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Nook at Aloft KL is a pretty funky all-day dining restaurant that serves international and Asian cuisine.

The restaurant set up reminds me of those futuristic movies back in the 80s, little squarish pods that has a bench, chairs, and even come complete with artificial turf. Among the three Starwood hotels at KL Sentral area, this one is definitely the most hip.

Nook at Aloft, playful & hip
Nook at Aloft, playful & hip

Earlier this month, together with a couple other reviewers, we were invited to sample the MIGF (Malaysian International Gourmet Festival) menu at Nook.

MIGF is about bringing the best out of the world class chefs who are already working at the restaurant (instead of one off “import” from overseas). It is about paying a little extra to get a more pleasant fine dining experience with quality ingredients and first class service.

At Nook, Chef Steven Seow flexes his creative mind and came up with this very interesting set of dishes. The festival runs throughout the entire October, 2013 (yes, this blog post is way late.)

smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit, Villa Maria Chardonnay, NZ
smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit, Villa Maria Chardonnay, NZ

The starting dish is smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit with pomegranate and yogurt sphere. A two part dish that is served with the soya sauce on the little plastic drip thingy.

The sushi rice is coated with a fine layer of ebiko, and the scallop prepared with method inspired  by umai (a traditional Sarawakian seafood preparation method, I had it over Mabul/Sipadan trip thanks to Irene). Duck confit with yogurt sphere provided a different texture and savoury taste, I particularly liked the bit of fried duck skin on top.

We had Villa Maria Chardonnay from New Zealand to start the dinner. Lovely pairing.

Sarawak lobster and ablone laksa, Leffe Blonde
Sarawak lobster and ablone laksa, Leffe Blonde

Next up was the Sarawak lobster & abalone laksa with organic soba noodle. This was a dish unlike any I’ve tried, a sort of traditional hawker dish meet fine dining.

The soup is sourced all the way from Sarawak to ensure that it was authentic and just right. Lobster and abalone definitely provided a huge dose of luxury to this dish, and I thought the use of soba noodle was a clever touch to lighten up the dish a little bit too. Some of us asked for extra soup cos it was so delicious!

A glass of cold Leffe Blonde went well with this spicy dish.

p/s: the hawker version at Bangsar is one of my favourites.

wagyu beef cheek rendang, Madfish Chiraz, Australia
wagyu beef cheek rendang, Madfish Chiraz, Australia

Continuing with the same philosophy, the next dish was Wagyu beef cheek rendang with farm vegetables, archar jelatah, and turmeric coconut rice.

Last I had something similar to this dish was the big lunch box at EEST, Westin back in 2009, and this definitely brought back the memory. The beef cheek was superb and as per Wagyu standard, super tender and flavourful. The turmeric coconut rice carries a nice and not overly strong fragrance, with two quails egg sitting on top of some sambal should you want to spice it up a bit.

Red goes well with beef, so we had Madfish Chiraz from Australia to wash down the meat.

Chef Steven Seow with the 8 treasure ice kacang
Chef Steven Seow with the 8 treasure ice kacang

Concluding the dinner was another playful invention by Chef Steven Seow – the 8 treasure ice kacang. Basically shaved ice with 8 different ingredients such as lychee, blackberries, nangka, peanuts and so forth with 5 different syrup served on the side in syringes. Mix and match it the way you want and be responsible if you ruined your own dessert.

We had fun with this but my advice is to mix it up quick cos the ice tends to melt and create a hardened outer layer if you spend too much time taking photos.

me with Trixha & other food reviewers at Nook, Aloft KL
me with Trixha & other food reviewers at Nook, Aloft KL

The menu is priced at RM 280+ per set for what you see here. The version without alcohol is RM 180+ per person, and for those with smaller stomach, you can go light for RM 160+, which exclude the wagyu dish but does come with a glass of Chardonnay. Every set comes with coffee or tea too.

I’d want to check out Nook’s normal menu too.

Aloft KL map

Address:
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral
No 5, Jalan Stesen Sentral,
50470 Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.13295, 101.68619
Tel: 03 2723 1188

A dinner food review during this month of crazy traffic is certainly not something I particularly welcome, but when Mediteca asked for us to sample their new pork friendly menu, I couldn’t say no.

As it turned out, that was a wise decision. Also, traffic after 7:30 was so great we got to Mediteca at Fraser Place, Jalan Perak from PJ in only about 25 minutes.

Mediteca at Fraser Place, KL
Mediteca at Fraser Place, KL

Mediteca resides within Fraser Place Luxury Apartment, directly opposite Life Centre across Jalan Perak, just a stone’s throw away from Thai Club/Beach Club. Underground parking is available at reasonable rate.

The restaurant exudes a classy and warm ambiance, interior deco reminds me of movies settings in Europe. The restaurant is separated from the apartment’s common area with half see-thru partition, giving it a deceptively spacious interior. There’s also alfresco dining area for those who smokes, and a loft that I presume makes perfect venue for a private event.

bread with some shaved cheese to start the night
bread with some shaved cheese to start the night

Explained by the passionate Chef owner Riccardo Ferrarotti, Mediteca set out of excite diners with a flair for true Southern European gastronomy. The menu includes tapas, starters, and mains using pork as ingredients. Music to my ears.

As with most European meals, we started out with some bread, accompanied by shaved cheese, which is always a good prelude to what is coming next.

stewed Spanish sausage with herbs & fried & baked egg with spinach, pancetta and besciamelle sauce
stewed Spanish sausage with herbs;
fried & baked egg with spinach, pancetta and besciamelle sauce

We started out with Chorizo – Stewed Spanish Sausage with Herbs and Garlic (RM16), one of the many tapas with pork as the main ingredient on the new menu. The tomato based gravy thick and flavorful, and the chorizo definitely carry a strong porky taste that should please any pork lover.

Fried & Baked Egg with Spinach, Pancetta and Besciamelle Sauce (RM22) is something I haven’t ever tried before. A concoction that seems almost like a mixed between Chinese style spinach soup with a texture similar to steamed & fried egg. It was rather interesting though I find myself having to get used to it a little bit.

Jamon and Salami - serrano ham, salami, bread & cheese
Jamon and Salami – serrano ham, salami, bread & cheese

Jamon and Salami (RM 88) was one of my favorite dishes. Prepared by the main man himself, Chef Riccardo slices the salami and smoked meat from the chiller, then hand picked cheese, fig marmalade, tomato chutney, balsamic baby onions and pickles to go with the meat. It was glorious combination and one that I miss most. I can have this everyday!

marinated veal carpaccio, stewed rice with pork, beef & lamb sauce
marinated veal carpaccio, stewed rice with pork, beef & lamb sauce
stewed rice with pork, beef, and lamb sauce

While less sophisticated than the salami dish, Veal Carpaccio (RM38) was another dish that I really liked as well. The thinly sliced veal isn’t too different from high grade tuna or beef in texture, but has a very notificable difference in taste due the type of meat itself and the marinate (chamomile and juniper). Coupled with grilled artichokes and cheese, it was a very enjoyable dish.

Stewed rice with Pork, Beef and Lamb Sauce (RM30) was not entirely different from risotto. This Croatian dish packs quite a punch thanks to the three different meat presence.

Potato and Mushroom Gateau with poached egg, onion jam and bacon
Potato and Mushroom Gateau with poached egg, onion jam and bacon

For those who loves bacon, the Potato and Mushroom Gateau with poached egg, onion jam and bacon (RM28) is a must order. The bacon was crispy, the egg poached perfectly, and the bed of potato and mushroom gateau perfect as a compliment to the two contrasting main ingredients. Bacon oil and flowing egg yolk is a match made in gastronomy heaven.

pork ribs iwth "salsa verde" & potatoes
pork ribs with “salsa verde” & potatoes

For those who are tired of those overly strong tasting pork ribs, here’s a version that might fit your bill. The Iberico Pork Ribs with Salsa Verde & Potatoes (RM78) is quite a bit lighter and carries a hint of citrus influenced flavor. I find myself somewhat partial to this dish, but those who like it light would probably enjoy this more than me.

dinner is never complete with desserts
dinner is never complete with desserts

We tried two different desserts to end the meal, Creme Caramel that was tastefully served in a sardin can, and the Chocolate Gateau, a mixed of 70% chocolate with 30% cream. Choose the former if you want something refreshing, and the gateau if you like it rich and chocolatey. Both would not disappoint.

 

map to Fraser Place, KL

Address:
Mediteca
Lot 163, Fraser Place
Jalan Perak
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.15427, 101.70891
Tel: 03-2181 2426
Web: http://www.meditecawinetapas.com/
HoursMondays-Saturdays, 11.30am till late night, closed on Sundays

One of the trickiest issues pertaining opening a restaurant must be choosing a name for it. At The Steakhouse at Changkat Bukit Bintang, they took the easy way out and gave it the most straight forward name there is.

Fortunately, making up for what is lacking in the name, The Steakhouse manages to express pretty good creativity in the dishes we sampled last week over a food review session. We were left with a rather positive note.

The Steakhouse at The Whisky Bar, Changkat Bukit Bintang
The Steakhouse at The Whisky Bar, Changkat Bukit Bintang

The Steakhouse is located at perhaps the busiest street at night in KL that is Changkat Bukit Bintang. With a capacity of 40 pax, the restaurant is tastefully decorated and provide good privacy for discrete couple dining while able to accommodate slightly larger groups as well.

Service is swift with knowledgeable staffs, and I really like the ambiance there. Of course, we were on an invited food review, so your mileage might vary in this aspect.

Anyway, lets get on with the food!

deluxe chilled seafood mountain
deluxe chilled seafood mountain – lobster, oyster, tiger prawns, tuna sashimi

The session started off with a bang. The Deluxe Chilled Seafood Mountain (RM 158) is a pretty impressive dish, recommended for 2 pax sharing (I think you can easily share this with 4 pax), this big bowl of gastronomic dream comes with half lobster (Maine), tiger prawns, fresh oyters, and tuna sashimi. The seafood were fresh and the lobster especially delicious. Three types of condiments came with it, but they’re plenty good enough to consume as is.

beef carpaccio, shrimp cocktail, air dried Spanish beef ham
beef carpaccio, shrimp cocktail, air dried Spanish beef ham

Following the seafood mountain, we have a host of other appetizers, most of which make excellent beer/wine/whisky companion. We had some red wine to go with these.

Beef carpaccio (RM 32) came with capers and thin slices of parmesan cheese, the taste reminds me of good quality tuna, and the portion is ample to go around.

Shrimp cocktail (RM 28) came with three very good size tiger prawns. I must say that perhaps the oversized prawns dictates that they be cooked more thoroughly, and thus the texture was a bit tougher than what I expected. I probably prefer it to be smaller.

Air dried Spanish beef ham (RM 38) had me fooled, for a moment I thought it was my beloved Parma ham with rock melon. Excellent pork free substitute, those who never try Parma ham due to preference or religion restriction must order this dish.

pan fried duck foie gras, escargot
pan fried duck foie gras, escargot

Pan fried duck foie gras (RM 42) was executed with perfection, while not from the (often higher quality) goose, I really find no fault in this dish. Ciki agrees.

Escargot (RM 32) comes in half a dozen per portion and baked with garlic herb butter. Those who sampled find it commendable.

caesar salad with duck breast, scottish smoked salmon, baked portobello mushroom, lobster claw
caesar salad with duck breast, scottish smoked salmon, baked portobello mushroom, lobster claw

Caesar salad (RM 26) here is a slightly more luxury affair than usual with the addition of smoked duck breast. The addition of meat really brings out the flavor of this otherwise rather plain salad.

Scottish smoked salmon (RM 32) isn’t any different from what you usually get from Japanese restaurants, though I find myself looking for wasabi and soya sauce, which is logically absent from a place like this.

I absolutely love the huge portobello mushroom (RM 26), baked with spinach and seafood. What I really want is someone to start making portobello burger with one single massive mushroom as the patty like what I had back in Cincinnati yonks ago, instead of the common version here with many tiny mushrooms.

mashed, chips, and sauteed potatoes
mashed, chips, and sauteed potatoes

Steak comes with a choice of potato on the side. At Steakhouse KL, the choice is between mash, fries, and sauteed potato. Pick either and you won’t be disappointed, but if you chose the fries, you’re going to wonder if this was the recipe McDonald’s had when you are a little kid, they’re fantastic!

chilled & aged Black Angus rib-eye, tenderloin, and striploin, medium rare
chilled & aged Black Angus rib-eye, tenderloin, and striploin, medium rare

And finally, after all sampling almost all the appetizers on the menu, we moved to the beef. Steakhouse serves chilled & aged Black Angus, and chilled Australian grain fed beef. The cuts available are medallion, tenderloin, rib-eye, striploin, and T-bone (only the latter). These are priced from RM 68 (grain fed striploin) to RM 108 (750g of grain fed T-bone).

We sampled tenderloin, rib-eye, and either striploin or medallion. The meat were perfectly prepared and properly rested before being served. It was juicy and full of flavor. I had quite a bit despite stomach being rather filled with the appetizers.

For those who likes their beef with sauce, there’s black pepper, red wine, mushroom, bearnaise, and BBQ sauce to go with. On top of that, there are also five different types of sea salt to season your steak with.

classic Italian tiramisu, baked cheese cake, ice cream, cheese platter
classic Italian tiramisu, baked cheese cake, ice cream, cheese platter

By the time we finished the beef, I was stuffed, but of course, the girls always have a different stomach for desserts, so our hosts brought us some.

Classic tiramisu looked messy but passed the taste test with flying colors. Baked cheese cake is suitably rich. Ice cream came in tall cocktail glasses with at least 5 variations to choose from. There’s also a decent cheese platter for those who insist on another product from cow.

chocolate fondue at the Steakhouse KL
chocolate fondue at the Steakhouse KL

Last but not least, there’s also more than decent chocolate fondue for that touch of romanticism, perfect for those who brought a lady who they want to impress. Reminds me of that time when I did the same at KLCC, sadly that place is defunct.

we certainly had a great time at the Steakhouse
we certainly had a great time at the Steakhouse

We went away rather impressed at this outlet in Changkat. Competition at this street is always tough, but I believe the food here speaks for itself and believe that it’ll be one of the longer serving tenant here.

map to the Steakhouse KL

Address:
The Steakhouse KL
No.48, Changkat Bukit Bintang,
50200 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.14748, 101.70822
Tel: 03-2143 2268
Hours: 5pm to 11pm daily

Senja, which means dusk in Malay, is an Italian restaurant at The Saujana that oversees the lush green golf course and enjoys a spectacular sunset view with its alfresco dining deck by the side of the pond. I was invited to sample the MIGF menu created by their new head chef from Sicily – chef Filippo Giunta.

Senja at The Saujana, classy dining hall
Senja at The Saujana, classy dining hall

The Saujana is a little different from most hotels in Klang Valley. Instead of everything in one giant building, it is spread out amongst the greenery. There are shaded walk ways from the main building to the different restaurants located by various ponds and gardens, giving the place a very relaxing, holiday ambiance.

The resort is fast becoming one of my favorites, stepping into the resort and immediately you’re in a completely different world of the hustle and bustle of KL even though you’re just half an hour away from the city.

bread with olive oil & such, and the amuse-bouche of the day
bread with olive oil & such, and the amuse-bouche of the day

Anyway, lets get back to food. The MIGF menu is priced at RM 110/140/180 for 2/3/4 course dinner, or RM 220/280/360 with wine pairing. The menu is available the whole of October 2012.

We started out the dinner with some freshly baked Italian bread and a pretty tasty amuse-bouche (pre first course bite size food) of the day in the form of a deep fried risotto ball. Crunchy skin with the flavorful filling that carries a hint of mushroom, I liked it.

sparkling water, and Prosecco Cascine 7 NV
sparkling water, and Prosecco Cascine 7 NV

The first course is a choice of Sicilian Brood Bean Soup with Dil and Sun-dried Tomato or Sardine Beccafico Style, Rocket Salad, Fennel and Orange Reduction. The wine with these dishes is a glass of Prosecco Coscine 7 N/V.

first course - sardine beccafico style, or Sicilian brood bean soup
first course – sardine beccafico style, or Sicilian brood bean soup

The sardine is apparently a Sicilian signature dish, the cleaned sardine is rolled up with breadcrumbs, pinoli (pine nuts), passolina, sugar, and lemon juice. It was one of the more interesting dishes I’ve tried lately. The rocket salad gives it a good balance, but the orange reduction did need a bit of getting used to.

This, or the savory brood bean soup, were both quite a big serving for fine dining dishes, I’m not complaining tho.

second dish - risotto with cream of pumpkin, or seabass tortelli with seafood ragout
second dish – risotto with cream of pumpkin, or seabass tortelli with seafood ragout

The second course is a choice between Risotto with Cream of Pumpkin, Burratina Cheese and Fresh Sage, or Seabass Tortelli with Seafood Ragout and Porcini Foam.

The risotto was prepared al dente, which is well, the proper and only way to have risotto that’s sometimes misunderstood as being undercooked by less familiar diners. It was excellent and  just appropriate to have some pumpkin this Halloween season.

The seabass tortelli lets us check off the skills of Chef Filippo in handling pasta, it was another dish we enjoyed throughly and definitely went well with the second glass of wine – Banfi Le Rime IGT 2010, a Pinot Grigio with a nice balance and clean finish.

3rd course - wrapped silver cod with aubergine, veal ossobuco Milanese style (or stuffed chicken breast)
3rd course – wrapped silver cod with aubergine, veal ossobuco Milanese style,
Banfi Le Rime IGT 2010

Moving on to the third course, you get to choose from a choice of the following dishes:

  • Veal Ossobuco Milanese Style, Saffron Risotto and Sicilian Gremolata
  • Wrapped Silver Cod Fish with Aubergine, Onion, Tomato ‘Cipollata’ and Basil Oil
  • Stuffed Chicken Breast with Pistachio and Mint, Sicilian Caponata, Rosemary Roast Baby Potato and Red Wine Reduction
There’s a choice of Vigne Regali Principesse Gavia di Gavi DOCG 2010 or Banfi Chianti DOCG 2010. In another word, white, or red wine.

the huge chunk of bone marrow from the veal was irresistible
the huge chunk of bone marrow from the veal was irresistible 

The fish was prepared impeccably and a work of art. The very thin aubergine gives the cod an extra dimension, and the onion and tomato base sauce offered a perfect compliment.

The veal though, is more of a straight forward meat dish that is bold and flavorful. The explosion of savory taste was a welcoming change of pace, and that chunk of bone marrow? Heaven, which is why it deserves a full size picture by itself. 😀

desserts - chef Filippo's Sicilian cassata and orange granita, or Szechuan pepper panna cotta, Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Vin Santo DOCG 2004
desserts – chef Filippo’s Sicilian cassata and orange granita, or Szechuan pepper panna cotta,
Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Vin Santo DOCG 2004

Dessert proved to be another platform for Chef Filippo to showcase his skills. Both choices were beautiful.

Szechuan Pepper Panna Cotta, Chocolate Sauce and Raspberry Sorbet is perhaps one of the most interesting desserts I’ve had all year. The panna cotta carries an undeniable hint of peppery taste that’s not something you’d expect in a dessert, but it does work very well in a, well, very unfamiliar way.

Chef Filippo’s Sicilian Cassata and Orange Granita is more “traditional” sort of dessert but one that’s not shabby either.  The taste is close to ice cream cake, and the icy citrus in the shot glass provided an good cleansing to the palette.

We were served Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Vin Santo DOCG 2004 to end the dinner, a very good dessert wine that is perfect for a sweet ending.

Ee Laine, Azimy from The Saujana, and Chef Filippo Giunta
Ahfa, Azimy from The Saujana, and Chef Filippo Giunta

If you’re up to some Italian food that’s true to the origin, do give chef Filippo at Senja a try. I’m quite sure this capable chef from Sicily is here to stay.

map to Saujana Kuala Lumpur

Address:
Senja
Saujana Resort, Jalan Lapangan Terbang SAAS,
40150 Selangor
GPS3.108849, 101.578474
Tel03-7843 1234
emailinfo@thesaujana.com

First, a little snippet from wiki about Napa Valley:

In 1965, Napa Valley icon Robert Mondavi broke away from his family’s Charles Krug estate to found his own. This was the first new large scale winery to be established in the valley since before prohibition. Following the establishment of the Mondavi estate, the number of wineries in the valley continued to grow, as did the region’s reputation.

Travis Brown, Regional Director for Asia for Robert Mondavi wines
Travis Brown, Regional Director for Asia for Robert Mondavi wines

In addition, Robert Mondavi Winery also perfected the dry oak-aged Sauvignon Blanc and labeled it as “Fumé Blanc” in 1966. This was an unpopular variety in California at the time, but the wine proved to be a success.

In time, Robert Mondavi successfully developed a number of premium wines that earned the respect of connoisseurs and vintners alike.

tomato, cheese, bread, calamari, simple yet utterly delicious
tomato, cheese, bread, calamari, simple yet utterly delicious

A few weeks ago, we were invited to the winemaker’s dinner at Favola, Le Meridien KL.

Classy Italian food prepared by one of my favorite chefs – Chef Antoine, and pairing them with some fine wines from Robert Mondavi, what is there not to like?

Fumé Blanc, Robert Mondavi's version of Sauvignon Blanc
Fumé Blanc, Robert Mondavi’s version of Sauvignon Blanc

We sampled Chardonnay sourced from the cool growing regions of the southern Napa Valley with its rich and complex taste; Pinot Noir, a bright and vivacious wine; the full body Merlot; the soft and silky Cabernet Sauvignon; and of course, the Fumé Blanc.

the good chefs at Le Meridien KL, and David Stephen
David Stephen and the good chefs at Le Meridien KL

As for food, there were the usual arrays of excellent pasta, tomato, cheese, pizza, bread, risotto, and of course, the best freshly made Belgium waffle ever.

Though my knowledge in wine is still amateur at best, I did learn a few things after this event, and would at least know which wine to choose from without being disappointed. 😀

map to Le Meridien

Address:
Favola
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
Kuala Lumpur 50470

GPS: 3.135631,101.686476
Tel: 03-2263 7888