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Category / Hartamas/Mont Kiara

A couple weeks ago a few of us were fortunate enough to get a taste of ten different dishes at Senya Izakaya at Publika for their upcoming Aomori Fair that runs from 15th February to 29th February 2016.

For those who aren’t familiar with Senya Izakaya, they are from the same group that runs Ten Sushi, Sushi Ichiro, and Menya Ramen. Izakaya is basically a type of informal Japanese gastropub, a place for after-work dining and (sometimes plenty of) drinking.

Senya Izakaya at Solaris Dutamas
Senya Izakaya at Solaris Dutamas

The Aomari Fair is basically an initiative to introduce the produce from Aomori Prefecture, which is situated at the northernmost area of Japan’s main island, just South of Hokkaido. The prefecture is famous for apple, in fact, 50% of all apples produced in Japan is from Aomori prefecture, and 90% of all apples exported out of Japan is Aomori apples.

Seafood, squid, and scallops are also among the exported produce from the area.

In conjunction to the Aomori Fair, Senya Izakaya is running a competition with the winner getting an RM 100 voucher, just vote for the most popular dishes out of the ten below on their FB page and in the restaurant. Check it out!

Now, here are the ten dishes that will be available during the fair, though the actual number of dishes is actually slightly more than these presented to us, but we had to be somewhat realistic in the ability to sample all these in one seating, isn’t it?

Aomori Apple with Pork Belly Skewer
Aomori Apple with Pork Belly Skewer

One of my favorite of the day, and probably the best beer food I’d like to have with me – Aomori Apple with Pork Belly Skewer (RM6). Made from preserved Aomori apples wrapped with sliced pork belly and grilled in charcoal, this was just the perfect blend of savory and sweetness in a mouthful, absolutely beautiful.

Fried Aomori Baby Scallop & Long Bean Sprout
Fried Aomori Baby Scallop &  Long Bean Sprout

Fried Aomori Baby Scallop &  Long Bean Sprout (RM25) looked a bit like fried noodle in a glance, but those are actually really long bean sprouts that is packed with vitamin C, E, and B (twice as much as normal bean sprouts, I was told).

Those baby scallops pack a punch in flavor as well, mostly due to the smallish size which tend to condensed the natural sweetness of scallops.

Grilled Aomori Squid with Guts
Grilled Aomori Squid with Guts

The Grilled Aomori Squid with Guts  (RM22) is a traditional dish that may take a bit of getting used to for some of us. Whole squid is used in this dish, and since innards aren’t removed, the squid used must be really fresh, often at sashimi quality. This dish is usually enjoyed with shochu or sake.

Aomori Baby Scallop Kakiage Tempura
Aomori Baby Scallop Kakiage Tempura

If you like deep fried food, Aomori Baby Scallop Kakiage Tempura (RM19.80) is not to be missed. This tempura is almost like a really luxurious version of our local prawn fritters, but with baby scallops, onion, carrot, and mitsuba leaves. I really liked it.

Vinegared Saba Sushi
Vinegared Saba Sushi

No Japanese menu is complete without sushi, and I was glad when we were served with Vinegared Saba Sushi (RM22.80). Made with Aomori saba that is harvested during winter time when they’re packed with more fat, this pressed sushi (oshizushi) also comes with egg, cucumber, and sakura denbu to give it that extra character.

Nanbu Aomori Senbei Hot Pot
Nanbu Aomori Senbei Hot Pot

Nanbu Aomori Senbei Hot Pot (RM19) is a dish that’s perfect for cold weather, and I guess for here too when it rains or the aircond is particularly cold. It is a traditional local dish famous at the Nanbu area. The soup is a blend of shoyu and chicken broth and accented by Nanbu Senbei, a type of local rice cracker (an award winning one at that.)

I really like the rice cracker when it soaked up the broth, not entirely unlike how we have fuchuk in BKT soup, if you know what I mean.

Aomori Seafood Barachirashi Don
Aomori Seafood Barachirashi Don

Then there’s the Aomori Seafood Barachirashi Don (RM33.80), a dish that I’d most likely order if I was completely oblivious to the menu, just because chirashi and barachirashi sushi are some of my favorite Japanese dishes.

This version uses boiled Aomori baby scallop, raw scallop, Aomori squid, Aomori vinegared saba, tuna, garlic, and Aomori yam. It certainly packs a punch with all the flavors in a bowl. Not disappointed at all.

Pork Don with Preserved Aomori Apple
Pork Don with Preserved Aomori Apple

If you can only order one dish from this list of ten, my recommendation will go to the Pork Don with Preserved Aomori Apple (RM23.80). This is Senya Izakaya’s signature dish, a fairly simple pork don with preserved Aomori apple. The apple with lemon flavor balance the rich taste of those perfectly prepared pork belly, it is basically just heaven in a bowl if you love pork like I do. Don’t miss this.

Aomori Baby Scallop Miso Curry Milk Ramen
Aomori Baby Scallop Miso Curry Milk Ramen

For those who like ramen, you’re covered. We sampled the Aomori Baby Scallop Miso Curry Milk Ramen (RM22.8), which interestingly, is an invention by the children of Aomori by putting milk and curry into ramen. It is a little creamier than usual, and still packed with plenty of ingredients, most notably those baby scallops. I find the soup base perhaps a little too creamy for me, but your mileage may vary.

Cream Cheese Snow Mountain & Aomori Apple Sorbet with Cinnamon Cookie
Cream Cheese Snow Mountain & Aomori Apple Sorbet with Cinnamon Cookie

Then of course, we had dessert. The Cream Cheese Snow Mountain & Aomori Apple Sorbet with Cinnamon Cookie (RM16). It is a cream cheese moose with Aomori apple ice cream and cinnamon cookie. This dessert is most popular at Hiromae-shi Ringo Park, which is at Hiromae-shi, a place where the best quality of apple is produced in all of Aomori.

The dessert proved to be a great ending to this overly lushed tasting session. I feel like I need to go back for some of those pork & apple dishes now.

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
Senya Izakaya
D5-G3-5,
Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.171465, 101.667620
Tel: 03-6205 4999

Right after participating as a guest speaker at “A Food Biz Workshop” a week ago where I found out that some 80% food business fails within the first two years of operation, I got to attend an event hosted by one that represents the other extreme end – the Martell Pure Gourmet event by the brand that has been in existence since 1715.

Yeap, that’s just a year shy of 300, with perhaps one of the oldest single product, the Martell VSOP being in the market since 1831.

Martell is celebrating 300 years anniversary in 2015
Martell is celebrating 300 years anniversary in 2015

While last year’s dinner was hosted at JW Marriott, Martell chose the Grand Imperial Chinese restaurant at Hartamas Shopping Centre for this year’s annual Pure Gourmet. I was very delighted and honoured to be invited to this year’s dinner again after having had a very good experience last year.

I was surprised that Malaysia actually happened to be the 2nd largest market in the world for Martell after China, and I guess this is partly due to the way we consume cognac, which, fortunately or not, was in full display during the dinner with many happily cheering each other “Happy Birthday to You” while emptying their glasses as the night went on.

P/S: It wasn’t anyone’s birthday, but we had a lot of fun.

sze chuan jelly fish with thousand layer pig ear & deep fried scallop
Sze Chuan jelly fish with thousand layer pig ear & deep fried scallop

Anyway, pure gourmet is about the blend of exquisite ingredients, skills, and passion in the creation of inspiring dishes, as with how each bottle of Martell cognac is created, so lets get on with the dinner.

We started out with chilled Sze Chuan jelly fish with thousand layer pig ear accompanied deep fried scallop wrapped with German vermicelli rice noodle. A pretty descriptive dish and one that has several characters all rolled into one.

The jelly fish and pigs ear with the softer texture and a more complex taste, and deep fried scallop an explosion of seafood sweetness beneath the the crispy and rawer tasting vermicelli. This was paired with Martell V.S.O.P.

baked king prawn with cheese, paired with Martell Cordon Bleu
baked king prawn with cheese, paired with Martell Cordon Bleu

Next up was a relatively unpretentious baked water king prawn with cheese to go with the very recognizable Martell Cordon Bleu, perhaps the gold standard of cognac.

The execution of the prawn was on the dot, I really dug into the head and savour the juices out of this. Though this is probably the only dish I could come close to replicating at home, it was also one of my favorites.

deep fried airflown  Japanese Ayor fish with lemon
deep fried air flown  Japanese Ayor fish with lemon

Third dish of the night was deep fried air flown Japanese Ayor fish with lemon (also known as Ayu fish).

Found in the rivers and lakes around Hokkaido, this fresh water fish is famous for the sweetness of its flesh, which was brought out to its fullest potential when paired with Martell Cordon Bleu.

pan fried lamb cutlet with chef's special sauce, paired with Martell XO
pan fried lamb cutlet with chef’s special sauce, paired with Martell XO

Following the fish, we had the pan fried lamb cutlet with Chef’s special sauce to go with Martell XO.

Perhaps I was more accustomed to Western style of lamb cutlet preparation, it took a while to appreciate the more traditional Chinese preparation method of the red meat that is inherently more cooked. In this instance, the sauce takes center stage with the meat playing supporting role.

braised spaghetti with sliced abalone, black truffle n mushroom, Martell Chanteloup Perspective
braised spaghetti w/ sliced abalone, black truffle & mushroom, Martell Chanteloup Perspective

Last dish before dessert was the braised spaghetti with sliced abalone, black truffle and mushroom. The hint of black truffle went well with abalone, and the fine angel hair spaghetti was the right choice to soak up the flavour. We just wished that it was a whole abalone instead (who doesn’t?).

The aroma and elegance of Martell Chanteloup Perspective complimented the dish perfectly.

Grand Imperial special dessert paired with Martell Creation Grand Extra
Grand Imperial special dessert paired with Martell Creation Grand Extra

Finally, we end the dinner with a host of three desserts prepared by Grand Imperial and had the pleasure to pair them with Martell Creation Grand Extra, the silky smooth and yet very powerful tasting cognac. A unique taste to end a pretty unique and special dinner.

and we were cheering to each other "happy birthday to you".. yes, it's a "trend"
and we were cheering to each other “happy birthday to you”.. yes, it’s a “trend”

A big thank you to Siew Kheng for the invitation, and hopefully we’ll have the privilege to be a part of this again next year!

map to Hartamas Shopping Centre

Address:
Grand Imperial
Lot F33 – F35, First Floor,
Hartamas Shopping Centre
No. 60, Jalan Sri Hartamas 1,
Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.163480, 101.656136
Tel03-6201 9777

I’ve always been a fan of beef and a fan of Las Vacas (we went to their Kelana Jaya branch quite a few times), but when I got the invitation to sample their new breakfast menu, I must say I was just a little bit skeptical about what a primarily meat serving place could come up with. Well, lets just say that I’m glad we went, it wasn’t a bad way to spend the Labour Day morning at all.

Las Vacas at Mont Kiara Shoplex now serves breakfast
Las Vacas at Mont Kiara Shoplex now serves breakfast

Las Vacas at Mont Kiara Shoplex has been in operation for the past four years, and until the first of May, 2014, they did not open for breakfast.

The location is pretty convenient as far as Mont Kiara goes. The Shoplex itself has paid parking, and it is also only a stone’s throw away from Plaza Mont Kiara and 1 Mont Kiara.

Dining area is alfresco but with a huge retractable canvas and lush greenery around the shop. I really like the ambiance.

Wagyu Beef Karubi & Eggs
Wagyu Karubi & Eggs

There are a dozen different choices for breakfast, starting from something as simple as muffins (RM 8), bread platter (RM 8.5), paleo stew (RM 21), to classic all day breakfast (RM 33).

We chose both their signature entrees – the Wagyu Karubi & Eggs (RM 28) and Ox Tongue Benny (RM 27). Both dishes are a variation of the classic Egg Benedict, with a couple poached eggs and panini bread sandwiching the meat, some rocket salad and hollandaise sauce (in the case of ox tongue) complete the list of ingredients.

Wagyu Karubi is basically the boneless short rib slices that are popular in Korean cuisine as Galbi, and it definitely played a fitting role in this dish. I would have perhaps liked it a little more salty, but flavour wise it was every bit as you would imagine. Haze was plenty satisfied with the Ox tongue as well.

Salmon Florentine, All Day Breakfast
Salmon Florentine, All Day Breakfast

Others had dishes including Salmon Florentine (spinach ricotta & Norwegian smoked salmon omelette on whole bread, RM 18) and All Day Breakfast (grilled steak, lamb, beef sausage, egg and salad, RM 33) were reported to be pretty good as well.

cafe latte and long black
cafe latte and long black

Oh, I’m also glad that the coffee served here are really good too. Other than cafe latte (RM 10), long black (RM 6), and the usual espresso based drinks, there’s also chai latte (RM 8), green tea latte (RM 9), and a selection of tea.

with some of the who's who including Nadia Heng, Liang, and Shawn Lee
with some of the who’s who including Nadia Heng, Liang, and Shawn Lee

It was certainly a great breakfast option to be reckon if you’re looking for some Western fair on a lazy morning. Our session was made better by the company we had, including Liang, Nadia Heng, Shawn Lee, and other friends.

I am quite sure I’ll be going there again.

direction to Mont Kiara Shoplex

Address:
Las Vacas Mont Kiara
Shop LG, New Wing, Floor LG
Mont Kiara Shoplex
Jalan Kiara, Taman Sri Hartamas,
50480 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.166326, 101.652664
Tel03-6205 2258

AFC’s latest foray in their long line of food & restaurant themed series comes in the form of  “Reality Bites: Rise Above with Style”, featuring two celebrity chefs – Johnny Fua & Sherson Lian of Elegantology.

I was invited to the premier of the show followed by a dinner at Elegantology, and since I’ve yet to have a taste at this rather unique restaurant that I’ve heard so much about recently, it was an opportunity I had to take.

Reality Bites premiere at Publika
Reality Bites premiere at Publika

Reality Bites is a six part series starting 10th December, at 9pm every Tuesday on AFC. The show takes part in Elegantology Gallery & Restaurant, featuring not only the glitz and glamour of running the kitchen of a higher end restaurant, but also the day-to-day challenge and many issues faced by the two chefs and their crews.

Chef Johnny Fua, Chef Sherson Lian, & the director of Reality Bites
Chef Johnny Fua, Chef Sherson Lian, & the director of Reality Bites

During the event, we were shown the first episode of Reality Bites in its entirety, alongside with an on-stage session with Chef Johnny Fua & Sherson Lian, the director of the series, as well as the creative director of Elegantology, Beatrice Looi.

So if you want to see a restaurant themed reality series that is closer to home, tune on your TV Tuesday 9pm on AFC!

some homemade bread to start, love the truffle butter
some homemade bread to start, love the truffle butter

After that of course, is what I was even more interested in, the degustation menu at Elegantology.

We started out with Elegantology Baker’s choice, served with truffle butter florets, paprika chickpeas hummus, and EVOO (olive oil & balsamic vinegar?). I think we must have asked for extra truffle butter at least twice, it was very good.

Ceviche scallop, foie gras cube with braised shimeiji mushroom
Ceviche scallop, foie gras cube with braised shimeiji mushroom

Next up was ceviche scallop, paw paw kerabu, nam pla influenced Ponzu sesame drizzle. A dish that has some similarity in Sarawak’s umai, both using acid to lightly cook the seafood. Scallop was huge, juicy, and delicious, I can hae this often. The kerabu was an interesting experiment, tho one that I wouldn’t care too much for.

Foie gras cube, olive lemon soil, soy bean milk braised shimeiji mushroom is similar to chicken liver pate, but undoubtedly a lot more luxurious and sophisticated. The mushroom adds a welcoming change of texture which I do appreciate.

oxtail broth, brandied sea cucumber
oxtail broth, brandied sea cucumber

Continuing our course was a much needed soup dish in the form of oxtail broth with brandied sea cucumber. The oxtail is de-boned while sea cucumber provided the texture that’s similar to beef tendon, but with a dash of seafood sweetness. The soup itself carried a nice herbal aroma.

tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved. Josen, Mei, Cheng Yi & KY
tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved. Josen, Mei, Cheng Yi & KY

Tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved was chosen as a sort of intermission to the degustation dinner course. It was cold, sour, and a tad sweet, perfect as a palate cleanser before we continue with perhaps the most important dish.

kobe beef skewer, miso pineapple bearnaise
kobe beef skewer, miso pineapple bearnaise

Which was the kobe beef skewer with miso pineapple bearnaise. This was the first time I tasted kobe beef (well at least that’s what they claimed), and yes, it was every bit as awesome as the sterling reputation it carries. The meat was super tender with superb marbling, a melt-in-your-mouth feeling that somehow does not compromise on texture.

It was so good we jokingly asked for second servings from the waiter, who actually complied! Sometimes you can achieve a lot more in life by just asking. 😀

barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice; replated black forest gateau
barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice; replated black forest gateau

The penultimate dish was barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice. While the fish was fresh, it was perhaps just a tad too cooked for my liking, the glutinous rice was perfect though, goes especially well with the sambal-like sauce. Also, after the beef, nothing feels the same anymore.

The rather funky looking dessert was the replated black forest gateau, a bit of sponge, chocolate, ice cream, cherries, and cream all carefully arranged in a careless appearance. It was acceptable but perhaps did not live up to the capability of the restaurant. 

I really appreciate the idea behind Elegantology and their bravery in always experimenting with different dishes and menu. The overall dinner experience was very good, and while a couple dishes did not wow, they were mostly excellent, and most importantly, provide diners a different and unique gastronomic experience.

It was a wonderful night overall and I’m grateful for this opportunity.

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
Elegantology
35 Level G2, Publika, 

Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.170961, 101.665721
Tel: 03-6206 5577

After having a great time celebrating AhFa’s birthday at 42 East a few weeks ago with plenty of Kilkenny Draught, we decided to have an encore. This time our excuse was Suan’s birthday.

OK, maybe it wasn’t just an excuse, Suan is a dear friend and a big fan of Kilkenny (in fact, I first learned about this beer from her). Since she won’t be around on her actual birthday, we decided to get together a few days earlier.

Barfly, and these Kilkenny's reserved for Suanie
Barfly, and these Kilkenny’s reserved for Suanie

Our destination of choice this time was Barfly at Solaris Dutamas. A place where solving the parking puzzle requires a PhD, but hey, we do it for friends right?

Luckily we had the foresight in calling in a couple days earlier to book for a table.

Michael, Li Ling, Suan, KY enjoying some Kilkenny
Michael, Li Ling, Suan, KY enjoying some Kilkenny

The place was well packed with people when we reached there at about 9pm. I always like going to a busy place for draught beer, you know it will always super fresh.

In the case of Kilkenny at Barfly, yeap, the draught were fresh, fragrant, and every bit as how a good pint of Kilkenny should be. Something that we learned from the Kilkenny Masterclass experience.

some of the beer food we have to pair with Kilkenny beer
some of the beer food we have to pair with Kilkenny beer

Of course, when you have beer, you gotta have some beer food to go with.

Dark ale like Kilkenny pairs well with chicken, pork, and generally slightly stronger tasting food. Barfly happens to have quite a decent selection of snacks & even main dishes that goes well with beer.

Mike showing that all pint glasses hold the same volume
Mike showing that all pint glasses hold the same volume

We had their flaming chicken wings, superfly potato skin, pig in haystack (enoki mushroom + bacon), fries, ikan bilis with onion and chili, nachos, sausage kau, and commando chips.

Many of the dishes were a bit spicy, and when you wash down that spicy kick with a big gulp of cold beer, that feeling is just the best!

and.. we had a great time! Happy Birthday Suan
and.. we had a great time! Happy Birthday Suan

Awesome friends, great beer, and some food over a few hours – good times!

When do we do this again?