Monday, 29 September 2014

Victoria Station @ Ampang

Victoria Station (VS) @ Ampang has been a popular haunt for affordable steaks (for me) for quite a while now although I didn't have that great a dining experience the last time I was here (you can read about my previous visit here).

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I just had to come back to sample their steaks again...just to be sure that they're still the 'House of Fine Steak'.

Without further ado, let's get to the food.  They do serve you complimentary bread here though it's not anything great.

So, I like to order their Garlic Toast @ RM2.90/pc coz the slice of baguette comes spread with a thick dose of garlic on it.  You have to order this when you're here as it's one of the most garlicky toasts I've ever eaten.

A starter we'd usually order is the VS Escargots (1/2 doz) @ RM17.90 (and, let me tell you, half doz is never enough).  This French delicacy of edible snails, baked in a mouth watering garlic sauce, is their No. 1 selling appetiser.  I know it sounds disgusting but it's not like you're eating slimy snails from your garden, oh no!  These ones are really tasty especially when cooked in a buttery and garlicky sauce...yum (but if you're on a could be too much garlic)!!

I always like to start off my meal with their Sharksfin & Crabmeat Soup @ RM16.90 which is traditionally a very 'Chinese' soup made in a western restaurant.  I've drank this soup countless of times when I'm here and it has always been nice and thick.  However, this time though, it was a tad watery but the flavour was still there.  Another soup that I like is their signature VS Oxtail Soup @ RM15.90 followed by their Baked French Onion Soup @ RM11.90.  However, I'm not a fan of their seafood soups which taste a bit fishy to me.

I also adore their other starters like Seafood Cocktail @ RM 14.90 and Mango & Shrimp Cocktail @ RM13.90 served with their signature VS cocktail sauce.  Another favourite appetiser is the VS Potato Skin @ RM7.90, stuffed with crumbled smoked chicken and minced vegetables, with a crust of breadcrumb and melted cheese.  But their oysters are pretty expensive (close to RM50 for 1/2 doz).

Now, on to our main courses.  One of our main dishes was the Neptune Mermaid Delight @ RM39.90 which was a combination of deep-sea prawns and grilled fish fillet served with chips, corn on the cob and salad.  [Tip: You can also choose other combos like Neptune Taurus (prawns & beef), Neptune Aries (prawns & lamb) or Neptune Phoenix (prawns & chicken), all priced between RM37.90 - RM47.90, so there's a combo that's bound to suit you.]

The fish fillet was nicely grilled and topped with their signature VS brown sauce.  The fish was alright...soft and flaky.

The prawns, on the other hand, seemed to have shrunk in size.

Taste wise, it was ok although the overall portion size is a tad smaller than the one we had a few months ago (see pic on the left).

Our other main course, of course, has to be a steak.  My order of VS Ribeye @ RM62.90 was served with a side of baked potato, corn on the cob, sautéed mushrooms and fresh salad.

The salad was served separately and has shredded white and purple cabbage, sliced green bell pepper, pineapple, cucumber, tomato and lettuce leaves with a Thousand Island sauce.  It was simple and fresh.

The baked potato, which was topped with condiments of sour cream, crumbled minced chicken and chopped spring onions, was soft and savoury.

The sautéed mushrooms with sliced green bell peppers and onions were nice and something different from the usual boiled cauliflower, broccoli and carrots.

Finally, we come to the 'star of the show'...the ribeye.  It doesn't come with any sauce and that's how I like it anyway...'naked' in all its glory!

The ribeye was perfectly cooked to medium rare as requested although there was a bit of fat at the sides that should have been trimmed.  The steak had a nice sear on it and was tender and flavourful but it would have been so much better if it was still hot when I got round to eating it...T_T!

I didn't appreciate that my main course arrived at my table a little sooner than it should have as I was only half way through my soup and I had not even eaten my garlic toast or salad yet.

The fresh juices here are very reasonably priced and this was my Watermelon Juice @ RM7.90 which is cheaper than most places.

[#Story:  When I was dining there, I couldn't help but notice a lady at the next table to ours who would get up and help herself to more condiments and sauce (from the 4-in-1 container left on the side counter) whenever she feels like it (like 3 times)...she treated it like it was a banana leaf restaurant!  Once, the waiter saw and quickly went to her aid.  I don't know where she learnt her table manners and etiquette as other diners (like me) may find it improper (disgusting actually) and unhygienic for her to handle the condiments that are 'common' to other diners as well.  After all, we pay to be served, why the heck should we self-serve ourselves!  Worst still, there was this elderly lady (I think she was the lady's mom) who was sitting with her back towards me but turned her entire body around (after she has finished eating) and stared at me and my food (for a fairly long while).  Didn't anyone tell her it's rude to stare at people while they're eating!  Maybe, they don't get out very often :P  That goes to show that 'the apple doesn't fall far from the tree'!!]

My Personal Opinion

For me, to have a good western dining experience, the dishes (from one course to another) have to be timed perfectly.  The restaurant staff and cooks should allow the customer to finish one course before proceeding to bring out the next course (starter-main-dessert-coffee, if you go through the entire course). 

I must say, that when I dined at places like the Fisherman's Cove, Angus Steakhouse or The Pressroom, the arrival of dishes are always perfectly timed.  Unfortunately, this was not the case here (though, at times, they do get it right).  The meal seems rushed (kinda like when dining in Coliseum) even when ordering (and their menu is freaking long...they should seriously think about making it more concise).  I have also dined at their Medan Damansara Station and I think the food and service is a little bit more quality there.

Having said that, it's still the 'House of Fine Steak'....for affordable steaks if you can forgive the 'finesse'!

Victoria Station
The House of Fine Steak
243 Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-42573388

Thursday, 25 September 2014

O & S Restaurant (Part 2) @ Paramount Garden

As promised, this is the 2nd part of my post on O & S Restaurant @ Paramount Garden (read my earlier post here) as there are just way too many good eats to do it in one post.

So, this time I'm back for some Penang curry mee and assam laksa, the chicken/roast meat rice and popiah.

The (Penang) Curry Mee @ RM5.50 was really good though it's a very simple curry with just shredded chicken, "tau fu pok" (bean curd puffs), "see hum" (cockles) and bean sprouts...only thing missing is the coagulated pig's blood (though I don't miss it that much).  I like to eat this with the "wat kai" (poached chicken) which was really smooth and tender.  The curry broth is aromatic and flavourful and not as watery as some Penang-type curry mee.  

What makes it even better is that it's served with half a kalamansi lime and a good sambal.  A squeeze of lime just lifts up the curry broth, in my opinion.  As good as it was....was it better than my favourite curry from Mei Sin?...not quite, but (then again), this is a Penang-style curry, so you can't quite compare as it's's not as spicy and oily as the KL ones but still very good nonetheless.

The (Penang) Assam Laksa @ RM5.50 from the same stall selling curry laksa was just as good.  It came with generous amounts of shredded "ikan kembong" (Indian mackerel), thinly sliced raw onions, cucumbers, pineapple, "daum kesum" (Vietnamese mint leaves), which I forgot to ask them to omit, and a spoonful of "Har Ko" (a thick shrimp paste). 

The soup had a combination of sour and spicy flavours and when it successfully makes me squint my eyes -_- (in a good way), then you'll know it had just the right balance of sourness and spiciness that is so crucial in an excellent bowl of assam laksa.  The "lai fun" (the noodle you'd normally associate assam laksa with) was smooth and slurpilicious.  This can surely give those assam laksa you'd find in Penang a good 'run for its money' (and certainly not like the crap I ate at Little Penang Kafe)!

I've come here many times but have not ordered the "popiah" (Fresh Spring Roll) until a regular reader of my blog mentioned that this was one of the things she usually orders here and (so) I decided to try.  The Popiah @ RM2 a roll was filled with shredded omelette, bean sprouts, thinly sliced cucumbers, chopped tofu, fried shallots and the 'ever important' key ingredient, cooked down shredded turnip (or sengkuang in Malay), on top a piece of lettuce and a smear of sweet/chilli sauce.

The filling was generous and moist with bits of shallot crisps.  Each mouthful of the plump popiah roll was a mouthful of delight!

The chicken/roast meat rice stall opens a bit later, usually by the time we finished our breakfast.  So, we would normally "tapau" (pack) it for lunch.  Their "char siew" (barbecued pork) and "siew yoke" (roast pork) is just ordinary stuff but the star of the show is their honey roasted chicken leg @ RM7.50/pc...just looking at the beautifully caramelised chicken leg is enough to make you drool!

This is my packed Honey Roasted Chicken Leg Rice @ RM8.50.  Its sweet, sticky, tender and charred chicken leg (drumstick + thigh) was quite delicious. 

Eating here the last time, I 'bumped' into 2 situations that I thought I'd highlight and share.

[#Story 1:  There was this guy (with a bowl of herbal noodles) shouting "Kuan sui, kuan sui" (translated, it means he's holding something hot) behind me as I was walking back to my table after ordering.  I told him "I'm going as fast as I can" but he kept shouting nevertheless.  For those who've been to this coffee shop, you'll know how narrow the walkway is between the tables and it's made worse by people standing around trying to secure seats.  I was pissed by the time I reached my table and related the story to my spouse.  When the guy saw this, he looked at me and shouted "What, what!"  He said I should let him pass first.  I said "Why must I? I'm in front first!" (I would have let him pass first if he had asked nicely though).  Anyway, there was no reason for him to rush as his is one of the 'quietest' stalls there...serve him right!  I love to eat herbal noodles but, after this debacle, I'm never ever going to try his (even if it's any good)...over my dead body!!]

[#Story 2:  The chicken rice seller got my "tapau" order wrong and gave me the normal roast chicken rice.  When I highlighted it to him, he just used his hands and grabbed the roast chicken (with rice sticking to it and all) out (it wasn't a pretty sight) and replaced it with the honey roasted chicken leg.  Is it that difficult to replace with a new packet of rice?  How much profit do you stand to lose over a packet of chicken rice?  These hawkers are so focused on every single cent of profit that they (unknowingly) earn the wrath of their customers.]

My Personal Opinion

Stories aside, practically all the stalls here are pretty good.  You'll be spoilt for choice...just go with what you like to eat.

Likes:  My preference is for the Hakka yong tau foo, chee cheong fun, wantan mee, Penang assam laksa and curry mee.

Dislikes (intensely):  Isn't it obvious!

O & S Restaurant
39 Jalan 20/14
Paramount Garden
46300 Petaling Jaya

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Little Penang Kafe @ Suria KLCC

I've walked past this café many times (and noticed that it's usually packed) but have not gotten round to trying it as I'm always after some other food when I'm here. 
Little Penang Café @ Suria KLCC offers (it seems) authentic Penang hawker food as well as traditional Nyonya specialities, with a "kopitiam" ambience, in a shopping mall environment...the 'Best of Penang' under one roof, so to speak.  They have other branches in Mid Valley and The Curve.

Although the interior had this "kopitiam" vibe, I was not too thrilled with their seating, which were rather cramped together (with some tables just inches apart), as they were trying to fit as many tables as they could in the café (I know the rent is not cheap but give us a little 'breathing' space, please)!

What better thing to order other than a famous Penang street food, from a place that boasts of serving authentic Penang hawker food, a bowl of Assam Laksa @ RM12.20.  It contained shreds of "kembong" (mackerel), pineapple, cucumber and onions and topped with fresh red chillies, "bunga kantan" (aka torch ginger) and "daun kesum" (Vietnamese mint or laksa mint).  It was served with "har ko" (a thick shrimp paste).

When a bowl of assam laksa doesn't make me go like this >_<, that can only mean one's seriously not good!  It was neither sour nor spicy enough (even after I added all the har ko).  It tasted one-dimensional, it looked better than it was a big letdown.  In the menu, it was described as a mouthwatering rice noodle dish which you'll keep asking for more...well, not me!

Even the ones from my neighbourhood "pasar malam" (night market) tastes better.

As my son is not into Penang noodles at all (like assam laksa, curry mee, prawn mee, etc.), his choices were rather limited.  In the end, he went with the Home-style Fried Rice @ RM12.20.  The rice was fried with bits of long beans, carrots, egg and prawns and came with a fried egg and some crunchy "ikan bilis" (dried anchovies) on the side.  

Does this look any good to you?  Taste wise, it fell flat, I think I can cook a better fried rice than that (and certainly a better fried egg)...and that's saying a lot coz my cooking ain't that good!  Even a Thai-styled fried rice that you order from any coffee shop (fried by a foreign worker) tastes better than this.

I also ordered the Red Ruby @ RM6 as it's one of my favourite Thai desserts but it was nothing like the ones I ate in Thai restaurants.  Though the shaved ice was nicely done, it didn't have much of the "santan" fragrance plus it was so shockingly sweet, it was practically inedible.  The only things edible were the crunchy water chestnuts (coated in tapioca flour) and slices of fresh "nangka" (jackfruit).  

As for the rest of the dessert (which was left untouched), you can literarily 'drown' in its was akin to drinking sugar syrup :|  If you're not a PST (Pretty Sweet Thing), you'll soon be after drinking this :D

The best thing of the night (pun intended) was my Barley Lime @ RM4.....T_T...and that's pretty pathetic, to say the least!

My Personal Opinion

I came without much expectations as I know it's not easy to replicate the authentic taste of Penang street food.  In fact, many places try to replicate the taste of Penang but fail miserably and Little Penang Kafe is one of them.  Although I've not tasted many of their dishes, the ones I did taste were so mediocre, I'm not enticed to try more.

I can't fathom why the place is always full coz I can get way better (and cheaper) assam laksa elsewhere (like from O & S in PJ).  Even the ones from my neighbourhood pasar malam taste a lot better than this.

To sum it up in 3 words.....won't be back!!

Little Penang Kafe
Lot 409-411 4th Floor
Suria KLCC
Jalan Ampang
50088 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2163 0215

Saturday, 20 September 2014

My First 10,000 Hits!

I'm truly jazzed up to have reached another first 10,000 hits yesterday (19 Sept 2014)!

I know the numbers are not anything fantastic but, you know what people say, "the first cut is the deepest", "the first kiss is the sweetest", and so I guess....."the first 10,000 hits is the best and most eagerly awaited"!
I'm sure 10,000 hits don't mean a thing to many well established and popular blogs out there but it's meaningful to me coz I'm continuously amazed that my blog would resonate with people or that anyone would ever want to read my posts.  I totally understand that my blog hits will be a slow process as I'm not 'engaged' on social media to generate traffic to my blog.

As I go from here slowly.......and surely, I hope my blog hits will continue to grow (hopefully at a pace that's a little bit faster than a tortoise) :D  I've had a blast writing up and sharing the posts with my readers.

A special note of thanks to all the restaurants who have featured my blog/shared my link on their Facebook Pages and Websites (which helped drive 'traffic' to my blog).

But, most of all, thank you to all who have visited my blog.....appreciate the support!  Do come back and visit...soon!!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Sushi Zanmai @ Avenue K

Craving sushi for dinner one evening, we decided to try Sushi Zanmai which is another popular brand of "kaiten" (conveyor belt) sushi restaurants.  There're about 10 Sushi Zanmai outlets in Klang Valley and we decided to try the Sushi Zanmai @ Avenue K which has been opened for less than a year.

The décor here is more vibrant and modern and, although it's supposed to be a conveyor-sushi restaurant, it's not quite like Sakae Sushi where the conveyor belt goes round the entire restaurant.  Here, there are limited seats which the conveyor belt runs through but, fret not, the sushi can be ordered and served to your table.

Once we were seated, you'd find condiments of wasabi, Japanese shoyu, chilli powder and sweet sauce on the table ready for your dining pleasure.

Only missing condiment is the thinly sliced, pickled young ginger which you can request at no extra charge.  The ones here have a pale yellow colour as opposed to the slightly pink ones from Sakae Sushi.  [#Tip: It seems only very young ginger will develop the slight pink hue upon pickling and although some commercially produced ginger may be pink coloured, they may also be artificially induced.]  I did, however, find the ones at Sushi Zanmai more to my liking as I could eat more of them since they were a bit less tart and sharp.

As usual, I like to start off with the Chawanmushi @ RM4.80 but this was a tad watered down.  I preferred the one from Sakae Sushi because it was packed with a bit more quality ingredients (like the salmon roe).

Our next sushi orders were the Toro Salmon @ RM4.80 (on the left) and Smoked Salmon @ RM6.80 (on the right).  The salmon belly and smoked salmon were fresh and smoky in taste.

I also ordered the Mentaiko Zanmai @ RM15.80 which is an assortment of various types of sushi of scallop, cuttlefish, salmon, prawn, oyster and omelette topped with cod roe and nori flakes.  I think putting 6 different sushi on one plate is a really creative and clever idea...especially for people like me (and 'small eaters') who can now sample a variety instead of having to gobble down twice as much.  I highly recommend this dish if you're one who loves to taste a variety of sushi on one plate. 

These are the scallop and cuttlefish sushi which were fresh and delicious.  Again, you can't go wrong with anything that is topped with "mentaiko" (cod roe)...our absolute favourite!

And these are the salmon, prawn, oyster and omelette sushi which were absolutely yummy.  The roasted cod roe on top brought the awesome smoky flavour to the sushi.  This plate of assorted sushi turned out to be my favourite dish of the night.

At such a value-for-money price, we couldn't help but order another serving of Tamago Mentai @ RM2.80 although this one came with the cod roe roasted a tad less.

And, of course, we needed extra servings of Salmon Mentai @ RM6.80 which happens to be our absolute favourite but we didn't appreciate that the cod roe on this plate wasn't torched enough (again).  Lightly torched fresh salmon and smoky cod roe is the best combo ever!

After all the sushi orders, we opted for a dish of Hanasaki Ika Tempura @ RM9.80 which is marinated squid tempura.  Eaten with a squeeze of lemon, it was light and crispy...and just ok.

The other tempura dish was the Yasai Tempura @ RM6.80 which were assorted vegetables tempura served with some grated Japanese radish and tempura dipping.  The vegetables consisted of a slice/pc each of fresh shiitake mushroom, brinjal, green bell pepper, ladies finger, enoki mushrooms (and one more veg which I didn't get to taste as my son gobbled it up).  The vegetables were fried till crispy (though a tad oily) and were beautifully presented (especially the brinjal which was fan-shaped)...just compare this with the vegetable tempura from Sakae Sushi (and you'll know what I mean).

For our main dishes, my son settled for the Unadon @ RM22.80 (for S and RM38.80 for L) which is unagi (roasted eel) with rice.  

The unagi was good but the sauce (spooned over the rice) was not quite to my son's liking as he has had better.

I went with the Gindara Teriyaki @ RM19.80 (for my main) which was grilled cod fish with teriyaki sauce.  The skin was grilled till slightly crisp (could be a bit crispier in my opinion).

The teriyaki sauce on top of the cod was sweet and salty (though leaning more towards salty).  My suggestion is to scrape the sauce away from the fish skin but the sauce was needed to bring an umami flavour (and balance) to the sweet flesh of the cod.

I'm a 'sucker' for cod fish coz I just love it to death and this cod fish was no different...its sweet, succulent flesh is to die for!  A mouthful of this, which I would take in small bites just so that 'the experience' lasts longer :D, is "love at first bite" and every bite thereafter!

Iced Lemon Tea @ RM6
Iced or Hot Green Tea (Ocha) @ RM1 which is super value
(coz it comes with unlimited refills)

My Personal Opinion

This is a good mid-end sushi place at reasonable prices.  With the sushi prices starting from as low as RM1.80 - RM6.80, I wouldn't say that it's the cheapest sushi around although those at RM1.80 are probably the cheapest.  Be prepared to fork out an average of RM50 - RM75 per person for a meal here depending on what you order (cheaper if you stick with just sushi).

Both Sakae Sushi and Sushi Zanmai have their fair share of loyal patrons (and queues) with Sushi King (being the worst).  In direct comparison with Sakae Sushi, Sushi Zanmai's prices are almost similar but the ingredients are fresher, the food is better presented and most are better tasting for my palate (especially the sushi and tempura).

I don't know why I've not tried this place sooner.  I may have just found a sushi place that I liked more than Sakae Sushi ;) 

It's "oishii" (which means "delicious" in Japanese)!!

Sushi Zanmai
Lot M-19 Avenue K
156 Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2181 8810

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