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Continuing with the buka puasa buffet 2014 series, today we look at the buffet offering at Paya Serai, PJ Hilton hotel. This year, the restaurant is headed by executive chef Ridzuan Malek, who has over 20 years of culinary experience to present a buffet spread of local specialities in unique ‘kampung-style’ stalls and live cooking stations.

The spread here is impressive, and definitely the largest of the lot that I’ve sampled in 2014 with over 300 local delicacies to choose from. You can come back here half a dozen times and not taste the same dish twice.

roast lamb, chicken curry laksa, asam laksa, fruits, at Paya Serai, PJ Hilton
roast lamb, chicken curry laksa, asam laksa, fruits, at Paya Serai, PJ Hilton

The Ramadan buffet promotion runs from 7pm to 10pm daily and are priced at RM 139++ per adult and RM 79++for children. For the last five days of Ramadan (July 23 – July 27, 2014), the same spread is priced at RM 119++ per adult.

For the selection you get here, it is worth what you’re paying. On top of the food, there’s also entertainment from a local traditional music group from Bale Bale Entertainment to add to the festivity.

mussels and prawns on ice, salted fish, ulam-ulam, lemang, and even tempoyak
mussels and prawns on ice, salted fish, ulam-ulam, lemang, and even tempoyak

Now lets talk about what you’ll find at the buffet spread, I make no attempt to list down all the dishes, but you should get an idea of what they offer.

Pretty much everything you can find at any Ramadan buffet spread, you can find here.

Starting from appetizer, you have Thai beef salad, Vietnamese chicken salad, gado-gado, rojak, over half a dozen types of kerabu (ikan, ayam, kerabu jantung pisang, mangga muda, nangka, perut, pucuk paku, etc).

There’s also a huge selection of ulam to go with sambal belacan, cencalok, budu, sambal gesek, sambal nenas, sambal mangga, and my personal favorite – tempoyak chilli.

If you like the even more traditional appertizer, you can find ikan masin goreng belada, sambal hijau, telur masin, kacang tanah goreng berlada, petai, paru lembu, pedal ayam, hati ayam, and bergedil. These are definitely closer to kampung than the city, I love it.

chicken, beef, seafood, lamb, vegetable, in Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Western style
chicken, beef, seafood, lamb, vegetable, in Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Western style

Main dishes too is represented by classics from various states and even international cuisines. There’s fish head curry, rendang tok, ikan bakar melaka, whole roasted lamb Malay style, serawa durian and pulut, kerabu gamat and apam balik.

There’s also Chinese style mushroom and vegetable, curry prawn, asam prawn, nasi briyani, roast chicken, and more.

there's also Madras corner, Kampong Melayu corner, China Town, and Western food
there’s also Madras corner, Kampong Melayu corner, China Town, and Western food

I would guess that perhaps about 70% of the dishes available here at Paya Serai consists local cuisine originated from Malacca, Penang, Perak, Kedah, and Johor, with the remaining 30% Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Western, and other origins.

The team of 13 chefs definitely managed to impress.

satey, Mongolian BBQ, grilled fish, tempura, and kerang too
satey, Mongolian BBQ, grilled fish, tempura, and kerang too

Of the various live cooking stations, I was most impressed with the Mongolian BBQ (not that I actually managed to try all of them, to be honest). Here you basically choose one or many main ingredients such as beef, chicken, or seafood, and the chef will cook it up with an assortment of vegetable such as carrot, celery, mushroom, bell peppers and so forth.

It was a dish that I consumed on regular basis while working for a Chinese restaurant in US, this brought back the memory, and the execution was spot on.

KY & Shabana as well as Jean enjoying some durian to end the night
KY & Shabana as well as Jean enjoying some durian to end the night

To end your buka puasa session for the night, there’s an assortment of fresh fruits, air batu campur (ABC), cendol, a variety of traditional kuih, custards, mini pastries, hot desserts, cendol santan kepala muda, and last but not least – durian!

Yes, they serve durian at buka puasa, which was just brilliant.

If you’re looking for one of the biggest Ramadan buffet spread in town, check out PJ Hilton’s Paya Serai.

map to Petaling Jaya Hilton Hotel

Address:
Paya Serai Restaurant
Hilton Petaling Jaya
No 2 Jalan Barat
46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

GPS3.10235, 101.64087
Tel03-7955 9122 (ext 4260)

A couple weeks ago I was invited to PJ Hilton’s Genji Japanese restaurant for a session of food tasting. Genji is in fact one of the older Japanese restaurants in PJ dining scene, having been in operation for some 30 years now.

Genji Japanese Restaurant at PJ Hilton
Genji Japanese Restaurant at PJ Hilton

Thankfully, the interior and furnishing was not the same one since the opening days. The decoration is quite typical of classic Japanese restaurant, simple, classy, and not over the top. For this session, we occupied one of the private rooms with floor seating and sliding doors for that extra feel.

The restaurant is headed by Chef Richard Teoh, a man with vast experience in Japanese cuisine who does not shy away from adding his personal touch to traditional recipe.

Maki Tamago,Chuka Kurage, with Yamamomo and Morokyu
Maki Tamago,Chuka Kurage, with Yamamomo and Morokyu

We started the meal with an appetiser dish specially prepared by the good chef, something that’s usually featured in Omakase Kaizeki meals (RM 300 for 7 course, RM 220 for 5 course menu). We had maki tamago (egg roll with unagi filling), chuka kurage (marinated jellyfish) with yamamomo (mountain berry), and morokyu (fresh cucumber with fermented miso bean).

I love the mountain berry and thought  that the pairing of natto with fresh cucumber somehow worked for me even though I really thought natto is usually quite nasty.

Tokyo salad
Tokyo salad

Tokyo salad (RM 30) came next, a combination of lightly boiled fresh seafood with fresh greens and seaweed. All these is then topped with a home-made sesame sauce that is infused by wasabi, one of Chef Richard’s recipes. I like the mild kick from the sauce that injects extra excitement in this salad dish.

Sashimi/ Sushi Combi
Sashimi/ Sushi Combi

Japanese food isn’t complete without some raw stuff, for this purpose we had the pretty unpretentiously named sashimi/ Sushi combi (RM 240). The selection of seafood in this dish varies, but you’ll usually get salmon, tuna, otoro (tuna belly), sacallop, sea bream, and more. The otoro was absolutely spot on, the sashimi fresh and delicious, with my only comment being that the sushi tends to carry a bit more rice than I like them to have.

The combination is big enough to be shared among 4-5 pax.

Kaizen Mushi - subtle and refreshing
Kaizen Mushi – subtle and refreshing 

Kaizen Mushi (RM 30) represented something from Japanese cuisine which I seldom had – a combination of prawns, salmon, scallop, and mussel steamed with assorted vegetable then served in a light sweet broth. The dish was served with a mixture of ponzu sauce with grated radish, yuzu skin, and a dash of tabasco.

While the sauce itself was quite interesting, it was ultimately unnecessary. The seafood soup was actually plenty good enough to be had by itself, I really enjoyed this dish and thought that it is of pretty good value as well.

Duo Combi - Kaki Chilli Mayo, Gindara Teriyaki
Duo Combi – Kaki Chilli Mayo, Gindara Teriyaki 

Our main dish of the night was duo combi  – kaki chilli mayo and gindarai teriyaki, a dish that’s part of the Omakase Kaizeki menu. The oyster chilli with mayo was an interesting interpretation with a local twist (chilli padi), while the cod fish represented the more traditional Japanese fair. I like them both, but wished that I can have another two servings of those sweet delicious cod.

Chef Teoh, Kelly, KY, Jean, and Azuki Banana Dorayaki
Chef Teoh, Kelly, KY, Jean, and Azuki Banana Dorayaki

We ended the session with azuki banana dorayaki (RM 30), or Doraemon’s favorite dessert with red bean and banana in the middle. A scoop of black sesame ice cream and a couple slices of melon (local) made up the rest of the dessert.

Overall it was a pretty decent dinner, one that sits in the middle-to-high tier of Japanese cuisine in Malaysia, something that is a step above your usual restaurant chains but a tad below some finer Japanese restaurants in Klang Valley.

Thank you Sabrina for the invite.

map to Petaling Jaya Hilton Hotel

Address:
Genji Japanese Restaurant
Hilton Petaling Jaya
No 2 Jalan Barat
46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

GPS3.10235, 101.64087
Tel03-7955 9122

Dae Jang Gum Korean restaurant was actually one of the first Korean BBQ restaurants that I visited some 7-8 years ago. It was always under my impression that I’ve already written a review on it, but that was obviously not the case. Better late than never, so here goes.

Dae Jang Gum Korean BBQ at Seksyen 14, Petaling Jaya
Dae Jang Gum Korean BBQ at Seksyen 14, Petaling Jaya

Situated at the other end of the same building that includes Digital Mall in Petaling Jaya, Dae Jang Gum is a pretty old establishment. I suspect that the restaurant probably looked the same when it first opened for business years ago.

The decoration is dated, tables and chairs are old, but at least those BBQ vents still works very well. Then again, we’re here for food, right?

good variety of banchan, and their kimchi jiggae is one of the best
good variety of banchan, and their kimchi jiggae is one of the best

Like most Korean BBQ restaurants, there’s quite a selection of different types and cuts of meat available to choose from (minimum order of 2 servings per table to start the grill).

We chose Dae Ji Mok Sal (grilled pork neck, RM 28) and Bul Galbi (marinated beef spare ribs, RM 62) for the grill, and 2 bowls of kimchi jiggae (kimchi soup) for the four of us.

Service is pretty decent right here, and we were served about a dozen different types of banchan (small Korean dishes) within minutes.

grilled pork belly, fresh and unseasoned
grilled pork neck, fresh and unseasoned

The kimchi soup is really the reason we come here for. They are the thickest and most flavorful kimchi soup that I’ve had in a restaurant (the only thicker version is when we cook it at home). The spicy broth goes very well with the steamed rice provided, and that thick, almost-overpowering aroma and taste, superb!

Grilled pork neck doesn’t taste too different from pork belly, the dipping “sauce” is basically sesame oil with salt and goes well with the meat. Optionally, you can wrap it in a piece of lettuce before chewing em down. Flavor isn’t exactly intense, so if you want something stronger, other marinated versions might be more suitable.

galbi - marinated beef ribs, always rich and delicious
galbi – marinated beef ribs, always rich and delicious

Marinated short ribs, or Galbi, is is one of my favorite Korean BBQ dishes, and the version at Dae Jang Gum did not disappoint. The beef is grilled to perfection and then cut into smaller pieces for your enjoyment. I like to wrap it in a piece of lettuce with some sauce and a piece of garlic to complete the flavor experience. Good stuff.

Yuki, Horng, & Haze
Yuki, Horng, & Haze

We usually spend about RM 30+ per person for a wholesome dinner here. Expect to pay a bit more if soju is involved, and alternatively you can order single dishes or go without BBQ meat to stay within a more limited budget. Whatever your decision, don’t forget to order the kimchi jiggae.

map to Dae Jang Gum at Seksyen 14, Petaling Jaya

Address:
Dae Jang Gum Korean Restaurant
20B-2 & 20B-3,
Section 14/20,
46100 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.110188, 101.635439
Tel: 03-7957 2613

Dae Jang Gum Korean restaurant

A few weeks ago we were invited to sample Toh Yuen‘s new a la carte menu. Some of you might have read about my previous visit to Toh Yuen back in 2011, well, of all the dishes prepared by Master Chef Lee this time around, only the fried rice and sea cucumber dish were repeats.

Toh Yuen Chinese restaurant at PJ Hilton Hotel
Toh Yuen Chinese restaurant at PJ Hilton Hotel

Regulars of Toh Yuen will be delighted that Chef Lee still stick by his principle of using the freshest and traditional ingredients with no additives in his cooking. For example, prawns are sourced fresh in the day and finished by the same night without ever being frozen. This ensures that the seafood you get here are some of the freshest one can get from a Chinese restaurant.

The slight down side of this method is that food generally tasted a bit more subtle, and thus might not suite tongues that are desensitized with too much tomyam and other heavily seasoned food, but if you are into traditional Chinese taste, this is worth a visit.

Here are the dishes we sampled:

chilled pacific clam, lamb with cumin & dried chili, soft shell crab
chilled pacific clam, lamb with cumin & dried chili, soft shell crab

We got started out with three appetizers –  chilled pacific clam with salsa (RM 28), deep fried lamb with cumin and dried chili (RM 28), and deep fried soft shell crab with garlic and chicken floss (RM 22).

Of the three, only the pacific clam is a cold dish, with the seafood sitting atop a bed of “salsa” arranged in a way not unlike tartar. The clams were sweet, but it did take me a while to accept having the pretty soft tasting salsa to go with them. A bold try but one that is still pretty experimental I thought.

The slightly spicy lamb was pretty good, and the chicken floss was an especially great addition to the soft shell crab, giving it an entirely different dimension. A trick I will shamelessly copy should I prepare soft shell crab (or even deep fried prawns) next time. I love it.

double boiled chicken with "shi hu" or "chong cao hua" soup
double boiled chicken with “shi hu” or “chong cao hua” soup

Like any proper 8 or 10 course Chinese dinner, our next dish was soup. we tried the double boiled chicken with “shi hu as well as the double boiled village chicken with “chong cao hua” soup (RM 32 per bowl).

Both were subtle but not lacking in taste. Herbal soup lovers will enjoy this, as I did. These aren’t of quality you find at Elegant Inn, and they weren’t priced as such either.

smoked duck with fruit sauce
smoked duck with fruit sauce

My favorite dish of the night has gotta be the smoked duck with fruit sauce (RM 38). The duck breast has the perfect skin-fat-meat combination that reminds me of  good quality roast pork, except with the slightly more exquisite taste of duck breast. The dragon fruit sauce gives it an extra bit of sophistication as well, I had at least 4-5 pieces (more than everyone :D)

prawns with salted egg, sea cucumber with mushroom, lamb with cumin & dried chili
prawns with salted egg, sea cucumber with mushroom, lamb with cumin & dried chili

Our first main dish was the sautéed prawn with salted egg yolk (RM 50). The freshness of the prawns were evident here, and I liked the fact that they were shelled and thus requires zero effort to consume. The richest dish we had, it was very well executed.

The sea cucumber with flower mushroom and abalone sauce (RM 80) is one of those dishes you often find at wedding dinners, but over here the sea cucumber were fat, juicy, and tasted quite a bit better. Older folks would love this dish for sure, and the sauce goes very well with steamed rice.

steamed Canadian black cod, sauteed celery with pine nuts, vegetarian "chicken" with yam basket
steamed Canadian black cod, sauteed celery with pine nuts, vegetarian “chicken” with yam basket

Next came steamed Canadian black cod fish with “yu feng” ginger sauce (RM 32/100 gram). The seafood was again very fresh, and the ginger/soya sauce base would go very well with steamed rice. I particularly love the fish skin and bits of fried garlic/ginger placed on top of the fish. This was a very luxurious dish to me.

Sautéed celery with lotus root & pine nuts (RM 30) is a blend of fresh crunchy vegetable with the texture of pine nuts. A bit bland for me, but a pretty good change of taste from the other dishes.

Our last main dish was the sauteed “gong bao” vegetarian chicken with yam ring (RM 60). This is a dish that I don’t particularly enjoy, and this has nothing to do with the taste but the fact that I usually like chicken to be .. well, made of chicken, and vegetable stayed vegetable, but if you’re those who enjoys fake fish and vegetarian meat, this isn’t a bad choice. The yam basket was delicious.

Toh Yuen fried rice, banana fritter & strawberry cheese cake dessert
Toh Yuen fried rice, banana fritter & strawberry cheese cake dessert

We concluded the night with Toh Yuen fried rice (RM 35) and deep fried banana with strawberry and cheese cake (RM 20). The fried rice was very well balanced and tasted superb without having any ingredients that stands out, Haze over stuffed herself quite a bit trying to have as much as she could.

The dessert was decent, but a little out of place with the dishes that we had, I would probably prefer herbal jelly or snow hasma instead (which they have in their menu as well)

The full menu can be found here.

map to Petaling Jaya Hilton Hotel

Address:
Toh Yuen Chinese Restaurant
Hilton Petaling Jaya
No 2 Jalan Barat
46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

GPS3.10235, 101.64087
Tel03-7955 9122

Toh Yuen Chinese Restaurant

Last week we attended the second buka puasa dinner buffet review session at Armada Hotel’s Utara Cafe, a place Haze and I went  earlier in the year for their Mother’s day promotion buffet and was largely left impressed.

We braved the pre-buka puasa traffic in town (should have taken the LRT) and ended up parking a couple blocks away from the hotel to get there in time to take these photos before they were on everyone else’s plates. Ramadan is a month with fantastic food offerings at the markets and hotels alike, but the traffic.. that part I don’t like nearly as much.

buka puasa at Armada's Utara Cafe - Sinar Ramadhan Al-Mubarak
buka puasa at Armada’s Utara Cafe – Sinar Ramadhan Al-Mubarak

Anyway, themed “Sinar Ramadhan Al-Mubarak“, the buka puasa buffet at Armada features over 100 dishes of traditional delicacies as well as some of the more familiar international offerings that wouldn’t be unfamiliar to those who has been to the Utara Coffee House.

These dishes are the brain child of Executive Chef Chew Teik Chye and his team of chefs.

ulam, kuih, rice, and even western style pastry too
ulam, kuih, rice, and even western style pastries

To start, there are kerabus, lemang, seruding, traditional kuih, and ulam with 4 different types of sambal, but unfortunately no tempoyak. Western style pastries are available as well, and if you are a fan of kerabu, they have kerabu mangga, kerabu sotong, kerabu kacang botol, and kerabu soo hoon.

lamb, beef curry, salad/rojak bar, roti jala, roti canai
lamb, beef curry, salad/rojak bar, roti jala, roti canai

There are also a few dishes from Middle Eastern cuisine that made their way into this buffet line up, you can find  Qara Be Lahm El Ghanam (Pumpkin with lamb and cumin), Dajaj Mehawar (chicken with aromatic onion), Samkeh Harra Bil Kozhara (spicy fish with coriander), Fatet Dajaj (scented chicken with saffron rice), and Bayd Bil Forn (baked egg with spinach)

To be honest, those aren’t food I’m familiar with, but I did try a bit of them and my experience is a positive one.

satey, otak-otak, ikan bakar, roast lamb, nasi briyani, gulai with paku
satey, otak-otak, ikan bakar, roast lamb, nasi briyani, gulai with paku

Classic dishes such as gulai lembu (beef curry), ayam golek, pucuk paku, kambing masak merah, and many more are all present as well. Roti canai, satey, otak-otak, ikan bakar, briyani rice, and whole roast lamb too are some of the other dishes you can find. It is impossible to list them all down.

Oh, there’s also a stall where you can pick your own raw seafood and get the chef to cook it right there and then with the sauce of your choice. My advice is to try not to add bamboo clams into the mix cos the shells sometimes break and you end up having to pick them off the squid/prawns, troublesome!

sweet and sour beef, prawns, mussels, vegetables, and even duck
sweet and sour beef, prawns, mussels, vegetables, and even duck

Other than the more “typical” Middle East and Malay food, there’s also raw oysters, sushi, smoked duck, steamed fish, and an assortment of dishes representing cuisines from all over the world. The 100+ dishes can actually be a little bit intimidating if you are those sort of people who always want to try everything at a buffet.

I took about 4 plates of food (not very full lah!) for dinner, and while not everything was 100% super fantastic, they were generally pretty good, and I particularly like the duck, steamed fish, and beef curry. Oysters were plenty fresh too.

steamed fish, raw oysters, sushi, and dined with some Muslim friends
steamed fish, raw oysters, sushi, and dined with some Muslim friends

This Ramadan feast is priced at RM 85++ per person, and there’s also a 10+1 promotion applicable for voucher purchase (to be redeemed till 31st Oct 2012). There’s also a competition at  www.facebook.com/HotelArmadaPJ that you might want to check out.

map to Armada Hotel

Address:
Utara Coffee House
Hotel Armada Petaling Jaya
Lot 6, Lorong Utara C,
Section 52, 46200 PJ, Selangor
GPS3.104199, 101.640964
Tel03-7954 6888 (ext 4557)

Utara Coffee House