A couple days ago we were lucky enough to be one of the first batches of people to be fortunate enough to have a taste of authentic Sicilian cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton KL by the award winning Guest Chef Lino Sauro from Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare in Singapore.
This event happens from March 14-18, 2017 so you may still have a chance to participate in the last few sessions if you catch this article early enough; or of course, you can head to Singapore and visit the good chef at his home turf.
The Library at Ritz Carlton KL
The dinner happened at The Library, a dining space that has an ambiance not unlike an extensive classy private library, complete with collection of books with topics ranging from film to art and travel. We were there for fine Sicilian food this time, so I’m afraid the books will have to wait for next round.
a bit of tidbit & bread prior to dinner
We started the night with a glass of sparkling wine, some bread, and a pre-dinner amuse-bouche of salmon with caviar which I thought was perfect to get us ready for what’s coming next.
For this first session of Sicilian dinner, we were also lucky enough to be joined by His Excellency Mario Sammartino, the ambassador of Italy to Malaysia.
amuse-bouche – Ostrica
Then came the first course – Ostrica, or oyster with sherry vinegar jelly, wasabi chips, and Avruga caviar. This amuse-bouche was perfect in opening up the appetite with its refreshing taste and subtle sweetness from the oyster that is perfectly balanced with the slight salty flavor from caviar. Usage of wasabi showcase Chef Lino’s boldness in using contemporary technique and ingredients.
Sanfeletto conegliano valdobbiadene prosecco superior docg was the accompanying wine.
appetiser – Polipo
Appetizer was Polipo, or charred citrus glazed octopus, risone, capsicum, sun dried tomato aioli, chilli, and pistachio pesto.
At the first glance, I thought we were having risotto, but as it turned out it was risone, or a rice shaped pasta that was much smoother, having a more controlled taste and texture that complimented the stronger tasting octopus well.
Vigneti zabu grillo terre siciliane igt was served with this seafood dish.
entree – Capellini con Aracosta
Then came entree, in the form of Capellini con Aracosta, or angel hair pasta, lobster, seafood, and carrot.
This is a deceptively simple looking dish that is again packed with the sweetness of what the Mediterranean sea has to offer. Lobster tail & angel hair pasta are two ingredients I enjoyed, and this combination did not disappoint.
Cecchi orvieto classico toscana doc would be the accompanying Sicilian wine.
main course 1 – Manzo Australiano
There were two choices of main course.
Manzo Australiano would be the Australian wagyu with morel mushrooms and horseradish sauce. Perfectly executed with the meat in the overused “melt in your mouth” texture, but that’s the best description I could give. The sauce was thick, strong, and go surprisingly well with the red meat (this coming from someone who loves his beef with only salt & pepper).
Wine pairing – mazzei zisola sicilia doc
main course 2 – Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo
Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo, or the Signature Gattopardo Seafood Stew, would be the other equally worthy option. The stew is packed with several types of shellfish, prawn, as well as fish fillet. This stew is perfect in a cold rainy day, or any day actually.
Dessert was a unique interpretation of Sicilian Ricotta Cheese Cake, or Cassata by Chef Lino. The deconstructed dessert was a sweet treat with some strong sourish berries that wakens up the senses a bit, which I thought was nice. We also had some chocolates to go with coffee to end the session.
Sicilian wine pairing option available
This specially curated Sicilian course dinner is priced at MYR 250 with an option of wine pairing at MYR 375 per person. Dinner is served from 7 pm but only available until 18th March 2017.
Midi 57 at Jalan Bangkung is the little sister of Le Midi at Bangsar Shopping Centre, one with a more casual setting and features a little more fun going menu with entrees such as suckling pig, oven baked pizza, pot plates, a varieties of tapas, and a good selection of cocktails and wine to go with.
Midi 57 at Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar
Located at Jalan Bangkung makes parking a relatively pain free affair compared to the busier part of Bangsar, certainly a welcoming asset for those who’s had experience going round and round Telawi area in their cars.
Seatings are semi-alfresco, with a pretty big and well equipped bar spotting a few flat screen TVs for those who like to catch up with their favorite sporting events with a bit of alcohol laden drinks.
Caprese Salad with Parma Ham
On this review session, we started out with my one of my favorite Mediterranean dishes – Caprese salad with Parma Ham (RM48) that was prepared with organic tomato and buffalo mozzarella in balsamic reduction and pesto sauce. Parma ham never disappoint, and the buffalo mozzarella certainly gave it an extra kick.
This is a dish that goes well with any drink, be it wine, cocktail, or beer. Salad does a good job of substituting rock melon in this case.
Chicken Fingers in Red Wine and Rosemary Batter , Mussels and Prawns in Beer Batter
Continuing with tapas, we had chicken fingers in red wine and rosemary batter (RM 18) that goes very well with draught beer , mussels and prawns in beer batter (RM 18) is another dish that is easy to consume and pairs well with sweet cocktail or any white wine, such as the Secret Berticot Sauvignon Blanc served here.
Potato & Ham Croquette, Crispy Foccacia, Porchetta Pizza
Potato & ham croquette (RM 18) with walnut crust is a surprisingly simple yet delicious treat, reminds me a little of bergedil, but more refine and certainly beat the likes of hash brown by a mile.
Crispy Foccacia (RM 15) was very light and crispy, dip in the specially prepared rosemary, garlic, and olive oil mixture releases its aroma and taste, something to be munched away and perfect for carbo loading.
We also enjoyed the Porchetta pizza (RM 29), the crust was thin and soaked with the goodness of porchetta, ie: the moist boneless pork roast of Italian culinary tradition. The accompanying salad was there just in case you need to freshen up your palate from those porky yumminess, though the same can be achieved with a sip of wine.
Spaghetti Carbonara and Lasagna, Midi 57 Bar Burger, Pot Plates
The spaghetti carbonara will surely be a treat for those who likes it creamy (I don’t), while lagsana (RM 28) with tomato,mozarella, basil, and parmesan turned out to be rather excellent despite being meatless. If I had to be vegetarian for any length of time, I want this.
Midi 57 bar burger (RM 28) is prepared with slow cook mince pork ,tomato, lettuce, red onion & Swiss cheese ,homemade toasted bun, and served with French fries. Unlike most pork burger that tends to be a little too dry, this version was spot on.
For those who like everything in a single dish, the chicken (RM 25) or lamb leg (RM 28) pot plates will serve you well. The avian version comes with black olives, mushroom, and rosemary sauce, while the lamb leg braised in Guinness sauce and served with Sichuan pepper and onion. Both are pretty strong tasting dishes, and perhaps a little too strong if you don’t have a glass of cold beer to wash down with.
Chocolate and Ginger Ganache, Chocolate Bomb
As for dessert, Chef Andrea Alimenti prepared chocolate and ginger ganache as well as chocolate bomb for us during the review. Both were exquisite and we certainly enjoyed them. Your mileage may vary on this though, as the type of dessert at Midi 57 changes on a weekly basis.
a good selection of cocktails and wine
Midi 57 certainly strikes the right chords when it comes to balancing food, ambiance, and pricing. I still want more of those Parma ham!
Address: Midi 57 Restaurant & Bar 57 Jalan Bangkung, Bukit Bandaraya 59100 Kuala Lumpur GPS: 3.138232, 101.668810 Tel: 03-2095 1381 Hours: 11am-12am daily
I’ve heard about Checkers for a while and always wanted to try their famous pork ribs, years after I was first recommended by a friend about this place, we finally went there for dinner over Pearl’s (belated) birthday.
Checkers at Damasara Heights, there isn’t a sign board
Located at a pretty quiet part of Damansara Heights with ample parking space, Checkers is very small family run restaurant that gives you the homey ambiance with the stern looking proprietor and his friendly wife. Most everyone that shared the other 5-6 tables in the dining hall seemed to know the owners on first name basis.
Equipped with plastic chairs and basic white table cloths on square dining tables, interior decoration at Checkers were probably done in 5 minutes. In fact, the restaurant doesn’t even have a sign board. But we’re here for food, right?
village bread, served with a side of sliced tomato & salami
Menu is a simple one page A4 sheet with choices of pasta, appetizers, grilled meat, and a few types of desserts. There are also usually some off-menu dishes you could order, all you need to do is ask.
We started the night with an order of village bread (off menu) and it turned out to be surprisingly good. The bread was steaming hot and served with a side of sliced tomato and salami as well as olive oil and vinegar. Perfect to munch on while waiting for the main attraction. The bread might look deceptively small in portion, but it’s good enough to serve a table of four.
Lord of the Ribs, the main attraction
The aptly named Lord of the Ribs (RM 120) is what we came here for. A giant slab of pork ribs expertly seasoned and grilled with perfection. While the exterior looks a bit dry, it was prepared so to seal in the juices within. Home made bbq sauce (I think), and an olive oil based sauce comes with it. While some have complained about the ribs being a little dry, I thought it was lovely and not over powered by too much sauce (then all you taste is sauce instead of meat).
The dish also came with generous portion of salad and mash, if there’s only two of you, this slab of ribs should be the only thing you order.
some chicken pasta, grilled pork tenderloin and sausage
We also shared a chicken pasta dish (off menu, can’t remember the exact name) which could have been lovely if we didn’t wait till it was cold to consume. I did like the way the poultry tasted though.
The grilled pork tenderloin and sausage (RM 39) is something I wouldn’t mind having if dining alone at Checkers. The thin sliced pork were tender and lovely, and I particularly love the way they served the potato, in thin slices with onions mixed in. This dish is as porky as it ias tasty.
Pearl, David, KY, Haze at Pearl’s birthday dinner
If you’re to pay Checkers a visit, do call for bookings to avoid disappointment as they have less than 10 tables even if you count the two non-weatherproof tables on the balcony. Prices aren’t cheap, but quality of food is good, and that homey feeling and very personal service is something you don’t get in most restaurants these days.
Address: Checkers 19 Lorong Setiabistari 2, 50490 Kuala Lumpur GPS: 3.143856, 101.65728 Tel: 03-2095 3304 Hours: 6-10 pm
Senja, which means dusk in Malay, is an Italian restaurant at The Saujana that oversees the lush green golf course and enjoys a spectacular sunset view with its alfresco dining deck by the side of the pond. I was invited to sample the MIGF menu created by their new head chef from Sicily – chef Filippo Giunta.
Senja at The Saujana, classy dining hall
The Saujana is a little different from most hotels in Klang Valley. Instead of everything in one giant building, it is spread out amongst the greenery. There are shaded walk ways from the main building to the different restaurants located by various ponds and gardens, giving the place a very relaxing, holiday ambiance.
The resort is fast becoming one of my favorites, stepping into the resort and immediately you’re in a completely different world of the hustle and bustle of KL even though you’re just half an hour away from the city.
bread with olive oil & such, and the amuse-bouche of the day
Anyway, lets get back to food. The MIGF menu is priced at RM 110/140/180 for 2/3/4 course dinner, or RM 220/280/360 with wine pairing. The menu is available the whole of October 2012.
We started out the dinner with some freshly baked Italian bread and a pretty tasty amuse-bouche (pre first course bite size food) of the day in the form of a deep fried risotto ball. Crunchy skin with the flavorful filling that carries a hint of mushroom, I liked it.
sparkling water, and Prosecco Cascine 7 NV
The first course is a choice of Sicilian Brood Bean Soup with Dil and Sun-dried Tomato or Sardine Beccafico Style, Rocket Salad, Fennel and Orange Reduction. The wine with these dishes is a glass of Prosecco Coscine 7 N/V.
first course – sardine beccafico style, or Sicilian brood bean soup
The sardine is apparently a Sicilian signature dish, the cleaned sardine is rolled up with breadcrumbs, pinoli (pine nuts), passolina, sugar, and lemon juice. It was one of the more interesting dishes I’ve tried lately. The rocket salad gives it a good balance, but the orange reduction did need a bit of getting used to.
This, or the savory brood bean soup, were both quite a big serving for fine dining dishes, I’m not complaining tho.
second dish – risotto with cream of pumpkin, or seabass tortelli with seafood ragout
The second course is a choice between Risotto with Cream of Pumpkin, Burratina Cheese and Fresh Sage, or Seabass Tortelli with Seafood Ragout and Porcini Foam.
The risotto was prepared al dente, which is well, the proper and only way to have risotto that’s sometimes misunderstood as being undercooked by less familiar diners. It was excellent and just appropriate to have some pumpkin this Halloween season.
The seabass tortelli lets us check off the skills of Chef Filippo in handling pasta, it was another dish we enjoyed throughly and definitely went well with the second glass of wine – Banfi Le Rime IGT 2010, a Pinot Grigio with a nice balance and clean finish.
3rd course – wrapped silver cod with aubergine, veal ossobuco Milanese style, Banfi Le Rime IGT 2010
Moving on to the third course, you get to choose from a choice of the following dishes:
Veal Ossobuco Milanese Style, Saffron Risotto and Sicilian Gremolata
Wrapped Silver Cod Fish with Aubergine, Onion, Tomato ‘Cipollata’ and Basil Oil
Stuffed Chicken Breast with Pistachio and Mint, Sicilian Caponata, Rosemary Roast Baby Potato and Red Wine Reduction
There’s a choice of Vigne Regali Principesse Gavia di Gavi DOCG 2010 or Banfi Chianti DOCG 2010. In another word, white, or red wine.
the huge chunk of bone marrow from the veal was irresistible
The fish was prepared impeccably and a work of art. The very thin aubergine gives the cod an extra dimension, and the onion and tomato base sauce offered a perfect compliment.
The veal though, is more of a straight forward meat dish that is bold and flavorful. The explosion of savory taste was a welcoming change of pace, and that chunk of bone marrow? Heaven, which is why it deserves a full size picture by itself. 😀
desserts – chef Filippo’s Sicilian cassata and orange granita, or Szechuan pepper panna cotta, Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Vin Santo DOCG 2004
Dessert proved to be another platform for Chef Filippo to showcase his skills. Both choices were beautiful.
Szechuan Pepper Panna Cotta, Chocolate Sauce and Raspberry Sorbet is perhaps one of the most interesting desserts I’ve had all year. The panna cotta carries an undeniable hint of peppery taste that’s not something you’d expect in a dessert, but it does work very well in a, well, very unfamiliar way.
Chef Filippo’s Sicilian Cassata and Orange Granita is more “traditional” sort of dessert but one that’s not shabby either. The taste is close to ice cream cake, and the icy citrus in the shot glass provided an good cleansing to the palette.
We were served Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Vin Santo DOCG 2004 to end the dinner, a very good dessert wine that is perfect for a sweet ending.
Ahfa, Azimy from The Saujana, and Chef Filippo Giunta
If you’re up to some Italian food that’s true to the origin, do give chef Filippo at Senja a try. I’m quite sure this capable chef from Sicily is here to stay.
Ben’s is one of the latest restaurants to open on the 6th floor of Pavilion KL, replacing the ill fated Carat Club, as I suppose, the owner probably discovered that diamonds and food doesn’t necessarily go well together.
If you’ve just spent 2 month’s salary on a piece of carbon, chances are your appetite might not be very good.
Ben’s at Pavilion, 6th floor
Ben’s is another restaurant under the BIG group, which also owns T Forty Two, Plan B, and such. Their website is at thebiggroup.co, yes a URL with .co and not .com.
Ben’s interior has it’s design cue from Delicious, there’s sofa and tea table both indoor and outdoor, smallish dining tables and comfortable chairs. The outdoor area overlooks Jalan Bukit Bintang, giving it a nice city ambiance but without the exhaust fumes from cars on street level.
Spaghetti Pomodoro with chunks of Pecorino Romano cheese
The menu at Ben’s is almost too extensive, you’ll most likely find yourself spending at least 5-10 minutes going through the listing of dishes on your first visit. I did the same, and finally settled on Spaghetti Pomodoro. A pretty simple pasta dish that turned out to be a delight, I love the chunks of Pecorino Romano cheese on it, and everything was just in the right balance – sauce, pasta, everything.
On the very next day, I went to Ben’s again, this time with Winnie & Horng.
Our orders took some 20 minutes to prepare, a pretty long wait for weekday lunch, but luckily it was worth it. The beef lasagna ordered by Horng was superb, packed with ample amount of cheese, beef, and cooked to perfection. You could cut it with just your spoon. The pickest eater gave his approval.
Winnie had spaghetti carbonara that did not disappoint. I’m not a big fan of cream based spaghetti but this one was pretty good when I had a bite. Of course, the chunks of romano cheese helps. 😀
wagyu beef pie
I opted for the portobello mushroom burger. I first had this type of burger back in the States, and so far only very few places has this on the menu.
Instead of one huge mushroom, the burger had 2 slightly smaller one instead, sandwiched by 2 pieces of sourdough, cheese, and some greens. It was pretty good, but would be better with one giant mushroom and probably less healthy choices of bread instead, then again I’m nitpicking.
On another separate visit (this time on Saturday), Haze ordered the Wagyu beef pie for lunch. She love the beef, but thought the pastry was slightly too thick.
KY, Haze, Horng, Winnie
Main dishes at Ben’s are priced from just below RM 20 to RM 30 and up, with majority in the RM 20+ range.
Customer service is exemplary, case in point: Winnie found a single strand of eyelash on her pasta after eating 70% of the dish and informed the captain. The captain was very apologetic and offered her a dessert (we had the velvet cake, was good!), and on top of that, took the dish off the bill. We postulate that the eyelash probably belong to Winnie herself to begin with.
Now if only they can shorten the time it takes to serve those delicious dishes, this would be a perfect mid-range lunch option.
Video taken on 24th July, 2013 during a separate visit:
Ben’s (Another Bright Idea by BIG),
Level 6, Pavilion KL 168, Jalan Bukit Bintang Kuala Lumpur