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Right after participating as a guest speaker at “A Food Biz Workshop” a week ago where I found out that some 80% food business fails within the first two years of operation, I got to attend an event hosted by one that represents the other extreme end – the Martell Pure Gourmet event by the brand that has been in existence since 1715.

Yeap, that’s just a year shy of 300, with perhaps one of the oldest single product, the Martell VSOP being in the market since 1831.

Martell is celebrating 300 years anniversary in 2015
Martell is celebrating 300 years anniversary in 2015

While last year’s dinner was hosted at JW Marriott, Martell chose the Grand Imperial Chinese restaurant at Hartamas Shopping Centre for this year’s annual Pure Gourmet. I was very delighted and honoured to be invited to this year’s dinner again after having had a very good experience last year.

I was surprised that Malaysia actually happened to be the 2nd largest market in the world for Martell after China, and I guess this is partly due to the way we consume cognac, which, fortunately or not, was in full display during the dinner with many happily cheering each other “Happy Birthday to You” while emptying their glasses as the night went on.

P/S: It wasn’t anyone’s birthday, but we had a lot of fun.

sze chuan jelly fish with thousand layer pig ear & deep fried scallop
Sze Chuan jelly fish with thousand layer pig ear & deep fried scallop

Anyway, pure gourmet is about the blend of exquisite ingredients, skills, and passion in the creation of inspiring dishes, as with how each bottle of Martell cognac is created, so lets get on with the dinner.

We started out with chilled Sze Chuan jelly fish with thousand layer pig ear accompanied deep fried scallop wrapped with German vermicelli rice noodle. A pretty descriptive dish and one that has several characters all rolled into one.

The jelly fish and pigs ear with the softer texture and a more complex taste, and deep fried scallop an explosion of seafood sweetness beneath the the crispy and rawer tasting vermicelli. This was paired with Martell V.S.O.P.

baked king prawn with cheese, paired with Martell Cordon Bleu
baked king prawn with cheese, paired with Martell Cordon Bleu

Next up was a relatively unpretentious baked water king prawn with cheese to go with the very recognizable Martell Cordon Bleu, perhaps the gold standard of cognac.

The execution of the prawn was on the dot, I really dug into the head and savour the juices out of this. Though this is probably the only dish I could come close to replicating at home, it was also one of my favorites.

deep fried airflown  Japanese Ayor fish with lemon
deep fried air flown  Japanese Ayor fish with lemon

Third dish of the night was deep fried air flown Japanese Ayor fish with lemon (also known as Ayu fish).

Found in the rivers and lakes around Hokkaido, this fresh water fish is famous for the sweetness of its flesh, which was brought out to its fullest potential when paired with Martell Cordon Bleu.

pan fried lamb cutlet with chef's special sauce, paired with Martell XO
pan fried lamb cutlet with chef’s special sauce, paired with Martell XO

Following the fish, we had the pan fried lamb cutlet with Chef’s special sauce to go with Martell XO.

Perhaps I was more accustomed to Western style of lamb cutlet preparation, it took a while to appreciate the more traditional Chinese preparation method of the red meat that is inherently more cooked. In this instance, the sauce takes center stage with the meat playing supporting role.

braised spaghetti with sliced abalone, black truffle n mushroom, Martell Chanteloup Perspective
braised spaghetti w/ sliced abalone, black truffle & mushroom, Martell Chanteloup Perspective

Last dish before dessert was the braised spaghetti with sliced abalone, black truffle and mushroom. The hint of black truffle went well with abalone, and the fine angel hair spaghetti was the right choice to soak up the flavour. We just wished that it was a whole abalone instead (who doesn’t?).

The aroma and elegance of Martell Chanteloup Perspective complimented the dish perfectly.

Grand Imperial special dessert paired with Martell Creation Grand Extra
Grand Imperial special dessert paired with Martell Creation Grand Extra

Finally, we end the dinner with a host of three desserts prepared by Grand Imperial and had the pleasure to pair them with Martell Creation Grand Extra, the silky smooth and yet very powerful tasting cognac. A unique taste to end a pretty unique and special dinner.

and we were cheering to each other "happy birthday to you".. yes, it's a "trend"
and we were cheering to each other “happy birthday to you”.. yes, it’s a “trend”

A big thank you to Siew Kheng for the invitation, and hopefully we’ll have the privilege to be a part of this again next year!

map to Hartamas Shopping Centre

Address:
Grand Imperial
Lot F33 – F35, First Floor,
Hartamas Shopping Centre
No. 60, Jalan Sri Hartamas 1,
Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.163480, 101.656136
Tel03-6201 9777

Many eons ago (actually just a few decades), Hong Kong wasn’t exactly as developed as it is now. Among the settlers, traders, and foreign administrations, there were a group of people whom took home on boats. They were the boat people, and whenever the weather does not agree, they would seek shelter at Causeway Bay.

The boat people had a subculture all to themselves, living by the sea, when it comes to food, their speciality were undoubtedly seafood.

Causeway Bay Spicy Crab at Hartamas
Causeway Bay Spicy Crab, now at Hartamas

Fast forward to 21st century, Causeway Bay is now a heavily developed area, but the subculture continues. A local businessman went over to Hong Kong, partnering with the original boat people and started the Causeway Bay Spicy Crab restaurant at Jaffe Road in Causeway Bay.

Building on the success of the restaurant in HK, the local owner now brought the restaurant back home. So now we have our very own Causeway Bay Spicy Crab right here at Hartamas, KL.

Causeway Bay Spicy Crab at Hartamas
signature dish – Garlic and Chili Crab

A couple weeks ago I was invited by one of the partners to have dinner at this very restaurant. Together with Haze, Gareth, Kim, Suanie, and Horng, we headed over to Hartamas with, I must say, quite a high expectation.

We left the task of ordering to the restaurant manager, and some 20 minutes later, our first dish came – Garlic and Chili Crab (RM 68/80), their signature dish. The gigantic crab’s covered with almost one whole pound of garlic with a bit of chili for that spicy kick. The crab was delicious, and the fried garlic positively addictive!

crab porridge, chicken gristle, garlic and chili crab
crab porridge, chicken gristle, garlic and chili crab

The rest of the dish came within a couple minutes of the first one, I’ve always hate it when restaurants take their sweet time serving between dishes, no such problem here.

The crab porridge (RM 68/80) was another winner. The huge crab and porridge were cooked to order so you really get the sweetness of the seafood well seeped into the congee. I think it’s big enough to feed at least 2-3 people.

Then there’s the chicken gristle, a definite must-order non-seafood item here. The texture of the chicken cartilage and the little chunk of meat/skin was perfect, this dish reminds me of the chicken gristle I had at Sumi-ka in the form of yakitori.

duck tongue, steamed tofu, squid with salted egg, frogs in XO sauce
duck tongue, steamed tofu, squid with salted egg, frogs in XO sauce

The “exotic” dish we had came in the form of a plate of duck tongue. The dish must have caused a whole classroom of dumb ducks. Tho I’m usually a huge fan of the strange and exotic dishes, this one did not impress me. It was my first time having duck tongue too, and while I didn’t find it gross or anything like that, it was just a little too soft and blunt in taste.

I did like the steamed tofu, stuffed with chunks of scallops, prawns, and other seafood, it provided balance to the other stronger tasting dishes.

condiments, Horng & Suanie, Kimberly and Gareth, KY and Haze
condiments, Horng & Suanie, Kimberly and Gareth, KY and Haze

Just like the garlic in their signature dish, Causeway Bay Crab does not spare the usage of salted egg in their salted egg squid. The excess salted egg covered every square inch of the squid and then some. It was another dish that we love.

Then there’s the frogs in XO sauce, Kim’s favorite. Really fresh tasting frog with generous amount of garlic, XO sauce, and peas to give it a bit of a crunchy texture, it was easily one of the better frog dishes I’ve had. I prefer it over the usual kam heong method of preparation.

Causeway Bay Spicy Crab
Causeway Bay Spicy Crab

Towards the end of the night, we were mixing garlic, salted egg, and the condiments from XO frogs and consuming them as is. These wasn’t exactly the healthiest way of eating but we just couldn’t help it.

While Causeway Bay Spicy Crab isn’t the cheapest places to dine at, but if you are looking for quality seafood and some huge Sabah crabs, you can’t go wrong at this place. The dishes were mostly excellent (with the questionable duck tongue, but it might be just me), a great ambiance, and on top of that, a slightly overly cold air conditioning too.

map to Causeway Bay Spicy Crab at Hartamas

Address:
Causeway Bay Spicy Crab
銅鑼灣辣蟹莊
26 & 26-1 Jalan 30/70A
Desa Sri Hartamas
50480 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.16347, 101.64898
Tel: 03-6205 2280

Causeway Bay Spicy Crab

After having some porky goodness at Jarrod & Rowlins Hartamas, we decided browse the neighboring DVD store. I was happily browsing, and suddenly my friend stopped me from walking so that I don’t step onto iSulk on the floor there..

Sulking baby
i wanna go home!

According to the mother, this kid was just too tired to walk and hence decided to just lay down on the carpet sulking. Interestingly, other member of their family didn’t quite give a crap about this big baby.

Sulking baby
a close up on the sulking baby

What do you think would have happened if you pull such a stunt when you were young?

Every once in a blue moon, I get to be invited to sample a restaurant, this is one such occasions. Brian (Thanks!) from All dat Jazz contacted me via email and told me about Groove Junction, I immediately agreed to the free food. I had initially thought that there would just be myself and a couple of other friends I bring a long, but it turned out to be a bigger occasion with Riz, masak-masak, and Lemongrass there as well. This is also the first time I met the friendly bunch.

note: the restaurant is no longer here 17/3/2011.

Groove Junction Bistro & Cafe at Sri Hartamas
nice place, good food, bloggers at work

Groove Junction is actually a rather new place that has been in operation for only a couple of months. The Bistro and Cafe sat right on top of Karma in Sri Hartamas, just a stone’s throw away from the ProJet petrol station. The ambiance of the place is very nice, slightly darker compared to normal restaurants, but fits perfectly with the stage up front where live bands play Jazz nightly. A very relaxing and rather classy setting, perfect for bringing your special ones there.

Groove Junction Bistro & Cafe at Sri Hartamas
Ellena’s Lamb Steak, Sonny Rollins (chicken), Billie Holiday (fish), Dexter Cordon (chicken corddn blue)

But when it comes down to it, the most important thing for a restaurant is still the food, so how does Groove Junction fair?

Since this was a food tasting session, we actually got to try quite a number of dishes from their extensive menu. Starting off with Yam Nam glass noodle and a piece of mushroom bruschetta as appetizer. These two items actually made me even hungrier than I had started out, they were actually very good, the glass noodle was spicy and has a tangy taste, while the creamy mushroom bruschetta offers contrasting texture and taste that fits perfectly.

Groove Junction Bistro & Cafe at Sri Hartamas
lamb curry with toasted bread, and some desserts

For the main dishes, we sampled a total of six dishes. A (Ellena’s) lamb steak that is one of their best sellers, the really excellent chicken with orange seasoning wrapping some asparagus that they call Sonny Rollins, Dexter Cordon (Chicken Cordon Blue), pan fried sole fish named Billie Holiday, and Beef Panne – the grilled beef prepared with herb sauce. Of these 5 dishes, I like Sonny Rollins and the beef the most, but the other three were very good too, it’s just a tragedy not having a big enough stomach to eat more than a few bites from each dish.

Being a Bistro, Groove Junction offers some finger food as well. We had the Chickalina’s, marinated chicken in black sauce, and the lamb curry with toasted bread. These stuff will go down very well with some beer.

And as if there was any space in my stomach, we had desserts. The Roll Morton (hot banana “pohpiah” with ice cream) was actually very addictive with its contrasting temperature and texture, Riz ended up having like 3 or 4 of those. The cheese cake and tiramisu were reported to be very good by the ladies, but I just couldn’t fit another bite by then.

Map to Groove Junction Bistro & Cafe at Sri Hartamas

The price of food at Groove Junction is pretty much in line with any restaurant of its class. Finger foods at around RM 15 and main dishes from RM 20+ to RM 30+. Considering the great atmosphere and the accompanying fabulous live Jazz, this place offers pretty good value for some really good food. I’ll return as a paying customer for sure.

address:
Groove Junction
1-1, Jalan 22A/70A
Desa Sri Hartamas
Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.162777, 101.652557
tel: 03-6201 8990

Of all the different types of meat available for consumption, my favorite has got to be pork. The versatility is second to none, from dried pork and bak kut teh, to siu yok or even using the fats to accentuate and compliment the taste of steamed fish, I can’t think of any other meat that tasted so good in so many ways.

After trying Jarrod & Rawlin’s pork sausage as dessert the same day I went to Bonjuk , I just had to go there for more. In my book, they serve the best western style pork sausages thus far.

Jarrod & Rawlins, awesome pork sausage and burger at Sri Hartamas
burger, pork sausages, and choices of cheese

The second trip to Jarrod & Rawlins was for supper as well, just a couple hours or so after having dinner in KL. I ordered 2 sausages while Kelvin, who has a bottomless stomach, ordered a gourmet beef burger with bacon, blue cheese and mushroom. Obviously, with these kinda “yum char” session, teh-o-ais doesn’t suffice, I actually ordered a beer (beat it, suanie & FA!).

Jarrod & Rawlins, awesome pork sausage and burger at Sri Hartamas
if you’re not drooling over these stuff, find a doctor

Though this place has less than a dozen tables, they really take their time to prepare the food. Everything is cooked meticulously without any rush. This is not to say that the wait was boring, but it’s probably not an ideal place to go if you’re starving to death.

When the sausages came, they were simple and no frill. Just 2 sausages on an empty plate, I ordered a pepper and a dynamite chili variety. They were seriously good stuff, the fillings were from good quality pork, with some chili padi in the dynamite chili version and some white pepper in the other. The taste was just glorious, with the chili version particularly addictive, especially if you are a person who loves hot food.

Jarrod & Rawlins, awesome pork sausage and burger at Sri Hartamas
comfortable ambiance, and wide selection of wine and other drinks

As for the burger, it was ridiculously thick, with the beef patty at least 5 times thicker than Ramli’s version, a portobello mushroom as big as the bread under the beef, and a generous slice of blue cheese on top, with bacon and pickle in it as well, you can’t really ask for more. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to just pick the burger up and start biting unless you have a mouth as big as Steven Tyler’s. The beef was very juicy, and the mushroom, bacon, and cheese combined to be a really great gastronomical satisfaction.

Jarrod & Rawlins, awesome pork sausage and burger, map at Sri Hartamas
Jarrod & Rawlins is located at the heart of Desa Sri Hartamas

The sausages came to only around RM 7, and the burger was RM 18, drinks are priced competitively with other restaurants of this sort. For the quality of food (all the sausages and meat patties are made there) and the taste, I’d say this place provides good value. Will definitely go there many more times.

address:
No. 36 (ground floor)
Jalan 27/70A
Desa Sri Hartamas,
50480 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.162777, 101.649638
tel: 03-2300 0708