Friday, July 24, 2015

Buns & Meat, I Love Their Buns, I Love Their Meat

It is a double edged sword really, christening your restaurant with a name that immediately clues the customer in as to what kind of food is served.  Examples that come to mind are Restaurant Nepal, (now closed), Bombay Palace, Oriental Banquet, .... But BUNS & MEAT I guess is arguably slightly, but only just, more subtle in that my first guess would be burgers, but then again, upon reflection, it could also be sandwiches, or heck, even a massage place.  I have no issues, I love the name, actually, catchy, and to the point, and yes, it is a burger place, amongst other things, located in Lakefields, Sg Besi, which initially, I thought was in another planet, never having wandered to that area since NippleJoe invited us for dinner at his house almost half a decade ago.

I was also mightily grateful to the organiser, Sarah, for extending the invitation for this review to the family, which was very nice of the host.  So for the first time ever, I had the family (read KIDS...wife had her girls night out) in tow for an invited review, and was looking forward to the opinions of "out of the mouth of babes", as children tend to be the most truthful.

We were greeted by this on our table

Owner, Robin Lim was once a famous magician apparently.

To start, some elegant morsels of Crispy Chicken Bites with Wasabi Mayo (RM10.90), thankfully made from thigh, so were moist and rather delicious.  Unfortunately due to heavy drinking the night before, I was disinclined to pair this with a cold beer, which really would be a perfect match.

The pulled pork fries, RM11.90, were a great way to start a meal, and an appropriate introduction to the many other porky palate pleasers.

The hotdog with  Jalapenos BBQ Slaw, is as delicious as it looks.  The slight hint of heat from the jalapenos, drowning the succulent pork sausage.  Their buns are also specially made, not the usual stuff from supermarket shelves.  RM16.90

Char Siu Pork Burger, the winning trifecta, of pork patty, charsiu (which is sauteed in butter to complete the decadence), and bacon.  Such a fabulous food pyramid, a complete meal in itself, carbs, protein, vegetable... RM18.90.  Thank goodness Buns & Meat is far away from my everyday reach.  I am craving one of these even as I write about it.

The Runny Mess Burger, topped with runny yolk, melted cheese, pork patty, RM20.90, the name speaks for itself, for it really is rather messy to eat, but that lovely molten yolk flowing like lava from Vesuvius, calamitous for everything in its path...Yummy.

I popped over to the next table where Sarah was sitting and got a picture of her far healthier dinner, romaine lettuce with sauteed mushrooms.  Not sure if this is actually in the menu, but after being fed 3 carnivore paradise dishes, I could have well used one of these.

In the event you are not porcinely inclined, (but really, find another place to eat, you should), there is the chicken burger, but serving chicken is about as climactic as missing the last 3 episodes of Game of Thrones.  Having said that, it was tasty enough, and the kids loved it, and the chicken did not have to cross the road in vain.  It would be a travesty to even think of comparing it with a Zinger, of course.

Spicy Korean BBQ Pork Ribs, RM42.90.  Oddly enough, the normal ribs, presumably without spice, is RM44.90.  A humongous slab of meat, that can easily feed two, or three, with fall off the bone meat,  with that signature "pedasness" that comes with certain korean dishes.

I exaggerate not, re falling off the bone

Although we didn't have it, it really is something I must have the next time I go there...the MIGHTY PORKZILLA burger...

Let me save some time and just lift off the pic from their facebook page

(Photo lifted from Buns & Meat FB Page.  Like them HERE)

Now, if you do order this, you get to wear cool Viking Helmets and slay the porkzilla and take pictures.

For dessert, Robin gave us some Earl Grey ice cream, made by 40 Licks, (very nice), and also the signature pandan gula melaka ice cream by Last Polka.

Apart from the Porkzilla (RM59.90), the rest of the burgers and hot dogs are all priced around the RM20 range or less, making it EXTREMELY good value for money if you ask me.

Am looking forward to revisiting and slaying the Porkzilla.

72a Jalan Tasik Utama 7
Lakefields Sg Besi
57000 Kuala Lumpur

Tel:03-9055 3378

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tosca At Hilton Doubletree KL, and Sustainable Seafood

We kind of take seafood for granted, but if you really think about it, it is so much more perilous to obtain compared to say, a cow reared in the comforts of a barn, or sheep grazing blissfully in undulating meadows, as opposed to fishermen, who risk life and limb, perfect storms, seasickness.  I half expect seafood to be a rarity by the time I am middle aged, ...oops, that's right about now, but thankfully, judging by seafood buffets and restaurant menus, fish and prawn aren't quite extinct yet.  I guess the term seafood refers not just to sea creatures but freshwater as well, ....afterall, I've never heard a distinction between seafood and riverfood.  Ooh, let's go for riverfood tonight... Soon Hock, Tilapia, Freshwater prawns, ...somehow, nah, RIVERFOOD just doesn't have that catchy ring.  And omigawd, just imagining riverfood from the Klang river, immediate cholera and dysentry.

But as usual, I digress.  I was therefore rather intrigued to get the invitation to a sustainable seafood dinner at Hilton Doubletree, at Tosca.  No point reinventing the wheel, this is what the press release has to say:

From now through August 31, 2015, participating Hilton Worldwide hotels in Malaysia have lined up a series of dining promotions featuring sustainable seafood choices in their restaurants to raise awareness about responsible seafood consumption amongst consumers in Malaysia. DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur will present a variety of sustainable seafood culinary options at Tosca, their Italian restaurant and Makan Kitchen, the award-winning Malaysia heritage restaurant.

“The Sustainable Seafood Festival presents a valuable opportunity for our guests to learn about the importance of making smart, sustainable choices which will minimize our impact and protect our environment while enjoying the culinary creativity of our restaurants,” Eric Siew, Executive Chef explained. “Guided by WWF-Malaysia, Tosca has created a special promotional menu using Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)-certified sustainable seafood items.

Last April, Hilton Worldwide implemented a shark fin ban across all restaurants and F&B facilities operated by its owned and managed hotels globally. This was followed by an announcement in May 2015 to partner WWF to evolve the hospitality company’s global business practices, reduce impact on the environment, and make the hospitality industry more sustainable.

Tosca is located on the 10th floor of Hilton Doubletree, and for the "outdoor" loving, the place is sort of open air, overlooking the swimming pool, and has a lovely casual ambience.

The affable Executive Chef Eric Siew pops his head out of the kitchen window to acknowledge us.  According to him and Amanda, there are seafoods that are in the RED category, meaning they are endangered or close to being so, even stuff we take for granted like tuna.  On the other hand, there are the GREEN category, which are sustainable.  Broadly speaking at least.  One wonders how ikan bilis can be sustainable.

To start, a Carpaccio of Hokkaido Scallops, juicy plump scallops sliced into elegant slivers of goodness, with a tangy dressing that is just right, and doesn't overpower the sweetness of the scallops.  Now, a new discovery for me, no pregnant fish had to give up their eggs for that black "roe" you see, it's actually Avruga Caviar, a product made from herring, salt, corn starch, etc, and is in no way related to Beluga and Sevruga... So really, no pregnant fish had to give up their eggs, so you may chomp down these caviar substitutes with nary a twinge of guilt.

Italian Styled Chilled Norwegian Pink Shrimp, ...the presentation is so reminiscent of the retro prawn cocktail dish, doused in thousand island dressing.  But these shrimp are far from that.  Those gorgeous babies are chockful of shrimp roe, (which begs the question, if we are chomping down all these pregnant prawns, how EVER will they reproduce, sustainably?) so sweet and succulent.

Dill Cured Salmon - Not smoked, but cured.  Tastes like smoked though, but not as salty, and sometimes smoked are smoked to death, but this method of preparation still leaves that lovely texture of the salmon, and that briny taste of the fish.

This was my favourite dish of the night, Canadian lobster with potato gnocchi...who would have thought that lobsters can come under "sustainable" category....these days when I go scuba diving, it's a rare sight to see free swimming lobsters.  The flesh of the lobster was delicious, fresh, and springy.  I usually don't like lobster done western style, preferring the chinese long har meen style of cooking.  But this, I would order again if I go there.  At RM85, it is rather good value if you ask me.

Sea Bass al Cortoccio (RM40) Sea bass, cooked in parchment paper with mediterranean flavours, in a beech oven.  Love the presentation, as the parcel is unwrapped to reveal the contents, the wonderful aroma hits the olfactory with..precisely that, MEDITERRANEAN flavours.  RM40 for a fish dish in a hotel restaurant, damn good value if you ask me.

Red Snapper Capellini, Pan roasted, with angel hair pasta (although this wasn't angel hair) and mustard crumbs, which were superb.  Enjoyed the pasta which had drenched and soaked up all the juices of the fish and was exceedingly flavoursome. (RM48)

Slow Roasted Tasmanian Salmon with potato and celeriac ragout, eggplant parmigiana and lemon.  Loved the eggplant, but I am not a fan of roasted salmon or cooked salmon generally, but if you are, then you will like this dish.  I do like crispy salmon skin.  RM55.

And finally, their signature semi frozen chocolate hazelnut, which was a perfect end to the marine meal.

Tosca Italian Restaurant, Hilton Doubletree
Tel +603 2172 7272 | Direct +603 2172 7716 | Fax +603 2172 7270

DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur
The Intermark, 348 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Iketeru Unagi Promotion & New A la Carte Menu Items (Unagi Promo Till 31st July Only)

Disclaimer: Objects appear smaller than actually are in real life portions.  (ie these are pics of tasting portions, the real deal is bigger)

I've never been to Iketeru in the daytime, so much so I've never really noticed some of the attractive things about the place, such as the private dining room overlooking the garden, the sculptures of the gold fish that adorn the windows.  When I subscribed to the Hilton Premium Club card, Iketeru was my regular haunt with the wifey for our Saturday night dates, but since that's expired....I haven't been since January.

They're having an Unagi Promotion now, because it's summer in Japan, and it's that Unagi-ous time of the year..I have mental images of Eels entangled with each other, mating happily, and producing them by the m-eel-ions.  So, make hay while the sunshines, as they say, or in this case, make Unagi with its Eely.

His name is no stranger to me, I've heard of Chef Ricky since days of yore, and he HAS been with Iketeru for as long as it's been around, though he did take a "sabbatical" year off.  A humorous albeit serious looking chap, he explains that in Japan, people are enervated by the heat so a does of Unagi energises you, and "charge your battari"...(in that delightful Japanese accent). The eels are delivered twice weekly from the Miyazaki prefecture in Kyushu Island, Japan, renowned for their premium Unagi. Apparently Unagi meat tends to be more tender, juicy and with more marbling (fat) during the summer months as well.

We start with the Unagi Plate, comprising...

Eel With Cucumber and Wakame Seaweed in Vinegar Sauce...a lovely combination of the seared eel, with the refreshing seaweed and cucumber salad.  I can imagine this would be perfect on a hot Japanese summer afternoon, with loads of cold sake.

Maki roll wrapped in bamboo leaf, grilled eel with salt.  The wrapping seemed very local though.

Simmered eel dumpling with bonito sauce, and Japanese Omelette ..with eel, of course.  Actually in all the dishes, the unagi was prominent yet not loud, delightfully tasty but not overpowering.

An aerial view of the unagi plate...

New Items in the A la Carte menu include...

Steamed cod fish and rice wine, with shimeji mushrooms and  a hint of greens.  The cod fish goes really well with rice wine actually, soaking in all the flavours, and giving it a totally new dimension.

Teppanyaki grilled lamb rack.  Compounded by the fact that I am not a lamb fan, I found this dish a bit on the tough side as well, so yeah, definitely not my favourite.  I was relaying to Ee Laine how I liked ordering Teppanyaki in Iketeru because it always came with a generous sides, perhaps a teppenyaki mushroom, carrot, and lots of garlic.   I usually go for the tenderloin though.

Broiled sliced salmon belly carpaccio style.  Just slightly cook, I love the melt in the mouth texture of this dish, with the subtle slightly tangy "dressing" .

The dessert was sublime.  Vanilla ice cream wrapped with mocchi, (someone commented it looked like a durian), these pillows of fluffy rich goodness I'd say was my favourite dish of the day, no offence to the unagis. The cheese ice cream was also lovely, like a frozen cheesecake on a biscuit base.  And you know how yummy Japanese cheesecakes are!

Chocolate ice cream to end it all.

Some of the exquisite delicacies available during this special promotion period include Unagi Hitsumabushi, the premium Unagi Unajyu and UnagiSasazushi.

Promotion is currently on going until 31st July.

The Unagi 7 course set is available at RM350 net person.

For reservations call: Dining Reservations at +603 2264 2596
visit for more information.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

44 @ THE ROW

A few months ago, I posted about a cute lil pop up cocktail bar, 44@APW.  As the very name implies, pop ups will pop up, and pop down... or move, like the mysterious lands above Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree.

Well, as a matter of fact, they have popped up again, at a location that is rather intriguing, at THE ROW, or what used to be Asian Heritage Row, once the hustling bustling centre of KL's nightlife.  The location is rather mysterious, basically, you use BUTTER & BEANS as the landmark, follow the rather obscure signs, go by faith down the back alley, which looks like a construction site, and lo and behold...

This time, the interior looks a lot less temporary and almost permanent, with an almost full fledged bar, bar top, etc.

The same mixologist, CK, welcomes us, as his assistant whips up the first cocktail, Tango Mango.

Tango Mango is a gin based cocktail, with taragon syrup, lemon, mango and egg white.  A nice way to start the evening.  A bit on the pricy side though, at RM42.

An eclectic line up of Bottle aged pre mixed cocktails that looked LETHAL!!!

Ginger Berry Julep, Ginger, mint, bourbon and seasonal berries.  Love the presentation, in a steel goblet, so there is an air of mystery what lies beneath the ice.  Actually, I have no idea what color the cocktail is.  Also priced at RM42.

The 44 Pop Up, as we learnt the last time round, prides itself in presenting drinks we don't usually see in ordinary bars, such as this American brand, FEW, which has a fascinating history, being one of the few distilleries to have survived the prohibition.  Love their tag line on their website, FEW for the FEW.  We also learnt something interesting, the meaning of PROOF.  Basically it's the American way of describing Alc/Vol, and is basically double that.  So in the bottle above, 46.5% Alc/Vol = 93 Proof.  That's high proof indeed.

The Negroni Sour was my favourite cocktail of the day, as it wasn't as sweet as the rest,  Campari, Gin, Sweet Vermouth, lemon and Angostura Bitters, at RM40.  An assortment of flavours tantalise the palate, from the slight bitterness, to the tangy lemons.

CK then let us try some FEW gin neat, which wow, is strong.  The barrel gin is stored in the same kind of oak casks for whisky, so the gin actually tastes rather whisky ish.

Even the tonic used for their gin and tonics are not your pedestrian Schwepps or F&N!!!

The piece de resistance, with smoking guns and all, the Sazerac, from FEW Rye Whiskey, Absinthe, XO, and Bitters... It's surprising I found my way home.

A picture paints a thousand words, so see for yourself, the complicated process, the smoking etc before it's finally served,

Just love how they have a branding iron with the 44 which they brand onto all the fruit skins used as garnish!  By this time, I was feeling a nice buzz, and watched in fascination as they continued mixing for the other customers that had come in.

Jars of aromatics, just a drop to give that added flavour.

Note the piece of wood in the bottle, to help with the bottle aging process and to give it that barrelly woody taste.

Gin and tonic redefined....

A lot of steps for this simple gin & tonic....

Such pretty colours. I think this was the cosmopolitan but it wasn't for me.

More Gin and Tonics mixed for other customers..

As a finale, CK whips out this frozen bottle of Fernet Branca, an Italian Amaro liquor, that has a distinct herbal taste, and also, served as what is known as the BARTENDER'S HANDSHAKE....last drink so to speak.  It kind of reminds me of some chinese herbal concoction, the type you drink for heatiness or sore throat.

According to wiki, Intensely bitter since its inception in 1845, Fernet-Branca has been produced according to the original recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation. The bitters are made from 27 herbs and other ingredients. The exact formula is a trade secret known only to the Fernet-Branca president, Niccolò Branca, who personally measures out the aromatics during the production process.

It was fitting end to a lovely evening of cocktails.

Many thanks to Delfina & Jasmine for the invitation, and to CK for his hospitality, and for the bartender's handshake.