Friday, December 06, 2019

Throwback Gin Jubilee Finale At Sentul Depot

Congrats to the organisers, WHOLLY SPIRITS et al for the incredible finale of Gin Jubilee at Sentul Depot...

It was hard to believe that the venue was in KL, it felt like a different world.

And congratulations to winning mixologist extraordinaire, Shirmy Chan on her Curious PJ, comprising Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, East Imperial Old World Tonic, beating 25 other partner bars. 

Looking forward to Gin Jubilee 2020!!!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Chez Gaston by Rendezvous, A Little Gem Tucked Away in Bangsar Utama

It's always heart warming to visit an establishment that is run by a passionate Chef cum Owner, and Chez Gaston is one such place.  An unpretentious place, nestled in a rather odd location really, so much so you'd least expect to find a French restaurant in such a hood.  Undoubtedly parts of Bangsar Utama have become rather gentrified in recent times, with speakeasies, bars and coffee places mushrooming, but this particular location is away from the main stream gentrification.

I'm not sure if it is by design, but this is the only signage that would clue you as to its existence.  It does look rather rustic, tucked amongst the leaves and bushes. 

The interior is simple, almost minimalist.   It doesn't pretend to be a fine dining place, and indeed, a bulk of the lunchtime crowd are from surrounding offices, who patronize the place because of the incredibly reasonably priced set lunches, which change daily.

The rather serious Chef Florian, who hails from France, but has been here for 10 years or so, explains that he himself goes to the market every morning and sources the freshest ingredients for the lunch menu, so therefore it is not possible to predict the day before what will be available for lunch.  Such a system has its pros and cons, no doubt, but at the end of the day, it goes to show his commitment to freshness of ingredients.

The name Chez Gaston itself refers to his grandfather, who was also a chef.  You see, if this was set in a charming countryside in France, this story would garner oohs and ahhs, and awwws.....

We start with an amuse bouche of  pate, pickles on toasted baguette.

Some of the aperitifs Chef let us sample to tickle the palate.  I personally found both too sweet.

French Onion Soup, with a grilled cheese (Ementhal) topping done very uniquely, which made it perfect for dipping into the sweet onion broth. RM17

Fish soup, RM18, made from Chef''s father's recipe.  It's a rather thick fish soup, and very substantial, complimented perfectly with bread and butter.  I would recommend sharing.

Escargots, swimming in wine sauce...which on it's own is a tad salty, but once you mix it up, and dunk some bread, is rather good. RM24

Possibly my favourite starter, because I am such a foie gras fan, and yes, the pan seared variety.  Now, that onion relish is soooo good, and so were those random slices of smoked duck.  The other real surprise was that fried bread beneath the foie gras, which had absorbed all the goodness of the foie juices.

The salad with goats cheese and bacon bits was good, well, you can't really go wrong with a salad that has chunks of pork bacon, and the dressing, very subtle, slightly tangy, refreshing.  RM26

Scallops in creamy sauce, RM35, very nice indeed, and that sauce ..ooh lala.

I can't see or hear Beef Bourguignon (that's a lot of vowels) without thinking of that movie Julia Julia...and have ALWAYS been fascinated by the dish.  To prepare takes like forever, so I'm glad there's a version that I find quite nice (although to be fair I have no yardstick to compare).

Rouget en Papillote A La Creme de Ciboulette, basically red mullet baked in "Papillote",

PSA - In the culinary arts, the term en papillote refers to a moist-heat cooking method where the food is enclosed in a packet of parchment paper or foil and then cooked in the oven. ... Word meaning: En papillote means "in paper" or "in parchment" in French (Courtesy of Google)

What distinguishes this dish is the multi layers within that parchment vessel, so you have to dig deep to savour the different flavours and textures.

Pork tenderloin, okay, I prefer fattier cuts of meat, so this would too lean for me, although the sauce was nice.  Come to think of it, a lot of creamy sauces.

Chicken isn't a dish I would think of ordering in a French Restaurant, firstly because they always use breast, but to my surprise, Chef Flo uses thigh, and the result was actually a very good chicken dish.
Cuisse de Poulet Grillee Fromagere RM42.  On top of the chicken is goat's cheese.

This Italian Veal dish thrown in for good measure, very rich and delicious, but it's a special, so don't count on being able to order it randomly.

The Bouillabaisse, the iconic Marseilles seafood soup, is chockful of goodies, tiger prawns, mullet, and the soup, which is more bisque like than clear (unlike the usual Marseilles ones), is so good that left all of us wanting more.  Now, the main surprise was the breads, because well, it's bread, and at this stage of the meal, no one wants more bread, BUT one per chance bite into that crusty piece of goodness, it didn't take long before all of it was gone.

We all agreed that we could have done with more soup though. RM68

Pretty decent house pours...

Although we were bursting at the seams, Chef Flo insisted we try his blood sausage.  Whilst I am not a fan of pig's blood, (not even in curry mee), Fay loved it, as did the others.

For dessert, this floating meringue island..

But this dark chocolate mousse wins the dessert trophy in my book.

Apparently in France they have their cheese platter with salad sides.  We found this out when Anitaeats queried Chef Flo why was there a patch of salad...

And apple tarte tatin...  with vanilla ice cream to end

As I said, it's a cosy unpretentious environment, casual French dining that won't burn a hole in your pocket.  The wine list is adequate, and very reasonably priced as well.  I really am looking forward to that chicken and beef bourguignon again.  Oh, and the scallops.  Oh, the the foie gras. 

Chez Gaston
12G Jalan Bangsar Utama
59000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 011-3993 0036

Monday, November 04, 2019

Palmers Champagne Launch At Vertigo

I seem to get a lot of invites to alcohol events these days.  Not that that is a complaint, in fact, it's a great thing.  So, when invited to Vertigo at Banyan Tree, for a new champagne preview, that's like, yeee haaahhh...

As the sun set over the hazy horizon, we were plied with elegant flutes of the Palmers Champagne Brut Reserve, made from 55%Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Muenier.  The perfect drink to start the evening with.

We were privileged to have Area Export Manager, Arthur Camut, briefing us on the Palmers Brand, and introducing the Champagne to us.

The other varieties we got to try were the Palmers Rose Reserve, a lovely elegant rose, that in my opinion would pair with almost any food.  Made from 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 15%Pinot Muenier, including 10% red wine from a solera system started 35 years ago, the Rose has notes of berries as one would expect.

The Palmers Blanc De Blancs, under the Specialty Collection range, is definitely a celebration drink.  Made from Chardonnays sourced from the Chardonnay sourced mainly from the magnificent terroirs of  Villers-Marmery and TrĂ©pail, two Premiers Cru villages in the Montagne de Reims area that are
known for their outstanding Chardonnay

What better way to enjoy an elegant champagne than with a freshly shucked oyster with all the marine flavours intact.

Not a bad view after a few glasses of excellent bubbly.

For more information on the Champagne, check out their website,
You do need to be above 21 Years old to visit the site though.

To purchase the champagne, the local distributors are Asia Euro
Michelle Hor
Wines Division Director
No. 1 & 3, Jalan PJU 3/49 Sunway Damansara
47810 Petaling Jaya
Selangor, Malaysia

Tel : +603 78832828
Fax: +603 78832928

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

SPG by Bijan

To me, one of the most exciting restaurants that have opened of late, is SPG by Bijan.  Okay, I might be biased, because I had SUCH a good time at the media launch.  Also, the lovely trio, a bevy of SPG like girls (maybe in their heyday, with a lot of imagination) are my dear friends.  But hey, there's no sin in being partial to a place just because it's owned by friends.

To those born before a certain era, they might not be familiar with the term SPG, Sarong Party Girl, typically long black haired leggy single ladies who love sidling up to Caucasian men.  In fact, a whole comic book was popularized in the neighbouring republic across the causeway, where presumably it was even more predominant.

However, this clever play on words in this context, stands for Sarong Party Grill.  Already images of parties being held there in traditional costumes permeate my mind.

The bright cheery decor looks spectacularly colorful in the day time, albeit a little girly for me,

But no matter how beautiful a place is, to me, the MOST important thing would be the food, and drink.  To me, a shack with great food trumps palatial settings with bad food.

Anyway, it was a lovely afternoon, and we were honored to have a specially curated degustation menu for sampling.

The welcome cocktail was love at first sight.  The Stinkitini, using Petai as a garnish instead of an Olive.  Obviously it won't be everyone's cup of Ti-ni...  but I loved it.  Inspired, if you ask me.  But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Cocojito.  If I have to explain it, clearly your knowledge of cocktails needs brushing up.  A marriage in heaven of the Mojito and Coconut.  In the background, chips called Fries Celup.  

Now, these might seem like ordinary crackers but the black one, a squid ink sago cracker, was truly something different and I hope they package it to sell.  The bitter kerepek, whilst more common, was still a wonderful starter that paired well with the cocktails, together with the lovely sambals.  Perhaps not ideal for the Trypophobic.

Yellow fever, basically Tumeric addition to an embellished gin and tonic.  Given the healing detoxing qualities of tumeric, would I dare imagine that this Yellow Fever is actually good for you?

Asam pedas, containing the dreaded tequila, triple sec and tamarind juice, which was actually very nice.  The winner is the spicy sugar that lines the rim of the glass.

The talented mixologists at work....

This Ah Ran Sini, a play on Arancini, is stuffed fritters with nasi lemak, can you believe it!  Pretty unique and pretty good with a Stinkitini.

Grilled Calamari. okay, nothing particularly evocative about this, it's grilled calamari with a nice sambal.

Pais Barramundi, which I thought was rather unique.  Grilled parcels of barramundi with banana leather, turmeric, spices and coconut.

Whilst this Kedondong Calamansi was originally served as a mocktail, I asked for some Rum to be added and WOW, I hope they turn it into a cocktail with my suggestion.  Kedondong is Ambara in some chinese dialect, and Ambara Sheen Mui is a common drink in Penang kopitiams.  So why not AMBARUMMM it?

The very shy Chef Raziz, who hails from Sekinchan I believe, who came up with a lot of the inspired dishes.  

Ayam Limau Purut and Roti Jala Tiffin.  The photo doesn't do the tiffin justice, cos it's tiny tiffins that are just sooooo cute, which Lissa lugged back from Chatuchak apparently.

Now this Jackfruit Rendang Bao caused quite a stir, because a diner who shall not be named was recently served the most awful bland Jackfruit curry in an unnamed fine dining establishment in Bangkok.  The conclusion was, THIS IS HOW YOU COOK JACKFRUIT.  And I agree, another inspired dish.  Of course using mantao was also a brilliant idea.

I love tongue, so this Lidah and Sambal, tender braised ox tongue,...was sooo good.

Duck Skewers, Marinated Duck Leg served with Sambal Hijau.... Such a pretty dish if you ask me.

 Chicken Kicap Skewers, marinated in a ginger soy sauce.  

Angus oyster blade served with sambal hitam, sambal hijau and sambal merah.  The sambals were really extraordinary, which I'm glad, for all intents and purposes, Bijan serves Malay food, and sambal is really one of the cornerstones of the cuisine.  So heck, luckily it's done well.

Grilled Lamb Loin with the same three sambals.

And the award for MY favourite dish of the meal, and mind you, this came at the end, when marginal utility is close to zero, has to be this AMAZING NASI SEKINCHAN, tricolour rice, and quinoa (WITH QUINOA some more, and yet it made it to my favourite), pulled chicken, asian pesto , rice crackers and ....drum roll, crispy chicken skin.....

Pays to know the owners, we had EXTRA chicken skin which was finished faster that you can say CLUCK.

An amazing combination of textures and flavours, I really can't wait to have this nasi sekinchan again.  Amazingly light, even those party pooper Keto Kakis  yielded and admitted it was fantastic.

For dessert, this Banana Over bananas (Homemade banana ice cream with smokey caramelized banana and dehydrated banana cone) and Pulut Mango cake, a chilled mango mousse, fresh mango and coconut glutinous rice .  Both a fabulous end to a fabulous meal.

Finally, a cocktail I noticed in their menu but have not tried, but feel had to be included in this write up so I would remember, is THE ROSE CHAN.  Talk about a name from the past.   I simply love the creative nomenclature assigned to these drinks.

Anyway, SPG by Bijan has so much to offer, by way of tapas, grills, more starters, Mocktails (which I didn't bother mentioning as it's wasted calories to me), and fabulous cocktails.  As of time of writing, I am not sure if they have priced their items, but if Bijan next door is any yardstick, it should be fairly reasonable for the quality you're getting in a lovely atmosphere.

I can't wait to return.

Lunch menu is available daily from 12 – 4pm.
SPG by Bijan
No.3A Jalan Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur 50200, Malaysia
Tel: 03 2022 3575
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 12.00pm-12.00am