Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Al Bait. Changkat Bukit Bintang, KL. Lebanese Cuisine. Scheherezade's Lair.

Long, long ago, in country far, far away in the Middle East, there lived a king by the name of Shahryar who was know far and wide for his kindness and his love for his beautiful wife. During a hunting trip, he forgot to bring his night vision binoculars. He commanded his entourage to carry on, while he slipped back into the castle unannounced to retrieve his binoculars.

As he made his way to his bed chambers, he heard moans of pleasure emanating from within, intertwined with strains of Kenny G. "WTF?", he thought to himself. "Such cheesy music does not blend with my Philip Starke ensemble in my room!" and ran inside. To his horror, his wife was lying on his Philip Starke "Miss You" bed and lying next to her on the 1000 thread count Egyptian Cotton sheets was his naked gardener. "I hate foreign labour!", he shouted and set off to decapitate both his wife and his gardener before setting fire his Bang and Olufsen audio system that has been permanently tainted by the kitschy elevator music.

From then on, he went on a murderous rampage. Mind you, that was the time when kings held absolute political and moral power, and the concept of constitutional monarchy has not passed the stage of a developing sperm. Nope, no jealous, megalomanic politicians who wished that they could hold absolute power themselves, darned NGOs with nosy academicians to question the morals and ethics of a ruler, none of those irritating party poopers at all.

He would demand that his Vizier hunt for a virgin from his kingdom every day for him to marry. And while his bride was lying on his Starke "Miss You" bed, he will decapitate them as he recalls his own wife's trysts on the bed. He hunted with the vengeance of a virologist after the Influenza A H1N1 virus, and soon, there were no more virgins in the kingdom. The girls have all submitted to the demands of their boyfriends to escape the curse of being a headless virgin.

The Vizier was threatened to be the Sultan's next bride if he could not produce a virgin for the Sultan that night. Technically speaking, the Vizier at the age of 62, was still a virgin as he has never been defiled before. And all the other court officials who were jealous of him produced medical reports from proctologists to the Sultan to prove that the Vizier was indeed pure. Furthermore, there was no proposition 8 as in California to hinder same sex marriages.

The Vizier's daughter Scheherezade, was a bright spark, armed with a PPE degree from Oxford. She saw that her father was distressed. Unfortunately she suffered from hypertrichosis and needs daily waxing. Men found hairy stubbles all over her body disgusting, and she was not able to find anyone to deflower her. She offered to take over as the virgin bride, and the Vizier, being a seasoned politician who would do anything to keep his hold on power, had no qualms sacrificing his daughter. "After all, it is for the good of the country as the country still needs me", he rationalised to himself, quoting the most abused phrase in Political Philosophy.

After the ceremony, the bride, sensing some bad "chi" from the bridal chamber, suggested that the Sultan go out for some food outside the castle. She had secretly enggaged a Feng Shui Master to enter the Chambers to do a quick consult as soon as the Sultan had left with her.

She suggested to the Sultan to go to Al Bait (which means home in Lebanese) and the Sultan agreed, because he did not know that the restaurant's name was Home.

The Sultan loved the exterior, which actually looks like a home. Lots of low tables with Pillows thrown around for that homely feel. "I need to get their ID man", he thought to himself.

The restaurant was painted in a warm, orange colour and filled with books and other knick knacks that gave it a very pleasant ambiance.

They serve Authentic Lebanese Coffee here which is served from a long handled coffee pot. Unfortunatey, the coffee was not good, and he ordered mint tea to replace it. Used to drinking strong Turkish Tea and Coffee, both beverages failed to impress the Sultan.

The Sultan was relaxed in the h0me like environment, and decided to stay for some food. Clearly, Scheherazade's plans were working.

She ordered Tabouleh, which is Diced Parsley Salad, with Burgh Wheat, Mints, Onion and Tomatoes. It came drizzled with Lemon dressing and Olive Oil. It was very refreshing and zesty. The Tangy taste of the dressing mixed with the chopped herbs, quelled the Sultan's murderous rage.

For mains, Scheherezade ordered Shish Tawook, which was grilled Chicken cubes. It was moist and succulent. The marinade was slightly sourish, adding to the appeal of the dish. "Fries? Fries???", the Sultan asked. "Globalization!", Scheherezade answered cheekily, not being able to provide a logical reason for the presence of fries in a Lebanese Dish. The Sultan let matters be, as he was distracted by the tasty chicken.

Hommos Bairuti. Chick Peas (Blended) with Sesame Tahini (not evident here) with lemon, garlic and olive oil. It came served with fresh Pita Bread. The sultan loved the Hommos (or Hummus) at al Bait which tasted yummy with pita bread.

For Dessert, Scheherezade ordered some Chocolate Sez, which is Baklava coated with still warm and creamy chocolate. Through out dinner, Scheherezade enchanted the Sultan with stories and fables, the enchanted restaurants of Ramsay and Olivier, Michelin Star sushi restaurants in Tokyo.

Expectantly, the Sultan was enthralled and spared her for the night and made her promise to take him out somewhere else for dinner the next night.

*Story plagiarized from 1001 nights, the story is fictional and any similarity to anyone els, dead or alive is purely coincidental and a figment of the reader's imagination.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dragon I, Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur. North Chinese Cuisine.

In The Sky/Sea, is a very interesting blogger that has travelled extensively around South East Asia plus China and Hong Kong. He currently blogs about food, hotels and resorts in these regions. You can access his blog here. Thailand Club's blog focuses mainly on the food in Thailand (Bangkok) and is almost encyclopaedic. His blog is here.

According to In The Sky, Crystal Jade at Siam paragon is the best of the lot in SEA. As for the peanut spicy noodles, the best in KL is at Dragon I, Mid Valley. He has even put up a post on Dragon I for me to see! So very kind of him.

I have scheduled to be off this morning, and made my way to Mid Valley, to search for this elusive restaurant. I never knew that there was a Dragon I in Mid Valley. It is located next to the Citytel Hotel ( I mistakenly posted as Boulevard, and kindly corrected by Thule ). Just turn in at the corridor before the Coffee Bean opposite Secret Recipe/MPH.

ITS calls it Tan Tan Mien. But in the menu, it is La Mien, Sichuan style.

ITS sure knows his noodles! It is definitely better than the one I had the other day at Crystal Jade. Slightly sourish and spicy, the peanuts here blended well into the piquant soup, giving it a slightly more creamy taste. The texture of the noodles were springy and it did not taste of flour. Stayed in KL for 2 years and had to be introduced to this place by somebody thousand of Kilometers away! How ironic.

The fried ribs had a batter that has "nam yue". A tad too oily, but it was soft and moist.

The Double Boiled Hasma and Red Dates was fresh with bits of American Ginseng inside. I thought I needed that because KL has been so hot and hazy. Also had the Watercress juice.

Before I went to dragon I, I stopped at MPH and bought The Amateur Photographer Magazine. It has an article on how to manipulate the tone curves for that over processed look (digital cross processing). Tried this on one of the Terracotta figurines. Looks different yah? Looks gruesome....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fong Lye, Gardens Mid Valley Megamall Kl. Taiwanese Dining at the Tower of Babel.

The Tower of Babel. According to the Old Testament of the Bible, men originally spoke in one common language. After the great floods, men assembled together and attempted to build a lofty tower in the city of Babel, reaching the clouds. Their motive for the construction of this grand tower was not for the purpose of worshiping God, but to glorify the builders and to show the grandriosity men are capable of when acting as a cohesive, collected group. This irritated God and God cursed the men with multiple language and cast them off to different corners of the earth as a lesson.

I am an agnostic, please do not ask me if this is to be taken literally or not. You know what I'll answer.

I had the chance to watch Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. While waiting for the movie two start, I had about 2 hour's time to spare. I have always passed Lye Fong when go to GSC Signature Gardens and there is always a large crowd of diners inside. My friend and I decided to brave the crowd to give it a go.

The interior of the restaurant was blindingly bright. And it was very, very crowded too. We were given menus and we had to write down the dishes we wanted and pass it to the waiters. Almost all the waiters were from Myanmar. Not knowing what to order, we looked at other tables for inspiration and played match the dishes game with the menu.

Started of with their sweet potato balls (RM 5.30). Fluffy, deep fried balls of chewy sweet potato + dough. not too bad, quite fragrant. The coconut milk toast (RM 4.30) was fragrant. The appetizers tasted like desserts.

The Taiwanese Rou Yuan or Meat ball (RM 6.80) was a little bit too exotic for me. Chopped bits and pieces of Pork Meat, wrapped in thin dumpling skin. What was a bit off tasting was the red coloured sauce that was slathered on to the dumpling. An acquired taste.

Hot and Spicy Dim Sum (RM 16.50) was so horrendously misnamed. Nothing that remotely looked or tasted like Dim Sum. I beckoned the waiter over to ask him what was inside the dish, because neither me nor my friend could identify anything else other than the tofu and cabbage inside this dish. Unfortunately, the waiter could not speak English, Cantonese or Mandarin. I have nothing against the employment of Myanmars as waiters. Some of my good friends are from Myanmar.

But the least that the management could do would be to offer them some training. One hour of English a day before the restaurant opens would suffice. Neroteca has a lot of Myanmar waiters, but all of them speak excellent English and can even speak some Italian. They can rattle of the special of the day and give suggestions on what to order and describe some of the more popular wines there.

I also tried the 3 Variety Supreme Diced Chicken set (RM 19.80). It came with rice, some lotus root salad, stuffed aubergines and a slice of sausage roll. The chicken was stir fired in some soya based sauce and topped with local basil.

The chicken was not too bad, but slightly too tough and oily. The total bill came to RM76.60 with three drinks.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chynna, Hilton Hotel, Sentral, Kuala Lumpur. Some Magical Dim Sum.

Dim Sum. Dainty, delectable bites that literally means "touch the heart". I was in Chynna recently to get some mooncakes and couldn't stop admiring how the place looks. Already had my breakfast at 6.30am, and felt a tad hungry. I arrived at about noon, still wearing my trademark 'just went to Imbi Market' casual fisherman's pants and t-shirt, as I only meant only to do a quickie stop there.

I saw the waiters and waitresses hurrying around with dim sum steaming baskets and my stomach began to rumble at the thought of biting into delectable, steamed dim sum. Feeling a little bit under dressed for that place, I bashfully asked the waitress if there was a dress code at the restaurant. She said, what I am wearing was fine and proceeded to seat me.

The service was oh, so very polite. Filled with small talk like "How was your day, Sir?", "Is your table fine?". The waiters were at your beck and call without being too intrusive. Brilliant restaurant service. I felt like a spoiled, only child in Chynna. The moment I sat down, a Beijing Long Spout Tea specialist poured me a cup of welcome tea. Amazing.

The resaurant is opulent. Sinfully opulent. The lights were muted, making photography a nightmare. Furthermore, the blue coloured dome in the centre gave a bluish highlight to the photos. The China and Cutlery was exquisite. Clumsy old me was on the point of breaking out in cold sweat, lest I do something stupid like breaking a plate or pot!

The Har Gao came in shiny, tranluscent skin. Two brawny prawns were stuffed in this mini dumpling. The prawns were very springy and fresh, but slightly too dry. If it were a tad moistier, it would have been absolutely perfect.

The Goose Roll with Vegetables was the next Dim Sum I sampled. Filled with still 'al dente' crunchy vegetables in the centre, it was succulent, with the broth oozing out at every bite.

The Glutinous Rice was wonderfully packed with dried scallops and clams, mushrooms and chicken meat. The fragrance was wonderful. Too bad, the rice was wet and sticky, instead of discrete, chewy grains.

There are some 'Fusion' Dim Sums available too. The one I tried was Scallops and Prawns with Squid Ink Dim Sum Skin. Just like the squid ink pasta. The tiny mouthfuls were topped with crab roe. Delectable morsels. If this is the new generation fusion chinese food, then I am in love with it.

Durian Custard Stuffed Pau. OMG! This was the dessert that sent me to heaven and back. Came in still pipping hot. I just had to break one open to photograph it. Thick, creamy custard with durians, with a some salted egg yolks to lend it extra richness and saltiness. Mama Mia!

Each mouthful gave me shudders of pleasure as the thick, warm creamy filling blended with the soft and fluffy pau skin. This was the biggest bang that I have had from a dessert in a long long time!

The grande finale was Lemongrass and Aloe Vera Jelly with Fresh Lime Sorbet. Harmonious blend of the slightly citrusy and aromatic lemongrass jelly, some sweet aloe vera confit and fresh, tangy and slightly sourish lime sorbet. Refreshing.

Wonderful service (which is a rarity in a chinese restaurant, at least for me), rich and opulent ambiance. Beautiful and imaginatively created tasty morsels. I found the fusion Dim Sum to be a refreshing change from the same old, same old. They seem to be very good at fusion. A taste of the mooncakes will reveal this. Desserts are exceptionally good.

The dining experience was exquisite. What can I fault, except for Hilton's exorbitant parking charges?

The Dim Sums costs about 11.00 to 17.90 per plate. The parking costs 10.00 for 2 hours.

Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur

Tel: + 60 3 2264 2515

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Italian on Sixth, Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur. Sixth floor is still a long way to heaven.

Italian Food. Never a shortage of Italian Restaurants in KualaLumpur and PJ. It has been mushrooming rather unobtrusively over the past 5 years. In Pavilion itself, there are 2 Italian Joints. One is Michaelangelo and the other one is Italian on Sixth.

This rather elegant looking eatery is located next to Carat Club, on the sixth floor of Pavilion. From the exterior, it looks dark and muted. Rather intimidating, if you ask me.

As I entered the restaurant, Laura Pausini was wailing in the air, belting out one of her very early hits. They have a set lunch menu, and being the ever frugal Chinaman that I am, I perusd it, and decided to order the set, Caesar Salad, Minestrone, Pork Chop and Tiramisu.

The Caesar Salad was ok. How can you go wrong with a salad right? The balsamic dressing was tangy and had the right acidity, and the salad itself was generously drizzled with cheese. The croutons were very flavourful and had a smoky bacon taste.

The clear minestrone was light and brothy, not the earthy, thick variety. Come to think of it, there are so many versions of the Minestrone! I sprinkled some grated cheese on it to add a little body. Filled with crunchy broccoli. Just so so.

The Pork Chop came with a Chorizo andOnion Sauce. The Chrorizo was heavily infused with Pimento and was quite good. The Pork was a bit tough. Sauce was a bit too Oriental for me.

The Tiramisu that was served fr dessert was not up to par for me too. The sponge was too dry for me and the Marscapone as not decadent. Not enough liquer.

Set lunch is valued at RM75.00

Italian on Sixth
6th Floor, Pavilion

+60 3 2148 2312

Chynna, Hilton Hotel, Sentral, Kuala Lumpur. Lustful Mooncakes.

Stop Press! If any of you celebrate mooncake festival, and haven't got any mooncakes yet fro your friends and family, do take a look at these beauties before you buy any.

This is the Chynna Prestige pack. 6 mooncakes, 3 traditional and 3 fusions. RM 76.00++

Look at the beautiful box. Metal clasps! OMG!

They can even open up into drawers! EEEEKK! ARGHHHHH! I want, I want!

What's in the Prestige Box? 6 mooncakes (smaller than the ones at the Supermarket).
Baked Lotus Paste Single Yolk, Traditional 5 nuts, Baked Green Tea with Pistachios, Blue Moon which is snow skin + lotus paste + Amaretto + Blueberry Cheese Feuillantine, Red Lantern which is snow skin Lotus Paste + Kirsch with cheese and raspberry and finally snow skin sunflower seed with Bailey's and Chocolate.

The mix, getting ready to jive in my tummy.

This year's special, Miss Red Lantern? Did any of you watch Raise the Red Lantern, Directed by Zhang Yimou and Starred Gong Li? Can't understand chinese for nuts, but read the subtitles. Beutiful Film, disturbing, and hides a political message.

Finally, the Golden Treasure, Edible Gold, with Kahlua and Tiramisu Paste. And get ready for the most expensive poo the next morning. Act like a big shot and tell them you shit gold. HA HA HA!

Shout out to Sean, from Eat Drink KL for alerting me to this place. Thankz!

And Note: The snow skin keeps only for 5 days in the fridge ok? If you can't finish it on time, just give me a tinkle.

KL Hilton

Tel: + 60 3 2264 2592

Kissaten, Jaya One, Petaling Jaya. Japanese Food 101, or finishing school for Kim Gary Graduants.

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down..... Pissing rain this morning. Wished I was curled up in bed, instead of working. Past few weeks had been hell, and I am venting my stress on my guts. Most of the food blogs have spoken highly about Kissaten, and after one unsuccessful attempt which landed me in a dubious TexMex joint instead, I trudged to Jaya One which has got to be one of the weirdest, split personality, adolescent identity crisis stricken Shopping mall??? Office block? What? Commercial Complex? Hip Night Owl's Place? It's in dire need to visit a Shrink. Park on the First Floor, take a walkalator to go down. Climb stairs to go up to the restaurants, and the walkways are covered partially. Confused?

Talking about rainy days, got slightly soaked by the time I arrived at the doors of Kissaten. The decor is minimalist. Tastefully minimalist. But the menu isn't. It is extensive, varied, and also has a multiple personality disorder. Chinese Lum Mee, Char Siew, ChawanMushi, Sashimi, Pizza, Pancakes, Cheesecakes, I was dizzy after reading the menu, and cannot re"freaking"member...... The menu is available online. I'll give you the link below.

Ordered the Honey Ginger Beer, which was refreshing and zesty. I also ordered the Pork with Onion set, which is available for lunch and dinner.

The set comes with rice, Miso Soup, Chawan Mushi and Pickled Radish and bottomless Green Tea. The Pork fillets were lean, and the onion sauce that came with it was light and tasted like soya sauce.

The Chawan Mushi tasted like Chinese Steamed Eggs, maybe not enough Mirin? It contained one ginko nut inside. Miso was ah so so.

The chocolate pudding was very, very sweet. The texture was funny, a bit grainy and sticky. I did not finish it.

This owner has probably given the menu a lot of thought here. It is very varied, inoffensive, even imaginative and caters for every sort of taste. Pricing, reasonable. An alternative for the tweens who think that Kim Gary is the best place in town for food. Now instead of Hong Kong food, they are eating Japanese.

I may not choose to dine there, or like the food very much. But if I were asked to invest in a new Kissaten outlet in KL, at Sungai Wang, I would sell my undergarments to get the capital. I have no doubt that it will be a great success.

Kissaten (Click here, for website)
L12A-1-1, Palm Square
Jaya One
72A Jalan Universiti
46200 Petaling Jaya

Tel:+60 3 7954 1990

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nerovivo. Jalan Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur. Enoteca con Cuccina Italia.

Nero Group. With 3 resturants and a deli under it's wings, the Nero group must be the most influential people in Italian cuisine scene in Kuala Lumpur. Nerovivo was their first born, their pride and when it first opened, the whole town was abuzz about their wood fired pizza. Neroteca is their non kosher version located nearby at the Sommerset Residences.

My friends used to joke around and called Nerovivo NeroMelayu and Neroteca was christened NeroMyanmar, because it employed a lot of Myanmar waiters for obvious reasons.. Fortunately the Myanmar waiters are very well trained and are able to give you suggestions about the menu, unlike in other restaurants. Finished freaking late at work and at 11pm, where can I get some good grub to cheer me up? Fortunately, the kitchen at Nerovivo closes at 11.30pm. Very Mediterranean hours, thank god.

Ordered the Green Vivo, which is a refreshing combination of Midori and Pineapple juice to wind down and took my time with the menu. The menu here is very extensive compared to the one in Neroteca.

Wilted, salty and pungent. That description was me, not the food. I thought I wanted to blend in with the sea inspired dinner that I was about to order, and did not go back for a shower. It was already late, and I did not want to tax my already overburdened digestive tract, and ordered something light.

Started of with Sauteed Mussels with White Wine, Cherry Tomatoes and Gralic Crostini (which is the fancy name for Garlic Bread). Mussels were fresh and the white wine sauce was clear and fragrant. I liked it.

The Angel Hair sauteed with Scallops, Sundried Tomatoes in Alia Oglio and Rocket Salad was slightly too dry, as you can see from the second pic. The Angels ran out of hair conditioner and hence the Angel Hair did not look glossy enough for the photo shoot.

But the Scallops were humongous and succulent. Quite good. When my friend asked me what it was, when he saw my photos of the dish, I replied, Italian Gon Low Mein.

The Strawberry Mango Millefoglie was also good. The Chantilly Cream was not too overpowering and the crispy puff pastry that layered this creamy Dessert was slightly too hard and not brittle enough. Lovely little meal, in a nice environment, and as the signature Nero restaurant 5 star service. Chose to dine alone because I have been talking the whole day at work, and did not feel like small talk. Suddenly missed my friends in Kuantan, especially Miss D'Silva, who used to entertain me with her small little literature vignettes, especially from the British Canon authors.

Nerovivo (click here for website)
No:3A Jalan Ceylon
50200 Kuala Lumpur

Tel:+60 3 2070 3120

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sao Nam. Changkat Tung Shin, KL. Vietnamese Fine Dining.

It was a hot day, and terribly hazy too
. Woke up late, with a hang over, not from C2H5OH, but from a horrible day at work the previous day. My head was spinning and I struggled out of bed and put on Casal's Bach Cello Suites. Morose sound of Cello, and for those who know me, sign of a don't fxxx with me day. Felt nauseous and am thanking my lucky stars that I have to work only at 3pm.

Felt hungry, but cannot decide what to eat. Suddenly I remembered Sao Nam. I have such fond memories of that place. The food has been always good, but I have neglected it somehow.

Vietnamese Cuisine is very diverse and utilities a lot of herbs and spices to enhance the flavour of their dishes. Usually served with a lot of fresh vegetables, it would prove to be refreshing. I needed my caffeine fix, and the wonderfully aromatic Vietnamese Drip Coffee they serve at Sao Nam would do the trick nicely.

The inerior is simple, yet tastefully decorated. Paul, one of the owners, was sitting outside when I arrived. We had a long chat while I was waiting for my food. We talked about the changes along the Changkat Bukit Bintang strip that has been going since i last saw him. The Barzan drip coffee jolted me out of my suspended animation and I felt a bit more chatty.

Been thinking about the Mangosteen Salad for a long, long time. Somehow or another something crops up and destroys my plans last minute. Served cold with boiled prawns, dried cuttlefish, sesame and a sprinkle of freshly grated coconuts. The dressing was sourish and sweet. The Lime based dressing gave the salad tartness and zest. A real pick me up for a hot, crappy day.

Next was the Fried Aubergine with Chillies. The aubergines were soft, without any hint of greasiness. The sourish Chilli dressing with garlic and coriander blended nicely. No wonder the Vietnamese girls look so good in an Ao Dai. Both dishes did not have any hint of oil in them. They ran out of desserts.

Hymne A L'amour was playing when I sat at the outdoors patio.

Service was as usual, excellent. Food also marvelous. Lovely start to an otherwise pissy day.

Sao Nam
25, Tingkat Tung Shin
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-21441225

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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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