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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / cuisine

When I first got the invitation from foodstreet for a food review session from Peony Garden at Kota Damansara, I did some searches on the internet and but was not able to find any blog entries. So I went to the restaurant with Eiling (who is going to give me some golden tickets) having little to expect.

note: tragically, this place is no longer in operation, it was one of my favorites! (20/9/2010)

Poeny Garden, Nyonya Food at Kota Damansara
seven dishes to sample, with original ingredients

As it turns out, Peony Garden serves Northern Nyonya food, which means they are actually from Penang, my hometown. The relatively new restaurant is run by a pair of siblings, Karen and Eugene Chew, whom despite knowing little about blogs and the way of cyber world, were very friendly (especially when we arrived at our common mother tongue, Penang Hokkien).

We were served the unique “green leaves drink” that is made of seven different types of grass and leaves. It tasted pretty refreshing though slightly on the sweeter side. The owners explained to us that many of the ingredients used are sourced from Penang and other states, and Karen cooks everything from scratch, the traditional way, even the sambal is made by pounding fresh chili and shrimp paste by hand.

Poeny Garden, Nyonya Food at Kota Damansara
Penang otak-otak, asam prawn, curry black pomphret, salted vegetable duck soup

We were then served seven dishes, and I recognized what they were instantly without having to be explained! Tau eu bak (soya sauce pork), asam prawn, curry bawal hitam (black pomphret), salted vegetable duck soup, Penang otak-otak, jui hu char (fried sengkuang with dried cuttle fish), and fried spring roll. These are the dishes I grew up with, the memory of mom working in her kitchen flashes back like a tsunami wave, the familiar smell, the sound of sengkuang sizzling in the wok, and how she always peel the asam shrimps for us. I wish mom was here to have this session with me.

In the taste department, the food actually measured up very well. The asam prawn, cooked with asam and dark soya sauce carries a strong and fragrant asam taste that is slightly salty and sourish, complementing the sweetness of the shrimp perfectly. The fish curry is done the traditional way as well, with black pomphret and a generous portion of laksa flower that adds to the taste. There is no substitute with another type of fish as “lemak” (fatty) taste of the black pomphret suits the asam curry best.

Poeny Garden, Nyonya Food at Kota Damansara
soya sauce pork, jui hu char, spring roll

I personally always prefer the Penang style otak-otak, and the version at Peony, though not the best I’ve had, was not bad either. As for salted vegetable duck soup, it might take a little used to if you are not accustomed to it, sourish and slightly spicy, I liked it.

Jui hu char is a dish that is cooked by many Penang family whenever they worship ancestors (don’t ask me why). It is best eaten with some sambal and wrapped with fresh lettuce, much like the way you’d have Korean BBQ meat. The deep fried spring rolls actually shares the main ingredient (sengkuang) with jiu hu char, but served with a unique blend of dark soya source and chili that gives it a pretty interesting taste, in a good way.

If you’ve followed this blog for some time, you know that I am a pork lover. The tau eu bak here was absolutely fantastic, cooked for hours to the very soft and tender texture, the soya sauce is imported from Nothern state to get the taste just right. Coupled with the original sambal, I had to fight with Eiling till the last piece, it was as good as it is sinful.

Poeny Garden, Nyonya Food at Kota Damansara
green leaf drinks, and eiling with the Peony plate

Dishes are priced from RM 8 to RM 20+, pretty decent even though the portions aren’t big. Authentic foods are hard to come by these days, and I don’t think you can get them any more authentic than here. A family run restaurant that prepares everything painstakingly the traditional way. I am sure I will return.

map to Poeny Garden at Kota Damansara
Poeny Garden is just 5 minutes away from IKEA/Ikano/Curve

The restaurant also host private events and birthday parties. If you like it the old school way with nasi kunyit, curry chicken, and hard boiled egg for your baby’s full moon, they do it too.

Lunch: Tue to Fri 11am – 2pm
Dinner: Tue to Sun 6 – 10pm

Address:
16-1, Jalan PJU 5/10,
Dataran Sunway, Kota Damansara,
47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

GPS: 3.150886, 101.593237
Tel: 03-6141 8323

It is no secret that Japanese food is one of my favorite international cuisines. Sashimi, sushi, tempura, hand rolls, teriyaki, teppanyaki, I like them all. The culinary experience I had when I visited Tokyo 2 years ago is still fresh in my memory, as I lick my lips again…

update (11/10/2010): Rakuzen has moved to GTower at LG-05 & LG-06, GTower, 199, Jln Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur

Luckily, there are many good Japanese restaurants in this part of the world, and one of my absolute favorite would be Rakuzen, a place I visited on a regular basis ever since I came back from the States. In fact, the blog entry on Rakuzen at Subang Jaya is one of my first food articles. I bet you can imagine my enthusiasm when I was invited to a food review session at Rakuzen @ Chulan Square.

Rakuzen Japanese Restaurant at Chulan Square
Sashimi Moraiwase

According to the friendly host and restaurant manager, Jack, Rakuzen Subang is where everything started, and this Chulan Square location is the second branch. Then there’s the Pyramid Zen, and I found out that they also run my favorite conveyor belt sushi place, Zanmai Sushi! I believe there is also a Zanmai outlet at Gardens, you can check it here.

Rakuzen Japanese Restaurant at Chulan Square
the really zen like ambiance

Chef Ah Fai at Rakuzen is one of the top apprentices of the bald Japanese chef heads the Subang branch and has been making sushi & sashimi for more than a decade. For this review, he prepared the signature dish sashimi moraiwase, a sashimi salad, dragon roll, and assorted tempura. I was already drooling while taking these photos.

Rakuzen Japanese Restaurant at Chulan Square
sashimi moraiwase, sashimi salad, dragon roll, tempura

The sashimi includes sake (salmon), maguro (tuna), otoro (tuna belly), ika (squid), tako (octopus), amaebi (sweet shrimp), uni (sea urchin), and a Spanish mackerel, everything imported from Japan and properly stored in their special -15 C fridge to ensure freshness. Order individually, everything would totaled to over RM 200, so the RM 150 dish offers very good value.

The raw fish were very very good, especially the otoro, fatty savory tuna belly that melts in your mouth; of course, the sea urchin is always one of my favorites too, texture of raw brain but with the tastes of that unique sweetness. It was very very satisfying, everything tasted perfect, with proper cuts and the right temperature too.

Rakuzen Japanese Restaurant at Chulan Square
chef Fai and his creations

As for the sashimi salad, there were plenty of raw fish, squid, and a generous portion of ebiko (fish roe) on top of all the fresh vegetable, tomato, and cucumber in a creamy topping that tasted slightly sourish. This is perfect for someone who loves to have raw fish but doesn’t want to have the rice to go with it. (you can choose to fill your stomach with just sashimi and break the bank at the same time).

The dragon roll is made by deep frying a big tiger prawn and wrapped it with seaweed sheet, sushi rice, avocado, and topped with some Japanese mayonnaise. There were carrots, prawn, egg plants, and even the mint leaf in the tempura dish. I find the half fried mint leaf having a very interesting taste with a unique texture. I always eat the mint leaf served with sashimi anyway, try it!

map to Chulan Square, Rakuzen
Rakuzen at Chulan Square is just a short walk from Pavilion KL

It was a very sumptuous and satisfying lunch that is second only to the hospitality by the good chef and the restaurant manager Jack. The invitation was arranged by foodstreet.

Address:
Block B Lot 2A Chulan Square,
92 Jalan Raja Chulan, 50200 KL

GPS: 3.148518, 101.716114
Tel: 03-2145 6200

A couple weekends ago Suanie, Nicholas, and I arranged a trip down to Seremban to lepak a bit at Era Square, a pretty new commercial area just right to the yet-to-be-opened Terminal 2 interstate bus terminal. We met up with Cheeser the local girl there, and of course, the first agenda after the 45 minutes drive from KL is to get our stomach stuffed.

Kensington Western Restaurant at Era Square, Seremban
the awesome prawn, and live oyster from Canada

Due to the power that be, we had an invitation to eat at Kensington, a nicely decorated Western/Fusion restaurant. The owner Grace Chia had prepared a total of 8 dishes for us, she was super friendly and actually sat us through the whole meal to tell us everything about the individual dishes and how they (with her husband the chef) got into this business.

Grace actually lived in UK for quite a number of years and have been involved with satisfying stomachs of the public for over 15 years. Kensington at Era Square is their latest venture.

Kensington Western Restaurant at Era Square, Seremban
KY, Grace the owner, and Ringo (Cheeser)

Now lets get to the food, shall we? Since there are so many dishes and Grace had laboriously explained each of them to me, I think I shall just list them one by one here.

Prawn Mango Salad (RM 18.50) – This is one Suanie’s favorite, an American recipe that has the prawn cooked with fresh mango (seafood and fruit, interesting heh?). The slightly sourly sauce is particularly excellent, very buttery and flavorful.

Aromatic Crispy Duck (RMR 18.50) – A quarter duck peeled off from the bone, served with lettuce, cucumber, and plum sauce. I find this to actually taste better than the Schezuan duck I had at Soho, 1 Utama. The fresh vegetable compliments the taste of duck meat and the sauce very well.

Kensington Western Restaurant at Era Square, Seremban
prawn mango salad, aromatic crispy duck, live oyster, and baked potato

Live Oyster (RM 6.50) – Flown from Canada, fat and juicy. You can have them cheese baked for an extra buck.

Baked Potato – Somehow I have lost the description for this dish, but if you like potato and cheese, do not miss it!

Filet Steak with Shitake Sauce (RM 31.50) – A generous serving of beef with the shitake mushroom in with cream and a touch of wine. I gotta admit that this dish did not look like a proper steak and I had doubts about it. However, a bite the red meat confirmed what Suan kept telling me “You gotta try this, it’s great omg!”

Kensington Western Restaurant at Era Square, Seremban
filet steak, lamb shank, chicken veronique, and mushroom soup

Lamb Shank (RM 18.50) – A huge piece of lamb shank serve prepared with black pepper sauce. The meat is very tender and it definitely tastes better than those you can order from the particular chain restaurant famous for their cakes. A very good value too.

Chicken Veronique (RM 15.30) – Chicken breast cooked with grapes (yes grapes!), cream, and white wine. While chicken breast is chicken breast, the sauce made all the difference, a very interesting taste with actual pieces of grape in it. Though I’m not used to having chicken served this way, I like it.

Mushroom Soup and Garlic Bread – When the mushroom soup came, I was already more than half full and wasn’t exactly overly keen on “just mushroom soup”. Grace proved me wrong, the soup actually have bits of onion, potato, shitake mushroom, and celery in it that made the taste and texture that much better. Goes very well with the garlic bread too!

Kensington Western Restaurant at Era Square, Seremban
Suan doesn’t eat oyster, so I had extra. Grace the friendly owner

This is certainly one of the best lunches I’ve ever had. I really really wish Kensington can open a branch just outside next to my house. The price is very affordable, and the food is excellent, combined with a comfortable dining area, there isn’t anything to complain about.

I am sure I will go there again, after all, going to Seremban can actually be faster than heading down town KL sometimes.

map to Era Square, Seremban
Kensington is situated at Era Square, just 5 minutes from Seremban Toll

Address:
Kensington Western Restaurant
34, Jalan Era Square 3,
Era Square,
70200 Seremban, N. Sembilan

GPS: 2.726541, 101.931442
Tel:
06-768 7288

A while back a reader of this humble blog was kinda enough send me a one day Shangri-La hotel prestige membership coupon. This coupon entails me to be treated as if I am one of those people who frequent this hotel chain enough to be given the membership, which also means I get to eat at the various restaurants in Shangri-La for up to 50% discount. I chose to go to Zipangu, the Japanese restaurant that has the reputation to be one of the finest in Klang Valley.

Zipangu Japanese Restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
very classy design, and my membership coupon

The interior of the restaurant is most impressive. There is a huge selection of wine, with a dedicated room surrounded by walls made of wine cellars, there is even a dedicated cigar room. The ambiance is mellow and yet classy, no rowdy crowd nor screaming babies.

After checking out the menu, my old pal horny and me decided to order the set dinners as they look enticing, and probably one of the more affordable choices to experience the Japanese style haute cuisine. We ordered the beef teriyaki with tempura and the sushi set.

Zipangu Japanese Restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
this foie gras appetizer is to die for

We were first served with a piece of tofu and some vegetable as starter. The texture of the tofu was somehow closer to cheese than tofu and really has the added sophistication. Then came the soup with a slice of lime and some mushroom that carries a tangy taste that I usually don’t associate with hot soup, it was very good nonetheless.

The next item on the menu was foie gras. I have heard and read about this French delicacy for a while now and this was the first time I came face to face with it. For the uninitiated, foie gras: “the liver of a duck or a goose that has been specially fattened by gavage” (as defined by French law).” It was served on a piece of winter melon and lightly seared. The texture is akin to butter and yet just ever slightly more solid. The taste was subtle but yet so good, it was as like a taste I never knew existed. Kinda like the first time you had orgasm, just new, exciting, and addictive (if your wallet is fat enough). You just have to try it.

Zipangu Japanese Restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
beef teriyaki with tempura, sushi set with very fatty cuts (best)

The main dish did not disappoint either, the beef teriyaki and tempura was succulent and the sauce that came with the meat so delicious horny was basically in cloud 9. As for the ten pieces of sushi on my plate, I can tell you that I had never had sushi this good before, you could see from the picture that the salmon cut was from the belly, and so was the tuna. It was of course, very fresh, and absolutely delectable.

Zipangu Japanese Restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
map of Shangri-La Hotel at KL

Even after the 50% discount, the bill came to around RM 200. However, it was really a dining experience that is worth every cent. They serve buffet lunch on Sunday for around the same price as Jogoya I believe. I must bring the hot chick there one of these days. :)

Address:
Shangri-la Hotel
Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.152139, 101.709419
Tel: 03-2032 2388

After driving around PJ not knowing what to have for dinner, we somehow ended up at Sri Hartamas. Since the density of Korean restaurants at this area is probably only second to Ampang, we decided to include Kimchi for dinner.

note: this place is no longer in operation

Mu Gong He Korean Restauratn at Sri Hartamas
quiet little place just above 7-11

After scouring around for a parking spot, we finally deposited the vehicle next to the 7-11 convenient store. Since there is a little Korean restaurant situated right above this place, we decided to give it a try instead of going to some of the bigger and more lavished competitors.

Mu Gong He is just like many other Korean restaurants, offering numerous grilled meat dishes but not a whole lot of other stuff that does not use the burner. The interior decoration is simple and actually a little dated. Since it was a weekday evening, the restaurant was rather quiet too.

Mu Gong He Korean Restauratn at Sri Hartamas
the soup and side dishes

We ordered 2 soups, a Kimchi jjigae (Kimchi soup), and a Hae Mul Soon Dubu (Seafood tofu soup). The two soups (more like stew) came with banchan (side dishes) that is typical of Korean food. Two metal bowls of steamed rice were served too.

The two stews were surprisingly good, the Kimchi stew very strong in taste and packed with quite a lot of kimchi, as well as meat, tofu, and other ingredients. The kimchi served here were more fermented and thus more flavorful. Just the way I like it. The seafood soup though, was even better, generous amount of shellfish, squid, and prawn gives the soup a good base. The tofu used was very smooth and tasted awesome soaking in the spicy soup. There was even a half boiled egg, just perfect.

Mu Gong He Korean Restauratn at Sri Hartamas
situated in Sri Hartamas, pretty easy to find

It was a very satisfying meal, 10 different dishes with rice. The banchan comes free and the soups each cost RM 15. Including tax, the two of us only needed to shell out RM 16.50 for a very satisfying meal. This place is a little underrated, but I would happily go there again.

Address:
Jalan 23/70A
Sri Hartamas
(above 7-11)

GPS: 3.161674, 101.649756