Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Menu Items @ Erawan Classic Thai & Fusion, Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya

Pad Thai in a Croissant

Dining at Erawan is always a grand treat.

This is chiefly due to Chef Korn's exquisite touch to all his dishes including these new ones he premiered recently one Sunday.

Held among close friends, the party was also to celebrate their recent success in the Miele Guide 2011/2012 (they have now been elevated to the top three in Malaysia)

In addition, steadfast favourites such as the cockle curry, grilled scallops with Thai style salad, salmon sashimi, Panaeng beef curry and a lamb version of their massaman curry were also served.

sashimi salmon salad served on an endive leaf

Lunch started out with some fusion items.

Pad Thai was given a new form, as a croissant sandwich.

Instead of noodles, the prawns, beansprouts with a sweet sauce was served in an easy to eat-and-go style sandwich. Rather perfect for a midnight snack, as I write this with my belly rumbling away.

scallops with Thai style salad made from lemongrass, fried shallots and kaffir lime leaf

Another perfect to go item was the Thai fishcake burger. Served with a tangy plum sauce, the pan-fried fish cake with kaffir lime leaves was paired with sliced cucumbers, cheese, tomatoes and lettuce.

Thai fishcake burger

Intermingling with the new items were also some regular dishes such as the plump juicy grilled scallops topped with a tangy refreshing Thai salad of fried shallots, lemongrass and kaffir lime (RM60). Another regular was the mieng kam served with daun kadok leaves, roast duck and pomelo.

We also enjoyed the salmon sashimi salad (RM58 for 200g salmon sashimi) that was served on these slightly bitter tasting endive leaves that had a lovely crunchy texture. The cubed salmon was tossed in a spicy dressing made from ground roasted rice, lime and chillies.

Lemongrass prawns

One of my big favourites was the lemongrass prawns. Each juicy and crunchy prawn was tossed in this slightly sweet sauce with minced garlic and topped with lemongrass. I shamelessly had quite a few helpings of this dish.

deep fried flying fish

There were loads more such as various curries mingling with a magnificent looking deep fried flying fish. A lamb massaman curry with potatoes was excellent and we even sampled a new curry, a Northern beef version with nuts known as Pang Hang Lay.

chicken and spices curry

One of the dishes is a new item known as chicken and spices curry (RM48) already introduced since this September, a mild chicken curry cooked to an old recipe using lots of spices such as cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, caraway seed, cloves, cardamom and coriander seed. This is served with sweet green chilli peppers.

erawan nov
Thai Laksa two versions: creamy curry and tangy fish stock base

As a treat, there was even Thai Laksa. Two versions were made - the rich creamy one and a tangy tamarind based broth with fish chunks. Both were served with fishballs and the traditional rice noodles.  Both were equally good that I had a hard time choosing which one to have seconds.

Another great dish was the roast duck served with crispy fried Thai basil leaves. Love the juicy pieces of roast duck breast that goes well with the aromatic basil leaves.

cockle curry

One of my all-time favourites is the cockle curry (RM38) served with daun kadok or betel leaves. Erawan prides themselves for serving premium cockles - large juicy ones - cooked to perfection unlike those rubbery cooked-to-death specimens we get in char kuey teow.

lup chup

We don't stop at appetizers and mains as there are sweets to nibble on such as exquisitely shaped Lup Chup - tiny fruit shaped desserts with a mungbean filling. There's loads to choose from - papayas, bananas, grapes, apples and etc.

Also on hand were these irrestible crunchy deep-fried puffs (like those peanut puffs we get for Chinese New Year) except these ones had a savoury filling made from dried shrimp.

Vanilla ice cream with apples in cinnamon, black pepper and star anise
apple cinnamon with black pepper, star anise served with vanilla ice cream

Last but not least, we ended with a cold treat - vanilla ice cream served with apples spiced up with cinnamon, star anise and Sarawak black pepper.

The apples still have a soft bite to them. Really lovely end to a wonderful lunch.

All the extra menu items here can be ordered ahead. Abide by Erawan's pre-ordering rule and you will have a great feast waiting for you. More pictures are in the Flickr collection.

Erawan Classic Thai and Fusion
22 Jalan PJU 5/16
Kota Damansara
Petaling Jaya

Tel: 03-61412393

(Pork Free. For full details on the menu, opening times and etc, see their website from the link.)

*This meal was an invited one.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner 2011


One of the most important events for a foodie is the Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner.

Held every October, this is THE event since a seafood smorgasbord is served that contains the best of Norway's oceanic bounty - salmon, mackerel, Atlantic halibut, caviar, oysters, scallop, herring, crayfish and king crab.

In simple words, a must for any seafood lover.


Hosted by the Norwegian Embassy, the gala event is also held in conjunction with the Malaysian Norwegian Business Council Innovation award. This year, BASS that does marine management systems took home the award.

Invited guests include members of the media and Norwegian companies that have business in Malaysia such as Digi, Jotun and etc.


Strangely enough, even though this is the third time I've attended the gala dinners (including the special royal one when Norway's Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit visited Malaysia last year), it is my first time blogging about it.

One of the reasons why I look forward to the gala dinners is the food prepped by the famous Flying Culinary Circus. These globe-trotting chefs cook up fantastic food all the time. The four members of this group each specialise in different aspects, one is the seafood expert, another handles the sauces, the other does the meats and one does the herbs and vegetables.

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This year saw them serve salmon that was "smoked" and served with herbs, pine nuts and an olive oil based dressing. Needless to say I went for numerous helpings for this great item. The other item they served, which I also loved was their lobster bisque served with grilled king crab legs. Lovely flavours that reminded one of the sea. Everyone on the table had seconds as it was darn good.

norwegian 2011

I also look forward to the caviar spread they put out with the different kind of roes in various shades that you can eat with eggs, cream and finely chopped spring onions.

Utter bliss indeed.

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What is good is if Western dishes are not your preferred cooking style, they also serve various Asian styles.

You get an abundance of fresh sashimi and sushi. There is even steamed halibut from the Chinese kitchen and even tandoori salmon for those missing the Indian spices.

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One must not forget the amazing spread of desserts too by talented pastry chef Holger Deh. I always look forward to his delicious chocolate ganache cake with the lingonberry jam. They also served the princess cake, a traditional Norwegian favourite and lots more goodies made from unique to Norwegian ingredients such as the cloudberries.

Entertainment was provided by well-known Norwegian singer and composer Alexander Rybak and of course tunes from the most iconic Norwegian band aka a-ha who had the hit, "Take On Me" in the 1980s.

* Note, the gala is strictly by invitation only and was held at Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur. For more pictures of this year and last year's gala offerings, see my Norwegian Seafood Gala collection set on Flickr.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Time Out KL Food Awards 2011

flounder with autumn truffles and mushrooms
Flounder with autumn truffles from TOKL Best Fine Dining Winner Cilantro KL's Friday lunch menu

This year's Time Out KL (TOKL) Food Awards had less surprises up its sleeve compared to last year's shocking results. Held at KLPac and hosted by the two D's aka Dominic Lau and Daphne Iking, the award night saw some shake up in some categories that have been previously dominated by a few restaurants. That change could most possibly due to the fact that this year had a phenomenal 50% increase of votes to reach 50,000 votes (per TOKL's press release and not verified).

Some results though were a big surprise such as Hakka Republic picking up Best Continental Restaurant, a place I see more for the bar with their fine wines versus its dining room. The Japanese Restaurant category was so close that they had two specially commended awards for the first time in the awards history. This year also saw the first time there was a Bloggers Choice category. This went to Memoirs of a Chocoholic (congratulations J!) who recommended Village Park, that infamous place for nasi lemak.

The results are set out below. Feel free to voice out your discontent, surprise or congratulate the winners. I would love to hear what all of you have to say.

Honey glazed cod from TOKL's Best Chinese Winner Li Yen, Ritz Carlton KL

Best Chinese Restaurant 
2011 Winner - Li Yen, Ritz Carlton KL (Other nominees include Yut Kee, Shang Palace, Chynna, New Paris in SS2 and Grand Imperial)
2010 Winner - Chynna, Hilton KL
2009 Winner - Chynna, Hilton KL

Best Continental Restaurant

2011 Winner - Hakka Republic (Other nominees include The Press Room, Albion KL, twenty.one tables+terrace, Tanzini)
2011 Specially Commended - El Cerdo
2010 Winner - La Bodega
2010 Specially Commended - El Cerdo

Blue lotus dumplings from TOKL Best Thai/Indochine winner Rama V

Best Hawker/Mamak
2011 Winner - Devi's Corner (Other nominees include Lot 10's Hutong, Nagasari Curry House, Sri Nirwana Maju, Nasi Kandar Pelita)
2010 Winner - Nasi Kandar Pelita

Best Healthy Eating/Vegetarian Restaurant
2011 Winner - Marmalade (Other nominees include Haven, RAW, Yogitree and Annalakshmi)
2010 Winner - Marmalade

Best Indian Restaurant
2011 Winner - Kanna Curry House (Other nominees include Passage Thru India, Sri Nirwana Maju and Gill's)
2011 Specially Commended - Bombay Palace
2010 Winner - Bombay Palace
2009 Winner - Bombay Palace

risotto from Il Lido

Best Italian Restaurant
2011 Winner - La Risata (Other nominees include Nerovivo, Ciccio, Tatto and Sassorosso)
2011 Specially Commended - Il Lido
2010 Winner - Prego
2009 Winner - Prego

Best Japanese Restaurant
2011 Winner - Kampachi, Equatorial KL (Other nominees include Tatsu at Intercontinental Hotel, Gonbei San and Zipangu at Shangri-la Kuala Lumpur)
2011 Specially Commended - Fukuharu
2011 Specially Commended - Rakuzen
2010 Winner- Fukuharu
2009 Winner - Kampachi
2009 Specially Commended - Zipangu, Shangri-la Kuala Lumpur

Best Malay Restaurant
2011 Winner - Bijan (Other nominees include Songket, Rebung, Makan Kitchen at DoubleTree by Hilton)
2011 Specially Commended - Enak
2010 Winner - Bijan
2009 Winner - Bijan
2009 Specially Commended - Enak

Best Middle Eastern Restaurant
2011 Winner - Al-Amar (Other nominees include Al-Andalus, Tarbush, Al Rawsha, Laziz and Hadramawt)
2010 Winner - Al-Amar
2010 Specially Commended - Tarbush
2009 Winner - Tarbush
2009 Specially Commended - Al-Amar

strawberry compote with basil ice cream
strawberries compote with basil ice cream from Cilantro Kuala Lumpur

Best Thai/Indochine Restaurant
2011 Winner - Rama V (Other nominees include My Elephant, Sao Nam, Erawan and Tamarind Hill)
2010 Winner - Tamarind Springs
2009 Winner - Tamarind Hill

Best for Pub Grub
2011 Winner - Jarrod & Rawlins (Other nominees include Tom Dick & Harry's, Sid's Pub, Arthur's Bar & Grill and Hoofed)
2010 Winner - Jarrod & Rawlins
2010 Specially Commended - Sid's Pub
2009 Winner - Finnegans

Best place for Coffee (inaugural award)
2011 Winner - Espressemente Illy (Other nominees include RAW, Antipodean, Whisk and Chilla Cup)

Best place for Seafood
2011 Winner - Fatty Crab (Other nominees include Lala Chong, Pantai Seafood, Fisherman's Cove, Green View and Causeway Bay Spicy Crab)
2010 Winner - High Tide
2009 Winner - Fatty Crab
2009 Specially Commended - Magnificent Fish & Chips

blackmore wagyu beef steak
Blackmore Wagyu steak from TOKL 2011 Best Place for Steak Winner, Prime from Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur

Best place for Steak
2011 Winner - Prime, Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur (Other nominees include Suzi's Corner, Meatworks, Jake's Charbroiled Steaks, QBA at Westin Kuala Lumpur)
2010 Winner - Prime, Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur
2010 Specially Commended, QBA, Westin Kuala Lumpur

Best Restaurant for fine dining
2011 Winner - Cilantro, Micasa KL (Other nominees include Sage, Lafite, Shook! and Chalet)
2011 Specially Commended - Lafite, Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur
2010 Winner - Lafite, Shangri-la Kuala Lumpur
2009 Winner - Lafite, Shangri-la Kuala Lumpur

norwegian poached egg
Norwegian salmon poached egg from TOKL 2011 Outstanding Chef of the Year, Nathalie Arbefeuille at Nathalie's Gourmet Studio

Best New Restaurant

2011 Winner - Ben's (Other nominees include Cuisine Gourmet by Nathalie, Arthur's Bar & Grill, Shangri-la Kuala Lumpur, Antipodean, Brotzeit and Hoofed)
2010 Winner - The Pressroom

Restaurateur of the Year
2011 Winner - Benjamin Yong from BIG (other nominees include Edward Hyde from Gastrodome, Joseph Afaki from Al-Amar, Werner Kuhn from El Cerdo Group, and Holland & Thomspon from twenty.one)
2010 Winner - Edward Hyde from Gastrodome
2010 Specially Commended - Benji Conway from Nero Group

Outstanding Chef of the Year
2011 Winner - Chef Nathalie Arbefeuille, Nathalie's Gourmet Studio (Other nominees include Chef Adi Radzi from Hakka Republic, Chef Michael Karam from Al-Amr, Chef Saiful from The Press Room and Chef David King from Westin Kuala Lumpur)
2010 Winner - David King
2009 Winner - David King
2009 Specially Commended - Damon Campbell

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Les Deux Garcons @ Jalan Telawi, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur


The weekend is over....

How sad.

To cheer all of you up for the demise of the short-lived weekend, here's a little sugar, spice and everything nice.

 marble butter cake

Throughout the whole of last week, I was reminded constantly of the opening of Les Deux Garcons' new outlet .

Friends will SMS, gmail chat, facebook, tweet, blog and even talk to me face to face about their wondrous creations.

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Despite a rather busy weekend, we managed to steal some time to visit the place.

I was rather pensive about going there so late as so many friends have told me how their wares would sell out quickly.

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Since we decided not to tempt fate and look for a parking space, we took the easy way out and packed home the cakes.

The most important cake wasn't the dainty pretty ones displayed under the glass counter.

Instead it was the rather non-descript one swaddled in white - the marble butter cake (quatre quarts, RM60 for a medium size) for my mother.

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I must admit my mother is right to love this simple marble butter cake as it's rather perfect in my own eyes. 

The crumb is rough (some prefer it fine but I love it crumbly and rough for the homely texture) and it is redolent of the creamy butter taste. The best bits are the rich chocolate swirls found within the cake - intense chocolate flavour with the use of French Valrhona chocolate with just a hint of coffee to bring out the dark aromas. They use Golden Churn butter to make this cake so there's definitely none of those Buttercup spreads, Planta margarine or that immensely horrible Butta Vanilla flavouring they sell in the cake shops to mimic the buttery taste.

Outfitted in pristine white, the shop serves as a palette for the jewel-like cakes such as the Le Palladio (RM22), Le Favori (RM15) and Passion (RM13). 

The Le Palladio is the most decadent one with truffle mascarpone cream that tops a vanilla tart. Each layer needs to be taken together as the tart crust is rather hard (almost like a cracker) and tasteless on its own. The Le Favori one is all about pistachio with a raspberry brulee layer. For those who prefer their desserts not as sweet, you will love the Passion one with its passionfruit and mango flavours that offer a tangy treat to the tongue.

There's lots more goodies in there including their macarons including the decadent truffle flavoured ones and lots more cakes to tempt you. Who knows, I may get to sneak away again next weekend and eat another round. From what I hear, those rapturous tweets about their goodies will still continue as one friend is so enamoured with these sweets that he has to have them at least on alternate days.

Les Deux Garcons
36 Jalan Telawi
Bangsar Baru
Kuala Lumpur

(Pork Free. Open from 12.30pm to 8pm daily. Place is opposite Cziplee and Eon Bank. It is the same row as the dental surgery and fruit shop. The outlet was previously where Mango Mania. For the full set of pictures, see the Flickr set that also includes the macarons)

*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. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mukha Cafe @ Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur


Pitter...patter...went the rain....

On a rainy day in October, three of us took refuge in this cosy nook right next to Surisit.

We had braved the torrential storm for a bite and was pleasantly surprised with this homey place filled with old LPs, comfy chairs and welcoming vibe.


There's no paper menu. Instead we walked up to the counter and read off the chalkboard to decide what to order for our mid-day meal.

It was a rather quick choice since the menu was limited - Western dishes mingling with Middle Eastern items picked up by the owners during their studies in Yemen.


Kacang pol (RM8) was the first choice. This fava bean dip usually found in Johor is minus the egg like how they serve it in Yemen.

"Would you like an egg with your dip?" we were asked. We nodded since that was the way we usually eat the dip mashed together with the fried egg.

It was no fine dining fare but the dish enveloped us with a warmth and a totally feel good factor.


Comfort seems to be the big buzz word in Mukha...in its decor and the food.

The beef bamia (RM15) was another prime example with minced beef cooked with okra (or to some ladyfingers) with a little spice to make it interesting.

One spoon was never enough, as we ladled the tummy comforting dish onto crispy Arab toasts to enjoy.


I liked the lamb cutlets (RM29) beautifully grilled to a caramel brown colour. Each piece is like a lollipop with a dash of Mukha's own blend of spices that I slowly savour. It's not A+ perfect since the spices are rather mild but I enjoy the whole combo with the mash potatoes and french beans.

The Gulf Rice (RM16) was a let-down with a rather ordinary taste. Akin to our briyani, this version with chicken, vegetable chutney, poppadum and chutney didn't excite us at all.


Everything is washed down with a cuppa of their Shahi or mint tea that is served in dainty glass cups.

Someone relives his American days with an order of Cherry Coke.


To end, we looked forward to desserts. Red Velvet was the original intention but it had sold out so instead we settled for pavlova (RM9.50) and banoffee pie (RM8.50).

Everything felt light as air...even though we know it ain't especially the creamy calorie laden banoffee pie with the very short biscuit crumb. As we licked our lips and enjoyed the pavlova topped with fruits, the rain had subsided. Just in time as we walked off.

Will we return...is the question? I reckon we may since the place scored high on the comfort quotient. While the food won't exactly rock the world, it was still rather nice with a feel good factor.

Mukha Cafe
15, Lorong Rahim Kajai 13
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
Kuala Lumpur

(Halal. Place is same row as Penang Village and right next to Surisit Thai Kopitiam. More pictures in the Flickr set. See this link to the website for the menu and etc.)

*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.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hairy Crab & Iberico Pork @ Chef Choi Restaurant, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur

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I love how a year is divided into these eating seasons.

There is Chinese New Year, mooncake festival and this particular year end favourite, hairy crabs.

Filled with creamy roe, these crustaceans also known as mitten crabs are best savoured steamed with perilla leaves. Enjoy these beauties with some ginger tea to get rid of any "wind".

Chef Choi also does this amazingly good braised hairy crab e fu noodles that we tried for the first time. The noodles is infused with the crabmeat and roe. Incredibly fragrant from the crabs, the noodles is best savoured in small portions. Simply heavenly that a few of us felt us wavering in terms of what qualifies as our favourite noodles in the restaurant.

Get here as soon as possible to enjoy this seasonal treat available until mid-December or until supplies are available.


The restaurant had also purchased a batch of Iberico pig hence the hairy crab dinner also had a large portion of oink.

The first dish to grace us was the suckling pig. Unlike the usual dishes, this one was far superior with crackling good skin and soft juicy succulent meat.

Incredibly finger licking that quite a few of us abandoned our manners and utensils.


Equally finger licking good were the BBQ Iberico baby back ribs. This was liberally livened up with quite a lot of salt but it worked well giving the ribs a deep smoky like flavour.


Another dish that was very well received was the Iberico pork loin sliced and fried with asparagus and XO sauce. The dish is light with the tender pork slices.


Chef Choi's sweet and sour pork is a big favourite among many of us from that dinner.

With using the Iberico pork, this humble dish seemed to be elevated to a more lofty status since the deep fried battered pork melts in the mouth with the fats.

The simplest dish seemed to have won all of our hearts.

A very home-like dish that I remembered my mother making is this pork patty one studded with water chesnuts for a bit of crunch. The texture of this patty reminds us of melt in the mouth Wagyu beef with the marbling fats. Simply addictive especially with a bowl of rice.

Needless to say, we ate the two bowls dry with some rice to soak up the great gravy.


Appearing in between the pig and the crab was the pigeon, a juicy succulent creature with a crisp skin.

Eat it with plum sauce and the spice salt on the side for a satisfying meal. We end with red bean paste (no water added and entirely pure) with 18 years old aged kumquat peel. The taste of this classic tong sui is beautiful - thick with hints of the golden citrus from the aged kumquat. There was also fresh sweet melons, MH bought that were wonderfully refreshing.

I'm not sure if I'll be eating hairy crabs again but believe me, I'm glad I sampled this year's crustaceans since the crab roe has a beautiful creamy texture and the braised noodles with crabmeat is to die for. Love the Iberico piggy too but we were pacing ourselves since we knew there was a lot of food.

Chef Choi Restaurant
159 Jalan Ampang
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-2163 5866

(Non Halal. The suckling Iberico pork is available on pre-order. Certain dishes for the Iberico pork here are available daily but best you double check before going. The hairy crab is seasonal and available until mid-December or until stocks last. For more pictures see the Flickr set.)

* The meal was paid for by the restaurant.

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