Friday, 18 August 2017

El Iberico @ Pavilion

After reading about the 50% opening promotion of iberico ribs at a newly opened month-old Spanish inspired restaurant, there was no way I'd forego such a great deal, so here we were at El Iberico @ Pavilion.

Since it was just my friend and I, we didn't think we needed to make reservations as we thought it should be pretty easy to get a table for the two of us (and her kid) but when we got their at prime dinner time, we were told they were fully booked.  But that's the beauty of it being in Pavilion, we could always do with a bit more sightseeing shop-seeing first while waiting for a table to free up! ;)  No sooner had we walked away, we got a call that they had a table for us.

Once we made our orders, we were served some complimentary house-made bread with butter or a choice of a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dip while we wait for our food to arrive.  The bread had a crisp crust and was soft to soak in the balsamic/olive oil dip.

There's only one pasta on the menu and we ordered the Spaghetti with Clams @ RM29 in white wine sauce with parsley and chillies.  I would say that it was a generous portion (more generous-looking than their promotional photos) as there seemed to be an extra portion of pasta given.

As for the clams, they could be fresher.  They were just ok as they were on the border of being slightly fishy. It definitely cried out for the chillies (to mute the fishiness somewhat) though it was our choice to hold the chillies for the sake of my friend's daughter.

But it's all about the ribs here...and that's exactly what we came for.  We went with their top seller of Beer/Honey Mustard Meaty Ribs @ RM34 (normal price RM68).

It came with three ribs marinated in beer and honey mustard for 24 hours before they're put on the grill (three good-sized ribs are pictured on their Facebook though I've seen four on food blogs and their promotional banner)...???  Maybe you get three ribs if they're substantial enough or four if they're smaller ones...I don't know though I'd suggest they try to keep it standard lest people compare.  They can always offer it by weight (similar to what Iberico Kitchen do for instance) if it's difficult to get the ribs to come in standard portion sizes.

The ribs, with a good charring but lacking a bit of smokiness, were totally tender and succulent...and two of them were rather meaty too.  The lack of smokiness is probably due to the way the ribs are grilled...over a flat top (as seen in their Facebook video) instead of over a direct fire where the ribs can be 'flame-kissed'!

The ribs were served with a side of roasted potatoes and roasted vegetables of baby carrots and cherry tomatoes.  What can I say...the side was baby-sized! :P

The menu says that the ribs are +400g and it's meant for sharing between 2 - 3 persons while a blog mentioned that it's enough for 3 - 4 persons (I'm not sure what sized ribs the blogger got)! @_@  Based on this, my friend and I ordered only one plate but, after we polished off our first plate of ribs (there were only three and they weren't that big), we realised we'd have no problem polishing off another.  So, it's either false advertising or the ribs we got (for the promotion) were really small or they weren't quite 400g...I don't know.  Even us ladies could eat a plate of 3 ribs on our own (and that's after having some pasta as well)!

For our second round, we ordered the Original Spare Ribs @ RM34 (normal price RM68).  The third option would be Spanish Paprika Spare Ribs but seeing that it may have a bit of heat because of the paprika, we opted for a more kid-friendly option of original.

The original ribs, seasoned with just salt and pepper, are actually deep-fried (we were informed beforehand) and served with the same roasted vegetables (only lesser + missing the cherry tomatoes!).  Because the vegetables were so scant, it was very glaring when there were less on the plate! ;P

The ribs of this one were deep-fried, so it was a little on the oily side + the misfortune of getting a rather fatty piece of rib didn't help its cause (though getting one fatty rib out of six was pretty acceptable I think for these discounted ribs).  We need a bit of fat for flavour but too much can also be a put-off, so we had to scrape off some of the fatty bits.

It came with two dips, a herbs dressing with flavours in the song....parsley, sage (maybe), rosemary and thyme (possibly) in olive oil (yikes, adding to the greasiness) and a spicy sauce (that wasn't spicy at all).

Between the two, the beer and honey mustard one, with notes of slight sticky sweetness reflecting the taste of a good BBQ-like sauce, is definitely the better choice.

I was first attracted by the photos of the ribs on a blog and didn't notice (initially) only to realise later (when I compared the shot I took of the banner at the restaurant whilst writing the post) that the photos used in that blog were actually taken from the restaurant's promotional/advertising materials (they were the exact same ones in the banner and menu at the restaurant)! ;P  No wonder all the food photos (especially the ribs) looked so damn good...haiz, how gullible of me! O_o

We finished our meal with the Tarta de Santiago @ RM18 on the recommendation of a blog that it's worth dropping by just for it.  This traditional Spanish almond cake (I googled) is made principally with ground almonds, eggs and sugar.

It looks like a slice of cake but the texture is quite different from a cake since there's no flour involved.  It was delicious (no doubt about that) but some may find it expensive for such a small slice which can be finished in 3 mouthfuls if you really wanted to (but since it's made wholly with almonds, the price tag is more acceptable, I guess) decide if it's worth it! ^_*

I was glad I ordered a tangy Fresh Orange Juice @ RM12 to cut through all that meatiness (and some greasiness).  Their coffees like the Iced Cafe Latte @ RM14 my friend ordered ain't their strong suit.

Service was extremely friendly, perhaps a bit over-enthusiastic at times it seems (to some) but probably deemed passionate (to others).  It's nice to see such passion from the restauranteurs who believe in what they're doing wholeheartedly.  I was attended to by two 'retiree-looking' gentlemen (who could be part owners, I may be wrong) and one of them even sang 'happy birthday' to a guest personally (too eager to please?) even after their wait staff had already done so.

My Personal Opinion

Even though I was disappointed that the ribs didn't turn out looking quite as spectacular as the ones I saw online, I wasn't disappointed with the taste.

And because the ribs were half the price, there's definitely no cause for complaint as it's one heck of a deal! Now if I were to pay full price for these ribs (now that the opening promotion is over), I'll probably be more critical in my assessment.  I'd like the ribs to be bigger or longer and I'd want them looking more like the ones from Gourmet Hunter KL's video shown on El Iberico's Facebook.....and with a tad more roasted vegetables! :P

I might return at some point but hopefully by then there'd be better consistency in the size and fattiness of the normal priced ribs.  I'll definitely not be happy if I get even one overly fatty rib.  That isn't too much to ask, is it?  Hope not. ^_~

El Iberico
Lot C4.05.01 4th Floor
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur 
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2110 2631

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

#ewew cooks Teriyaki Chicken Don

When eating in a Japanese restaurant, Teriyaki Chicken Don is one of those dishes on the menu that's delicious to eat yet won't cost a bomb.

And that's the reason why it's one of our usual things to order at a Japanese restaurant when we're looking for a budget meal.

It also happens to be a dish that can be replicated at home without too much of a hassle.  I would choose to cook this when I'm looking to have a simple dinner that involves the least amount of washing up! ;)

You start by marinating the deboned chicken leg.  You can cook as many chicken legs as you long as they fit into one tray in your oven...and you just have to increase the marinade proportionately, of course. Marinade for a good two hours (or overnight).  Please note that this is a rather wet marinade as we'd want a bit that teriyaki sauce to pour over the rice.

Marinade for each boneless chicken leg:

1/2 tbsp Japanese soy
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp olive oil (+ 1/2 tbsp drizzled on the chicken leg just before it goes into the oven)
1/2 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Obviously, the marinade above isn't your typical Japanese Teriyaki Chicken recipe but a bit of a fusion.  I make do with whatever I have in the kitchen as there's no point to buy or stock up stuff that I don't often cook with as it'll go to waste later.  Based on the marinade, I substituted mirin and sake with Chinese rice wine, used honey instead of sugar, and added a bit of Chinese and western influence with the rest of the marinade ingredients.

Bake at 200°C for 25 - 30 minutes.  Pour in all the balance marinade liquid as this will act as the sauce for the teriyaki chicken.

It should look a nice golden brown (like this) when it's ready.....and a bit of charring won't hurt either! ^.^

Slice the chicken and pour all the liquid juices that are left in the tray onto the chicken.  The tender and juicy chicken thighs, partnered with a sweet-salty teriyaki sauce, should easily please.

Serve it with plain rice (or Japanese rice) topped with crispy garlic chips and you have yourself a bowl of tasty homemade Teriyaki Chicken Don.  Feel free to add some crunchy slices of Japanese cucumber if you need an element of vegetable in your meal.

It goes just as well with Garlic Fried Rice....but that would involve more cooking and washing up now, wouldn't it? :P  I usually have it with a fried egg and some sauteed vegetables to make it a complete meal.

Amp up the flavours of your plain-looking white rice with a generous sprinkling of furikake and it'll taste even more awesome! ^o^

It'd be easier to substitute tamago with a fried egg (which I do since I don't know how to make nor would I go to the trouble of making tamago) and include some veggies for a bit of a Japanese-Chinese fusion sort of meal.

Now who wouldn't want a complete sumptuous meal like that at home which not only looks visually appealing....but followed up with a promising taste too! ^_~

Monday, 14 August 2017

Meng Kee Peking Duck @ Glenmarie, Shah Alam

We were in the vicinity of Port Klang recently to attend the Feast of St Anne as we have done so annually.  By the time mass ended, it was close to noon and since we didn't have any breakfast before that, we decided to head somewhere near for our breakfast cum lunch.  We stopped by at Meng Kee Peking Duck @ Glenmarie, Shah Alam.

Meng Kee Peking Duck is part of a trio of restaurants (under the same ownership) that includes Meng Kee Char Siew (opposite) and Meng Kee Wantan Mee (two shops away).  The last time I was at Meng Kee Wantan Mee, I found out that we could cross order some dishes from Meng Kee Peking Duck (but not the other way round, it seems).  When I noticed fried rice leaving the kitchen towards Meng Kee Wantan Mee next door, I wanted to order that only to be told that I can't.  Even though the fried rice is cooked at Meng Kee Peking Duck's kitchen, we can't order it if it's not on their menu which makes no sense, if you ask me, but who am I to argue if that's how it works.

Well, if you don't know what their specialty is, all you need is to take a look at their canopy.  So, we were left with ordering stir-fry dishes since we weren't in the mood for Peking Duck or steamed (song) fish head which they recommended.

We had Pork Ribs in Peking Sauce (M) @ RM30 which is basically pork ribs drenched in some kind of sticky sweetish sauce that was almost similar to marmite pork ribs.  The price is a bit steep for the portion but, at least, the ribs were very meaty.  Overall, a decent dish.

The Salted Egg Yolk Mantis Prawns (M) also @ RM30 were very crunchy and fragrant with the crisp curry leaves and red bird's eye chillies.  It was delicious as they were very well coated in salted egg yolk.  Mantis prawns are quite ugly-looking creatures in their shell (to me) but once de-shelled and fried, they're yum! ;)

We also had the Prawn Omelette (M) @ RM14.  It's a simple omelette dish which came with good-sized but crunchy (not in a good way) prawns.

The final dish that the four of us shared was the Belacan with 4 Types of Vegetables (M) @ RM16.  This one gets my approval as it came with four-angle beans (and not stinky beans) apart from the usual long beans, ladies fingers and eggplant.

My Personal Opinion

A possible place for stir-fry dishes if you happen to be in the vicinity but don't need to come all the way here just for it as the taste is not above and beyond the many better tai chow places out there.

Restoran Meng Kee Peking Duck
27 Jalan Juruaudit U1/37
Hicom Glenmarie Industrial Park
40150 Shah Alam
Tel: 019-379 3629

Thursday, 10 August 2017

6 Places for Belly-Good Big Breakfasts

These are some of my favourite places for the BBBs (Best Big Breakfasts) ^_~  Or, in my context, the Belly-Good Big Breakfasts I've had the pleasure of eating over the years.  And the benchmark?  Hopefully perfectly cooked eggs and preferably house-made sausages! ^_~

Big Breakfasts are one of the most ordered breakfast dishes in any breakfast/brunch cafes (if it's on the menu) as they appeal to all ages! ;)  I think it has such a drawing power because it really appeals to many local who wouldn't want bacon, sausages, eggs, mushrooms and more on their breakfast plate? It's an all-rounded breakfast dish where you can sink your teeth into a bit of everything....and that sounds mighty fine to a lot of people.

So, here's my list of favourite places for some Belly-Good Big no particular order :)

Let's begin with the one that started it all...Antipodean's Big Breakfast.  There was no way I could list my favourite big breakfasts and not include my very first good one (who can't remember their 'firsts' *wink wink*).   Although it's been more than 3 years, I can still remember the smoky, salty, delicious pork (and beef) sausages that first 'caught' my taste buds.

Loved how Yellow Brick Road elevated simple baked beans in their Big Breakfast Bash.  The unique addition of grilled sweet potatoes was a nice touch and finished with a beautiful presentation in a pan.  Bring your appetite! ^.^

Sunny side up eggs cooked just right.  Good spicy Italian chicken sausage.  Crisp toasted bread with French butter seals the deal in La Casa's One Pan Breakfast.

Awesome 'bursting with flavour' pork sausage.....sooooooooo good!  Crispy bacon...double the pleasure ;)  Stunningly fluffy and creamy scrambled eggs.  Juicy vine tomatoes.  There's nothing I didn't like in Ra.Ft's 'All in One' Breakfast.  Every bite is worth the calories! ^o^

Amazing house-made chicken sausage complemented by charred cherry tomatoes and a sweet corn relish.  Perfectly cooked poached eggs.  Common Man's Full Breakfast is full on! ;)

Table 9 Cafe & Kitchen @ Bangsar

Table 9's Breakfast gets my vote for the creamy scrambled eggs and fluffy french toast.  Loved that there's an option to substitute normal toast with french toast for a nominal fee.  Get ready to eat! ^_^

For me, a big breakfast is an insight to the cafe's food and, depending on how successful that dish is, it gives me an inkling as to just how much I might like the food.  If my memory serves me right, I've not liked a big breakfast at a cafe and not liked the rest of their far! ;P

This list of BBBs is by no means exhaustive...they're just a few of my favourites.  I'm sure there'll be further additions to this list and more excellent big breakfasts waiting to be discovered and devoured in the months ahead.

These places may be worth your while to seek out if you have a thing for big breakfasts.  Belly-good, I tell ya! ^_~

Monday, 7 August 2017

BBQ Garden Restaurant @ Cheras Business Centre

The attraction of smoky grilled meat and seafood on a stick brought us to BBQ Garden Restaurant @ Cheras Business Centre one dinner night.

The place is a simple, no frills restaurant.  It's not even air-conditioned but offers barbequed meat and seafood you don't need to grill yourself...which is music to my ears.

You can order individual skewers of meat from chicken to beef, duck, lamb and pork belly or seafood such as tiger prawns, squid, oysters, scallops and mackerel saury pike.  There are also vegetable options like green beans, enoki mushrooms, Chinese chives, corn, eggplant, baby cabbage and green chillies to bean curd, potatoes and buns.

We decided to go with the YY Big Platter @ RM45.90 which offered greater value and a bit of everything with a combo of 6 meats/seafood and 3 types of vegetables.  The skewers came in twos or fours which is ideal for sharing between two (you can also add on rice for a more filling meal).  All the meats and prawns were marinated in the same spice mix and were very spicy.  In fact, it had a bit of that raw spice taste that I don't really like.

The Big Platter came with two Chicken Wings which were perfectly grilled to the right deliciousness.  The crispy edges of the chicken wings were immensely fragrant and a delight to eat.  I thought the chicken wing was the only meat that absorbed the marinade the best and didn't taste as spicy as some of the other things on the platter.

The Grilled Pork Belly skewers, with the desired caramelisation, remained juicy and really fragrant around the edges.  It would have been better if it didn't taste so spicy.

The Grilled Chicken Fillet skewers I didn't care as much for as they were very dry and, of course, spicy.

The Grilled Tiger Prawns were fresh but there wasn't much 'penetrated' flavour in the flesh once they were de-shelled since the spice mix clung onto the shells.  The Taiwan Sausages offered a bit of sweetness and some respite from all the heat in the other meats.

The Grilled Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms sounded like a dynamite combo but the bacon turned out to be soft (instead of crisp) probably due to the release of water from the mushrooms.

Grilled Vegetables of Corn and Green Beans together with Grilled Enoki Mushrooms round up the YY Big Platter.  I thought the fiery spices overpowered the natural sweetness of the vegetables.

On top of all that spiciness, you're given a chilli dip to spice up your skewered meats even more.....that's spicy on spicy!  I had to call for additional mineral water (with lots of ice) to put out the fire in my mouth! O_o

Now you would think that spicy is the only option for the skewered meats but apparently it wasn't.  And that brings me to my side story.

#Side Story 1

Although I did see an option for spicy or honey at the bottom of the menu for the individual skewers but it wasn't stated on the Big Platter and I promptly forgot all about it when I placed the order.

When I went to look at the menu to make additional orders, the guy at the counter (I think he's the owner) asked me if I wanted spicy or not spicy.  That's when I went, "Huh, got not spicy?" (in Cantonese lah).  I said to him that I wasn't told that by the guy who took my initial orders.  He further said that I could also ask for a mixture of spicy and non-spicy for my skewers.  What the hell!! :>(  Was that so difficult for the server to ask me?  There were only two options for God's sake.  Isn't it presumptuous of him to think everyone would want spicy and can take that level of heat?  He can't assume that I've been there before....and, as a first timer, I wouldn't know the options available to me.  (Even when ordering a RM6.50 bowl of curry mee at Jia Li Mian, I was promptly told that they have two types of curry mee...on each visit!).  At that point, the owner looked non-apologetic and also seemed to be not too concerned that his staff flubbed up.  Brushing that aside, I went ahead to make my additional orders.

Since we enjoyed the pork belly the most, I made an additional order for individual skewers of Grilled Pork Belly @ RM10.90 (5 sticks).  This time, knowing that there's an option for non-spicy, I went with that.  This was so much better as you can taste the fragrant pork belly without the spiciness drowning the natural taste.

I also asked for an additional order of Grilled Green Beans @ RM5 (3 sticks) and (again) requested for non-spicy of course.  Finally, I can taste the green beans without the spiciness overtaking my taste buds.  Note that the green beans are listed as long beans in the menu.  For me, I find RM5 for the green beans (or any of the other vegetables for that matter) rather expensive since you're effectively getting the equivalent of 6 pieces of green beans that have been cut into halves (wow, just imagine their profit margin for this....absolutely ridiculous)!  And they obviously know that we have to at least order some vegetables to go with this all-meat affair.

And you would think that that's the end of the story.  Not quite.

#Side Story 2

On reaching home, some two hours later, I happen to look at the receipt and realised that we were charged for two items that we didn't consume.  Since the wrongly charged amount came up to about 30% of our total bill, I thought it was sizeable enough to return to get a refund.  Actually, I was more 'motivated' to return to highlight that a mistake was made than to get my refund of RM21.

On reaching there, what transpired wasn't something I expected.  On seeing (and recognising) me, the owner got up from a table (outside) together with a pregnant lady (whom I'm assuming is his wife).  I explained to him that I was overcharged for two items I didn't get.  His initial demeanour that surprised me was one of disbelief (you'd think I'd drive all the way back here just to claim RM21 if it wasn't true?).

He proceeded to check the order chits which was fine by me.  He showed me my order chit and said, "See, you did order these two items."  That was when it all came back to me...yes, we did write down those two orders (for individual skewers) before we realised the big platter offered a better value and decided to cancel the individual skewers.

We subsequently cancelled those two orders by crossing it out.  I told him what was there not to understand with a horizontal line crossing out each order.  I said obviously your kitchen understood the order chit since we weren't served those two orders.  At this point, he got a little worked up but I was more appalled at what came out of his mouth next...he said I should have checked the bill! O_o

Now how is it that a mistake made by him suddenly becomes my fault! @_@  Yes, I could have checked the bill but I certainly can't be faulted if I didn't coz if I was billed correctly in the first place, I wouldn't have needed to check the bill.  I said, "You made the mistake but now you want to put the blame on me?".  There were some raised voices and, in the end, he did refund me but at no time did he offer me an apology nor admit he made a mistake.

My Personal Opinion

The fact that the owner wasn't even apologetic tells me a lot...and if that's how he wants to conduct his business, he can very well do without my business.  I'm sure he couldn't care less if he had one less customer.

As for the food, the taste was just one note...overly spicy with everything marinated in the same spice mix or non-spicy with only salt and pepper.  It's so spicy, it numbs your taste buds and you can't taste much of anything else after that.  Plus, there's only one dip...and (no prize for guessing) it's also one-dimensional...super spicy.  So, if you have a low tolerance for heat, you only have one option here.  And the other choice of honey is only recommended for certain skewers.

Even if the food was great (and it clearly wasn't), there's no way I will go back there, nay, hell no! Was that explicit enough? >:(  In this day and age, customer-friendly service matters and I can very well take my hard-earned money and spend it elsewhere.  It obviously doesn't matter one bit to him...well, good his longevity in this business with an attitude like that! :P

BBQ Garden Restaurant
68-0-9 Jalan 5/101c
Cheras Business Centre
56000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-9133 6280

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