Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sri Karak, PJ Newtown, Pork Free Chinese Dining

I've always cracking my head for pork free places to go to whenever I have to dine with Muslim friends.  Whilst the "halal" vs "pork free" issue is an issue with the religious authorities, and I am in no position to comment, I do find that a lot of my Muslim friends are okay with Pork Free.  Afterall, most hotels and clubs are at best pork free, because apparently the slightest sign of alcohol will render the place not halal.

Recently, quite by chance, I stumbled across one such place, when we met up for dinner with a group of friends, who chose the venue for facility rather than cuisine, as none of the diners were Jewish or Muslim, or vegetarian or vegan.  Sri Karak, apparently originating from a restaurant of same name in Karak, (who would have thought), located opposite my favourite chinese medicine shop in the whole wide world, Tong Woh, in PJ Newtown.  I must have subconsciously seen the place as many times as I've been to Tong Woh, but somehow never registered.

The siong tong yuen choi, (Spinach in Superior soup) was as good as any other chinese restaurant.

Stir Fried French Beans, cooked just right, plain with garlic, just the way I like it.  Unpretentious and good.

The delicious sotong dish that cried out for rice and more rice. ...

Their signature tofu with soya sauce.  It's amazing how these simple dishes are so good, maybe because it's just so homey.

Their fish head curry is their claim to fame, and is very palatable, and is the perfect accompaniment for more rice.  It's different from the raved about fish head curries you find under the tree etc...but tastes are so subjective right, one need not use another as a benchmark if the taste is different but good.

The claypot chicken was a bit on the salty side, perhaps a bit heavy handed with the soy sauce...  but acceptable.

And finally, their signature Thai style fish, which is a cacophony of sweet, sour, salty flavours, not to mention the different textures, crispy skin, soft meat.  Nice.

The total bill came up to around RM400 for 10 people.

The place has no pretensions, and is a great place for pork free Chinese food.  Their sang har mee on the menu looks rather good too, which is what I intend to have when I next buy booze at Tong Woh.

Address: Jalan 52/8, Pj New Town, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Phone:+60 3-7958 3240

Monday, April 25, 2016

Just Heavenly Celebrates 15 Years of Serving Pleasure

I didn't really know what to expect when I "signed up" to attend the launch of Just Heavenly's new cafe menu, and certainly wasn't expecting a ladidah tea party, as the menu was launched in conjuction with JING Tea selection.  These every exclusive teas are not offered off the rack in retail shops, only in selected places, mainly Michelin starred Restaurants, 5 star hotels, and now, Just Heavenly.

The ebullient and ever gregarious Nigel Skelchy, who all but broke out into song with 16 part harmonies, while introducing the event, the menu, and Jing teas, regaled us with stories of the ideas behind the new menu, such as using curry leaves in the pies, called the Curryeggy (which the press release described as "the curry puff's grown up cousin" and coincidentally, one of my facebook friends described as a glamorous version of old Chang Kee currypuffs).


The lady from Jing Tea brought us through the different types of tea, explaining the difference in types is mainly from altitude, and not really the leaf itself.  We sampled the Jing English Breakfast, the Jing Organic Jade Sword and the Jing Blackcurrant and Hibiscus, which was like an intense Rosella drink.  Pairing with these fine teas were some of the items from the new menu such as

Veggie the Vegan Terrine...these are bite sized of course, and the real portion is reflected below.

It was a bit hard to extrapolate from the bite sized version the full extent of the myriad flavours that I presume are present in the actual sized dish.

I love their poster, food for saints and sinners, in line with their mantra of "we do not believe in guilty pleasures - you should never feel guilty for treating yourself".

Mini pies called the Beef Growl.  Of course juxtaposed against a VEGAN terrine, this was exceedingly tasty, with that satisfying taste of beef to soothe the non vegan palate.  One of the reasons I liked this miniscule portion was because it meant a higher pastry to meat ratio, and since I love pastry, it suited me fine.

The Growl magnified, with mashed potatoes, onion rings, mushy peas and beef....

The Catcher In the Pie, presumably a play of words from the book, A Catcher in the Rye... A Vegetarain quiche I believe.

The Curryeggy, which is the aforementioned Curry Puff on Steroids, has a lovely warm spicy chickpea chicken curry with the quintessential curry leaves.


Popcorn Chicken....

Some of the new items that look interesting from the description are the Char Siew Chicken Salad, Tuna Schooner salad, and their homemade Greek Yoghurt.  Allan Yap, the other chappie behind Just Heavenly, explained to us how they like to homemake stuff, like Greek Yoghurt, and Nutella, which featured in one of their new desserts.  They also use interesting herbs and spices in some of their sweets, resulting in an interesting sweet salty combo that is somewhat an acquired taste.

"If you needed another reason to make Just Heavenly your next pit stop, they are giving away 
15% off vouchers to every diner from Thursdays to Sundays.  There has never been a better 
time to earn your angels’ wings!

Follow #justheavenly on social media pages and check out their Facebook 
@justheavenly.my, Instagram @_ justheavenly_ and Twitter @heavenlycake for new and 
exciting updates as they continue their pledge of Designing Dreams, Serving Pleasure."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Theodor Falser Returns to Gobo Upstairs, Traders, To Guest Chef With One Michelin Star Under His Toque

Once upon a time, circa ten years ago, when Traders Hotel KL was born, the Marcomm Manager, Theresa Goh made a wish, that the gods of the culinary world would send her a good looking Chef, to make her life easier to market the new hotel's F&B outlets.  Clearly, her wish was granted in the form of Chef Theodor Falser...

Chef Theodor left for his home Italy a few years later, and fast forward to a few years down the line, he returns to Traders as a guest chef for a week or so, but this time with a Michelin Star under his chef's toque.  The return to his homeland saw him cultivate his brand of Italian cuisine using herbs and vegetables, often cultivated within the grounds of the Hotel Spa & Resort Engel, Italy.  Apparently he also runs a burger joint at the side.

Every now and then, life tosses you a bonus, and I was delighted and privileged to be invited for a special media preview of the Wine Pairing Dinner paired with the works of Theodor.

Chef in action, and he always seems rather smiley, clearly driven by passion for what he loves doing.

He seems to calm and unflustered as he prepares the dinner for a group of 30 or so privileged guests.

I particularly like this candid shot of the ever elegant Theresa so I'm putting it in this post.

With eight or so different wines, and pre dinner Prosecco, we knew it was going to be a great night, and that menu looked simply divine

Grilled Potato  Focacia and whole wheat bread with walnut pesto.  Perfect serving slice, and the nice thin focacia was just the thing to titillate our palate to whet our appetites for more.  The Ruffino Prosecco NV was also the perfect pre dinner drink to get everyone in the mood.

Jerusalem Artichoke done 2 ways, with elder caper dressing, and salted peaches, paired withe the Ruffino Lumina, Pinot Grigio Veneze 2014.  Artichoke is not something you'd see regularly in our menus, so it's really quite a treat if you like artichoke, like me.

Mackerel Lemon and Onions, Salmon Caviar and confit grosny.  To the uneducated plebians in our midsts, me included, grosny is a kind of tuber, probably the cousin of a potato.  In truth, I found this dish a tad on the salty side, but that was easily neutralized with a sip of the Ruffino Verdello Blend, Orvieto Classica 2014.  In case I hadn't mentioned it earlier, the wines for the night are Italian, Ruffino, distributed in Malaysia by Caldbeck.

Risotto Rocket Salad, Peanuts, Olive oil and poached lamb, sous vide-ed at 54C, for a tender medium rare doneness.  This was easily one of my favourite dishes of the night.  The simple yet complex sauce that engulfed the al dente rice, plus the myriad flavours of the herbs, subtly imbued into the overall equation, plus the gaminess of the lamb, simply divine.   This was paired with the first of the reds, a Sangiovese Blend Chianti 2014.  The light Chianti plus the heavy-ish risotto was a match made in heaven.

Italian Pasta "wonton" bundle with beef cheek ravioli and truffle in a pine celery root soup.  Ah, such exotic sounding ingredients.  The broth was superb, although the general comment was, "can't taste the truffle".  But a Q&A session with chef later revealed that real truffle is subtle, not in your face, a scent and flavours found in truffle oil that is manufactured like perfume.  "Mr" Baby Sumo asked Chef if he brought the wonton idea from KL to Italy or vice versa.   This was paired with the Ruffino Riserva Ducale, Sangiovese Blend, Chianti Classico 2011.

Excellent wines too I might add.

Some of the wines we had through the night.

Undoubtedly the star dish of the night, the Dry Aged Entrecote Steak (Black Angus, Australian), with blueberries, root vegetables and fermented garlic.  One of the finest steaks I've had the pleasure of chomping down, and it didn't even need to be a wagyu.  Also sous vide-ed at 54C for the PERFECT medium-medium rare doneness.  Unanimously everyone's favourite.  The full bodied Ruffino Modus Sangiovese Blend Toscano 2011, a decadent red was a great partner to this strong dish.

Mascarpone, Rhubarb and Chamomile Crumble, a decadent rich and creamy end to a fantastic meal.  It was paired with a dessert wine, Ruffino Serelle Vino Santa Malvasia Blend, Chianti 2010 which I didn't care much for, as I am totally not a dessert wine person, no matter how good.

Applauding the kitchen staff ...I think...was quite pleasantly buzzing by this time.

Oh, and a special bonus, this lovely Grappa.... that tasted almost like a cognac.  I am not usually a grappa fan, the few I've had almost reminds me of kerosene....but this was so good, Mr Babysumo and I kept getting refills.

It would seem these two don't see eye to eye in the kitchen.... but far from it.  Sous Chef Kelvin has a really delightful smile as well...

Some photos of the night....

One picture for the road....with my favourite fellow hobbyist food writers...

The bad news is, the wine dinner on the 21st of April, priced at RM350 nett with the above menu, is fully booked.  The GOOD NEWS is, on other nights the a la carte and set dinner menus are available,  at GOBO UPSTAIRS, as are seats.  The cooking class on Saturday 23rd is fully booked, but the one on Sunday 24th still has vacancies, at RM200 nett, which includes lunch with WINE.

It really was a great treat, so do hurry to try it out if you can.  Ala Carte prices are really reasonable as well, and that's coming from ME, #iamacheapskate.

Address:  Traders Hotel KL, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur
Phone:03-2332 9888

Monday, April 18, 2016

Green Dot Stables - Aye or Neigh??

Fascinating name, I thought, for an eating place, images of oats and carrots and lots of hay conjured up in my mind when we were invited by Taufulo to come and try out the place.  Nothing could be further from oats and carrots, although definitely the place is suitable for an ahem, STUD like me.

To those who don't know, GDS is located where Bernard's used to be, in Centrepoint Bandar Utama.  Walking in, you immediately can feel it's allure, as there are people from all ages, shapes and sizes, patronising the place.  The fully stocked bar and numerous beverage on tap is already a promising sign, (although it still takes some getting used to Connors on tap vs Guinness on tap)... and with these bacon wrapped prawns plonked in front of us, ....

I knew I would return soon to this place already.  My kinda chow, beers with bar food that suits the occasion.  The fried prawns with bacon are RM15

 If beer is a man, then salted egg sotong are the wife,.. (well, they do have holes)... they're the perfect match. RM9

And whilst this particular dish may seem easy enough to make on your own, (grilled bacon with some lettuce leaves), it really does make a great bar snack as well.  RM9

 To be honest, of all the local brews, my favourite is Tiger Draft, but I realise that diversity is a beautiful thing, and almost everyone has different preferences.  In the absence of the striped cat, I guess the Danish master brewer will have to do.

I am just baffled and ashamed to admit I've never heard of SLIDERS before.  To the equally ignorant, they're basically burgers, but with square buns.  Green Dot Stables is an American brand actually, which explains this distinctly American nomenclature.  And the variety of Sliders they have, is just staggering.  From Philadelphia Beef, (my favourite), to Satay Chicken (localised, obviously)...it almost covers the entire spectrum of food in the "fast food" world.  The above is the Hot Chicken Slider, RM7.  The amazing thing is, most of the sliders are priced around RM7 or RM8.

 They only recently shedded their pork free status, and are now definitely NOT pork free....

Some of these combinations are not for the faint hearted, or those with clogged arteries, for if you are looking for oats and carrots, you're definitely at the wrong stable, and in all probability, wrong table as well.

Other flavours include Chilli Crab, Quinoa for the healthy, spicy eggplant, BCT, Korean, just to name a few.  AND, the actual product does bear a good resemblance to the pictures in the menu, unlike some places were the menu pictures bear absolutely no resemblance to the real thing.

This satay chicken slider is a sure winner...I mean which Malaysian does not love wonderfully marinated chicken in tumeric spice and that ubiquitous peanut sauce.

The Corned beef slider looked promising, but I found the strands of pulled meat a bit dry.  Maybe because it had to undergo the indignity of being photographed to death by the bloggerazzi.

Right at the centre is the MR SLIDER, which is the most expensive of the sliders, priced at a "princely" RM9.  My personal favourite, the PHILLY STEAK CHEESE is at 12 o clock from MR SLIDER, in the 2nd inner circle.

Now if you find the absence of any greenery to be alarming, then you'd be glad to know that there are some token salads in the menu, probably in the same percentage as the ethnic populations of America, maybe 2% of the menu or something.  The salads are all in the RM6 range.  From 11 oclock, Watercress Salad, Caesar Salad, Iceberg Wedge, Mac and Cheese, Vinegraitte Salad and in the centre, Hummus.

And just in case we forget, Louis the Manager made sure we had another round of bar snacks, this time including spicy sausage and chicken wings, and GASP, luncheon meat fries.  I felt like oinking with joy in the stable.

 More bar snacks by way of bacon wrapped around potatos, and popcorn chicken...

...and of course our definitive Malaysian bar snack, FRIED IKAN BILIS (Anchovies) with Onions and Chilli.

The bar snacks, apart from the bacon prawn, are all below RM10.  In fact, the most expensive food item is probably the bacon prawn at RM15.

Since the review I've already been back once, as I really think it's fabulous value for money.  They also have attractive beer and wine promos, which makes it an affordable hangout place.

LOCATION: Centrepoint BDR UTAMA, where Bernard's used to be.