Monday, 30 December 2013

Village Park (Nasi Lemak) @ Damansara Uptown

Who doesn't love "nasi lemak" (a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk)?  It's one of those food all of us grew up on and considered as the national dish of Malaysia.  It's a much sought after breakfast item for many Malaysians although it has evolved from being just a breakfast staple to being eaten all day long whether it's for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even supper.  I guess 'anytime is a good time' to eat nasi lemak!
So, to satisfy my craving for nasi lemak one late Public Holiday morning, we headed out to Village Park Restaurant @ Damansara Uptown to get our nasi lemak fix.
This well-known nasi lemak joint (picked as one of the Top 5 Nasi Lemak by Flavours Magazine in 2012) is really crowded on weekends and public holidays, especially if you head here for a late breakfast.  Do not be alarmed when you see a long queue because those are usually customers lining up to "bungkus" (or take-away).  For those dining in, the staff will take your orders.  However, if you see that the queue is not too long, it may be wise to line up as you can get your food faster (I have tried that before).
Without a doubt, there's only one thing everyone comes here for and that is their "ayam goreng" (fried chicken).  Just look at the heap of freshly fried chicken....and the smell of fragrant, freshly fried chicken is truly intoxicating!
Needless to say, we ordered a plate of their signature Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng @ RM8.30.  The rice, with well separated grains, was fluffy and "lemak" enough.  The only way this texture of rice can be achieved is by steaming it, the traditional way, in a wooden container.  The fragrant aroma of the fried chicken leg (drumstick + thigh), on the other hand, is quite another thing --- well marinated with spices, the skin fried till crispy, while the meat still moist and tender inside.  It was excellent, testimony to the fact that trays after trays of fried chicken were replenished non-stop throughout our meal there.
We also tried the Nasi Lemak with "Rendang Daging" (Beef Rendang) @ RM7.80.  I quite liked the beef rendang gravy and would have liked it a lot more had the beef been cooked a little longer till it was more tender.  It was a shame as this could have been a cracker dish had the beef been more tender.
This is the Nasi Lemak with "Ayam Goreng" & "Sotong" (squid) @ RM13.30 [Note: Please excuse the 'not-so-nice' presentation because that's how it looks like when they are really busy, dishing up plate after and furious!]  The squid was alright although, again, I found it not tender enough.
We asked for the "sambal" to be served separately.  The fiery red sambal leans more towards sweet than spicy (although it was not my favourite sambal).  The sambal must be quite a hit with diners as there was a notice that said you will be charged RM0.80 for an extra serving of, bummer!
To round up the meal, a good drink to order would be the "Kedondong" with Sour Plum Juice @ RM3.60.  It is known as 'ambarella' in English and is similar to the "sar lei shin mui" drink in Chinese.  This slightly sweet, more sourish, fruit drink makes a fitting end to an otherwise heavy nasi lemak meal.
My Personal Opinion
Village Park's Nasi Lemak is undoubtedly one of the best in town.  The fluffy rice, served with crispy "ikan bilis" (dried anchovies), fresh peanuts, cucumber, half a hard-boiled egg and lovely sambal, is a breakfast staple you cannot do without...sometimes just a plain "nasi lemak biasa" is all it takes!
If you don't mind the crowd and the waiting time for you food, then come on over here for your nasi lemak fix!
What I liked:  The Ayam Goreng...first....and then the Nasi Lemak!
What I disliked:  The crowd, the waiting time and the 'messy' presentation when they are busy because they simply 'chop and murder' your chicken and, literally throw it, and everything else, onto your plate of nasi lemak.

With this, my final post for the year 2013, I wish everyone a Fruitful & Happy New Year!
Come on back and I'll see you in 2014!
Village Park Restaurant
No 5 Jalan SS21/37
Damansara Utama
47400 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-7710 7860

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Angus House @ Starhill Gallery

With the Christmas festive season upon us, if there is one ' food' on my mind, it has to be 'steaks'.  A good steak, to me, is synonymous with Christmas celebration.  With that said, off we went to Angus House @ Starhill Gallery, with a sure guarantee of a good meal ahead.  After all, they were shortlisted in the best steakhouse category of Time Out KL Food Awards 2010.  They do have another branch at Publika and one in Gurney Paragon Mall.

As you enter the restaurant, you are greeted with a décor and setting that is simple but yet visually stunning.  The dimly lit restaurant, with lighted candles, exudes a feeling of warmth, quiet serenity and romantic ambience to awaiting diners.  This place is undeniably suitable for couples looking for a nice, quiet, unperturbed dinner.

Eating good steaks at this steakhouse is not going to be 'easy' on the pocket for some.  Their menu comprises of high end steaks of Kobe beef, with prices starting from RM355, to Wagyu beef, with prices from RM305, to the less expensive cuts of Rib Eye, Tenderloin and Sirloin.  The price also depends on the size of the steak you choose, ranging from 150 - 300g.  [#Tip: A 200g steak is more than sufficient for an average female eater.]

Since I ordered the Rib Eye Steak Set 200g @ RM131 on my last visit (see pic below).....

...I opted for the Tenderloin Steak Set 200g @ RM135 this time around.  You can also order the steak a la carte and, in this case, the Tenderloin @ RM113.  However, I would recommend that you order the set because for a mere RM22 difference, you get an appetiser, soup, salad and dessert, which is not only value for money but these side dishes are also good quality dishes and not your ordinary "run-of-the-mill" type.

The meal startered with their in-house bread and butter.  The bread came piping hot - fluffy and soft on the inside and crispy and crusty on the outside.  Spread the butter and let it melt onto the hot bun and into your mouth.....what a wonderful start to your meal!

Next, came the appetiser.  It was a small piece of seabass, lightly pan seared, and served on top a bed of mashed potatoes.  What made it incredibly tasty was the 4 sauces that accompanied the dish - Japanese mayo, teriyaki, some kind of a coulis and probably a herbed sauce.  The seabass, when eaten with all the 4 sauces in one bite, was like an incredible harmony in your mouth...just heavenly!

After that, the soup was served and it was Potato Soup this time.  It was creamy with just the right thickness.  Crack some black pepper and you are ready to good!

A plate of salad greens with cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, sweet corn, thinly shredded carrot with bonito flakes, in a Japanese wafu dressing, followed next.  This was rather refreshing although I would have liked the dressing a tad less salty.

Then came the star attraction (or the main actor) of the entire meal as the rest were just its supporting cast.  The tenderloin steak was done 'medium rare' as this is the best way to eat a good piece of steak.

A steak done this way ensures maximum tenderness and juiciness.  Not only was the steak cooked perfectly, it was rested properly.  Resting a steak ensures the juices stay in the steak and not oozes out onto the plate when you cut into it. 

The steak was seared beautifully (with lovely grilled marks), served in a Japanese radish and mirin sauce with some simple boiled potatoes, baby carrots, French beans and a few sprigs of watercress.  Although I prefer to eat my steaks "naked" (ie. on its own without any sauce so that the flavour of the meat comes through), I didn't mind the sauce this time round (though I did find it a bit 'peculiar' the first time).

Just look at it......the steak was cooked perfectly to 'medium rare' with the interior mostly pink with just a tiny bit of red in the centre.  Although some may prefer to have it cooked to medium (though I still highly recommend 'medium rare'), it is still acceptable.  [#Note:  I, too, have had my steaks done medium at certain steakhouses, where their steaks are not that expensive, for fear that their meat might not be as fresh, but that's just me.]  However, ordering a steak cooked past medium, like medium-well or (heaven forbid) well-done is just a waste of money and a waste of a good piece of steak!

Having gone at length on the "doneness" of meat, many steakhouses cannot get their steaks cooked to the "doneness" you ordered, consistently, but Angus is not one of them.  My steaks at Angus have always been cooked perfectly and consistently.

Finally, the dessert was a piece of Raspberry Cake, drizzled with a little chocolate sauce.  The raspberry cake and piece of watermelon brought the much needed tartness and freshness to end the meal on a high.

I also ordered a glass of Chilled Mango @ RM10 which was not part of the set.

My dining companion ordered a starter of Fried Calamari @ RM45.  This was one of the best I have eaten because the calamari was light and crunchy while still maintaining its soft texture (not chewy at all).  Many places tend to overcook their calamari until it's too chewy.  Dip it into the Thousand Island dressing with sesame seeds's crunchy perfection!

For his main, he ordered the Seafood Aglio Olio @ RM34 that came with generous amounts of mussels, clams, prawns and squid, tossed with lots of fresh garlic and parsley.  Only a slight complaint here would be that there was a tad too much olive oil when you get to the bottom of the plate.

My Personal Opinion

Overall, it was a dining experience that was incredibly pleasing to the senses...of sight (from décor to ambience) to.....sound (quiet serenity) to....smell (the amazing aroma of the food) to......taste (which whets your appetite from course to course) and to.....touch (of service and attentiveness of the wait staff).

Definitely warrants return many times as your pocket can "tolerate"!!

What I loved:  Excellent steaks, with quality sides dishes, done right consistently.

What I didn't love:  Cannot eat here often enough because of the prices..arrghh! last pic for the road...?

Here's wishing all friends, family & visitors to my blog a Joyous & Merry Xmas 2013!

Angus House
Japanese Charcoal Steak
F8-F11 Explore Floor Starhill Gallery
181 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2145 6015

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Three Little Pigs & the Big Bad Wolf @ Tropicana City Mall

There have been numerous reviews on this restaurant with a unique name - Three Little Pigs & the Big Bad Wolf in the past.  From what I have read, this restaurant at Bangsar Village, generally, garnered mixed reviews.

So, when Three Little Pigs & the Big Bad Wolf (TLP&BBW) @ Tropicana City Mall opened recently, my friends and I decided to give it a try last Saturday.

If you don't already know, this restaurant has a different personality during the day and another during the night and, so, there are two different menus.  The TLP's menu is for breakfast and lunch and is on until 6pm while the BBW's menu is for dinner from 6pm onwards.

Since my friends and I (or maybe just me) felt a wee bit "evilish" prizes for guessing who we are in this pic!!
Of course, we went for the BBW's menu!
While my friends waited for me and another friend to arrive....."they were so hungry, they could eat a wolf", they ordered a Wild Mushroom Soup @ RM15 (sorry, no pic) and a Sweet Carrot Bacon Soup @ RM14 to calm their hunger pains until we got there.
Don't know how both soups tasted since I wasn't there (yet)!  But can't blame them really as we were late!  They did like the Wild Mushroom Soup though but the Sweet Carrot Bacon Soup, not so much.
The first starter we ordered was the Pork Drumstick @ RM15.  For this price, we got 3 pieces of minced pork skewered onto a stick of lemongrass.  The minced pork was well flavoured, with a hint of lemongrass, and goes well with the Thai-styled chilli sauce.
Our next starter was the Garlic Roast Pork @ RM19.  This resembled chopped pieces of 'siew yoke' that was sautéed with lots of garlic and caramelised with dark soya sauce.  It was 'garlicky' and 'fork licking good' and you should eat this as soon as it hits the table....piping hot!  Only complaint here is that the portion was a little bit small.
Our third and final starter was the Crispy Bacon & Asparagus Salad @ RM24.  This was a plate of salad greens with tomatoes, onions, asparagus and lightly fried streaky bacon, tossed in thousand island dressing, with a drizzle of some black sauce (probably their BBQ sauce).

It was fresh, delicious and a perfect balance to the meal - my favourite of the night.  If you are a light eater, I would suggest that you order a soup and this salad, which would make a substantial meal for one.  [#Tip: Their salads are not cheap though, ranging from RM22 - RM26, but a 'must-order', in my opinion, to cut out the pork 'overload'.]
The Wolf's Favourite @ RM29 is a creamy spaghetti with smoked pork bacon and button mushrooms, topped with a poached egg and crispy bacon bits.  This is one of the recommended dishes on the menu and you simply can't go wrong if it is Wolf approved, right?
The dish tasted as good as it looked.  The spaghetti was cooked to a perfect al-dente and tossed in a creamy sauce.  What's more, when you cut into the poached egg, the yolk oozes out lusciously to add further creaminess to the pasta.  [#Note: I have now seen poached eggs done a few different ways.  At Antipodean, they looked like they were done in a mould and in Red Beanbag, they are 'free form' (ie. cracked direct into a pan of boiling water).  Here in TLP&BBW, I believe they are wrapped in cling film and then poached, judging from the folds in the egg whites.  I admire perfectly done poached eggs and the ones at TLP&BBW did not disappoint.]  Finally, the crispy bacon bits, with its crunchy texture, just brings the dish home, definitely one of my favourites.
The Pork Lover's Aglio Olio @ RM29 is spaghetti tossed in garlic, chilli and olive oil with roast pork, honey ham, smoked bacon and meatball.  Although I did enjoy the pasta because of the slight heat, brought by the chillies, I felt that there was way too much "porky" stuff in this dish (though some would beg to differ and may actually want even more if you're a 'meat' lover).
The Roast Pork Fried Rice @ RM22.00, however, failed to impress.  Although there had been good reviews on this dish before, I found the rice rather wet and mushy and not to my liking.  I like my fried rice dry, fragrant and with lots of 'wok hei' (breadth of the wok) but there was none.  Although they did use quality Japanese rice, I had high expectations for a plate of fried rice that costs RM22 and, sadly, that expectation was not met.
The Mighty Piggy Burger @ RM29 is another Wolf approved dish.  It's made up of a pork patty with fried egg, cheese, herbed mayo, served with chips and house salad.  The patty had a distinctive intense porky flavor to it which I didn't quite enjoy.  Plus, the egg was overdone (where the yolk is no longer runny).....I hate overcooked eggs!!  Maybe, this was how they intended to serve the egg but I don't like my egg done this way.
The Hawaiian Hula Burger @ RM30 turned out to be a surprise and a better choice than the Mighty Piggy Burger.  The pork patty was juicy and did not have the strong porky taste, because it was covered in a tasty hickory smoked BBQ sauce, which made all the difference from the other burger we had earlier.  This burger has got the lovely refreshing balance brought on by the sweet pineapple ring and smoky BBQ sauce.  It was topped with fried onion rings and served with chips and house salad.

Overall, I felt that there was one ingredient sorely missing from their burgers.....crispy bacon (for the added crunch)!  They are, after all, a pork 'institution' and who doesn't love crispy fried bacon....if I have a way, it should be on everything, I tell you!

We ordered a couple of drinks after our meal, although they do provide you water free-of-charge.
Hot Cappuccino @ RM8 (they are not very good at 'coffee art', are they?)
Hot Caramel Latte @ RM11 (this looks like someone's butt, hehe!)
Iced Cappuccino @ RM11 (sorry, I drank some before taking the pic!)
and Orange Juice @ RM10 (no pic)
My Personal Opinion

I now know why the verdict for this restaurant is split right "down-the-middle" because there were some 'hits' but there were some 'misses' too.

Price wise, the mains are ok but the starters, especially the salads, are a bit pricey.

So, if you are into a piggy-laden feast, head here for your 'porkylicious' addiction.  With that, I bid you "oink oink"...and don't let the wolf get you!

What I liked:  The Crispy Bacon & Asparagus Salad and the Wolf's Favourite.  Somehow though, I felt that the dishes with pork bacon fared better than the dishes with pork per se.

What I disliked:  The prices and dainty portions of the starters and salads and the 'over porkiness flavour' of the pork (if there is such a thing) in their Mighty Piggy Burger.

Three Little Pigs & the Big Bad Wolf
Lot G35 Tropicana City Mall
No 3 Jalan SS20/27
47400 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-7722 3561

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Antipodean Cafe @ Menara Tan & Tan

One of my friends recommended this place to us, so we decided to check it out for breakfast one Saturday morning.  Did I say that western breakfasts are one of my most favourite meals of all time?  (Ya, I did already, in one of my posts).

We went to the Antipodean Café @ Menara Tan & Tan as it was nearer for us (they have another one in Bangsar, which is the original one).  This is a quaint little place where you find the menu written in chalk on a blackboard on the wall.  It's not my favourite thing to have to order from the wall (rather annoying I might add) as you have problems reading it when the place is crowded.  [#Tip: Do not sit near the menu board if you don't like people looking your way all the time...they can't help it!]

And now, onwards to the food!

The Big Breakfast @ RM20 was, holy crap.....big (like its name, no advertising gimmick here)!  It came with toast, scrambled eggs, a choice of bacon or sausage (chicken, beef or pork), mushrooms and hash brown.  If you have a small appetite, this is a substantial dish for sharing.
This is the one with the pork bacon (which, I think, needs a bit more colour through longer frying) as it wasn't fragrant enough.
This is the one with the pork sausage (which, I find, is a better choice than bacon).

The scrambled eggs were good but the homemade hash brown was a bit too thick for my liking (prefer the thinner and crispier version) and wished that there was more butter on the toast.  The best thing on the plate was definitely the pork sausage which had a delicious, smoky flavor to it.  When the "pork met my fork", it was a match made in heaven (food heaven that is).
In the Croissant Scrambled Eggs with Bacon @ RM19, you'll find nicely cooked scrambled eggs on a bed of arugula (otherwise known as rocket) on top of a croissant with a choice of bacon or sausage.

The croissant is a nice change, from your mundane piece of bread, as it has a buttery, slightly sweet and flaky texture...mmm......very nice!
This is the Croissant Scrambled Eggs with Beef Sausage @ RM19.
The Eggs Malborough with Salmon @ RM23 is a plate of two poached eggs with salmon on two slices of toast and a side of salad greens.

I did not enjoy the poached eggs as it was a bit overdone and they seemed to have been cooked in a mould as they came out identical in shape.  Maybe, that is why the whites tasted a bit rubbery although the yolk was still runny.  I like the ones at the Red Beanbag more.
The Banana Pancake with Butterscotch @ RM16 came with 3 pieces of pancake and an assortment of cut fruits on the side.  The butterscotch sauce goes well with the pancakes and a nice change from the usual maple syrup.

Antipodean's Big Breakfast only comes with a choice of one sausage or bacon, so how do you choose?  So, if you can't choose (like us), order a side of sausages at RM9 an order which gets you...err....two sausages, I think (can't remember).
And this is what happens when you ordered one too many (greedy!) and you can't make a lame attempt at art!

All the drinks were fairly decent and here they are:

Fresh Mango Juice @ RM9 (no pic) - though it was more like a smoothie than a juice.
Iced Cappucino @ RM10
Flat White @ RM9
Hot Honey Lemon @ RM8
Affogato @ RM10 (for those whose two favourite things are ice cream and coffee)
My Personal Opinion
Pretty darn good breakfast menu, worth a second visit.
What I liked:  They serve pork....yay!, the fragrant, albeit slightly salty, pork sausages and the large portions (value for money).
What I didn't like:  Menu written on the wall and the poached eggs could be better.
Antipodean Café
Suite G-408 Ground Floor
Menara Tan & Tan
207 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2161 0752

Friday, 6 December 2013

The Red Beanbag @ Publika

After reading mostly rave reviews from food bloggers on their breakfast menu, my friends and I decided to check out The Red Beanbag (RBB) @ Publika for breakfast one Saturday morning. After all, western breakfasts are one of my favourite meals of all time (yay!).

By the time we got there, there was quite a crowd and most of the seats inside were already occupied, so we got a seat at the alfresco part of the café, which is not the best option if your plan is to chill and chat, because a queue will form near (or next) to you and people could be staring at you for hogging the table.
That said, let's get to the food!

The Eggs Atlantic @ RM22 was a plate of yummy goodness of two poached eggs with salmon, on a bed of two French toasts, and topped with hollandaise sauce.  Hidden beneath the poached eggs were sautéed mushrooms and spinach.  What's not to's got everything I love on a plate!

The Eggs Benedict @ RM20, on the other hand, was very similar to Eggs Atlantic.  Only difference is, instead of salmon, you get a choice of bacon or turkey ham.  The poached eggs were cooked to perfection with the yolk still runny when you cut into it.....oh, so good!

What I like most about the poached eggs at RBB is that they are "free form", making them lighter and softer, unlike the ones in Antipodean where they look like they have been made in a mould.

The Super Awesome Fryup @ RM26 (sorry, forgot to take pic) is a platter of eggs (of your choice) on toast with chicken (or beef) sausage, beef bacon or turkey ham, hash brown, sautéed mushrooms and baked beans.  [#Tip: The chicken sausage has a hint of spice, so beware if you're ordering for children.]

This dish would probably appeal to people who want a more hearty and wholesome meal.  That said, this dish was good but not awesome (as its name....pity).

This "difficult to pronounce" dish is Bagna Cauda @ RM20 was awesome.  I didn't know what Bagna Cauda was until I "googled" it and realised that it is an Italian sauce made from garlic, olive oil, butter and anchovies (sometimes, cream is added).

This dish was not extensively covered by the many food bloggers out there (but I did read it from one of my favourite food blogs).  It is a dish of rosti with poached eggs, beef bacon and sautéed spinach in a warm Italian sauce.  A rosti is made with coarsely grated potato, which is shaped into a patty, and then pan-fried.  The rosti at RBB was well seasoned, crispy and quite a delight when eaten with the sauce.  This turned out to be my favourite dish of the day.

The Classic French Toast @ RM15 proved to be the 'piece de resistance' (and resistance is futile).  This is just a simple piece of bread, coated in almond slivers, dipped in egg (and probably milk) and pan-fried in butter.  It is served with caramelised bananas, fresh strawberries and maple syrup.

This was an extremely pleasing dish and one of the best dishes on the menu.  The French toast, soft and fluffy, the crunch of the almonds, the tartness of the strawberries, the sweetness of the caramelised bananas and maple syrup --- everything just worked together to create this "heaven in a bite"!

To round up any good breakfast, it must, of course, come with some good coffee.  Although I love to drink coffee, unfortunately I'm not a coffee connoisseur and I can't differentiate one good coffee from another.  As long as the coffee is decent (not mediocre), I'm a happy camper and the coffee at RBB is decent.

Flat White @ RM9
Latte @ RM9
Hot Chocolate @ RM9
Affogato @ RM10

My Personal Opinion

Pretty awesome breakfast menu, definitely warrants a second visit.

What I loved:  Classic French Toast, Bagna Cauda, Eggs Atlantic...and can't wait to taste more!

What I disliked:  None really, except the prices are a bit steep and the place is crowded.

The Red Beanbag
Lot A4-1-8 Publika
Jalan Dutamas 1
Solaris Dutamas
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-6211 5116

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