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Tag / calamari

A couple weeks ago we were invited to have a food review session at KL Hilton’s Graze, the new restaurant that take over the spot previously held by Senses.

While Graze unmistakeably exudes the same class and standard fitting for the Hilton name, the restaurant is now a lot more approachable to common people with its unpretentious setting and more rational price tags.

Graze at Hilton, taking over Senses, chef Michael Elfwing
Graze at Hilton, taking over Senses, chef Michael Elfwing

Senses enjoyed a pretty successful tenure under Chef Michael Elfwing, but over the years it sort of evolved into a restaurant where most only go there for special occasions. The molecular gastronomy dishes were great, but the cost of ingredients often mean higher price tag on the menu.

At Graze, the menu comprises of classic Western dishes that emphasize on fresh ingredients and seasonal produce. Chicken liver parfait instead of foie gras and suddenly it’s RM 28 instead of some RM 60+. Dishes here are meant for sharing as well, and the atmosphere of a warm and casual group dinner is much encouraged. There is no need to play dress up either.

bread, calamari fritti, smooth chicken liver parfait
bread, calamari fritti, smooth chicken liver parfait

We sampled quite a selection of appetizers and main dishes for the session, and in the interest of readability I’m going to just list them here.

Calamari Fritti – flash fried squid (RM 28). Crispy on the outside while fresh and juicy inside, perfect with the accompanying mayo that is slightly tangy.  Goes well with wine, but I wished we had beer for this.

Smooth Chicken Liver Parfait (RM 28). Really the best chicken pate I tried, it’s called a parfait here thanks to the layer of fat surrounding the liver, served with caramelized apple jam and toasted baguette.

mimolette cheese souffle with raisins & pine nuts, pissaladiere tart with olives and anchovies
mimolette cheese soufflé with raisins & pine nuts, pissaladiere tart with olives and anchovies

Mimolette Cheese Soufflé with Raisins & Pine Nuts (RM 28). Melt in your mouth goodness. Gotta eat this within 5-10 minutes while it’s all puffed up and fluffy.

Pissaladiere Tart with Olives and Anchovies (RM 28). Very similar to pizzas except the absence of tomatoes in the list of ingredients. Great for sharing, and I like the fact that care is taken in the arrangement of raisins to ensure there’s one in every slice.

onion soup, petit baguette layered with gruyere cheese, goat cheese beignets with sweet millet & garden salad
onion soup, petit baguette layered with gruyere cheese,
goat’s cheese beignets with sweet millet & garden salad

Onion Soup, Petit Baguette layered with Gruyère Cheese (RM 18). One of the three choices of  soups at Graze, rich, creamy, and with the proper amount of cheese. Can’t find fault with this.

Goat’s Cheese Beignets with Sweet Millet & Garden Salad (RM 25) – The texture is almost not entirely unlike cream puff, but instead of cream this oozes out goat’s cheese instead. Very rich and packs a punch to the taste bud, the garden salad barely enough to neutralize those cheesy taste, I’m not complaining at all.

steak tartare with hand cut fries, onion jam, tasted sour dough bread
steak tartare with hand cut fries, onion jam, tasted sour dough bread

Steak Tartare with Hand Cut Fries, Onion Jam, Toasted Sour Dough Bread (RM42) – The priciest of all appetizers in the menu, but the portion’s really big enough to serve this as a main dish, or at least to be shared between 2-3 person. The dish was beautiful and the beef delicious, it was a shame I can’t have more of it due to all the other dishes yet to be tasted in this review.

roast chicken with garlic & thyme, prime rib steak
roast chicken with garlic & thyme, prime rib steak

After the 6 appetizers (that’s all of them available in the menu) and one soup, it was time to move onto the main dishes. Prices of rice & pastas are at RM 33, with other main courses from RM 38 onwards.

Roast Chicken with Garlic & Thyme, Ruby Roseval Potatoes & Button Mushrooms (RM 42). Half a chicken served on a beautiful pan, just about as unpretentious as it gets. The poultry looked good and tasted even better, remember to eat the garlic too!

Prime Rib Steak (350 gram, RM 188). The most expensive item on the entire menu, for the budget concious there are cheaper options of tenderloin (150g RM 64, 200g RM 74), T-bone steak (300g RM 98), NY cut Sirloin (160g RM 64, 220g RM 74). While it isn’t as fancy as Wagyu, the beef was prepared perfectly and tasted every bit a good prime rib steak should.  I like how bare it was as well, without any sauces that gets in the way of a piece of great tasting beef.

slow cooked dorper lamb shoulder, moussaka - baked lamb & aubergine
slow cooked dorper lamb shoulder, moussaka – baked lamb & aubergine

Slow Cooked Dorper Lamb Shoulder & Grilled Rack with Parsley Mashed Potatoes (RM 58). Tender, juicy, and I must say, quite a large portion of lamb shoulder as well. This dish should satisfy those who likes lamb, but isn’t exactly special in comparison with other dishes.

Moussaka – Baked Lamb & Aubergine (RM 38). One of the cheapest options in the menu, but certainly doesn’t lack any omph. It tasted a bit like lasagne without the pasta, and I find myself enjoying the combination of lamb and eggplant in this dish.

tortellini of potato & fontina with sauteed escargot & baby spinach, bouillabaisse, sea bream, snapper & lobster with toasted baguette & rouille, grilled snapper
tortellini of potato & fontina with sauteed escargot & baby spinach,
bouillabaisse, sea bream, snapper & lobster with toasted baguette & rouille,
grilled snapper, carper butter, haricot vert & la ratte potatoes

Tortellini of Potato & Fontina with sautéed Escargot & Baby Spinach (RM 33). Generous portions of escargot and those delicious tortellini of potato with Fontina cheese made for a great combination. If you like escargot for appetizer and pasta for main, this can substitute both and pass with flying colors.

Bouillabaisse, Sea Bream, Snapper & Lobster with Toasted Baguette & Rouille (RM 92). A traditional fish stew recipe from south-eastern France, this is one of the more luxurious main dish on the menu, and that is probably due to the addition of lobster in the list of ingredients. Definitely delicious.

Grilled Snapper, Caper Butter, Haricot Vert & La Ratte Potatoes (RM 58). A healthy choice for those who like seafood with minimal fuss. The fish tasted fresh, and condiments matched well.

warm tarte tatin & vanilla ice cream, Graze chocolate tart, lemon tart with fresh berries, cheese
warm tarte tatin & vanilla ice cream, Graze chocolate tart, lemon tart with fresh berries

Before the end of the night, we also sampled the three different tarts available at Graze (all priced at RM 18). The warm tarte tatin & vanilla ice cream, Graze chocolate tart, lemon tart with fresh berries. My favourite was the warm tarte tatin, which was like a better version of apple pie, and quite impartial with the other choices. Then again, I’m not a huge fan of desserts.

For those who likes to end their meal with cheese, for RM 45 you get access to the selection of cheese from the cheese wall. I’m out of the league when it comes to naming them, but they are delicious and together with a cup of hot coffee, makes for a perfect conclusion to an awesome dinner.

Address:
Graze
3 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
50470 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.135331, 101.685762
Tel: 03-2264 2592
Hours12.00pm – 2.30pm, 6.30pm – 10.30pm

This post is a little bit late, considering Christmas is actually sorta.. well, over, but better late than never, right?

A couple weeks ago I was invited to probably the biggest Merry Guinness event at Double Tree by Hilton in KL, featuring the winner of MasterChef Australia season 2 – Adam Liaw. Guinness & good food? I can’t resist, even though it meant that I had to braved the KL traffic on a weekday to get to this place.

Merry Guinness with chef Adam Liaw
Merry Guinness with chef Adam Liaw, Kelly Siew at lower right

A kitchen was set up in the main banquet hall, with chef Adam Liaw demonstrating how many of the Guinness infused dishes served for the night is created. While we waited for the dishes to get ready, unlimited rounds of Guinness were being served.

Good life yah?

oysters, chicken and egg terrine, squid, lamb shank pie, graved lax
oysters, chicken and egg terrine, squid, lamb shank pie, gravad lax

As for the food, we were actually served over a dozen different dishes over the course of the night, and yes, I was stuffed at the end of the night. Here’s the menu in two parts:

Chef Adam’s Inspired Menu

  • Farmhouse chicken and egg terrine with Guinness mustard
  • Oyster with Guinness cream
  • Crispy squid with chili Guinness salt
  • Open Guinness lamb shank and mushroom pie with champ with watercress salad
  • Guinness butter roasted chicken
  • Guinness BBQ wings apple slaw
  • Guinness and fruit Christmas pudding
  • Sweet Guinness damper with blackberry maple compote

Guinness butter roasted chicken, Christmas vegetable
Guinness butter roasted chicken, Christmas vegetable

The second part of the menu, Christmas Feast:

  • Gravad lax with dill honey mustard
  • Roast pumpkin soup with julienne smoked duck
  • Roast turkey roulade with chestnut stuffing, giblet and cranberry sauce
  • Christmas vegetables
  • Christmas pudding with vanilla sauce
  • Christmas minced pies
  • Black forest pudding with cream cheese frosting

roast pumpkin soup with julienne smoked duck, Christmas pudding, BBQ wings
roast pumpkin soup with julienne smoked duck,
Christmas pudding, BBQ wings

Many of the dishes were excellent, I particularly think that the sauce for gravad lax and oysters were executed to perfection. Chicken and egg terrine were interesting but tasted slightly foreign to me, and the wings & buttered chicken would perhaps be that much better if served warm (the room was too cold I guess, and they didn’t really serve it with heated plates).

The squid too was perfect as finger food to go with Guinness, but ultimately there were really just way too much food for my stomach that I actually skipped desserts.

desserts & drinks, Nigel, Michael, Wilson, and yours truly
desserts & drinks, Nigel, Michael, Wilson, and yours truly mucking around

This was another rather awesome event by Guinness, and it is a shame that we can’t order some of these creations by chef Adam Liaw anywhere in the country. Perhaps some pub owners will take note and incorporate some of the ideas into their menu (oysters & the gravad lax please!)

And by the way, hope you had a great xmas and Happy New Year!

Bangsar is one of the places I haven’t really explore that much as far as food goes, so it was a good opportunity for me to head there with my buddy Horng when I was informed of Ronnie Q restaurant and pub‘s involvement in the Guinness-infused Christmas main course promotion.

Ronnie Q at Bangsar
Ronnie Q, a proper English pub

If you haven’t found out already, there are quite a few restaurants that are running the same Guinness-infused Christmas Menu (including Cafe Chulo at Jaya One I wrote about earlier, and more to come on this blog).

The promotion is pretty simple:

  • order a Guinness-infused Christmas main course
  • fill up a voucher with your details
  • tear it in half and give the side with your details to the restaurant to redeem a pint of Guinness Draught
  • keep the other half the the voucher to get RM12 off 3 pint of Guinness Draught on next visit

Ronnie Q at Bangsar
order main course, fill in voucher, gets a free Guinness Draught and a RM12 coupon too

As a restaurant/pub, Ronnie Q carries a pretty small but sufficient menu. Shepherd’s pie, ribeye steak, chicken chop, fish and chips, chicken boxing, burger, fish fingers, all the classic English foods

For the promotion, there is the Guinness-infused lamb chop, pork chop, and Hainanese pork chop. Horng and I decided to skip the poultry and went for lamb chop and pork chop instead. We also ordered deep fried calamari as appetizer.

Ronnie Q at Bangsar
deep fried calamari and 2 pints of Guinness Draught

The combination of deep fried calamari with Guinness turned out to be excellent. The big, fat, and juicy squid ring’s saltiness paired with the slight bitter after taste of Guinness Draught brings out the flavor of the seafood even more. Brilliant.

Ronnie Q at Bangsar
Guinness infused pork chop and lamb chop

The pork chop and lamb chop didn’t disappoint either. The sauce clearly carries a pretty distinct and yet subtle hint of Guinness in it. I do think while being a little unorthodox, the extra ingredient does add character to the otherwise pretty simple dishes that were served with potato wedges, baked beans, green beans, and some sliced mushrooms. The portions were rather generous too.

Ronnie Q at Bangsar
Ronnie Q is located in the heart of Bangsar Telawi area

An appetizer, two main dishes, and two pints of Guinness Draught at Bangsar, I would think the bill might be a little steep, but when the server handed me the bill, it was only RM 60.95. I almost couldn’t believe it, a very, very good deal indeed.

Good food, great drinks, and of course, as an added bonus, you get to sit alfresco and enjoy watching the ladies walk by the busy street that is Bangsar Telawi 2.

Address:
32, Jalan Telawi 2,
Bangsar Baru, 59100 KL

GPS: 3.131721, 101.671815
Tel: 03-2282 0722

Before stepping into La Cocina, I had never tasted genuine Spanish food other than a few tapas (that weren’t very good) during a wine session somewhere in Bangsar, hence I was delighted when the owner, Mr. Jeganathan invited me for dinner at his restaurant in USJ. After all, I am always a keen experimenter in food and never shun away from tasting new cuisine.

La Cocina, authentic spanish food at Subang Jaya USJ
paella negres – seafood in Spanish rice cooked with squid ink

After giving us a brief tour of the 2-storey restaurant (wine club and cellar upstairs, dining on ground level), we were served a host of tapas as appetizers and a glass of sangria that was very fresh and undiluted. The main dish was the very interesting paella negres (seafood with Spanish rice in squid ink), and we rounded off the night with a couple desserts.

Throughout the night, Mr Jega played a very warm and inviting host, never lack in enthusiasm explaining each dishes as they are served as well as telling us his passion for Spanish food.

La Cocina, authentic spanish food at Subang Jaya USJ
wonderful host, manager, and owner – Mr. Jeganathan

Appetizers:

  • calamares a la romana – squid with home made garlic mayonnaise. I just can’t get enough of the myannaise mayonnaise, and the squid fried perfectly too.
  • gambas al pil pil – garlic shrimps, pan fried with fresh garlic, olive oil & dried chili.
  • champignones al ajillo – button mushroom, fresh button mushroom with garlic, onion, herbs & olive oil. This goes really well with the bread.
  • tigres– mussel and shrimp croquette, breaded and deep fried, with garlic mayonnaise. The mussel and shrimp is mashed up and served on the shell, perfect for those who does not like the texture of shell fish.
  • we also had meat balls and some very nice bread to go with all these.

La Cocina, authentic spanish food at Subang Jaya USJ
five different tapas – squid, mussel, mushroom, meatball, shrimp

The main dish, paella negres, is a mixture of large prawns, shrimps, razor clams, fish fillet, squid, clams, and vegetables with Spanish rice in squid ink. I would have been hesitant looking at the completely black rice, but after tasting some of the best appetizers I have no doubt that the main dish wouldn’t disappoint. Furthermore, the TV show Iron Chef has had squid ink dishes as well. The ink actually provides a very subtle seafood taste, and with all the fresh seafood ingredients, it proved to be a delight to any seafood lover. You just had to try this at least once.

La Cocina, authentic spanish food at Subang Jaya USJ
sangria and desserts

By dessert time, I was already pretty full. The crema catalana, spanish custard with caramelized sugar on top was very refreshing, while the tarta de santiago, almond tart with vanilla custard can be a little rich especially with a full stomach. It was a very good meal overall, and there is no doubt I will be there again.

Map to La Cocina in USJ Taipan

Price wise, La Cocina is very reasonable, the tapas averages about RM7-10, the Spanish rice dish is RM58, but you can feed 2-3 person. Dessert is another RM 7 or so. The restaurant also offers set meals for 2 that are priced below RM 100. There are also more familiar dishes available, such as steak, lamb shank, pastas, and even fish and chips.

Address:
38 USJ9/5P,
Subang Jaya, Selangor

GPS: 3.046711, 101.587143
Tel: 03-8023 2395