Tag / hotel food
Nook at Aloft KL is a pretty funky all-day dining restaurant that serves international and Asian cuisine.
The restaurant set up reminds me of those futuristic movies back in the 80s, little squarish pods that has a bench, chairs, and even come complete with artificial turf. Among the three Starwood hotels at KL Sentral area, this one is definitely the most hip.
Nook at Aloft, playful & hip
Earlier this month, together with a couple other reviewers, we were invited to sample the MIGF (Malaysian International Gourmet Festival) menu at Nook.
MIGF is about bringing the best out of the world class chefs who are already working at the restaurant (instead of one off “import” from overseas). It is about paying a little extra to get a more pleasant fine dining experience with quality ingredients and first class service.
At Nook, Chef Steven Seow flexes his creative mind and came up with this very interesting set of dishes. The festival runs throughout the entire October, 2013 (yes, this blog post is way late.)
smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit, Villa Maria Chardonnay, NZ
The starting dish is smoked scallop umai sushi, duck confit with pomegranate and yogurt sphere. A two part dish that is served with the soya sauce on the little plastic drip thingy.
The sushi rice is coated with a fine layer of ebiko, and the scallop prepared with method inspired by umai (a traditional Sarawakian seafood preparation method, I had it over Mabul/Sipadan trip thanks to Irene). Duck confit with yogurt sphere provided a different texture and savoury taste, I particularly liked the bit of fried duck skin on top.
We had Villa Maria Chardonnay from New Zealand to start the dinner. Lovely pairing.
Sarawak lobster and ablone laksa, Leffe Blonde
Next up was the Sarawak lobster & abalone laksa with organic soba noodle. This was a dish unlike any I’ve tried, a sort of traditional hawker dish meet fine dining.
The soup is sourced all the way from Sarawak to ensure that it was authentic and just right. Lobster and abalone definitely provided a huge dose of luxury to this dish, and I thought the use of soba noodle was a clever touch to lighten up the dish a little bit too. Some of us asked for extra soup cos it was so delicious!
A glass of cold Leffe Blonde went well with this spicy dish.
p/s: the hawker version at Bangsar is one of my favourites.
wagyu beef cheek rendang, Madfish Chiraz, Australia
Continuing with the same philosophy, the next dish was Wagyu beef cheek rendang with farm vegetables, archar jelatah, and turmeric coconut rice.
Last I had something similar to this dish was the big lunch box at EEST, Westin back in 2009, and this definitely brought back the memory. The beef cheek was superb and as per Wagyu standard, super tender and flavourful. The turmeric coconut rice carries a nice and not overly strong fragrance, with two quails egg sitting on top of some sambal should you want to spice it up a bit.
Red goes well with beef, so we had Madfish Chiraz from Australia to wash down the meat.
Chef Steven Seow with the 8 treasure ice kacang
Concluding the dinner was another playful invention by Chef Steven Seow – the 8 treasure ice kacang. Basically shaved ice with 8 different ingredients such as lychee, blackberries, nangka, peanuts and so forth with 5 different syrup served on the side in syringes. Mix and match it the way you want and be responsible if you ruined your own dessert.
We had fun with this but my advice is to mix it up quick cos the ice tends to melt and create a hardened outer layer if you spend too much time taking photos.
me with Trixha & other food reviewers at Nook, Aloft KL
The menu is priced at RM 280+ per set for what you see here. The version without alcohol is RM 180+ per person, and for those with smaller stomach, you can go light for RM 160+, which exclude the wagyu dish but does come with a glass of Chardonnay. Every set comes with coffee or tea too.
I’d want to check out Nook’s normal menu too.
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral
No 5, Jalan Stesen Sentral,
50470 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.13295, 101.68619
Tel: 03 2723 1188
A couple weeks ago I was invited to a lunch review at the new Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur. While I have been to the hotel previously for events, I had no idea how good looking the restaurant on the 38th floor was until this visit.
Grand Hyatt is located at KLCC, directly next to the KL Convention Center on Jalan Pinang. The lobby of the hotel is actually at the top floor (39th), and you get to marvel at the beautiful KL city view through those floor to ceiling glasses while waiting to check in. Marvellous concept, I was impressed.
Thirty8 at Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur, with 360 degree city view
Walking down a flight of stairs (or take the elevator if you would) from the lobby and there’s THIRTY8. THIRTY8 takes up the whole floor and consists of several open and interactive kitchens serving traditional Chinese cuisine, Western dishes, as well as Japanese fair and a bar.
With huge panel of glasses that span across two floors, THIRTY8 is flooded with natural sunlight. The ambiance was simply one of the bests I’ve ever dined in. If you want to impress someone, this should surely be in the short list.
the Chinese chef from Guangzhou
Since there are actually several different open kitchens on the same floor, I like to think of THIRTY8 as several different restaurants without walls in between. The advantage is that you can order different cuisines and share the same table. It’s almost like a extremely high class food court if you will.
For our session, we sampled the Chinese set menu. There’s a minimum order of 2 pax. The sets are priced at RM 188, RM 208, and RM 238. We had the fortune of trying the RM 238 version.
radish in sweet soy sauce, pacific clam with kailan, jellyfish and fungus in vinegar
The first there were cold dishes. Radish in sweet soy sauce is a little bit like pickle but a bit juicier and crunchy, a bit of an acquired taste but I like it.
Pacific clam with kailan was succulent and fresh tasting, I’ve had it prepared as sushi & wasabi, but it actually does go well with the kailan as well.
My favorite cold dish turned out to be jellyfish and fungus in vinegar. This dish carries a bit of a kick with bits of chilli in it, and I really liked the mixture of fungus and jellyfish prepared in a way that it is almost impossible to tell apart by their texture or taste, but half way between chewing you’ll notice the subtle differences and be rewarded by the intricacy of it.
crispy prawns with bread crumbs and garlic,
double boiled chicken soup, fish maw, papaya & snow fungus
The last appetizer was crispy prawns with bread crumbs & garlic. It was fresh and I thought the chef balanced the breading and spiciness from dried chilli pretty well. The skin is almost like in between butter prawn & fish & chips. I liked it.
Soup was next, and it was a double boiled affair involving fish maw, papaya, and snow fungus. The soup was very very sweet but in a good way, I believe partly contributed by the addition of papaya. It was very good, and I really loved the whole chunk of fish maw in the bowl. It was boiled till very soft but yet retain it’s structural firmness, excellent.
braised whole abalone, mushroom, oyster sauce
Braised whole abalone was our first main dish. It was a simple pairing with broccoli and black mushroom in oyster sauce. The execution was very good, with abalone prepared to the perfect consistency that makes it very easy to manage. It was a good change of taste after the stronger tasting prawns.
braised boston lobster, scallops, vegetables
Continuing our seafood affair was the braised Boston lobster with scallops and vegetable. These two are some of my favourite seafood ingredients and they did not disappoint. I was imagining the broth to be in the most luxurious wat tan hor ever, one that I’d be able to eat everyday.
steamed cod fish, black bean chili sauce; Chinese style salty glutinous dumplings
Next up was steamed cod with black bean and chili sauce, and it was just perfect. Black cod is generally not easy to mess up, but also pretty difficult to prepare it that much different from every other kitchen. I like the version here with the condiments really enhancing the seafood very well.
Our last dish of the day was Chinese style salty glutinous dumpling, and well, to be honest, I think it was just weird. I’m used to dumpling being sweet with maybe black sesame fillings in ginger soup, but this one’s .. salty, and had chicken. As it turned out, this is the traditional dish in Guangdong Province to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, as explained by the chef.
I’m guessing it’s one of those things you do just because it’s a tradition and maybe not necessarily because it tastes good. That or it’s an acquired taste.
baked and snow skin mooncake, KY & Joyce
After the set meal, we also sampled some of the mooncakes offered by THIRTY8. The mooncakes here are made in house as well, and while not overly fancy, they were of good quality. This post is a bit too late to talk about mooncakes now so I’ll just leave it at that.
If you want good food with a great view to match, THIRTY8 would fit the bill. I’ve yet to try other cuisines there but as far as Chinese cuisine goes, you won’t go wrong.
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
12 Jalan Pinang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.15381, 101.71234
Tel: 03-2182 1234 ext. 2340
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
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
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 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’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, 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
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 & 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, 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
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.
3 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
50470 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.135331, 101.685762
Tel: 03-2264 2592
Hours: 12.00pm – 2.30pm, 6.30pm – 10.30pm
A few weeks ago we were invited to sample Toh Yuen‘s new a la carte menu. Some of you might have read about my previous visit to Toh Yuen back in 2011, well, of all the dishes prepared by Master Chef Lee this time around, only the fried rice and sea cucumber dish were repeats.
Toh Yuen Chinese restaurant at PJ Hilton Hotel
Regulars of Toh Yuen will be delighted that Chef Lee still stick by his principle of using the freshest and traditional ingredients with no additives in his cooking. For example, prawns are sourced fresh in the day and finished by the same night without ever being frozen. This ensures that the seafood you get here are some of the freshest one can get from a Chinese restaurant.
The slight down side of this method is that food generally tasted a bit more subtle, and thus might not suite tongues that are desensitized with too much tomyam and other heavily seasoned food, but if you are into traditional Chinese taste, this is worth a visit.
Here are the dishes we sampled:
chilled pacific clam, lamb with cumin & dried chili, soft shell crab
We got started out with three appetizers – chilled pacific clam with salsa (RM 28), deep fried lamb with cumin and dried chili (RM 28), and deep fried soft shell crab with garlic and chicken floss (RM 22).
Of the three, only the pacific clam is a cold dish, with the seafood sitting atop a bed of “salsa” arranged in a way not unlike tartar. The clams were sweet, but it did take me a while to accept having the pretty soft tasting salsa to go with them. A bold try but one that is still pretty experimental I thought.
The slightly spicy lamb was pretty good, and the chicken floss was an especially great addition to the soft shell crab, giving it an entirely different dimension. A trick I will shamelessly copy should I prepare soft shell crab (or even deep fried prawns) next time. I love it.
double boiled chicken with “shi hu” or “chong cao hua” soup
Like any proper 8 or 10 course Chinese dinner, our next dish was soup. we tried the double boiled chicken with “shi hu“ as well as the double boiled village chicken with “chong cao hua” soup (RM 32 per bowl).
Both were subtle but not lacking in taste. Herbal soup lovers will enjoy this, as I did. These aren’t of quality you find at Elegant Inn, and they weren’t priced as such either.
smoked duck with fruit sauce
My favorite dish of the night has gotta be the smoked duck with fruit sauce (RM 38). The duck breast has the perfect skin-fat-meat combination that reminds me of good quality roast pork, except with the slightly more exquisite taste of duck breast. The dragon fruit sauce gives it an extra bit of sophistication as well, I had at least 4-5 pieces (more than everyone :D)
prawns with salted egg, sea cucumber with mushroom, lamb with cumin & dried chili
Our first main dish was the sautéed prawn with salted egg yolk (RM 50). The freshness of the prawns were evident here, and I liked the fact that they were shelled and thus requires zero effort to consume. The richest dish we had, it was very well executed.
The sea cucumber with flower mushroom and abalone sauce (RM 80) is one of those dishes you often find at wedding dinners, but over here the sea cucumber were fat, juicy, and tasted quite a bit better. Older folks would love this dish for sure, and the sauce goes very well with steamed rice.
steamed Canadian black cod, sauteed celery with pine nuts, vegetarian “chicken” with yam basket
Next came steamed Canadian black cod fish with “yu feng” ginger sauce (RM 32/100 gram). The seafood was again very fresh, and the ginger/soya sauce base would go very well with steamed rice. I particularly love the fish skin and bits of fried garlic/ginger placed on top of the fish. This was a very luxurious dish to me.
Sautéed celery with lotus root & pine nuts (RM 30) is a blend of fresh crunchy vegetable with the texture of pine nuts. A bit bland for me, but a pretty good change of taste from the other dishes.
Our last main dish was the sauteed “gong bao” vegetarian chicken with yam ring (RM 60). This is a dish that I don’t particularly enjoy, and this has nothing to do with the taste but the fact that I usually like chicken to be .. well, made of chicken, and vegetable stayed vegetable, but if you’re those who enjoys fake fish and vegetarian meat, this isn’t a bad choice. The yam basket was delicious.
Toh Yuen fried rice, banana fritter & strawberry cheese cake dessert
We concluded the night with Toh Yuen fried rice (RM 35) and deep fried banana with strawberry and cheese cake (RM 20). The fried rice was very well balanced and tasted superb without having any ingredients that stands out, Haze over stuffed herself quite a bit trying to have as much as she could.
The dessert was decent, but a little out of place with the dishes that we had, I would probably prefer herbal jelly or snow hasma instead (which they have in their menu as well)
The full menu can be found here.
Toh Yuen Chinese Restaurant
Hilton Petaling Jaya
No 2 Jalan Barat
46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.10235, 101.64087
Tel: 03-7955 9122
My 4th CNY Yee Sang dinner for the year of Rabbit happened at Toh Yuen Chinese restaurant at PJ Hilton Hotel, this time thanks to the invitation from the good people at Create Studio. Yes, I thank my lucky star on privileges like these. 😀
Toh Yuen Chinese restaurant at PJ Hilton Hotel, Chef Lee
Toh Yuen is headed by Chef Lee, whose philosophy in cooking is plenty simple – traditional style with good (if not the best) ingredients, and without any addictives such as MSG. Tasty but healthy food is the emphasis around here.
To welcome the year or Rabbit, Toh Yuen is offerring 3 special set menus – Happiness (RM 888++), Fortune (RM 1188++), and Longevity (RM 1388++) for 10 pax. On this review, we sampled the Longevity menu.
another yee sang ritual, this time with abalone
As usual, yee sang was our the very first dish, and on the get go, it was already unmistakably luxurious – we had the “Fatt Choy” abalone yee sang (also sold seperately for RM 180/260/300).
Some might say this is a bit of a waste so far as the method of serving abalone goes, I must confess that it actually was rather good. Abalone surely beats Alaskan salmon in my book.
braised shark’s fin soup with crab meat & roe
Next on the set menu was the sharks fin soup. I’ve already made my stance and say no to sharks fin soup, so I gave it a pass. Unfortunately, I was the only one on the table to do so. Looks like more work needs to be done for the awareness in this front.
You can substitute the sharks fin soup with double boiled chicken soup, according to Chef Lee. Alternatively, the Happiness & Fortune set menu does not come with sharks fin soup either.
deep fried chicken with two tastes,
stir fried sea king prawns with pineapple sauce
So I really got started on the deep fried chicken with two tastes. A dish that is only as fancy as the name suggest, which isn’t much at all. There’s the roast chicken ala chicken rice style, and kung pao chicken in the middle. For the lack of fanciness, however, the chicken turns out to be very good where it matters – taste. The meat was smooth, juicy, with the sauce done just right too.
We then had stir fried sea king prawns with pineapple sauce. The chef explained that this type of prawn, with its softer shell, is best eaten whole (perhaps except the head) instead of peeling the skin off. This way it allows different texture of meat and shell to be enjoyed with the pineapple sauce, pretty old way of having prawns, quite unique.
steamed pomphret with superior soya sauce
My favorite of the night has got to be the steamed pomphret with superior soya sauce. I’m positive that even my mom (who helps sell fish at wet market and usually leave the best pomphret for themselves) would approve of this beautiful specimen. Something like this can easily cost over RM 100 at wet market, especially during pre-CNY period.
Chef Lee explained that they source the fish locally instead of getting them from Thailand, which would be cheaper but of lesser quality. A lengthy lecture of the subtle differences in meat/shape/taste of pomphret from various parts of Malaysia and other places is given while we were busy enjoying this brilliant fish. It was so good, smooth, fatty, and absolutely tasty.
stewed sea cucumber & mushroom with broccoli, seafood fried rice with XO sauce
The stewed sea cucumber & mushroom with broccoli is another dish found in many Chinese New Year set menu. Over here at Toh Yuen the dish is prepared as good as anywhere else, and the sea cucumber was very good.
However, I would personally leave out the carrot slices as I don’t think I was the only one that sees that as a semi-failed attempt in giving the otherwise awesome dish some color (does not affect the taste).
The seafood fried rice with XO sauce is served with plenty of prawns, green onions, carrots, eggs, chicken, and other ingredients that were all somehow agreed to each other brilliantly. One of the better fried rice I had, the underlying taste of XO sauce really adds to the overall flavor too.
Michelle Ong, chilled honeydew with hasma, KY
We concluded the night with a classic Chinese dessert – chilled honeydew with hasma. For the uninformed, it’s just a wikipedia article away for you to find out that hasma is actually fallopian tubes of frogs. Nice isn’t it? I still eat them, they tastes good. *slurps*.
The set dinner (other than the fins) turns out to be pretty good, now does it worth the RM 1388++ for 10 pax price tag? The ingredients certainly suggests so, but I think a large part of it has to do with the sharks fin, something I try to get people not to consume. Draw your own conclusion.
Toh Yuen Chinese Restaurant
Hilton Petaling Jaya
No 2 Jalan Barat
46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.10235, 101.64087
Tel: 03-7955 9122