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.

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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!

To satisfy your hunger

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