Back in late 2015 I was involved in The Star R.AGE food fight competition, it was one of the highlights of my online writing career to stand along the likes of Chef Wan & Chef Darren Chin as one of judges of the cooking competition. One of the finalists of the competition was Ahong Yeang, who was already running a small restaurant at University Hospital then.
Sometimes around Q3 21017, Ahong moved on from his previous joint and opened Grub by Ahong & Friends at Seksyen 17. I finally visited a couple weeks ago.
Grub by Ahong & Friends, Petaling Jaya, Seksyen 17
Grub by Ahong & Friends is located at the small rows of shops right behind Happy Mansion (possibly the birthplace of hipster food in PJ?). Parking can sometimes be a bit challenging for those who can’t walk more than a couple dozen steps, but alas, the walk back to the car after a good meal can be a healthy exercise.
Grub serves a selection of Western dishes at very reasonable prices. The restaurant itself is minimalist but comfortable, with a few tables and open kitchen at the ground floor, and more seating area upstairs. Yes, there’s air conditioning.
beet root salad & wine
To keep prices low, Ahong came up the system of ordering by pencil & paper as well as self-serviced drinks you pick up from the counter where you also find cutlery, plates, and glasses. Corkage is RM 7 per pax but if you spare a glass for the good chef then that is waived. Grub also carries a small selection of wine.
We started the night with beet root salad (RM 13.50) that came with roasted beetroot, fresh fruits, feta cheese, rockets, honey, and nuts. A simple mesh up that leaves me wanting more.
local seafood bouillabaisse, wagyu steak
For main I picked steak, the picture above is wagyu rump, wagyu ribeye is priced at RM 145 but they ran out that night. Again another spot on execution with no fuss and great ingredients.
My partner in crime picked the local seafood bouillabaisse (RM 25) which is served with grilled white fish, clams, squid & prawns in lightly spiced seafood soup with pasta & sourdough bun. A comforting dish if you’re looking for something lighter. Also their sourdough bun was actually very good as well.
carrot cake, chocolate tart, fruits in ice, Ahong
We rounded up dinner with carrot cake (RM 10) and chocolate tart (RM 12), and were also served Grub’s signature fresh fruits in tear-drop ice that is on the house.
Overall it was a great no-fuss dining experience. We ended up spending another couple hours chatting with Ahong until his staffs lowered the shop grill half way. Fantastic night and will definitely go again.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly the go-to person you’d expect when it comes to the latest reviews of the hottest or the most hipster-ish cafe. In fact, I almost actively not review cafes, mostly because every other bloggers do it, and I’m more the bak kut teh and street food kinda guy.
Seraph Awaken, Klang
Well, sometimes those paths crossed, like how we ended up at one of the more interesting cafes in all of Klang Valley, right here at bak kut teh country, by the name of Seraph Awaken.
Seraph Awaken is located right across from Teck Teh, the oldest bkt joint in all of Malaysia. Like most shops around the old Klang train station area, this place has an ambiance that takes you back to the 80s, I was trying to find a radiofusion box on the wall, but alas, there wasn’t one.
ice drip coffee
What they have though, is a good selection of hand brew coffee with a good selection of beans sourced from around the globe. There are beans from Honduras, Ethiopia, India, El Savador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Columbia priced at RM 12-18 per cup.
Alternatively, there’s machine brew coffee like where you’d find anywhere – espresso, latte, americano, cappuccino, etc from RM 7-11.
coffee cube latte
The most popular choices here are those from their signature series – hibiscus coffee, Roselle coffee, coffee cube latte, and ice drip coffee.
For the afternoon, I tried their coffee cube latte, a glass of ice cubes made from coffee with a serving of chilled milk. The result is a an iced latte experience that can only be enjoyed slowly, which is quite fitting for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
hand brewed Columbian
If you’re looking for an afternoon of coffee that’s not of your usual espresso variety, head over to Klang and give this place a visit.
A couple days ago we were lucky enough to be one of the first batches of people to be fortunate enough to have a taste of authentic Sicilian cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton KL by the award winning Guest Chef Lino Sauro from Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare in Singapore.
This event happens from March 14-18, 2017 so you may still have a chance to participate in the last few sessions if you catch this article early enough; or of course, you can head to Singapore and visit the good chef at his home turf.
The Library at Ritz Carlton KL
The dinner happened at The Library, a dining space that has an ambiance not unlike an extensive classy private library, complete with collection of books with topics ranging from film to art and travel. We were there for fine Sicilian food this time, so I’m afraid the books will have to wait for next round.
a bit of tidbit & bread prior to dinner
We started the night with a glass of sparkling wine, some bread, and a pre-dinner amuse-bouche of salmon with caviar which I thought was perfect to get us ready for what’s coming next.
For this first session of Sicilian dinner, we were also lucky enough to be joined by His Excellency Mario Sammartino, the ambassador of Italy to Malaysia.
amuse-bouche – Ostrica
Then came the first course – Ostrica, or oyster with sherry vinegar jelly, wasabi chips, and Avruga caviar. This amuse-bouche was perfect in opening up the appetite with its refreshing taste and subtle sweetness from the oyster that is perfectly balanced with the slight salty flavor from caviar. Usage of wasabi showcase Chef Lino’s boldness in using contemporary technique and ingredients.
Sanfeletto conegliano valdobbiadene prosecco superior docg was the accompanying wine.
appetiser – Polipo
Appetizer was Polipo, or charred citrus glazed octopus, risone, capsicum, sun dried tomato aioli, chilli, and pistachio pesto.
At the first glance, I thought we were having risotto, but as it turned out it was risone, or a rice shaped pasta that was much smoother, having a more controlled taste and texture that complimented the stronger tasting octopus well.
Vigneti zabu grillo terre siciliane igt was served with this seafood dish.
entree – Capellini con Aracosta
Then came entree, in the form of Capellini con Aracosta, or angel hair pasta, lobster, seafood, and carrot.
This is a deceptively simple looking dish that is again packed with the sweetness of what the Mediterranean sea has to offer. Lobster tail & angel hair pasta are two ingredients I enjoyed, and this combination did not disappoint.
Cecchi orvieto classico toscana doc would be the accompanying Sicilian wine.
main course 1 – Manzo Australiano
There were two choices of main course.
Manzo Australiano would be the Australian wagyu with morel mushrooms and horseradish sauce. Perfectly executed with the meat in the overused “melt in your mouth” texture, but that’s the best description I could give. The sauce was thick, strong, and go surprisingly well with the red meat (this coming from someone who loves his beef with only salt & pepper).
Wine pairing – mazzei zisola sicilia doc
main course 2 – Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo
Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo, or the Signature Gattopardo Seafood Stew, would be the other equally worthy option. The stew is packed with several types of shellfish, prawn, as well as fish fillet. This stew is perfect in a cold rainy day, or any day actually.
Dessert was a unique interpretation of Sicilian Ricotta Cheese Cake, or Cassata by Chef Lino. The deconstructed dessert was a sweet treat with some strong sourish berries that wakens up the senses a bit, which I thought was nice. We also had some chocolates to go with coffee to end the session.
Sicilian wine pairing option available
This specially curated Sicilian course dinner is priced at MYR 250 with an option of wine pairing at MYR 375 per person. Dinner is served from 7 pm but only available until 18th March 2017.
Jacob’s Creek has a bit of a special place in my heart, for the fact that one of the first wine events I’ve ever attended back in 2009 was hosted by this very brand, so when I got the invitation for Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Wine Dinner last month, I immediately made plans to be part of the launch.
Jacob’s Creek double barrel wine dinner, the menu
The introduction for this special Double Barrel blend was held at Eight Gourmet Gala, with a rather big set up attended by media, celebrities, and people who has a bit of online real estate such as yours truly.
Brand Ambassador, Jenny Rothenberg was also present to explain what this whole “double barrel” is all about.
To put it simply, the wine (Double Barrel Shiraz & Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon) is matured traditionally in French and American oak barrels, before finishing it in old whiskey barrels, giving them a more complex palate.
pan seared French foie gras, Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz
Anyway, to the dinner.
We started out with pan seared French foie gras, paired with Jacob’s Creek sparkling chardonnay pinot noir, the citrus and toasted cashew flavors of chardonnay marrying the fresh bread crust characteristic of pinot noir complimented the richness of pan seared foie gras perfectly. Most certainly a good start to the night.
white truffle pumpkin potage, wine barrel vs whisky barrel
Second course was the white truffle pumpkin potage, a thick soup that tastes like a blend of pumpkin with a hint of white truffle, which, to be honest, was not particularly very exciting for me. It was OK, but not among the best soups I’ve tried.
Next came the entree of smoke turkey drumstick, we had it with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz and Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz. I thought the meat was handled very well, tender, juicy, and extremely smokey to a point of being spicy, which may not suit everyone, I liked it though.
That complimented the sweet red fruits & dark chocolate palate of Shiraz well. The direct comparison between the two Shiraz showcased differences due to additional treatment of finishing the wine in whisky barrel. Most agreed the double barrel version is a tad smoother.
pan seared Wagyu with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Souvignon
Then came my favorite dish of the night – pan seared Wagyu (marbling grade 9). The meat is done medium rare with very little distractions in terms of finishing. It was positively satisfying, with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Souvignon doing an excellent job as accompanying side kick. A good red with a fine piece of meat never disappoint.
poached lobster with truffle garlic oil
Another option for main was poached lobster with truffle garlic oil, a fine looking dish but unfortunately suffered slightly from being overly cooked in this instance. The seafood would have served as a good companion to the Cabernet Souvignon otherwise.
premium chocolate & French macaron for dessert, bok & sycookie
We ended the night with a simple dessert of chocolate & French macaron, a sweet ending to a pretty special night hosted by Jacob’s Creek. Looking forward to the next event and thanks for the invite!
If there’s a Japanese food I have to choose to go with cold beer, there’ll be no doubt in my mind that it has to be yakitori, so when I got the invitation to review the offering at Torii at TTDI thanks to Kirin Ichiban, I was obviously more than happy to oblige.
After all, a premium Japanese beer with one of the higher end yakitori restaurants, you’d be foolish to not do it.
Kirin Ichiban promotion at Torii, TTDI
The reason we were here was to try the pairing of Kirin Ichiban with the dishes. Kirin is made with 100% malt, and brewed with an innovative “First Press” method by extracting the malt liquid from only the first press. Perhaps a little bit like “extra virgin olive oil” (I may be a bit off here), this is what contributes to the smoothness and premium taste.
At Torii, there’s also a promotion going on every Wednesday and Thursday night, with a glass of Kirin going for only RM 10.
veal chunk, squid tentacles, and crispy cheese beef yakitori
The restaurant is located at the inner, slightly quieter part of TTDI that isn’t plagued with crazy parking problems like some of the busier areas a couple minutes away. It is simple, elegant, and exude a very classy, fine dining feel without having a menu that is, I think, quite accessible to many of us.
Like its name suggests, yakitori is the speciality here at Torii. We tried wings (RM 8.90), squid tentacles (RM 10.90), sweet potato (RM 5.90), upper thigh (RM 6.90), rock lobster (RM 11.90), crispy cheese beef (RM 12.90), and veal chunk (RM 15.90). None of these disappoint, but if I have to pick, upper thigh, rock lobster, and cheese beef would be those you should try.
If you’re having these with beer, the chef will usually make the yakitori just a tad saltier, which really enhances the tasting experience, and Kirin with it’s crisp and refreshing taste provides excellent contrast to the strong tasting yakitori.
If you like something soupy, go for the broiled lobster chowder with crab croutons (RM 18.90) that also prepared with porcini mushroom, shallot, and olive oil. I’d love to have this on rainy days.
triple peaks – uni, amoebi, toro sushi
Perhaps surprisingly, cold beer goes rather well as a stand-in for green tea when paired with sushi. The triple peaks (RM 26.90) is a plate of three premium sushi with uni (sea urchin), amoebi (sweet shrimp), and toro (tuna belly). For under RM 30 this is not only awesome, but also provides very good value for the ingredients provided.
Then there’s Autumn risotto (RM 27.90), a deceptively simple dish with crab claw, egg yolk & asparagus. Beautifully presented and equally satisfying in the taste department. This dish would not disappoint any Italian food connoisseur.
wings, avocado de la mer, sweet potato, green tea creme brulee, nutella gyoza
Other dishes we sampled include the bonded unagi & foie gras (RM 29.90), kampachi uni jalapeno (RM 34.90), and avocado de la mar (RM 19.90). These aren’t exactly yakitori nor are they strictly traditional Japanese dishes, but they went so well with Kirin and left us wanting for more even as our stomach was filling up to the brim.
Of course, no fine dining meal is complete without desserts. For this we had green tea creme brulee with white chocolate lavender ice cream (RM 24.90) and nutella gyoza with chocolate ganache & whisky raisin ice cream (RM 24.90). I like the creativity in nutella gyoza, and while the desserts may not stand out as much as their yakitori and other delicacies, they were certainly more than decent.
Yen & hubby, KY & Haze enjoying some awesome food and Kirin Ichiban
If you love yakitori, a fan of beer, or just generally love some good food in fine dining environment without breaking the bank, this is definitely one of the places worth checking out.