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Having to make a decision for dinner last weekend before a movie, I was trying to be smart and told Lorna (my petrol heroine) that I am bringing her to a pretty interesting place without first giving her the restaurant’s name. We then walked past Sushi Zanmai, and she told me “my sister and I went to another Zanmai place last week, the one downstairs”

Pasta Zanmai?” I asked. She said yah. That was exactly the place I thought I’d surprise her with, so you can imagine what an ass it made me feel. Well the important thing is that we still ended up there and I was able to finally give Pasta Zanmai a try.

Pasta Zanmai
pretty nice interior with an integrated shop

Pasta Zanmai is actually from the same group that runs RakuZen at Subang Jaya, Chulan Square, as well as the Sushi Zanmai branches. I have always had positive impressions at their establishments, so my expectation was rather high stepping into this place.

It was a rather busy Saturday dinner time, we decided to sit at the bar right in front of the glass shielded kitchen rather than wait for a table. The interior decoration was pretty nice, with ample lighting, comfortable chairs, and a busy pace.

Pasta Zanmai
crab meat avocado spaghetti, Japanese curry rice

The menu came accompanied with pictures of most dishes, which makes ordering that much easier. I couldn’t resist the combination of kani (crab) and avocado with pasta, and Lorna ordered the Japanese curry chicken rice. We also asked for ikura (salmon roe) and teriyaki hotate (scallop) as appetizers. A big pitcher of ice fruit tea was shared.

Despite the crowd, food didn’t take long to arrive, and they were good! Ikura was a bit smallish in serving size, but I guess there isn’t much to complain as the quality was good and the price reasonable. My spaghetti was really delicious, good portion of avocado and kani (real crab and not crab sticks) with the slightly salty pasta sauce that wasn’t over powering. The ebiko (flying fish roe) sprinkled on the pasta gave it an added sophistication as well. I really liked it.

Pasta Zanmai
ikura, hotate, and the giant ice fruit tea

The curry chicken rice was true to the taste as well, slightly sweet and not exactly spicy. I like the fact that they use real Japanese rice in this dish. As for the teriyaki hotate (scallop), they were so sweet and succulent I was so glad we ordered them.

Total bill came to Rm 100.05 including tax and service charge. Highest priced item was my RM 25 pasta while the other dishes and drinks ranges from RM 12 to RM 22. Give it a try!

Address:
Pasta Zanmai
G210B, Ground Floor Promenade
1 Utama Shopping Centre
Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya

GPS: 3.150050, 101.615939
Tel: 03-7728 1210

Others:
Masak-masak
Brought up 2 share
blueepinkk

Undoubted many of you agree that Penang offers the best hawker food in this country, the best char kueh teow, curry mee, prawn mee, and of course, laksa, can be found on the island. However, there are more than just these few offerings when it comes to Chinese hawker food, and there are certainly dishes that tastes better outside the favorite hawker food destination that is Penang.

Restaurant Chong Loy, wan tan mee
traditional set up with lots of combination of ingredients

When it comes to wantan noodle and various roasted/bbq meat items, some of the bests can be found right here in Klang Valley. One of my favorite places to have a cheap and good traditional wantan noodle would be Restaurant Choy Loy at PJS 10, situated just opposite Sunway Pyramid.

The first time I visited this place was actually in the previous decade when I used to stay at around the area. It was nice to see that the shop is still running and selling basically the same thing after I came back from the States.

Restaurant Chong Loy, beef  and char siu mee
roast pork & bbq pork, beef & innards, chicken feet & mushroom, roasted duck

The selling point at Chong Loy is the variety of traditional noodle and rice you can get. They have the classic wan tan mee with char siu (bbq pork), then there’s siu yoke (roasted pork), lap cheong (Chinese pork sausage), roasted duck, chicken, chicken feet with mushroom, and even beef including tripes. You can pick any combination to go with noodle in dry and soup version, or rice.

Restaurant Chong Loy, roast pork mee
look at the dude enjoying!

I have tried pretty much everything from this place over the years. While it might not carry the wow factor like siu yoke at Pudu or char siu at Aman Suria, everything do tastes pretty good and proper, just like how they should be. I particularly like the chicken feet with mushroom and the wan tan noodle with beef.

map to PJS 10, Sunway
This place is just behind Ah Foong bak kut teh

Address:
Jalan PJS 10/9
47800 Bandar Sunway
Selangor

GPS: 3.076731, 101.603934

A couple weeks ago baby Marco’s father invited me to have a food tasting session at this curiously named Bermuda and Onion at Cangkat Bukit Bintang. Since I was bringing a couple guests, he reminded me that this place serves pork, more pork, and nothing but pork! My drool started flowing just from hearing that magic sentence.

note: Unfortunately this place has gone halal (updated jan 2010)

Bermuda & Onion, Cangkat Bukit Bintang, KL
love the decoration of this place

During the weekend, parking around the area was surprisingly easy to find. We were greeted by this absolutely beautiful interior decoration the moment we stepped into the restaurant, the lime green wall, egg shaped lamp on the curvy ceiling fan, the patio, the bar, the chairs; this place looks like something out of a romantic movie, a striking contrast from the nearby Jalan Alor kopitiams.

Bermuda & Onion, Cangkat Bukit Bintang, KL
bruschetta, parma ham with asparagus, prawn, and okra on skewers

As 2 of my buddies and I waited for TBG and her lesser half, we were served some bruschetta with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to start the day off. Very nice.

Then the pork dishes began, in a small way at first. Out of the three skewers we had, two of them had pork in it. The prawns and parma ham was absolutely fantastic, the asparagus and bacon was equally delicious with it’s contrasting texture and taste of vegetable vs meat. Ladies fingers and tomato gave a pretty good balance to counter the meat just a little. It was a very good start, and I was quite impressed already.

Bermuda & Onion, Cangkat Bukit Bintang, KL
cold cuts, caesar salad, parma ham with rock melon

To warm up our stomach further before the main dishes, we were presented three other appetizers: cold cuts, caesar salad, and prosciutto and melone.

The cold cuts came with three different types of meat with some olives. I love two of them but find the harder type a little bit too much to handle with it’s dryness and more pungent smell (purists would love it though). Caesar salad came with plenty of prawns, bacon, Parmesan cheese and egg. It was very refreshing and delicious!

However, my favorite of the day has to go to the prosciutto and melone. I never knew parma ham could go so well with rock melon, the saltiness of the meat and the sweetness of the rock melon was absolutely brilliant! You must order this when you go to Bermuda and Onion, do not forget this!

Bermuda & Onion, Cangkat Bukit Bintang, KL
wild boar fettuccine, bread dumpling soup, pork chop ala mustard

Then came assault of main dishes. The wild boar fettuccine was pretty strong tasting, with generous chunks of wild boar meat and mushroom cooked with fresh herbs. The speck ‘canedarli’ gnocchi is a homemade Italian bread dumpling served in double boiled chicken broth and Parmesan cheese. The chef explained that they’d have made this bigger in Italy as compared to here.

Then of course, there’s the pork chop ala mustard that came in a huge plate. A generous slab of pork chop is pan seared, and served with creamy Dijon mustard sauce and plenty of mash potato. Very rich and creamy but really good.

Bermuda & Onion, Cangkat Bukit Bintang, KL
sea bass and roasted pork belly

Just as we thought the lunch session is coming to an end, two glorious dishes appeared. The interesting looking sea bass and roasted pork belly.

The sea bass, as with most dishes from this restaurant, didn’t escape the influence of pork. Mantled with parma ham and served with mixed sauteed vegetables, it gives you a false sense of enjoying “healthy” seafood but of course, with a more satisfying experience through the taste buds.

As for the pork belly, what can I say? Proper and glorious layers of pork skin, fat, and meat served in a thick brown sauce with mashed potato and Lardoni bacon, I can’t help myself but to continue slicing it up and chew em down despite already being very full.

Bermuda & Onion, Cangkat Bukit Bintang, KL
hot restaurant manager Sharmini, and good Chef Max

We capped the day with a hot cup of cafe latte, it was definitely the best lunch I’ve had in a long while. Chef Max and restaurant manager Sharmini were very friendly, as with baby Marco’s parents as well.

Price wise, I’d think this place is pretty reasonable. The skewers are RM 8-9, my favorite parma ham with melon at RM33, other main dishes are priced at around 30+ to 50+. Give it a try!

map to Cangkat Bukit Bintang, KL
Bermuda & Onion is located at Changkat Bukit Bintang, nearby Jalan Alor

Address:
no. 41 Changkat Bukit Bintang,
50200 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.147592, 101.708100
Tel: 03-2145 8333

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

Ever since I came back from the States, I’ve been having a tough time finding good steak. The “western food” hawker stalls are usually pretty good with their chicken chop and perhaps fish and chips, but the steaks are about as thick as a notepad and tasted equally disappointing. I’ve also tried some of the restaurants like cafe chinoz at KLCC but the steak was not exactly up to standard, I couldn’t even finish the filet mignon there. I’ve heard that Le Meridien’s Prime Grill serves very good steak, but the price is a bit out of reach. I’ve almost accepted the fate that I shall just forget about having steak, until I went to Gaucho Grill at Chulan Square last week.

Argentinian Steak, Gaucho Grill at Chulan Square
excellent interior, chef Kamaruddin and yours truly

Gaucho Grill is one of the very few Argentinian restaurants in Klang Valley. Chef Kamaruddin explained that Argentina is actually the 2nd largest consumer of beef in the world, just after US (with 7.5x more in population). Vegetable is not exactly popular, the south Americans love their meat. Gaucho Grill imports all their meat from herds raised by gauchos (cowboys) of Argentina.

Argentinian Steak, Gaucho Grill at Chulan Square
starters: garlic bread, seafood soup, escargot, mixed crunch

The three of us that attended this review session by foodstreet were first served with some really nice garlic bread, Escargot, their Sopa Oceano (seafood soup), and the rather large portion of Mixed Crunch.

The seafood soup has the texture between that of a minestrone soup and pasta sauce, very thick and packed with the sweetness from the scallops, prawns, and mussels that swim in it. It was good. The Mixed Crunch is a dish of finger food that would go very well with beer. Crispy prawn with garlic mayo, mussels, fried mushroom, onion fritter, salmon floret, bruschetta of tomato and feta cheese, and seared scallop with balsamic oil, it was actually pretty hearty for a starter.

Argentinian Steak, Gaucho Grill at Chulan Square
main: t-bone steak, salmon and half lobster, beef tenderloin, lamb rack

Next came the four main dishes for the day, we had the La Boca (T-bone Steak), Peublo (Prime Steer Beef Tenderloin), El Codero (Lamb Rack), and El Rey de Mar (Salmon and half Lobster). Two beef, a lamb, and a seafood dish, perfect!

Both the T-bone steak and tenderloin were some of the best beefs I’ve had for a long time. While our dishes were prepared in medium, I personally would like it in medium rare for an even juicier experience. The T-bone is a whopping 450 gram (1 pound) of steak served with rosemary butter. No other sauce is used to distract the natural taste of beef. It was really good.

For the most tender cut served at Gaucho Grill, the good chef prepared the Peublo, a very thick cut of prime steer beef tenderloin that is served with mushroom gravy, zucchini, and fries. The meat was very tender and juicy it brought back my filet mignon (the good one at States, not the lousy version at KLCC) experience.

Argentinian Steak, Gaucho Grill at Chulan Square
juicy meat, almond crumble and choc madeleine desserts

As good as the beef dishes were, the El Codero (lamb rack) was equally delicious. Three pieces of very juicy and tender ribs (280gm) served with ratatouille and pesto, I don’t think I’ve had lamb this good before. Even better than the marinate Jaime’s mom made during one of our BBQ sessions.

Other than red meat dishes, we had the El Rey de Mar (roasted salmon and baked half lobster). The salmon was roasted just nice and lobster, well, it was how lobsters taste like, very succulent and never disappoint.

We managed to sample 2 desserts after all these food, the Choc Madeleine is perfect for chocolate lovers with apricot on moist choc, ice cream, and warm choc fudge. The Panna Cotta is similar to creme brulee, but served cold with dark cherry and raspberry stew. The desserts are made in house as well.

Argentinian Steak, Gaucho Grill at Chulan Square
Chulan Square is adjacent to Pavilion KL

Steaks are priced at around RM 68-80, desserts are RM 13-16. There’s also a very good deal for set lunches on weekdays between 12-3pm, for RM 26 you get soup, salad, ice lemon tea, and a main dish (rib eyes, burgers, etc).

The food was really good, and I have no doubt I will go there again. :)

More pictures of this place at my flickr set

Address:
Block B, Lot 5 Chulan Square
92 Jalan Raja Chulan,
50250 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.148518, 101.716114
Tel: 03-2145 4268

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