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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Category / Damansara

I don’t do a lot of invited reviews these days, mostly due to work commitments and staying quite a fair bit away from the city. However, every now and then there are something intriguing enough that warrant the time and effort.

The invitation for Festive Menu at Babe Gastro was one of such events.

Babe at Clearwater, Damansara Height KL
Babe at Clearwater, Damansara Height KL

Located at the top floor of Clearwater at Damansara Height, Babe is a tastefully decorated cozy restaurant with a perhaps one of the best views of the city. There’s the infinity pool, an unobstructed post-card worthy view of KL, neat looking cutlery imported from Spain, and even air conditioned alfresco dining area.

What’s there not to like except? Well, there’s the rather confusing elevator system where you have to select which floor to go BEFORE getting in.

refreshing mocktail, Chef Jeff Ramsey
refreshing mocktail, Chef Jeff Ramsey

Babe is headed by Chef Jeff Ramsey, a Michelin starred chef who previously headed the Tapas Molecular Bar at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo.

The menu here is a unique creation of Jeff Ramsey using a lot of Japanese & other international ingredients while infusing local flavors. Some of these are coined “Japas”, or Japanese style tapas.

While “fusion” has a bit of a negative connotation, I love chefs who aren’t afraid to experiment and push the boundary in culinary space. Without these trailblazers, we’d forever be stuck with “traditional” dishes. What’s the fun in that?

Babe Gastro invited us to try out Michelin star Chef Jeff Ramsey’s unconventional approach to Malaysian flavors with the unveil of their new tasting menu with lots of Japanese ingredients. The 12 course menu includes dishes such as foie gras and jackfruit, snow crab donburi with sambal, and dinosaur egg. Priced at RM 300++ per pax. Available from 26/5 to 30/6 . @babegastro #babegastro #kyeats #foodreview #japas

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The Festive menu is perhaps the most unique buka puasa meal you can get this Ramadhan season. Priced at RM 300++ per pax, the 12-course dinner is available from 26/5/2017 to 30/6/2017. If you are tired with the same Selera Kampung buffet, this would be a place worthy of your consideration.

"down the rabbit hole", Foiegras and Jackfruit
“down the rabbit hole”, Foiegras and Jackfruit

We started the night with “down the rabbit hole”, a shot of drink that tastes like chicken rice, or roti canai, or something that’s completely unfamiliar. An interesting start, and certainly a precursor as to what to be expected for dinner.

The first course was Foiegras and Jackfruit, finely chopped jackfruit in a crispy shell and foie gras proved to be a good combination and served as a perfect start to open up our appetite.

Onsen Chowder
Onsen Chowder

Then came Onsen Chowder, a potato mousse with smoked coconut, 63c egg (molecular gastronomy magic), and chives. It was actually unexpectedly good! The smoked coconut, or what Celina the “top babe” described as coconut bacon brought the dish a very unique crispy contrast to the texture of the potato mousse.

Laska Injection, Mango and Curry Sphere
Laksa Injection Canapé , Mango & Curry Sphere

Then there was Laksa Injection Canapé and Mango & Curry Sphere.

The former is like mouthful of my favorite ingredients in a bowl of curry laksa – prawn & soup, though perhaps a slightly bigger syringe that contains those soup would make it even better.

Mango & Curry Sphere utilizes another Molecular gastronomy technique called “spherification”, utilizing calcium chloride or some other voodoo in making an eggyolk lookalike sphere that explodes in your mouth with the tangy & spicy taste of the liquid ingredients within. Quite an experience.

Crispy Chicken Terrine, Marinated Roast Kabayaki Ikan Keli
Crispy Chicken Terrine, Marinated Roast Kabayaki Ikan Keli

Next were two of the more creative dishes that may looks and taste almost exactly alike what they are supposed to be, but made up of entirely different ingredients that is halal.

Crispy Chicken Terrine looks and taste like a good piece of charsiu, but actually made up of up to 40 layers of crispy rendered chicken skin (sans the fatty part) and charsiu sauce, while Marinated Roast Kabayaki Ikan Keli is their interpretation of bak kwa, but instead of pork/chicken, catfish is the main ingredient.

I’d have never guessed the ingredients in a million year.

Prawn and Curry Leaf Ice Cream, Manga Crab, Snow Crab Donburi with Sambal
Prawn and Curry Leaf Ice Cream, Manga Crab, Snow Crab Donburi with Sambal

Next up was Prawn and Curry Leaf Ice Cream, which was quite a unique combo, you don’t have a seafood ingredient with ice cream very often.

Manga Crab is perhaps one of the more “normal” dish, but they actually print the sauce on the plate manga style, and serve with coriander sauce.

Snow Crab Donburi with Sambal is basically just as what the name suggests, a small portion of snow crab rice bowl, but with sambal and Dashi jelly to give it that extra dimension. To be honest, I may enjoy this without the sambal just a tad more, maybe.

Smoked Chicken Percik, Stanbroke Farms Striploin with Japanese Sambal
Smoked Chicken Percik, Stanbroke Farms Striploin with Japanese Sambal

If you’re still hungry by this time, well, afraid not. The Smoked Chicken Percik is a whole ayam kampung to be shared by two. Four hour was spent preparing the chicken, and the result was a prefect tenderness and flavor, definitely one of the benefits of utilizing molecular methods in traditional dishes.

Stanbroke Farms Striploin with Japanese Sambal was another welcoming meat base dish which I really enjoyed, especially with the accompanying Yuzu Kosho Sambal.

Dinosaur Egg
Dinosaur Egg

Then came the twelveth course – another playful dish by the name of Dinosaur Egg, a  dessert made from DaunKaduk, Yoghurt, Tropical Fruit, and Nutty “Birds Nest”. Crack it open with your spoon and viola, an egg looking thing that by now, you should know it tastes entirely not like an egg, but a sweet concoction that’s apt to end the night.

map to Clearwater, Damansara Height

Address:
Babe Gastro
Level 11, Clearwater,
Jalan Changkat Semantan,
Bukit Damansara, KL
GPS: 3.152327, 101.666762
Tel 03.2095 8599
Web: babe.com.my

When it comes to foriegn cuisine, it is safe to say that the most popular of all out of South East Asia is that of our Northern neighbor – Thai. You can find a good bowl of tomyam most anywhere in the world.

For us in Malaysia, we had the good fortune of being able to indulge in some of the most authentic dishes Thailand has to offer thanks to our proximity and our shared history across the border.

Tigerlily at DC Mall
Tigerlily at DC Mall

This tradition continues at Tigerlily, one of the latest Thai restaurants located at DC Mall, the new spanking shopping complex located at Damansara Height, and we were lucky enough to get invited to sample some of their dishes.

To properly prep for the restaurant, the local chefs were sent to Thailand to sample and learn about the different dishes from its origin so they can be recreated at this outfit. Don’t let the interior decoration and plating style fools you, what you get here is not far from what you’ll find in some of the old school Thai restaurants.

3 layer coffee? Lemongrass? or classic Thai iced tea?
3 layer coffee? Lemongrass? or classic Thai iced tea?

To start the night, we ordered their Thai iced tea & iced coffee with gula melaka (RM 6.90) which looked stunning, but for those who liked it old school, their traditional Thai iced tea (RM 4.60) would be the one to go for. For those who like it plain & soothing, perhaps a glass of lemongrass drink (RM 3.50) would do the trick.

fried calamari, lemongrass satey
fried calamari, lemongrass satey

There’s no alcohol served here (they’re in process of obtaining halal certification), but the fried calamari & lemongrass satey (RM 9.90 for 5) really begs for a cold one. We particularly like the zesty homemade sauce that is served together with the squid.

four angle beans, steamed otak otak
four angled beans, steamed otak otak

Another snack we ordered was the steamed otak-otak (RM 5.90), it came in an aluminium cup similar to those you’d find holding larmaikai, but instead of chicken you’d have seafood in classic Thai otak fillings. I thought it was decent, though if I have to choose between this and regular Penang style otak-otak, the latter would be my pick.

We then proceed to main dishes to go with rice and started out with the veges.

First was four angled beans with peanuts (RM 9.90), a juicy and crunchy affair that’s fitting to open up one’s appetite.

stir fry kailan, spicy eggplant with dry shrimp
stir fry kailan, spicy eggplant with dry shrimp

The stir fry kailan (RM 12.90) here is a simple dish that’s not out of place from any ‘tai-chao’ restaurants around town. My favorite though, would be the spicy eggplant with dry shrimp (RM 14.90), really rich, savory, and comes with a kick, steamed rice is really compulsory with this.

tomyum seafood, Thai red curry chicken, Thai green curry prawn
tomyum kung, Thai red curry chicken, Thai green curry prawn

No Thai meal is complete without a good serving of tomyam, their tomyum kung (shrimp, RM 26.90) really packs a punch. You’d have to be a bit careful not to treat everything green here as scallions, for there are a lot of whole green chili padi in the mix, just the way a good bowl of tomyam should be.

The Thai red curry chicken (RM 15.90) is slightly less hardcore on the spicy scale, but it makes up for being creamy and flavorful. A decent interpretation of the dish in my opinion.

Then there’s the Thai green curry prawn (RM 26.90), served with generous amount of eggplant, this dish delivers a mix of seafood sweetness and the unique taste of green curry, I really enjoyed it (mostly cos eggplant is one of my favorite veges too.)

Thai grilled fish
Thai grilled fish

The Thai grilled fish (RM 46.90) was our final main dish of the night, and would be for you anyone who orders it as Tigerlily makes this from scratch when you order and it takes the longest amount of time to prepare.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t particularly find the dish impressive, and not to the fault of the chef or how they prepare this. Tilapia is quite a bland tasting fish and I find this classic Thai preparation method did not sufficiently add enough flavor to the fish. It was okay, if you love this street style fish, you’d like it here, otherwise I’d probably give it a miss. My favorite Thai fish dish is still the steamed siakap (which they also serve)

mango sticky rice, ice kacang, tub tim crob, cendol
mango sticky rice, ice kacang, tub tim crob, cendol

Then of course, we proceed to desserts.

We sampled their mango sticky rice (RM 9.90), ice kacang (RM 11.90), tub tim crob (red ruby, RM 7.00), cendol (RM 4.90), and banana fritters with ice cream (RM 12.90).

With the exception of the banana fritters, every dessert looked like a piece of art, the presentation is really stunning! Thankfully, they do taste the part as well.

I like how the cendol, ABC, and red ruby all uses the really fine shaven ice (sort of like those Korean style desserts) which makes the sweetness melt in your mouth that much quicker. Careful not to get brain freeze though.

banana fritters & friends we were with at the session
banana fritters & friends we were with at the session

If you haven’t find a reason to head to DC Mall, perhaps Tigerlily would be a good excuse.

map to DC Mall

Address:
Tigerlily
Damansara City Mall,
Lot LG 18 Lower Ground,
6, Jalan Damanlela,
50490 
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.146140, 101.661675
Tel03-2011 2912
Web: www.tigerlily.com.my

In my memory, the rustic row of shops by Jalan Batai is home to a couple old school kopitiam in an otherwise pretty luxurious residential area, but my memory of the place hasn’t been updated for a while. Batai Village now houses some of the more trendy restaurants in town, and the old Hock Lee has since became Ben’s Independent Grocer.

Progress I guess, and to be honest I think it is in a good way. There’s still a sense of close knit community presence, and they’ve even managed to retain many of the hawker stalls operating in the corner kopitiam, upgraded of course.

We were there at night on a promise of good Japanese premium steaks at Torii. As it turned out, the promise was delivered with excess.

Torii at Batai Village, Damansara Height
Torii at Batai Village, Damansara Height

I’ve talked about the excellent yakitori offered at Torii at TTDI previously, similar menu is offered here at Batai branch, but now with the addition of Japanese Premium Steaks, which is what we were there for.

I was told that the branch at TTDI is closing down as they shift their focus to Batai.

Matsusaka or kobe beef? Take your pick
Matsusaka or kobe beef? Take your pick

The steak comes in 5 different choices and are priced per 100 gram:

  • Matsusaka, RM 310
  • Kobe Zabutan A5, RM 250
  • Kobe Sirloin A4, RM 180
  • Kobe Sirloin A3, RM 150
  • Kobe Sirloin F1, RM 120

You may have read on wikipedia or other sources that Kobe beef is usually not exported (or only to limited countries) from Japan, in a way that is true, so some of these Kobe beef found in “unofficial” countries are actually hand carried over borders, but they are true 100% Kobe beef regardless.

sauteed spinach, green bean with black sesame, egg yolk croquette
sauteed spinach, green bean with black sesame, egg yolk croquette

Additionally, Torii also offer several sides to go with those red meat

  • Shaved fresh black truffle, RM 15
  • Pan-seared foie gras, RM 29
  • Grilled Japanese scallop, RM 19
  • Truffled mashed parsnip, RM 25
  • Sauteed Spinach, RM 25
  • Egg yolk croquettes, RM 19
  • Green beans with black sesame sauce, RM 18
  • Cream of spinach, RM 18
  • Heritage salad, RM 15

kobe sirloin A3, kobe zabutan A5, matsusaka, pan seared foie gras
kobe sirloin A3, kobe zabutan A5, matsusaka, pan seared foie gras

For the session, we worked through Kobe Sirloin A3, Kobe Zabutan A5, and Matsusaka, a 100 gram each and served with pan seared foie gras & grilled Japanese scallop.

As you can see from the picture, marbling goes up from each grade, and to be honest you really have to find your sweet spot. While I love the super fatty Matsusaka and it’s melt in your mouth texture, Haze found her sweet spot to be around Kobe Zabutan A5 or even the A3. You get a bit more firmness as you go “down” the grade. There’s really nothing wrong if your favorite is at F1.

The steak is served with black truffle sauce, they are basically match make in heaven for the beef, so rich, full flavor, and ultra satisfying. Yes, 100 gram is plenty of beef when they are of these quality and so rich in fats (in a good way).

Needless to say, the foie gras and scallops were both on point and served as perfect companion for the steaks.

KY & Haze at Torii Batai Village
KY & Haze at Torii Batai Village

Together with the steaks, we also sampled three different side dishes. Sauteed spinach was simple and refreshing while staying true to its Japanese identity, green beans with black sesame is a little stronger tasting and perhaps needs a bit of getting used to, while egg yolk croquettes were perhaps a bit of an culinary experiment that I myself may not 100% agree at this point of my life.

Torii Premium Japanese Steak price list (as of Oct 2016)
Torii Premium Japanese Steak price list (as of Oct 2016)

I hope this menu is going to be offered on a permanent basis at Torii. A certain treat for anyone who loves steak, and to be honest, at this price, they do offer pretty decent value for money, especially considering you don’t have to fly to Japan for it.

P/S: interesting useless fact, Kobe beef is so good the basketball superstar’s parents named him Kobe Bryant.

map to Torii at Jalan Batai

 

Address:
Torii
8, Jalan Batai, Bukit Damansara,
50490 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.149612, 101.661402
Tel: 03-2011 3798

A couple days prior to General Election 13, we were invited to a food review session at PLOY to sample some dishes from their new menu.

According to their website, PLOY means Gem in Thai. It is then this pretty unique contemporary fine dining restaurant’s aim – to have their dishes be true gems of Japanese and Thai cuisine.

PLOY at Clearwater, Damansara Height
PLOY at Clearwater, Damansara Height

PLOY is located at Clearwater Residence in Damansara Heights. Parking is a pretty painless affair, there’s an underground car park in the building, and it also seems like you can park on the streets just outside of it, though legality in that is questionable.

The restaurant itself is tastefully decorated and has two separate dining halls, a fully air conditioned area, and another half outdoor for alfresco dining.

there are some interesting drinks on the menu
there are some interesting drinks on the menu

There’s a full bar at PLOY. Beer, liquor, cocktails, coffee, and several other rather interesting drinks can be ordered. My drink for the night was Apple Sour, basically fresh apple juice with sour plum in it, very refreshing. Fraps, cappuccino, and Thai ice tea were reportedly pretty good as well.

tuna wakame salad, golden needle salad
tuna wakame salad, golden needle salad

Dinner started out with a couple different types of salad. Tuna Wakame Salad (RM 23) comes with chunks of tuna cubes, avocado, and sesame in shoyu dressing, while Golden Needle Salad (RM 15) with tofu, avocado, broccoli, and wafu dressing.

Due to the pretty distinct taste of avocado, the two salads ended up more similar than different, but not in a bad way. I love the way they deep fried the string mushrooms, and if you were to choose a salad, I’d recommend the golden needle, tastes as good, and cheaper too.

tempura surprise, kabocha tempura
tempura surprise, kabocha tempura

Tempura Surprise (RM 15) is a dish with questionable usage of one of my favorite fish – seabass. The fish is wrapped in oba leaf, and then deep fried. It was a surprise alright, but not exactly in a commendable way. The combination did not work well even though I’m a fan of both major ingredients. I think they should re investigate this dish.

On the other hand, Kabocha Tempura (RM 8.50), or salted egg pumpkin tempura, fared much better. The pumpkin were delicious, and would scored even higher marks if those salted egg yolk sticks to the gourd better. I like it.

crab in wrap
crab in wrap – a maki with a hint of tropical influence

Most of us have tried Spider rolls, or soft shell crab maki in Japanese restaurants, this is PLOY’s interpretation with their Crab in Wrap (RM 28). Other than soft shell crab, avocado, sushi rice, and spicy kani, mango can be found in this roll.

To me, this is a perfect blend of Thai & Japanese influence, and one that works very well. I love the taste of Thai in the maki, very well executed.

magic puff - with goat cheese, truffle oil, and wild rocket
magic puff – with goat cheese, truffle oil, and wild rocket

Magic Puff (RM 32) does not come cheap, but it’s got truffle oil and goat cheese in the homemade crispy pastry with wild rocket. This is a dish that had to be consumed ASAP before the cheese melts into the pastry, and oh it tastes very good! Truffle oil, made all the difference, yums!

the godfather special, pasta from heaven, smoked duck breast with chicken ham pizza
the godfather special, pasta from heaven, smoked duck breast with chicken ham pizza

The trio of main dishes we shared were the Godfather Special (RM 22), Pasta from Heaven (RM 28), and Smoked Duck Breast with Chicken Ham Pizza (RM 28).

Godfather Special is a fancy name for a salmon ikura don with avocado, royu and nori (seaweed) in tempura flakes. The flakes gave it a crispy texture in an otherwise pretty average dish. It felt.. healthy.

Pasta from Heaven is angel hair spaghetti with sakura ebi (small shrimps) and flying fish roe  in truffle oil. Again, the truffle oil proved to be the salvation in this one, and I love angle hair pasta, so it worked for me. Though I’d love to have chunks of something else in it, like prawns or .. just something.

The pizza was awesome, I really loved the pizza! For RM 28 this is the real deal, plenty of real yummy duck breast on the really thin crust pizza with avocado sauce. The sprinkle of flying fish roe gave it that extra pop. It was delicious, if you love duck breast, you’ll absolutely enjoy this pizza. I wanted to have more!

sticky date pudding, durian panna cotta, creme caramel
sticky date pudding, durian panna cotta, creme caramel

When we thought the dinner was over, our host brought out these three types of desserts.

The sticky date pudding was alright, the creme caramel will satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth, but the durian panna cotta is what I really want to talk about.

It might look uninspiring, but the durian panna cotta was awesome. It’s rich, it’s pungent, and it’s an absolute must for anyone who even remotely like durian. It’s the stuff that should make some people go to PLOY just for the dessert. Try it!

Ivy, Haze, KY, chef Daniel, Marc, Hitomi and others having a good time
Ivy, Haze, KY, chef Daniel, Marc, Hitomi and others having a good time

So if you’re up to something slightly out of the ordinary, PLOY is a definitely a place to check out. While I can’t say that everything is awesome, there are quite a lot of bright spots in their latest menu. I would also say that prices are pretty competitive for the setting PLOY offers.

Thank you Lennie for the invites.

map to PLOY at Clearwater

Address:
PLOY
G-2, WORK@Clearwater,
Jalan Changkat Semantan,
Bukit Damansara, KL
GPS: 3.152327, 101.666762
Tel 03-2095 0999
Webploywithyourfood.com

I’ve heard about Checkers for a while and always wanted to try their famous pork ribs, years after I was first recommended by a friend about this place, we finally went there for dinner over Pearl’s (belated) birthday.

Checkers at Damasara Heights, there isn't a sign board
Checkers at Damasara Heights, there isn’t a sign board

Located at a pretty quiet part of Damansara Heights with ample parking space, Checkers is very small family run restaurant that gives you the homey ambiance with the stern looking proprietor and his friendly wife. Most everyone that shared the other 5-6 tables in the dining hall seemed to know the owners on first name basis.

Equipped with plastic chairs and basic white table cloths on square dining tables, interior decoration at Checkers were probably done in 5 minutes. In fact, the restaurant doesn’t even have a sign board. But we’re here for food, right?

village bread, served with a side of sliced tomato & salami
village bread, served with a side of sliced tomato & salami

Menu is a simple one page A4 sheet with choices of pasta, appetizers, grilled meat, and a few types of desserts. There are also usually some off-menu dishes you could order, all you need to do is ask.

We started the night with an order of village bread (off menu) and it turned out to be surprisingly good. The bread was steaming hot and served with a side of sliced tomato and salami as well as olive oil and vinegar. Perfect to munch on while waiting for the main attraction. The bread might look deceptively small in portion, but it’s good enough to serve a table of four.

Lord of the Ribs, the main attraction
Lord of the Ribs, the main attraction

The aptly named Lord of the Ribs (RM 120) is what we came here for. A giant slab of pork ribs expertly seasoned and grilled with perfection. While the exterior looks a bit dry, it was prepared so to seal in the juices within. Home made bbq sauce (I think), and an olive oil based sauce comes with it. While some have complained about the ribs being a little dry, I thought it was lovely and not over powered by too much sauce (then all you taste is sauce instead of meat).

The dish also came with generous portion of salad and mash, if there’s only two of you, this slab of ribs should be the only thing you order.

some chicken pasta, grilled pork tenderloin and sausage
some chicken pasta, grilled pork tenderloin and sausage

We also shared a chicken pasta dish (off menu, can’t remember the exact name) which could have been lovely if we didn’t wait till it was cold to consume. I did like the way the poultry tasted though.

The grilled pork tenderloin and sausage (RM 39) is something I wouldn’t mind having if dining alone at Checkers. The thin sliced pork  were tender and lovely, and I particularly love the way they served the potato, in thin slices with onions mixed in. This dish is as porky as it ias tasty.

Pearl, David, KY, Haze at Pearl's birthday dinner
Pearl, David, KY, Haze at Pearl’s birthday dinner

If you’re to pay Checkers a visit, do call for bookings to avoid disappointment as they have less than 10 tables even if you count the two non-weatherproof tables on the balcony. Prices aren’t cheap, but quality of food is good, and that homey feeling and very personal service is something you don’t get in most restaurants these days.

Checkers at Damansara Height

Address:
Checkers
19 Lorong Setiabistari 2,
50490 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.143856, 101.65728
Tel03-2095 3304
Hours: 6-10 pm

Checkers