Category / PJ area
A couple weeks ago we were invited to a food review session that promises a good dosage of “Dong Po” (東坡肉) pork belly, and since that is one of my favorite dishes of all time, it was an easy decision to not miss this one.
Secret Garden Chinese Restaurant, PJ
The restaurant is Secret Garden at Taman Megah nearby Wolf Modern Dining and almost a walking distance from our previous home in PJ, but alas, this time around it was a bit of a drive, which was fine for some a porking promise.
The restaurant is stunning, with vertical garden, beautiful wooden long table, and tastefully use of empty space. I’m going to go on a limb here to say that it is most likely attributed to the fact that the founders include an interior designer, a fine art illustrator, and a mural artist.
When the surrounding is awesome, appetite also increases, kan?
crispy fried prawn cracker
Anyway, let’s get on the food.
For the review session, we got to sample quite a few dishes from the menu, starting with the appetizer – crispy fried prawn crackers. This is not your typical prawn cracker, but rather thin layer of pastry stuffed with plenty of prawn meat in between, best enjoyed with a dip of Thai chili sauce. I had white wine to go with this, but beer would make for excellent liquid to wash this down.
home style Taiwanese chicken soup w pickled pineapple & bitter melon
Any Chinese restaurant worth it’s salt should serve up a decent bowl of hot soup.
At Secret Garden, the choice was a simple and comforting home style Taiwanese chicken soup with pickled pineapple and bitter melon. I love myself a good bowl of soup, and this version checked the box as well as any with simple everyday ingredients done right.
steamed free range duckweed fed chicken w homemade sauce
Up next was steamed free range duckweed fed chicken with homemade sauce. You can taste the difference in duckweed fed chicken meat compared to the normal wet market/hypermarket variety, the meat is firmer and the skin springier. With the condiments it makes for a good meal by itself with a bowl of rice.
signature Taiwanese style “dong po” pork belly
Then came what I was here for – the signature Taiwanese “dong po” pork belly. I love this dish so much I actually remember where I had it the first two times – first at Chatterbox Bangsar Village, and then at Dengkil Seafood Restaurant.
If you love pork, you gotta try this dish named after the famous Chinese poet Su DongPo (蘇東坡) . The interpretation of this dish at Secret Garden is very, very good, and only made better when you have it with their super soft steamed bun. Can I get this combination for breakfast, please?
grouper fish head in yellow curry with fresh milk
Perhaps to demonstrate the range of dishes this kitchen is able to come up with, we had grouper fish head in yellow curry with fresh milk next.
If really spicy and rich Indian or even Nyonya style curry is your cup of tea, this may disappoint, but if you enjoy milder curry with all the necessary ingredients with a much gentler assault on your taste buds, then this yellow curry may fit the bill. I’m a Penang boy who loves me some really spicy curry fish head, so it was just a tad underwhelming for me.
pan fried fresh king prawn with soya sauce
Pan fried fresh king prawn with soya sauce was my favorite seafood dish of the day. Instead of the usual tiger prawns or “meng har”, this version uses fresh water king prawns, which has big and juicy prawn head to suckle on (human cholestorel isn’t from what you eat, right?). I liked it, and wished I had some rice to go with this.
(btw I’ve published a recipe to my version here, if you care to cook your own)
homemade organic black soya bean tofu in pumpkin gravy, & the hungry bunch
The last dish I got to try before we had to leave due to another appointment was the homemade organic black soya bean tofu in pumpkin gravy. I was told the tofu is made in-house, and it certainly tastes fresh as can be with the texture that’s almost like tofufar, it was nice, and pumpkin gravy certainly served as a good contrast to the salty and savory bits on top of the tofu.
our menu, and some live seafood for your picking too
Overall it was a more than satisfying dinner, and certainly an experience that is made unforgettable thanks to the beautiful dining area and excellent companions we had.
Secret Garden is current modelling the upper level and will be offering Private Dining. You give them a budget and number of pax, and the chef will come up with a menu from carefully chosen ingredients available. There’s currently no set price for Private Dining, I suppose the more you are willing to pay, the more exotic the dishes get.
Thank you Jessica for the invitation and for hosting us!
Secret Garden Chinese Restaurant
7 & 9, Jalan SS 23/15,
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.116306, 101.612408
Tel: 03-7887 6999
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.
smoke turkey drumstick w/ Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz & Reserve Shiraz
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!
Eight Gourmet Gala
Suite G-01, Ground Floor,
Pinnacle Annexe, Bandar Sunway,
47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.070381, 101.609452
Tel: 017-948 8684
A couple weeks ago we were invited to a special Japanese food event held at Yakitori Fukuda Dining at Evolve Mall, and since I had very good impression with their ten don (deep fried seafood with rice) dishes at Shitamichi Tendon Akitmitsu, it was a no brainer to participate. After all, these two restaurants share the same kitchen that is smacked right in between them.
Yakitori Dining Fukuda at Evolve Concept Mall, Ara Damansara
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Evolved Concept Mall, it is one of the newest malls in town and located right next to the Ara Damansara LRT station. You can walk to the mall from the station in 5 minutes. Occupancy at the new mall isn’t quite close to full yet but there’s Jaya Grocer as the anchor tenant, so I assume it’ll do fine.
somen with chicken, eel, shrimp & vege, somen with chicken and lime
We started the day with a demonstration of somen, these are wheat flour noodle that’s pretty fine, almost “mee suah” fine and usually served cold. That proved to be very appropriate on a hot day. It was a good blend of savoury taste with sourish freshness especially for the version with lime. I think I may actually like this more than cha soba, and I do like cha soba on a hot afternoon.
You can also buy these pre-packaged somen and the associated sauce to be cooked at home.
pressed sushi with grilled conger eel
Then there’s pressed sushi with grilled conger eel. Conger eel a different marine species of eel. The texture is a little more firm from unagi, though taste wise they do not differ very far. To be honest, I do like unagi just a little bit more, but anything with a dash of ikura never disappoint, as in this case.
deep fried Japanese yam with seaweed, chicken meatball with grated yam
Finally, we also sampled some of the dishes prepared using the imported Japanese yam. The deep fried Japanese yam with seaweed was my favorite, it was very light and packs a punch in flavors, which I suspect contributed by the seaweed. The deep fried yam in strips was much more muted in comparison.
The other yam related dish we tried was the bowl of rice topped with homemade chicken meatball and grated Japanese yam, which is served with a raw quail’s egg yolk, super creamy and perhaps a bit gooey if you’re not used to those type of taste.
and there’s me with cheesiepetite!
The food at this event was pretty decent, but I would certainly suggest that you try their ten dons first, especially if you’re those in favor for stronger taste. I’d want to go back to Fukuda to try their yakitori.
Yakitori Fukuda Dining
EV-G-09, Ground floor
Evolve Concept Mall
Pacific Place @ Ara Damansara
Petaling Jaya Selangor
GPS: 3.110532, 101.586864
Tel: 03-7831 9929
Hours: Monday to Friday, 11am to 3pm and 6pm to 9pm; Weekends and public holiday, 11am-9pm
Vietnam is the country I traveled to the most times thanks to my previous job, and while I don’t miss that role too much, one thing that I’ve always missed was some awesome Vietnamese cuisine, which seems to be living in Thai food’s shadow when it comes to offerings from South East Asia.
Over the last few years though, it has starting to make headrooms, perhaps in parallel of the country’s economic expansion, definitely a good thing for those of us who loves variety.
Pho Vietz at Atria Shopping Gallery, almost always packed
One of the latest Vietnamese restaurant that is fast gaining popularity is Pho Vietz at Atria (and now also at Empire Mall Subang). The place is almost perpetually packed, and it’s not difficult to see why, they serve pretty good food in a modern and comfortable setting while being reasonable in price.
Most importantly, it is also one of the very few proper Vietnamese restaurant that offers pork.
traditional spring role, baguette, banh mi
The menu is pretty extensive, there’s snacks such as spring roles, banh mi (baguette), several types of pho, vermicelli, ho fun, and different rice plates with curry, pork/beef stew, and clay pot dishes.
We’ve been to the place twice and tried several of their dishes. The prawn role (RM 8.50) was decent but I found the skin a bit too tough for my liking.
Banh Mi, or baguette (RM 9.90 or 10.90) with pork was an absolute treat with really crispy exterior and soft, airy bread within. It is like Subway but twice as good, especially if you love the mixture of yummy pork and those slightly sweetish sauce with plenty of vegetable. You can also have the baguette separately to go with beef stew (RM 17.90).
pho, stew beef with baguette, spring role with vermicelli
The standard pho (RM 17.90) here had a good soup base and pretty fresh, delicious slices of beef. We asked for more basil and bean sprouts and the restaurant gladly supplied a full plate of greens. That being said, I wished they had beef tendon though.
For those who wants even more greens, the Vietnamese Spring Role Vermicelli (RM 14.90) will not disappoint. There’s basil, mint, cucumber, carrot, bean sprout, and all sorts of healthy bits in the bowl.
caramel sliced pork belly with rice, KY, Haze, Johnson
On my second visit, I had the Caramel Sliced Pork Belly with Rice (RM 19.90) which quickly turned out to be one of my favorites. The “3 layer” belly was properly marinated and perfectly cooked, it was rather strong tasting so finishing the whole bowl of rice is a definite plus. If you’re a pork lover, you’ll definitely enjoy this.
If you’re a fan of Vietnamese food, this is definitely a decent hang-out, just don’t go there during peak lunch/dinner hours and expect to have your food served quickly (or get a table immediately for that matter).
T08 & T09,
Atria Shopping Gallery
Jalan SS 22/23,
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.127261, 101.616595
Tel: 03-7731 3020
I make it a habit to try to start most working days with a good breakfast, and this is achieved by riding to work, which allows me to have quite a bit of freedom in choosing breakfast spots before heading to the office in the morning. See, when you’re stuck in the traffic, I’m having my noms, life’s good.
another breakfast stop for me
I was chatting with one of my colleagues just the other day and he mentioned that one of his favorite kopitiam around PJ where his old folks reside was Golden Kim Wah at Damansara Kim. The very next day, I made the slight de-tour and stop by to grab one of his favorite dishes from the place – Robert’s Char Kuih Teow.
I made the order like how I usually do for CKT – in classic beautiful Penang Hokkien, and to my delight, Mr. Robert answered in the very same dialect, which is always good news for a place that offers Penang dishes.
Robert Char Kuih Teow, legit
The RM 6 plate of char kuih teow from Robert was indeed up to expectation. Good amount of “wok hei” with those tiny charred bits, properly moist and yet not too wet, it also comes with prawns, lap cheong, bean sprouts, chives, and even a few bits of lard.
I’m putting this down as one of the few char kuih teow places worth eating in Klang Valley.
Golden Kim Wah Restaurant,
Jalan SS 20/10, Damansara Kim,
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor