us of what would have happened if Duran Duran, that 1980s band had made a major typo error.

the making of a tempting treat

I was so tempted to try many things here but decided to restraint myself since I'm the only one who eats durian (Splashie Boy hates durian to his core of his heart and nothing will make him change his ways ever!). The pancakes looked good (1 piece for RM3, 2 pieces for RM5), hence that was ordered straight away. Made on the spot when you place your order, they add frozen durian cream within the just cooked pancake, fold it down and hand it to you to savour. Since Pavilion is usually full of foreigners, I had a hard time searching for a place to sit far away from them since I doubt they'll appreciate the stinking smell next to them.

the not so fantastic durian macaroons

Pancakes were yummy especially when eaten hot from the stove! Feeling unsatisfied with my poor durian tasting session, the next thing I decided to try were the durian macaroons (6 pieces for RM6). Big mistake as these macaroons were poorly made (no match to the infamous Laduree as they were hard and gummy when bitten into). The durian taste ain't too distinct either since it's just durian flavoured whipped cream. I should have instead spent my calorie intake on the soft ice cream flavoured with durian or the durian cream puffs, the durian mochi or even the durian swiss roll.

Durian Durian
Lot P1-11-04
Level 1 Pavilion KL
Jalan Bukit Bintang

Tel:03-8994 9308

(Pork free but definitely not smell free! More pictures in
the Flickr set.)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Seafood and Charcoal Steamboat @ Boon Wah Steam Boat and Seafood House, Taman Berkeley, Klang

I love me crabs, the sweeter the better especially steamed

When Precious Pea migrated to Australia, I was devastated since it meant the loss of a crab eating "kaki" or friend/pal for me. Somehow Splashie Boy never took to crabs probably because he's not the kind to bother about the slow intricacies of searching for the sweet crab meat within the claws or the teeny weeny legs. Since he knew I had lost my crab eating pal, he has since valiantly stepped in and acquired a taste for crab (but only for the less troublesome claws).

kam heong lala

While he's a worthy replacement, I missed Precious Pea. Hence, when she recently returned for the holidays, we started our crab eating adventures. Pure satisfaction was found at this corner restaurant that served sweet tasting crabs best enjoyed steamed with egg white, ginger shreds and rice wine (3 crabs for RM35). Every drop of that crabby essence mixed with the aromatic wine was drained with gusto, while we sat around and slowly enjoyed the sweet crab meat.

old style charcoal steamboat makes the soup taste so much sweeter and better

Something else we also enjoyed were the kam heong clams (RM15) - this time they used the larger Manila clams fried in a slightly spicy and soybean rich sauce. While we would have preferred the smaller clams or lala, these ones were a good replacement.

steamboat essentials - noodles, homemade chili sauce, ladles and the set for RM13 per person

Last but not least, even though the weather is unbearably hot for steamboat, it was Boon Wah's famous charcoal steamboat. Really old style but I liked the stock filled with crispy pork lard fritters and bits of fried fish to give it flavour. The steamboat set comes with a variety of fishballs, tofu puffs, vegetables, black fungus, fish noodles, sotong, vegetables and noodles.

Next time when you're in Klang, drop by here for satisfying seafood and steamboat. Even regular Klang-ites like
Julian Si highly recommends this place. You won't be dissapointed. Next to it, is the famous Bubur Goreng place that I've also earmarked as the next stop to try.

Boon Wah Steamboat and Seafood House
No. 1, Leboh Lang
Berkeley Gardens

Tel: 03-3341 8313

(Non Halal. Call ahead to check availabilty of seafood as it depends on their supplies. More pictures in
the Flickr set.)

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Happy Jack's Gourmet Burgers @ Devi's Corner, Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur

I'm hooked on the Royale Mushroom beef burger

I've got an eternal thing going with burgers - they seem to be my reach-to-for food whenever the night falls and I'm kinda short of ideas on what to eat. When I first started working, the Ramly burger man was my saviour especially when we were crunching up numbers till late night. There was something so satisfying about biting into a sloppy Ramly burger laden with ketchup and mayonnaise that offered up some solace for the late nights. After Ramly, came the Otai burgerman, a place I often went for a quick bite since food choices were limited around the area I lived in.

reeling them in, Splashie Boy's luv-a-lamb that Mary would approve off

Now I reckon I've graduated to the mother of all burgers - the gourmet type that ain't found in swanky restaurants but is still available at the street corner until late at night when those pangs hit the tummy. Last weekend, we inadvertently came across this reference for Happy Jack's burger on Facebook and the idea of gourmet burgers got us salivating.

juicy goodness

A quick visit to Devi's Corner at Desa Sri Hartamas confirmed it for both of us - we're officially hooked on Happy Jack's Burger. Splashie Boy had the Luv-A-Lamb (RM5.95 plus RM1.15 for extra cheese) of course (he never says no to lamb burgers!) and it was excellent - juicy and tender with melted cheese around it. My Royale mushroom beef burger (RM5.35) was just as good, topped with a creamy mushroom sauce.

We liked how the burgers were juicy yet not sloppy until you messed up your face when eating it. Sometimes I find the other stalls produce a soggy type of burger with juices that seep into the bun making it a mess to eat. The burgers were so good, we packed an extra Royale black pepper chicken burger (RM4.95) - even after a ride home it wasn't soggy and the black pepper sauce that topped the chicken patty tasted quite homemade even though it lacked much kick to it. Give it a try and if you love homecooked tastes, you'll love it. If you don't, then I reckon you may just be more attuned towards the artificial tasting mass produced meat patties.

Happy Jack's Burger
Stall within Devi's Corner
Desa Sri Hartamas

(Halal. Open from 8pm to 3am. Closed on Mondays. You may order the burgers for take away or just eat at Devi's Corner. This stall just opened about a month back. Other outlets are available near Unisel, Section 7 Shah Alam Unisel and Wangsa Maju. More details on the outlets and the menu can be found on their Facebook page per
this link. More pictures are also found in the Flickr set. )

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.

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