Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Story of Lilac. And 3 places to lunch in KL.

Details of a Daisy from Sage

Do forgive the prolonged silence. Not only have I been busy at work, I had the misfortune of visiting some rather horrible restaurants recently and am no been able to write a post about it without being obscenely scathing and in the end may appear to be a schizophrenic rabid bitch. From places which overcharge for substandard food, to horrendously awful cold cuts which were indescribable.

And hence the dilemma. Do we blog about the bad places, or as somebody said, if there is nothing good to say, just keep quiet. Malaysians a very, very averse to criticism. I am not sure whether this is caused by the suppressive press that stifles any dissenting views. Yes, we live in a land where every Government Policy is a success and Big Brother know best.

Complimentary Bread Platter from MO Grill

This is reflected even in food journalism. Every restaurant reviewed by the reporter on the food trail is good and perfect. There are no bad restaurants in Malaysia. Restaurant critics in the west are much more critical. Ramsay's foray into the NY dining scene as with Vongerichten's and Ducasse's did not automatically earn them stellar reviews.

Malaysia ranks 131 out of 175 countries in the RSF Press Freedom Index. Hong Kong is 48. Old Rice made a very funny statement that Malaysia has good Press Freedom, that is why there are more than 2 million bloggers. Hilarious, and don't even ask where he got the statistics from. I guess Iran which ranks 172 out of 175 must have a vibrant and democratic press, with Farsi being the 2nd most popular language in the blogging world. (All statistics from Reporters Sans Frontiere's 2009 report, available at

Mushroom Cappuccino from MO Grill. Creamy and rich, perhaps too rich. The coffee was too light and is virtually undetectable. Molecular Coffee? Give me Sage's Porcini Mushroom with Truffle anytime.

Hence the term, Alternative Media. An alternative outlet to channel and disseminate information that would not have reached the audience via conventional methods. People blog for a variety of reasons best known to themselves. And if you ask me, Malaysian Food Bloggers are a docile lot. Too docile that it makes me uncomfortable posting about bad experiences.

I am not sure if I will be rocking the boat too much by being overly critical about my food. Being harrased and flamed is what I would not like to encounter for what is essentially a hobby, a creative outlet for my otherwise boring, mundane existence.

Daily Grind's Foie Gras Burger. The Foie was a bit too well done, but was promptly replaced without a whimper. The beef burger pattie was NOT generic. A delightfully sinful indulgence for about RM55. Not sure about the price.

Over lunch today, I was recounting a fellow blogger's experience with some friends over lunch. LL cheekily mentioned that size did not matter, referring to a towering 8 inch burger. This started an explosion of vicious comments from some anonymous commentator. At one point in time, it became a bit tense as the commentator accused LL of cheating. It became a circus of the absurd. It appears that there was an attempt to harass LL. Those who know LL personally, like I do will know that she is a blogger who has integrity and will not hoodwink her readers. I am sure she has had a lot of burger patties before and is not blogging to spite or close an establishment down. It was what she honestly experienced.

Between a well traveled, seasoned fine diner and an anonymous commentator who makes wild, unsubstantiated accusations, it is a no brainer to guess whom we chose to believe. The whole soapy can be witnessed here. To be honest, the comments were actually out of line. To put it bluntly, made by a definitely lesser mortal, one that is lacking in intellect, decorum and common decency. But that is the evil that is plaguing the blogging world nowadays. Any Chimpanzee with a computer and internet connection and knows how to open a google account can be a blogger and post comments.

Unfortunately, some commentors misuse the anonymity to be rude and abrasive.

Daily Grind's Yodel Burger. Tempura Portobello, served on Porcini Mushrooms and a Beef Pattie, served medium. The pattie was luscious and beautiful, made from the rib eye and knuckle cuts. Served with melted cheese. About RM37. I don't think it was 8 inches high and you can't squish it down too! :p

Just a tiny note to chefs and restaurateurs. There is no perfect eatery. Period. The gamut of preferences and taste buds plus taboos whether religious or personal makes it impossible to satisfy everybody. You will never get an uniform consensus on how great your dish tastes. There is bound to be dissension and detractors.

But does the blame lie solely on them? Shouldn't the rest of us share some responsibility as well?

I was shocked when I was talking to a friend who owns a restaurant in the Changkat area.

"You bloggers are a mercilessly mercenary lot. I have so many requests for free food by food bloggers in exchange for a good review. I can serve them turd mixed with liquid nitrogen and they will swallow it and give me a good write up."

Pottage of Alaskan Crab. What can I say? I practically wept when I tasted this beautiful soup. Briney and beautifully infused with the flavours of the sea and with crabs, carrots, celery and Avocado bits inside. From Sage's set menu this week.

Shocking. Depending on how you see it, it's like going around and begging for food. Is this what blogging has become?


Collage. The Main Course at MO Grill is a choice of beef, fish and chicken breast. I chose the Grilled Breast with Rosemary. The Breast was huge. DD cup, at least. Taste wise, the grilling was justifiably good, but the thick cut means that the grilling was unable to be uniform. Sauce was nothing to shout about.

The internet is not a legal vacuum. It is no a moral vacuum either. There has been some talk about food blogging ethics among our brothers (and sisters) in the west. Robert Seitsema, who is the resident food critic of the Village Voice has written a very interesting article titled, Everybody eats, but that doesn't make you a restaurant critic. It was published in the Columbia Journalism review.

I don't think that food bloggers are restaurant critics. I don't want to be one. I just want to record my experiences as accurately as possible in an objective manner. I do remember a conversation with Boo, who mentions how hard it is to answer when someone asks her for a special place to celebrate his girlfirend's birthday and how he had saved up for a couple of months to splurge it all in an evening's indulgence. We all know that Boo is a conscientious blogger and how much the food blogging community looks up to her, not only for her knowledge, but also her objectivity.

That was a wake up call for me. I had to be responsible.

The Miso Coated Cod from Sage was served with prawns and vegetables. Wonderfully fresh and not overcooked. Special mention must be made of the consistency shown by this restaurant since Chef Daniel took over the helm. Food has always been good or awesome.

We live in a crazy world. The Media and PR people will seize on any opportunity to make money. Suddenly, bloggers became the "in" thing to net and to make money. They are responsible for creating Blogger Superstars, and an important consideration in their selection would be the number of "hits" a blogger gets. How much of the hits is translated to real sales has yet to be objectively assesed, I think.

Some (not all) invited reviews come with certain conditions. No bad posts, bad feedbacks only goes back to management. In other words, they have become invited endorsements. I personally am not keen on invited reviews (not that I get many invites) until there is a change in the media mind set. If the restaurant is already open for business, give the bloggers a free hand to write what they want, and use that as feedback. It is different of course if there will be change in the menu (invited for tasting) or in restaurants yet to be opened where they want feedback for their yet to be launched dishes. A tasting is different from a review.

It is more worthwhile to get a good review from a blogger who is well known to be fussy and critical than a blogger who gives a good review all the time.

MO Grill's Poire Belle Helene. Also nothing to be excited about. The service at the MO Grill is exemplary, right from the word go. Attentive, courteous and non intrusive. This has to be the gold standard in KL right now!

Blogging has opened up a new world for me. I have had the opportunity to interact with a lot of people, mostly decent. I have a blog list at the bottom of my blog, all of whom I know personally and have a reputation for being honest, objective and incorruptible. I am sure there are many more, whom I have not had the opportunity to meet. Please do not feel slighted if you are not mentioned below.

Not all bloggers are bad. And Restaurateurs, if you meet a particularly obnoxious one, do like what my friend did and just say, "Who do you think you are, and how much more business do you estimate I will get. If you are confident, bring me a working paper, and I will get my lawyers to get an agreement ready."

The Grilled Cherries with Aged Balsamico and Vanilla Ice Cream. Magical! I never knew aged balsamico went so well with ice cream. Completely floored by the beautiful interplay of sweetness and sourness. Sage's set lunch menu.

And how does Lilac tie this post in a neat bundle?

Knock, Knock!
Who's there?
Lilac who?
Lilac a blogger.

Scarry, but bloggers may be the brunt of a satirist's one liner next time if we are not careful.

Lunch this week was at Daily Grind, Sage and Mandarin Grill. The Daily Grind does not offer sets for lunch. Sage is still charging RM100, and the MO Grill about the same.

Just a caveat. Lunch at MO Grill is from an express menu, where 3 items are guaranteed to be served and completed within 60 minutes and a very very limited and reduced a la carte menu. For a proper dining experience, Dinner is recommended.

Oh yes... I have finally got a new Camera, thanks to In The Sky's recommendation. All shots were taken with a Canon EOS 550D, with EFS 60mm Macro f2.8 lens. Thanks, Sky! You rock. So much easier to post when I do not have to edit the shots like crazy.


CuriousCats said...

Yay! You're back! And I totally agree regarding the food blogs of today. It should be a reenactment of sorts rather than a sort of place to actually judge a place. Lastly, pictures are looking tantalizingly mouthwatering! Dulu pun gambar best sangat, now using the Canon, felt like wanting to bite the screen. :)

J said...

Yay! I'm on the list! *is super flattered*
:) :)

hmmm and I can't believe that some ppl would actually ask for free food in exchange for writing a good review. =_=
(eeyer. Yuck. So trashy)

minchow said...

About TIME PA!! Given more thought since we talked about it. I think my issue with the bloggers in question lies not in their incapacity to critique (or appraise) properly - our respective palates have all been conditioned differently - but rather in their lack of courage and industry in formulating an opinion of substance. Falling back on nice, good, yada yada is a cop-out and reinforces that we're a spoonfed, scatterbrained lot.

ciki said...

yay! PA!! this is an awesome look for your website.. plus u write like a dream .. xoxo ciki LIKE!

i agree that being truthful and being nasty is a fine line. And some joints deserve no praise at all. however, the uncle and aunty still need to make a living. I actually feel worse ripping apart a coffee shop vs. an expensive establishment where they have been ripping me off since the dawn of time anyway. Also sometimes its an off day. i think what sean and boo do are the best thing. go back like 5 times before u decide:)

cheers big ears.

great read. i hope this means that you are BACK:)

fatboybakes said...

OMYLAWD!!!! your pictures are AWESOME. sooo booootiful!!!! i am in awe.

Sean said...

ya, i guess just like with everything else in life, we all have different thresholds when it comes to how honest, frank and responsible we are. but ultimately, it seems unlikely that any restaurant in kl has so far been saved or doomed by a blog review. all things considered, that's a good thing, i think :D

Paranoid Android said...

@Curious cats: Hello. Thanks. I love your new Camera too!

@J: I believe that asking for free food sucks big time too. I went for a dinner recently and the PR from the restaurant came over and joined (towards the end) and we chatted for quite a long time. When she comped the meal, I was stunned. All of us insisted on paying (it would have been pricey, it was not my first time there). Now, dunno how to post oreidi, but she did say, no need to post or feel obliged. Sei lor.

Paranoid Android said...

@Min: I suppose the PR people helped create some "Super Blogger" so that they can concentrate on a few instead of the whole sea. But then, I have to agree that Bloggers need to be given more creative freedom in their posts even if it means sacrificing some good reviews for their customers. But then again, if you suggested that, I think your customers will think that you are crazy. LOL. I think for the time being, we shall have to depend on the readers to be more discerning and read between the lines and catch the "ommisions".

Paranoid Android said...

@ Ciki: Back for the time being. Have been busy, do forgive me. Things should smoothen out by end Q3, early Q4 and then it will be a mad scramble again.

@FBB: Hardware, my friend. An idiot is on the other side of the lens. LOL. Thanks.

Paranoid Android said...

@Sean: Thankfully. I doubt that any blogger would like to be saddled with the guilt of making or breaking a restaurant (Would suggest they play Sim City to feed their lust for Megalomania, LOL). Just longing for an unrestrained, yet civil blogging community, with honest comments, and offer differing opinions eloquently. But i will just be an Utopian dream.

I do admire your fastidious approach to blogging. How you plough through restaurants, good or bad. One bad meal, and I will be crying momma and run off to my favourite restaurant, whimpering.

reanaclaire said...

so real... feel like biting them off the screen! :p

babe_kl said...

Nice shots!

Sighhh those bloggers who are asking for free food are still at it and they don't seems to get it that it's not ethical :(

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

well written as always, i think u have just hit the nail on the spot, cant emphasise enough on some of the facts you got there.

u dont know how stressing it is when you get that kinda requests for a good restaurant, its murdering!

awesome lens u got there too!

Fui Lemonadelime said...

Has been always looking for your blog update. With the darker background theme, it make the colorful photos become more reality :)

You seem to be always having lunch, hopefully to see your food review of Cilantro Friday's executive lunch soon ^.^V

Paranoid Android said...

@Reanaclaire Thanks for dropping by.

@babe_kl: How strange. Me and Ciki was just talking about you the other day. I don't think I have had the pleasure to meet you. KL is small, and I am sure we will meet one day.

@Joe: Thanks. And Thanks. Blogging can be very hard work hor?

Paranoid Android said...

Fui lemonadelime: Hello. You must be psychic. Will be calling Jason soon to find out what they will be serving. Thanks for dropping by too!

Paranoid Android said...

@Babe_kl: Drats. Long day and completely pooped. My English has gone to the dogs. I don't believe I have had the pleasure of meeting you. :D

in the sea said...

Wow.. the depth field is very nice of the photo. The 60mm F2.8 lens is good for taking food. Glad that you get it! BTW, at some lighter color objects, try to reduce the auto-light-compensation (forget the exact term) - a new function of 550D to enhance the object if the surrounding is a bit dim. Reduce that to just 1 bar. The factory default it to 2 bars and 3 bars are the highest. The C&A of 550D is fun and very helpful. The video shooting is superb. I just compared it to my old HD view cam bought 2 years ago, and it's HK$7,000. 550D video shooting at night time is 4 times better.

So glad to see some good comment from you again. Just notice you like Kate Bush. I like her song "The Wuthering Height" very much and it's introduced by my elder brother when I was first exposed to the music world in my junior high school. Since then I am lingered to music besides eating and cooking and photo taking and travelling...

in the sea said...

The photos made me itchy again to buy more lens. :)

Fui Lemonadelime said...

Haha, I'm not fans of physic but I'm the culinary ;p

Wish to try their degustation menu but it changed to 5courses to 7courses now :( while the Hors d'oeuvres is no longer in the menu and seem they combined seafood and beef together >.< I'm rarely eat beef although I know that wagyu beef is great....

yet, the lunch menu seem very attractive :D

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Thanks for standing up for me. I suppose it takes all kinds to make a world. On another note, fabulous pictures! Looks like you're putting your camera to good use. :-) I especially like the opening shot. :-)

vialentino said...

nice nice recommendation and like ur pics!

Paranoid Android said...

@Sky: Thanks for the tips. You must be a mind reader. I was just wondering why my pics were so over exposed at the fringes and had to crop out the fringe! You have a very very sharp eye. And ever so helpful regarding cooking tips too!

Thank you again, my friend. I wonder why TC does not post photos anymore or maybe he hides it somewhere else.

Oh yes! Wuthering Heights is also one of my favourites and Running up the hill too! (Hounds of Love album is absolutely marvelous).

Take care and hope to meet you soon.

Paranoid Android said...

@Lemonadelime: Psychic as in Clairvoyant. He he... I have a dinner review at Cilantro somewhere in my blog. Hope to post Cilantro this week.

@LL: You are most welcome, Madge! LOL. Meet up for makan soon?

Paranoid Android said...

@Vialentino: Thanks for dropping by.

Fui Lemonadelime said...

lol, sorry for misunderstanding XD I guess I don't have Clairvoyant, yet I've Omniscient ear XD

The Maine Lobster look awesome and delicious, I think I couldn't afford to order it a-la carte :(

Ya, you're damn fast visited them once re-opened~~ will sit and wait for the update this week,hehee

thenomadGourmand said...

I think all the comments above says a lot, though I **** at some.
I shall reserve my comments over lunch, for like u said, freedom of press is not tht great in malaysia ;)

Working in the blogging community, i think u hv heard my rants over our meals.
As for food blogging,those bloggers that does that (asking fr free reviews, well.. they give all of us a bad name. I just hope the F&B establishment dont group all of us together as the "bad lot".

Serve us turd & we will stil write glowing reviews??
Man, I'm insulted.

On a happier note, I'm so going burger hunting ;)
Daily Grind, Skewers, etc.. Yay!

Fui Lemonadelime said...

Ha...I found the proof that the burger is only 8inches instead of 12inches.

Photo from Taufulou

Look at the ruler, the burger is only about 19cm@~8inches height only~!

Paranoid Android said...

@lemonadelime : LOL. I am sure Madge will be pleased to know. But I think all of us has put that episode behind us already. Just digging up old wounds to make a point.

The fastest blogger in the block will be Sean at EatdrinkKL. I trail behind all of the rest.


Paranoid Android said...

@TheNomadGourmand: LOL. Well, your blog and a couple of others in my list has always been brutally honest. Too bad blogging has taken a bad rap because of a few black sheeps. But that is so human isn't it? To look at the bad and stereotype.

Let's eat soon. Missing you already.

in the sea said...

Yeah! the album title is "Hounds of Love". What a memory! Thanks for helping me on recalling that album.

Re your photos, I had another look at some. Good skill in choosing the focal point to out-stand what you wanna express! This DSLR is really what you need. I capped the max. ISO to 3,200 as over it there are some very noticeable noise. I am still learning more on using 550D since the functions are far more different than 400D.

BTW, the fixed focal lens is awesome in the color saturation. A good buy!

UnkaLeong said...

Lovely pictures! Great choice of Camera and lens ;) Ah...blogging..I shall regale you with tales of blogging from days of yore the next time we meet. Till then, update more lah please :P

gfad said...

Reading this post is like trying to read The Economist while Nigella is on the TV! Your HUGE pictures are big distractions to a rather serious issue at hand. :D

I cannot tahan reading blogs that just describes what the writer ate/saw without an ounce of personal thought or opinion about it. And mind you, these are blogs with reasonably high traffic too. It's like reading the classifieds..

Paranoid Android said...

@sky: LOL. Not good memory, but the album has been my constant companion. It was initially a cassette (I don't think you can find that anywhere now) and later grew up to be a CD, and the one in my room is my 3rd copy of the CD. (Ripped into mp3... I think this copy will last a long time).

After a LX-3, the 550D seems so complicated. So many menus and things I do not understand. Got to admire those pro photographers. Have to be artistic, know physics and camera hardware, and photoshop too!

Paranoid Android said...

@unkaleong: Hi Bro! Welcome back to KL. Looking forward more to the makan part than the blogging part. I am really lazy.

@gfad: I missed the opportunity of meeting you in person! Missed lunchies with the gang at Bibitus the last time you were back. Well, you raised an interesting point. I think some bloggers are more interested in hits than content.

in the sea said...

Don't get confused. Once you know the magic combination of aperture, shutter speed and ISO...etc., you would find it much of fun. We have to thank the digital age arrival. Remember we save a lot of film developing cost. Just click whatever it is on the camera, and check on the combination result. It's a matter of time and patience. The camera won't explode (I bet 99%). :)

GFAD said...

Like most people who hide behind the anonymity of the internet, I'm much better at online conversations than real-life. You on the other hand, I have heard much about your intellect and wide-grasping knowledge of literature and food (did your ears burn, eyebrow twitch and nose sneeze during those 2 weeks in Jan/Feb?), from the man of wit himself (FBB) no less. :)

Let's have a chat about the state of politics and direction the country is heading over a nice frothy glass of teh tarik and fragrant nasi lemak.

Hmm.. on second thoughts, maybe not. I'd like to keep my food and blood pressure down. :D

Thailand Club said...

wow happy to c Android back to post with his new toy; photos r just of professional standard, like real food on computer

well i shall buy one and join the 550D club :-)

Paranoid Android said...

@gfad: All hearsay from the Master of Wit himself. We shall discuss about more boring things like Music and Good Eats then. Till we meet, cheers!

@TC: Awww... You are too nice. Yes, maybe get one too? Then one day, if the right opportunity arises, we can go out with Sky and do a 550 photo shoot of food!

in the sea said...

This evening I am acting as a devil to tempt one of my friends to get 550D. He is now 15/16 (Cantonese saying means "hesitate"). I told him 550D is a very bargain good buy since it used quite a lot of his higher end brother 7D and 5D. We should have a 550D showcase.

Paranoid Android said...

@Sky: You are very naughty! LOL. He is probably having sleepless nights thinking about the camera like I did. Yes, I have to agree the price is really attractive for it's features. A showcase would be nice.

in the sea said...

Once you enjoy DSLR, you would be fascinated and even want more. Anyway, for photo taking 550D is good enough. Unless someday you need to go to some wild lands for taking photos of panther or eagle. There are actually many functions I need to learn from 550D. Have a nice weekend and look forward to more of your photos. :)

Paranoid Android's Spec Sheet

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Unless stated otherwise, all the posts and food here is paid for by the Paranoid Android. He dose not receive any financial compensation for posting in this blog. The views expressed here are an opinion and as usual, taste is subjective and varies among people, time and mood as well! Please feel free to contact me at humanist dot philo at gmail dot com. Unless otherwise stated, the photos here belong to the owner of this blog. You are free to use it for any non commercial purpose. As courtesy, just drop me an email and credit the photo to the blog. Thanks for dropping by!

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