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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Monthly Archives / April 2008

Iron Man the movie

Thanks to Eyeris who managed to source a pair of extra tickets for Iron Man last night, I got to watch this show before the official release this weekend. Before you ask, the movie is awesome and totally kick ass, you have to watch it when it comes out this weekend. Now lets proceed to a bit of a “review” that might or might not contain spoilers, read at your own risk.

Iron Man the movie
Tony Stark’s first armour

For those who didn’t grow up with American comics (ie: me, I was reading Chinese version of Doraemon and Lau Fu Tze), Iron Man has his super power not via genetic mutation nor being born on some other planet. Instead, somewhat like Bruce Wayne in Batman, Tony Stark is an industrialist who archive superpower-hood via his engineering brilliance. If you haven’t figured it out, he built the freaking armour that allows him to fly, shoot people, carry heavy loads, etc etc.

Iron Man the movie
2nd version in the making

The story doesn’t stray very far from the typical superhero movies, with the introduction of the main character as an ordinary person to the transformation that makes him a superhero to the final fight with the super villain. The difference is, of course, Robert Downy Jr. fits the profile of Tony Stark perfectly, and Gwyneth Paltrow played a brilliant role in being Pepper Potts.

Iron Man the movie
awesome or not?

Then there’s the absolutely awesome CG that blends it perfectly while bringing the awe factor not any less than Transformers. You’ll love the movie, watch it!

Iron Monger in Iron Man
the enemy, iron monger

It is no secret that Japanese food is one of my favorite international cuisines. Sashimi, sushi, tempura, hand rolls, teriyaki, teppanyaki, I like them all. The culinary experience I had when I visited Tokyo 2 years ago is still fresh in my memory, as I lick my lips again…

update (11/10/2010): Rakuzen has moved to GTower at LG-05 & LG-06, GTower, 199, Jln Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur

Luckily, there are many good Japanese restaurants in this part of the world, and one of my absolute favorite would be Rakuzen, a place I visited on a regular basis ever since I came back from the States. In fact, the blog entry on Rakuzen at Subang Jaya is one of my first food articles. I bet you can imagine my enthusiasm when I was invited to a food review session at Rakuzen @ Chulan Square.

Rakuzen Japanese Restaurant at Chulan Square
Sashimi Moraiwase

According to the friendly host and restaurant manager, Jack, Rakuzen Subang is where everything started, and this Chulan Square location is the second branch. Then there’s the Pyramid Zen, and I found out that they also run my favorite conveyor belt sushi place, Zanmai Sushi! I believe there is also a Zanmai outlet at Gardens, you can check it here.

Rakuzen Japanese Restaurant at Chulan Square
the really zen like ambiance

Chef Ah Fai at Rakuzen is one of the top apprentices of the bald Japanese chef heads the Subang branch and has been making sushi & sashimi for more than a decade. For this review, he prepared the signature dish sashimi moraiwase, a sashimi salad, dragon roll, and assorted tempura. I was already drooling while taking these photos.

Rakuzen Japanese Restaurant at Chulan Square
sashimi moraiwase, sashimi salad, dragon roll, tempura

The sashimi includes sake (salmon), maguro (tuna), otoro (tuna belly), ika (squid), tako (octopus), amaebi (sweet shrimp), uni (sea urchin), and a Spanish mackerel, everything imported from Japan and properly stored in their special -15 C fridge to ensure freshness. Order individually, everything would totaled to over RM 200, so the RM 150 dish offers very good value.

The raw fish were very very good, especially the otoro, fatty savory tuna belly that melts in your mouth; of course, the sea urchin is always one of my favorites too, texture of raw brain but with the tastes of that unique sweetness. It was very very satisfying, everything tasted perfect, with proper cuts and the right temperature too.

Rakuzen Japanese Restaurant at Chulan Square
chef Fai and his creations

As for the sashimi salad, there were plenty of raw fish, squid, and a generous portion of ebiko (fish roe) on top of all the fresh vegetable, tomato, and cucumber in a creamy topping that tasted slightly sourish. This is perfect for someone who loves to have raw fish but doesn’t want to have the rice to go with it. (you can choose to fill your stomach with just sashimi and break the bank at the same time).

The dragon roll is made by deep frying a big tiger prawn and wrapped it with seaweed sheet, sushi rice, avocado, and topped with some Japanese mayonnaise. There were carrots, prawn, egg plants, and even the mint leaf in the tempura dish. I find the half fried mint leaf having a very interesting taste with a unique texture. I always eat the mint leaf served with sashimi anyway, try it!

map to Chulan Square, Rakuzen
Rakuzen at Chulan Square is just a short walk from Pavilion KL

It was a very sumptuous and satisfying lunch that is second only to the hospitality by the good chef and the restaurant manager Jack. The invitation was arranged by foodstreet.

Address:
Block B Lot 2A Chulan Square,
92 Jalan Raja Chulan, 50200 KL

GPS: 3.148518, 101.716114
Tel: 03-2145 6200

Ever since I came back from the States, I’ve been having a tough time finding good steak. The “western food” hawker stalls are usually pretty good with their chicken chop and perhaps fish and chips, but the steaks are about as thick as a notepad and tasted equally disappointing. I’ve also tried some of the restaurants like cafe chinoz at KLCC but the steak was not exactly up to standard, I couldn’t even finish the filet mignon there. I’ve heard that Le Meridien’s Prime Grill serves very good steak, but the price is a bit out of reach. I’ve almost accepted the fate that I shall just forget about having steak, until I went to Gaucho Grill at Chulan Square last week.

Argentinian Steak, Gaucho Grill at Chulan Square
excellent interior, chef Kamaruddin and yours truly

Gaucho Grill is one of the very few Argentinian restaurants in Klang Valley. Chef Kamaruddin explained that Argentina is actually the 2nd largest consumer of beef in the world, just after US (with 7.5x more in population). Vegetable is not exactly popular, the south Americans love their meat. Gaucho Grill imports all their meat from herds raised by gauchos (cowboys) of Argentina.

Argentinian Steak, Gaucho Grill at Chulan Square
starters: garlic bread, seafood soup, escargot, mixed crunch

The three of us that attended this review session by foodstreet were first served with some really nice garlic bread, Escargot, their Sopa Oceano (seafood soup), and the rather large portion of Mixed Crunch.

The seafood soup has the texture between that of a minestrone soup and pasta sauce, very thick and packed with the sweetness from the scallops, prawns, and mussels that swim in it. It was good. The Mixed Crunch is a dish of finger food that would go very well with beer. Crispy prawn with garlic mayo, mussels, fried mushroom, onion fritter, salmon floret, bruschetta of tomato and feta cheese, and seared scallop with balsamic oil, it was actually pretty hearty for a starter.

Argentinian Steak, Gaucho Grill at Chulan Square
main: t-bone steak, salmon and half lobster, beef tenderloin, lamb rack

Next came the four main dishes for the day, we had the La Boca (T-bone Steak), Peublo (Prime Steer Beef Tenderloin), El Codero (Lamb Rack), and El Rey de Mar (Salmon and half Lobster). Two beef, a lamb, and a seafood dish, perfect!

Both the T-bone steak and tenderloin were some of the best beefs I’ve had for a long time. While our dishes were prepared in medium, I personally would like it in medium rare for an even juicier experience. The T-bone is a whopping 450 gram (1 pound) of steak served with rosemary butter. No other sauce is used to distract the natural taste of beef. It was really good.

For the most tender cut served at Gaucho Grill, the good chef prepared the Peublo, a very thick cut of prime steer beef tenderloin that is served with mushroom gravy, zucchini, and fries. The meat was very tender and juicy it brought back my filet mignon (the good one at States, not the lousy version at KLCC) experience.

Argentinian Steak, Gaucho Grill at Chulan Square
juicy meat, almond crumble and choc madeleine desserts

As good as the beef dishes were, the El Codero (lamb rack) was equally delicious. Three pieces of very juicy and tender ribs (280gm) served with ratatouille and pesto, I don’t think I’ve had lamb this good before. Even better than the marinate Jaime’s mom made during one of our BBQ sessions.

Other than red meat dishes, we had the El Rey de Mar (roasted salmon and baked half lobster). The salmon was roasted just nice and lobster, well, it was how lobsters taste like, very succulent and never disappoint.

We managed to sample 2 desserts after all these food, the Choc Madeleine is perfect for chocolate lovers with apricot on moist choc, ice cream, and warm choc fudge. The Panna Cotta is similar to creme brulee, but served cold with dark cherry and raspberry stew. The desserts are made in house as well.

Argentinian Steak, Gaucho Grill at Chulan Square
Chulan Square is adjacent to Pavilion KL

Steaks are priced at around RM 68-80, desserts are RM 13-16. There’s also a very good deal for set lunches on weekdays between 12-3pm, for RM 26 you get soup, salad, ice lemon tea, and a main dish (rib eyes, burgers, etc).

The food was really good, and I have no doubt I will go there again. :)

More pictures of this place at my flickr set

Address:
Block B, Lot 5 Chulan Square
92 Jalan Raja Chulan,
50250 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.148518, 101.716114
Tel: 03-2145 4268

It is a known fact that tourists are often treated as fresh meat in just about any country. Taxi drivers will try to charge you more, you pay more at pasar malam, and even some restaurants will have 2 different menus, one for the locals, another for foreigners. This is a story on how we got conned at Patpong, the red light district of Bangkok.

So after a long day chilling around the city, the three of us (including Terence & Dree) decided that a visit to Thailand is never complete without going to Patpong. We boarded the train and headed to the station nearest to the red light district.

Bangkok Ping Pong Show, got conned
all these go-go clubs and ping pong bars

The place has more flashy neons and interesting sign boards than the whole of downtown KL. Thai girl, Thai boy, lady boy, go-go bars, you name it, they have it. There is also a lot of street stores selling “I love Bangkok” T-shirts and imitation Bell & Ross watches. As we were walking along the shops, we were ushered by many pimps asking if we wanted girls, beer, ping pong shows, etc. We kept rejecting them.

Bangkok Ping Pong Show, got conned
look at the 2 guys in black and yellow shirts, dodgy?

And then one particular pimp told us “You wan watch ping pong show? 1 minute no pay, you no like you go, free. If you like, just stay and buy drinks. 200 baht per beer, that’s all!” (10 baht is roughly 1 Malaysian Ringgit)

Wanting to experience everything Bangkok has to offer (sans the STD activities), we reluctantly said yes. The guy then led us to a bar a level on top of the popular shops/restaurants/bars.

We sensed something wrong as we went in, there were no customer in that place. A group of not-so-great looking girls were on the stage, dancing half naked, trying to be seductive but failing miserably.

We ordered our drinks, 2 beers and a coke, and then the show started. A chunky lady stripped and started shooting darts on balloons. It was done in such mechanical precision and ease, dart in hole, squeeze, dart flies, pops balloon. I was as impressed as worried about her aiming as we were only a couple meters away from the stage.

Bangkok Ping Pong Show, got conned
ping pong balls love Terence

Then came the ping pong show, same thing: ping pong in the hole, squeeze, ping pong flying at Terence. Poor guy had to swat away all the incoming missiles lest having them landing on his face. It was a lot more scary than funny, I kid you not.

In between, the girls kept cajoling us to buy them drinks, 100 baht per coke. We kept saying no, but goddamn dree finally agreed to one coke per girl after the shemale kept pestering him, dude is weak. He didn’t even realize that was 100 baht x 10 girls!

Only 10 minutes into the whole thing, we decided to make a move and called for the bill. It was 3,900 baht!!!

We were like WTF, and started arguing with the lady boss (who was as big as Terence) saying the other guy told us it was 200 bath per beer and the show is free. She said she didn’t know who that was, and this is her bar. I put down a 1,000 baht bill and prepared to walk away, but our good friend dree kept saying “dude just pay just pay I’ll pay you guys back” in a very emo and worried voice. We kept arguing for a bit and decided to give them 3,000 baht as there were about 10 of them surrounding us already..

1,000 baht per person for a lesson to be smarter tourists. Lucky I didn’t have to touch any ping pong ball.

The long overdue pictures from Bangkok is here, the Black and White series anyway. I still have some architectural photos (mainly temples) yet to be processed, and of course that juicy story from red light district and the other food hunts around the city. But anyway, here is my very small contribution to the world of photography.

The photostream at flickr is here.

showmanship, Bangkok tour 2008
showmanship

I was walking around taking photographs, and suddenly this ice cream seller started performing for me. He scoop up the ice cream, threw it up about 20 feet and drop it on the cup. This was his victory pose after performing his trick. It was a shame I did not manage to capture that in action, but at least we have this pose.

tuk-tuk, the 3 wheeled taxi - Bangkok
taxi stand

Tuk-tuk, the three wheeler “taxis” are omnipresence everywhere in the city. You can catch a short ride for as low as 20 baht. However, do be careful as some of them do conspire with shops in an attempt to con unsuspecting customers. The normal taxis, on the other hand, are very reliable and honest in Bangkok.

line up - elephant statues at Bangkok
the line up

This photo is taken at the famous 4 faced Buddha statue (Thao Maha Brahma). It is said that many Hong Kong celebrities pay their respect at this place yearly.

busy chatuchak weekend market, bangkok
the crowd, chatuchak weekend market

Chatuchak weekend market is a congregation of over 6000 stalls selling anything from bacon stick to foot massages to pet rabbits. The place is packed with bargain hunters and clueless tourists alike.

divers at chow praya river, bangkok
divers at chow praya river

These kids at chow praya river make a living by fetching and reselling animals released to the river. Here they are just warming up to start the day. It is a common practice for pilgrims to release animals to the wild. (for good karma?)

bell ringing, bangkok temples
ringtone

A baby girl guided by her father to ring the bell at the temple, probably for the first time in her life.

guardians, guards at bangkok
guards – emerald Buddha temple

The guards at Emerald Buddha temple reminds me of those Buckingham Palace guards. They were completely stationary with only movements on their eyeballs. Respect.

fat boy supper, Bangkok trip
fat boy supper

Day or night, you can find hawker stalls by every roadside. Bangkok is the city very favorable to food hunters like me, I just wish I had a bigger stomach.