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Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / italian

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
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
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
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
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
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.

Checkers at Damansara Height

Address:
Checkers
19 Lorong Setiabistari 2,
50490 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.143856, 101.65728
Tel03-2095 3304
Hours: 6-10 pm

Checkers

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
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
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
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
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
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 (or stuffed chicken breast)
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 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. :D

desserts - chef Filippo's Sicilian cassata and orange granita, or Szechuan pepper panna cotta, Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Vin Santo DOCG 2004
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.

Ee Laine, Azimy from The Saujana, and Chef Filippo Giunta
Ee Laine, 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.

map to Saujana Kuala Lumpur

Address:
Senja
Saujana Resort, Jalan Lapangan Terbang SAAS,
40150 Selangor
GPS3.108849, 101.578474
Tel03-7843 1234
emailinfo@thesaujana.com

Senja Italian Restaurant

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 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
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.

beef lasagna, spaghetti carbonara, portobello mushroom burger
beef lasagna, spaghetti carbonara, portobello mushroom burger

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. :D

wagyu beef pie
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
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:

map to Pavilion KL

Address:

Ben’s (Another Bright Idea by BIG),
Level 6, Pavilion KL
168, Jalan Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur

GPS3.148872, 101.713368

A couple weeks ago @missyblurkit invited a few of us to a food review session by describing it as “lets have some Italian food” at Jalan P. Ramlee.

As it turned out, nothing could be further from her misinformation, the dinner at Trattoria Cucina Italiana turned out to be so overly plentiful and wholesome that describing it that way is akin to describing a 20 feet stretched Hummer limo as “some car”.

Trattoria Cucina Italiana
Trattoria Cucina Italiana

Trattoria Cucina Italiana is located on the ground floor of Rohas Perkasa, which is about a stone’s throw away from KLCC and Mandarin Oriental hotel and a pebble’s flick away from Thai club and Beach club.

The restaurant is beautifully furnished and tastefully decorated, but for some reasons beyond comprehension, it is represented by a very cheap looking “mamak style” backlit blue sign board with yellow fonts. I fully blame this banner for the invisibility of this eatery despite it’s prominent location.

By the way, there are free car park spaces right outside the restaurants for diners.

salad and antipasti
Caesar salad, caprese (buffalo mozzarella), seafood salad

We were served beer and the typical bread with olive oil and vinegar to get started, but soon enough the antipasti and salads came.

I’ve taken liberty to name the dishes in English rather than the more “authentic” name in Italian as specified on the menu. First was the Caesar salad (RM 26, or Insalata Caesare, if you woudl) and seafood salad (RM 27, Insalata tiepida di mare) that were beautifully presented and equally as delicious. I particularly love the fresh seafood and the juicy clams on the seafood salad!

The picture on the middle of the collage was Caprese (RM 33), fresh buffalo mozzarella with tomato, very interesting and should satisfy any cheese lover, though I don’t find myself fancy the whole serving of this all to myself.

cheese platter, caesar salad, eggplant antipasta
mixed Italian cheese platter, tuna salad, eggplant pie

The other half of our  appetizers consist of the lovely Italian cheese platter (RM 37), tuna salad (RM 26), and this interesting eggplant pie (RM 23) that was stuffed with mozzarella and tomato.

The cheese platter was served with a few tiny bottles of sweet fruit jam, I didn’t know the combination of pungent blue cheese with jam could taste so good, it was addictive! Tuna salad didn’t disappoint either, and the eggplant pie turned out to be less exciting as I’d imagined. It was not bad though.

seafood pasta,spinach pasta, ravioli
seafood pasta, spinach pasta with mushroom sauce, ravioli with salmon sauce

It is a sin to not have pasta for any Italian food review, thus right after the antipasti and salads, we were served several signature pastas from Tattroria.

I had the chance to gorge myself more of those yummy juicy clams from the seafood pasta (RM 35, spaghetti allo scoglio), so needless to say it was another good dish.

The spinach pasta (RM 29, papperdelle verdi ai funghi) is served with mushroom sauce, and the ravioli stuffed with seafood (RM 32, raviolo nero di pesce al salmone) and swims in salmon sauce. Both of these dishes were pretty rich and creamy and should suit the taste of those who prefer their pastas served as such – rich and flavorful.

pasta and risotto
gnocchi with bolognese sauce, cappelletti pasta, mushroom risotto

With the pastas, we also had potato gnocchi with bolognese sauce (RM 34), cappelleti pasta (RM 31), and mushroom risotto (RM 38).

Gnocchi is another very rich tasting dish with strong potato and bolognese taste. Cappelleti pasta is stuffed with cheese in cream and turkey ham sauce. At this point, I was a bit overdosed with cream and rich cheese based sauce already. I’m sure they tasted much better when you don’t have so many of similar dishes at once.

The mushroom risotto provided a sense of balance and departure from the creamy pasta taste. They prepared it quite true to the origin, as in “not very well cooked”, but that’s the way them Italians like it, and I find it quite nice actually.

1kg T bone steak, sliced tenderloin, grilled lamb
1kg T bone steak, sliced tenderloin, grilled lamb

I thought we were done after the 9 of us went through 12 different dishes, in fact, I was mentally prepared to see desserts coming, but what came instead was another half a dozen dishes. Only they’re even bigger this time. *pengsan*

The 1-KG T-bone steak (RM 128) was huge, and can easily feed 3 adults, or about 27 skinny models. Though it is not wagyu prime ribs at Prime, the T-bone does hold up to it’s own, pretty juicy and flavorful, if lacking the marbled fats.

The sliced sirloin (RM 59) had a smoother and softer texture that I liked, and I do feel that the aromatic herbs with rocket did add some welcoming sophistication to the meat.

Grilled marinated lamb chop (RM 71) is another dish that can feed 2 smaller eaters. I found it to be pretty average though, not something I would order myself, there a lot of better choices on the menu.

seafood grill, mixed grill, pizza
seafood grill, mixed grill, pizza

The seafood grill (RM 126, griliata mista di pesce) came with 4 huge tiger prawns, cod fish, squid, seabass, and some grilled vegetable. This is another dish to share, and it was actually really good, especially the seabass, so yummy!

Mixed grill (RM 120, griliata mista di carne) is another dish that is impossible to finish alone. There’s grilled chicken, sirloin, lamb chop, and chicken sausage. I tried some of the chicken sausage and they were surprisingly good.

I also took a small slice of the pizza carnivora (RM 68) that had tomato, mozzarella, beef salami, chicken sausage, and turkey ham. It was pretty good, but at that point I was already seriously over fed.

desserts galore - tiramisu, carrot cake
desserts galore – tiramisu, cake

After 18 different dishes, of course, it was dessert time. The tiramisu (RM 26), apple cake with chocolate cream and vanilla ice cream (RM 24) were rich and pretty tasty. On the other hand, the shaved iced lime with strawberry thing (not on menu) was rather refreshing and gave the palette a good wash.

ice cream, molten chocolate cake, creme brulee
ice cream with espresso, molten chocolate cake, creme brulee

There’s also the vanilla ice cream with espresso (RM 17, affogato), the classic creme brulee (RM 22), and my favorite dessert of the night – molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream (RM 26, fondente al cioccolato) that was so rich and flavorful we finished it in a bout 0.8 second.

The good chef also treated us a shot of chocolate liquor each. This supposed traditional breakfast drink for Italian was so rich, sweet, and concentrated I felt I was drinking some gourmet liquefied chocolate with alcohol. I liked it a lot.

chef, haze, gareth, kim, KY, horng
ze chef, Haze, Gareth, Kim, KY, Horng

While Trattoria Cucina Italiana might not have a very welcoming sign board, do check it out if you are into authentic Italian cousin prepared by real Italians and favored by expatriates. Drinks and some desserts are priced slightly on the higher side, but overall I find that most of the main dishes and appetizers were of great value.

Give it a try, remember there’s free hassle free parking right in front of the restaurant too!

map of Rohas Perkasa

Address:
Trattoria Cucina Italiana
Wisma Rohas Perkasa
8 Jalan P. Ramlee,
50540 Kuala Lumpur‎

GPS: 3.15485, 101.708711
Tel: 03-2163 2368

I can’t really claim that Kepong is one of my favorite places when it comes to food, getting there during rush hour can be quite a PITA, on top of that, I don’t exactly know many good eats around the area other than Kaka bak kut teh (they have pork kidney!), the original KTZ, and several other restaurants I don’t usually frequent unless I happen to be there.

To be honest, if it wasn’t for the fact that the invitation to Sliver Spoon Trattoria was from the owner Jessica, a long time friend, I would have probably skipped this food review session already. As it turned out, I was more than glad we made the session.

Silver Spoon Trattoria
Silver Spoon Trattoria

Located at a pretty unassuming part of Kepong, Silver Spoon is sitting on the first floor of Wisma Manjarala. The decoration an ambiance of the restaurant rivals many 5 star hotel eateries, and yet a look at the menu pricing shows that the place actually live up to it’s name “Trattoria” – casual, affordable, and a hell lot less up tight than those so called haute cuisine establishments.

We were seated at the private room with a bunch of other usual suspects – fatboybakes, nomadgourmand, Gareth, Kim, Terence, Horng, and Haze. Our host was Jessica, someone I’ve actually known for some 8-10 years. According to Terence, she’s grown up rather well.

feta & olive foccacia, mozarella sticks & smoked salmon rice ball, stuffed portobello mushroom
feta & olive foccacia, mozarella sticks & smoked salmon rice ball,
stuffed portobello mushroom

We got started with some feta and olive foccacia, the dough served here is home made and they really tasted subtle but good. I also love the mozarella sticks with it’s really hearty cheese in almost liquid form, the salmon rice ball was alright too, but I couldn’t really taste much salmon in there.

If I had to choose one appetizer, I’d probably go for the stuffed portobello mushroom. Sitting between a bed of salad and minced meat, the mushroom was really really yummy, I had two pieces despite eating on a budget due to the number of dishes to come.

wine, silver spoon special mock tail
wine, silver spoon special mock tail

For those who are familiar with Kepong, you might remember that there was a place called Chef Ken in the 90s. It was a place famous for really cheap but awesome Italian food. Well, Silver Spoon got Chef Ken himself back to run this place.

According to the “old timers” like Fatboybakes who used to frequent Chef Ken, this place retains every bit the originality of his foods, down to the famous tiramisu (about that later)

wild mushroom risotto, prawn & avocado stack, smoked salmon pizza
wild mushroom risotto, prawn & avocado stack, smoked salmon pizza

The other appetizer we had was the prawn and avocado stack. Grilled fresh local prawn served on a bed of avocado with other salad and probably some balsamic vinegar. Though the prawn itself lacked strong flavor, overall combination turned out quite well.

Wild mushroom risotto was prepared to cater a bit towards the local taste (meaning slightly more cooked than the “real” Italian style), I love it! The smoked salmon pizza too was pretty good, but I’d love to have a lot more salmon to go with the crispy crust (from freshly made to order dough). Then again, it’s hard to argue when the pizza is priced at less than RM 30.

duck confit, grilled baby snapper, seafood marinara
duck confit, grilled baby snapper, seafood marinara

The 3rd main dish we tried was the delightful duck confit. Instead of just the drum stick, this one came with the whole 1/4 duck. I loved the taste, and made some sneaky moves to acquire quite a bit of duck skin. *slurps*

Grilled baby snapper was one of those dishes that doesn’t really seem to fit in. I’ve never seen whole fish served in such setting, with potato and beans on one side, and a slice of lemon on another. It did, however, turned out to be quite tasty, just not particularly very “italian” to me.

Lastly, there’s seafood marinara. The pasta came with generous amount of mussels, clams, prawns, squid and fish chunks on a tomato based sauce. I only had a couple bites and found that the taste was quite agreeable indeed.

chocolate pot, creme brulee, tiramisu
chocolate pot, creme brulee, tiramisu

Then there’s the desserts. We had chocolate pot, creme bruelee, and tiramisu. I find the chocolate pot a tad too rich (but goes well with wine though), the creme brulee satisfying, and the tiramisu a must order if you like your dessert to be rather alcoholic, it was niceeee!

Of course, we finished everything.

Rebecca & bf, Kim & Gareth, Terence & Horng, KY & Haze, Jessica, Joe & partner & Cheng Yi
Rebecca & bf, Kim & Gareth, Terence & Horng,
KY & Haze, Jessica, Joe & partner & Cheng Yi

We had loads of fun time at Silver Spoon, the food was great, drinks aplenty (Jessica’s dad even brought out the Royal Salute), and above all, the company was excellent.

I’m definitely going there again. The pricing was definitely very reasonable, lamb shank for RM 38, marinara for RM 29, desserts at around RM 15 or so, soup at RM 12. Great food, reasonable pricing, and awesome ambiance. What more could one ask for? Open a branch next to my house la Jessica!

silver spoon trattoria map

Address:
Silver Spoon Trattoria,
1st Floor, Wisma Manjalara,
Bandar Menjalara,
52200, Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.195364, 101.632456
Tel: 03-6277 0445

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