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Tag / eats

Ampang Park is said to be the oldest shopping mall of such set up in the country. First opened its door in 1973, this place has been in existence since our current Prime Minister’s father was in office as the Prime Minster.

Recently, my office moved to Intermark, which is located just right across the road from Ampang Park, so naturally I went to check out some of the lunch options at this place since the two buildings are connected by a skybridge.

food court at Ampang Park, the oldest shopping mall in Malaysia
food court at Ampang Park, the oldest shopping mall in Malaysia

As it turns out, the oldest mall also has one of the oldest food courts at the top floor. There are a variety of hawker stalls at the area, but two that caught my eyes were the Korean and the Vietnamese food outlets.

Both of these places are pork free, and offers exceptional value.

Vietnamese beef, chicken or fish noodle at RM 5.00 to RM 6
Vietnamese beef, chicken or fish noodle at RM 5.00 to RM 6.00

The Vietnamese dishes are typically made from the same soup base, you can get beef noodle, beef stew noodle, beef ball noodle, chicken noodle, and like the example above, fish noodle for the price of RM 4.50 to RM 6.00.

There’s mint leaves, fish sauce, and a soup base that’s undoubtedly Vietnamese, but don’t expect great cut of beef or beef tendons in them. A pair of spring rolls here goes for RM 2.50 and they are rather decent too.

The Vietnamese lady who operate this place doesn’t speak much English, but can converse in Malay, and of course in Vietnamese.

kimchi soup ramen for RM 7.00
kimchi soup ramen for RM 7.00

If you fancy some cheap Korean food, just look at the busiest stall in this food court.

The menu here includes Korean glass noodle with soup (RM 6.50), seafood noodle soup (RM 6.50), mixed vegetable rice (RM 6.50), kimchi rice roll (RM 6.50), bibimbap (RM 7), kimchi pancake (RM 6.50), kimchi soup rice (RM 7), kimchi fried rice (RM 6.50), and more.

Most of these dishes come with side dishes that includes kimchi, vegetable, bean sprout, and an omelette lookalike thingy.

the ramen noodle comes with a side dish of 4 too
the ramen noodle comes with a side dish of 4 too

My favourite dishes from the Korean food stall is the kimchi ramen noodle that also comes with side dishes that goes for RM 7. The soup isn’t very intense, but for the price you can’t really ask for more. There’s plenty of kimchi and overall taste is rather decent.

The only complain I have is that the portion is perhaps overly huge though.

If you work or happen to around the area and want something cheap and decent for lunch, here’s a food court to check out.

map to Ampang Park

Address:
Ampang Park Food Court
Level 2
Ampang Park Shopping Centre
Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS3.16054, 101.71947
Hours: weekday lunch

Quietly tucked in a row of shop houses at SS18 is the JM Bariani House that serves traditional Johor nasi briyani. My colleague and I went there on a particularly warm afternoon for lunch as this place is actually air conditioned. It was a wise decision, not only did we not have to sweat in a kopitiam, the food was so good it reminded me of the awesome Indian nasi briyani I had at Myanmar.

JM Bariani House at Subang Jaya
illustrated menu and a comfortable interior

JM Bariani House serves all but one item (mee bandung) that isn’t nasi briyani as main dish. There’s lamb, beef, chicken, fried chicken, and even just pure nasi briyani without any meat. They also serve nasi briyani gam ayam (chicken) every Wednesday and nasi briyani gam kambing (lamb) every Saturday.

I ordered a lamb briyani and my colleague had the chicken briyani, we also ordered a tauhu bakar (fried bean curd skin stuffed with mengkuang, cucumber, and sauce) to share.

JM Bariani House at Subang Jaya
chicken and lamb briyani, tauhu bakar

The rice used is the finer and smaller grain than usual, very soft and fragrant. The meat was so tender you can cut it with your spoon, they must be cooked for many hours. The taste was just right, not overly spicy, salty, nor sweet, but just a perfect harmony that was very satisfying. My colleague was very satisfied with the chicken briyani as well.

As for the tauhu bakar, I could say that I’ve had better. You would probably want to skip this item when you’re there.

map to JM Bariani House at Subang Jaya

The lamb briyani was RM 10.50 and chicken at RM 9.50. Not exactly economical but wouldn’t break your bank either. Some might justify it with air conditioning provided, but I’d say the awesome nasi briyani more than make up for the slightly higher price.

Address:
21 & 21A Jalan SS18/6,
Subang Jaya, Selangor

GPS: 3.064812, 101.585866
Tel: 03-5634 4660

A couple weekends ago I made a drive all the way to Batu Caves to finally meet Penny, someone who used to work in the next building I was at but never managed to see face to face. What made this finally happen was her effective persuasion that I should try the absolute best Wat Tan Hor at Pan Heong Restaurant near Batu Caves.

Wat Tan Hor Pan Heong at Batu Caves
a simple kopitiam setting with some awesome food

The restaurant is more like a “tai chau” style kopitiam and only opens for breakfast and lunch. For the three of us, we ordered the wat tan hor (literally smooth egg flat noodle), fried noodle (mee goreng), deep fried nam yu pork, and a “fu yu” vegetable dish.

Although pretty packed, it didn’t take too long before the first dish arrives. The wat tan hor was absolutely fabulous, seriously the best I’ve had by far. The sauce thick and very flavorful, and you can taste the difference between the sauce blended with egg yolk and those with only egg white. Very different but equally tasty. There were plenty of cuttle fish, meat, and vegetable in it too.

Wat Tan Hor Pan Heong at Batu Caves
wat tan hor, mee goreng, “nam yu” pork, vegetable with “fu yu”

I also like the deep fried “nam yu” (fermented beancurd) pork. The fermented beancurd marinated into the pork gives it a distinctive taste, and of course, you need the pork to be relatively fatty to have a juicy texture to go with it. Nice but of course, very sinful.

Of course, a vegetable dish is ordered to give us an illusion of having a complete meal and hence, cancel the sin. Vitamin C is good for you.

The mee goreng, on the other hand, was nice but pale in comparison with the above dishes. I think this might be due to the lack in spiciness, and the fact that I’ve had some pretty good mee goreng like from here (PJ), and here (Penang).

Wat Tan Hor Pan Heong at Batu Caves
Pan Heong Restaurant is located only a couple hundred meters from Batu Caves

The meal for three came to RM 39.80 with both the noodle dishes at RM 8.50 each, the pork at RM 10.50 and vegetable for RM 6.50. Very reasonable and I will definitely go there again. There are a few more dishes I’d love to try, like those blogged at masak-masak and precious pea, can you say Sang Har Mien?

Address:
No. 2 Jalan Medan Batu Caves 2,
Medan Batu Caves, KL

GPS: 3.233873, 101.673456
Tel: 03-6187 7430

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