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Some months back my desk was moved back to the main office at KLCC, which translate to more opportunity in checking out the recently revamped Avenue K that is placing more emphasis to the food seeking crowd.

One of the restaurants that always seem to have a long queue during lunch time is Fresca on the ground floor, so we decided to check it out.

Fresca Mexican Cuisine at Avenue K
Fresca Mexican Cuisine at Avenue K

The premise that houses Fresca Mexican Cuisine also has another section occupied by Dolly dimsum, I thought that’s a bit of a strange arrangement, but it seems to be working well for the restaurant.

Ambiance is great with tall and wide windows, and the segment of glass roof also add in to provide great lighting condition for the restaurant. I really like it.

tortilla chips & tapas
tortilla chips & tapas, love the jalapenos

For five of us, we started out with some tortilla chips with guagomole (RM 20), those fattening avacado sauce and freshly fried tortilla proved to be a good appetizer, though beer would really be great in this instance.

What’s Mexican cuisine without some tapas? We had Jalapeno Poppers (RM 17), Hongos Rellenos (RM 20, portobello mushroom with eggplant),  and Camarones (RM23, sauteed prawn tacos).

While they aren’t exactly “economical” in pricing, these were very good side dishes, I particularly love the jalapeno poppers with the aroma of the Mexican green pepper and the juiciness of minced beef with those crispy shell. It was great.

beef fajitas & cordero a la tamarindo (rack of lamb)
beef fajitas & cordero a la tamarindo (rack of lamb)

Like most Mexican restaurants, there are a few usual suspects when it comes to main dishes. There’s enchaladas, burritos, fajitas, quesadillas, and a few other typical items in the menu. Many of these dishes come with options of chicken or beef as well.

We tried Beef Fenderloin Fajitas (RM 47) that came in sizzling hot plate, the meat was tender and juicy, with condiments that did not disappoint. However, do order some extra pita bread if you’re sharing this dish though.

Cordero a la Tamarindo, or rack of lamb (RM 63) is the highest priced item on their menu, but also one that satisfied our collective palates. The lamb was succulent and the marinade spot on.

camaraones - sauteed prawn tacos, pollo a la parrilla (grilled chicken)
camaraones – sauteed prawn tacos, pollo a la parrilla (grilled chicken)

For those seeking something slightly closer to our Asian tastes, Pollo a la Parilla (RM 34, grilled chicken) would not be a bad choice. There’s plenty of rice and the rather tasty poultry that’s marinated with their house special marinate.

Kelly, Sheng, Latha, Joyce, KY
Kelly, Sheng, Latha, Joyce, KY

Food at Fresca did not disappoint at all, though pricing is a little on the high side, but considering the ambiance, location, and quality of food you get, it is not a bad place to visit at all.

By the way, don’t waste your time with their churros (RM 15), it was a disappointment.

map of Avenue K

Address:
Fresca
Ground Floor,
Avenue K, 156, Jln Ampang,
50450 KL

GPS: 3.159210, 101.713538
Tel: 03-2201 2893

I’m pretty happy that there are more and more decent coffee places that sprung up in Klang Valley lately. Gone were the days when Starbucks and Coffeebeans being the only go-to chains when caffein addiction hits.

Coffea Coffee is the latest coffee chain I had the pleasure of visiting recently.

Coffea Coffee at Subang Jaya SS 15
Coffea Coffee at Subang Jaya SS 15

Originally from Korea, the chain now boosts four outlets in Klang Valley, we visited the branch at SS 15 Subang Jaya, a place where I spent my college years over a decade ago when Starbucks wasn’t even in Malaysia. (no prize for calculating my age)

Interior decoration of the shop is tastefully done and seemingly sparing no expenses – textured walls, quaint furnitures, beautifully crafted furnitures and so forth. There’s even a smallish alfresco area upstairs for those who indulge in satisfying their nicotine addiction with some coffee.

red velvet cake, cheese cake, scones, latte
red velvet cake, cheese cake, scones, latte

Coffea Coffee offers a wide variety of espresso based beverages – the latte I tried was silky smooth and rather strong, just the way I like it.

There are two different beans to choose from. “Maestro” for those who like strong full-bodied blend, or “Madonna” for those who prefer it aromatic with slight acidity. I had the former.

You can also find a selection of cakes, scones, bagel, sandwich, and other light foods. The cakes were decent, and scones were reported to be rather delicious.

iced chocolate, smoothie, iced latte
iced chocolate, smoothie (kiwi I believe), iced latte

For those who wants their drinks cold, there’s smoothies, iced espresso based drinks, and iced chocolate. The selection is rather big, even those who doesn’t indulge in caffein should have no problem finding a beverage they like.

Horng, Yuki, KY, Joyce, Suan, and the coffee guy
Horng, Yuki, KY, Joyce, Suan, and the coffee guy

Price wise they are comparable with the other bigger chains. Drinks are priced at below RM 10 to RM 13, and cakes at around RM 10-12.

This is definitely an outlet that I would go again, and hopefully they open a branch closer to where I stay or work, that’ll be perfect.

map to coffea coffee at Subang Jaya SS 15

Address:
Coffea Coffee
A-10, SS 15/4D
47500 Subang Jaya
Selangor
GPS3.074564, 101.586408
Tel03-2201 3338 (main branch at Bangsar)

I remember the first time I set foot at my car mechanic’s workshop, plastered on the entrance of their office was the following line:

“Life is full of choices, take off your shoes before entering, or mop the floor”

That was a lighthearted instruction/joke, but if you think about it, life is indeed full of choices that we must make every single day. Many of them are small, but some are big and can have huge impacts or long term consequences.

Celine & Kimberly holding the Life-O-Meter signs
Celine & Kimberly holding the Life-O-Meter signs

Joyce, Kim, yours truly, a few other bloggers, and a whole group of attendees were invited to the launch of Great Eastern’s Life-O-Meter Facebook application at Paradox Art Cafe on the 10th this month.

More on Life-O-Meter in just a bit.

Dato Koh Yaw Hui launched the Life-O-Meter application
Dato Koh Yaw Hui, Director and CEO (right) and Nicholas Kua, Chief Marketing Officer
officially launched the Life-O-Meter application

The emcee of the night was Hanson, who kicked started the night by calling An Honest Mistake, a popular local band to rock the house. This was followed by the launch of Life-O-Meter application by Dato Koh Yaw Hui, Director and CEO (right) and Nicholas Kua, Chief Marketing Officer.

An Honest Mistake rocked the house, and we had dinner too
An Honest Mistake rocked the house, and we had dinner too

Dato Koh then explained the aim of Life-O-Meter as a platform to inspire and help people to live healthier and better by encouraging the sharing of preference and opinions through the use of Social Media.

Dinner was served right after that, and I must say that the buffet dishes at Paradox Art Cafe was actually pretty decent. Joyce had second servings too, if I remember correctly 😀

Joyce, myself, and Kimberly had a short Q&A on the stage
Joyce, myself, and Kimberly had a short Q&A on the stage

Joyce, Kimberly, and I then shared the stage with Hanson in a Q&A session that exemplifies the theme – choices. I remember all three of us picked “Live To Eat” instead of “Eat To Live” when asked about our choice under “food” theme. It was a pretty short session and we had fun.

Home and How To page of the application
Home and How To page of the application

Now, what is Life-O-Meter?

It is very simple, really. Life-O-Meter is an application that calls for action “Like, Post, Share”, or LPS. Go to the LoM application on Facebook, check out the current week’s question and like one of the two choices by clicking on either the blue or red thumbs up.

Once you do that, share your reason of picking that choice to your Facebook friends. There will be a different question each week, and the Life-O-Meter will swing to the answer picked by most users (either blue or red)

Weekly Meter and Winners List pages
Weekly Meter and Winners List pages

To make it more exciting, there’re prizes to be won as well. Weekly cash prize of RM 100 will be determined by Great Eastern’s panel of judges (no need for trying to get votes), and for the month of December, there is also a grand prize of either

  • 4D/3N Bali trip
  • 4D/3N Kota Kinabalu Park and Island Snorkeling Trip

I’ve never seen a grand prize that the winner actually gets to choose, but again, this is what Life-O-Meter is about, choices!

Head to lifeometer.com.my and LPS today!

Several weeks ago we were invited to Private Kitchen at Damansara Uptown. From the outside, this looks to be a very modest little restaurant not unlike many other eateries at the area – air conditioned, clean, and with a contemporary furnishing that seems to focus on function than pure aesthetics.

Private Kitchen at PJ Uptown
Private Kitchen at PJ Uptown

This is, however, not just another local restaurant. The kitchen is led by Chef Lam Fai, an experienced Hong Kong chef who was trained both in Western and traditional Hong Kong cuisine, and it is this unique background of Chef Lam that results in some rather creative dishes we sampled during this food review session.

While waiting for food to be served, we snacked off long spring roll with shrimp paste (RM 10). The taste of shrimp paste is not unlike shrimp balls, and the deep fried spring roll skin gives it some crunchiness. A different interpretation of spring roll, easy to eat off your fingers, and I believe, would make excellent beer food.

beef with strawberry sauce, shredded chicken and cucumber, soup of the day
beef with strawberry sauce, shredded chicken and cucumber, soup of the day

Our first dish then, was shredded chicken with Private Kitchen “ma la” sauce (RM 12). The shredded chicken sits atop cucumber that’s seasoned with vinegar, a decent cold dish to prepare the stomach, but not one that I’m overly impressed with though.

Like any Chinese/HK restaurant, soup is a must in any meal. The soup of the day was carrot & radish with lean meat soup (RM 6). Very homey, flavorful, and certainly excellent value for money for this type of setting.

Then came one of my favorite dishes of the night – stir-fried prime beef fillet in strawberry & black pepper sauce (RM 28). According to the chef, the beef is prepared and tenderized using Western cuisine techniques, and he chose strawberry to add a different dimension to this black pepper beef dish after some experiments (Chef Lam jokingly said that banana wasn’t a good idea). The result was excellent, if you are “elite” and like to dismiss fusion food, this dish may very well change your stance.

HK style ginger chicken, panfried pork chop with lemongrass
HK style ginger chicken, panfried pork chop with lemongrass

Hong Kong style sand ginger chicken (RM 25 for half bird) went through some half a day’s work of preparation (boiling in broth, preparing the skin with a bit of turmeric for that color, etc) and was delicious and smooth. I especially enjoy the ginger + spring onion sauce that came with this dish.

The next dish looks almost like mantis prawns, but was actually strips of pan-fried pork chop with lemongrass (RM 25). The pork carries pretty strong lemongrass and ginger taste, and tasted pretty decent with chili sauce, but I thought is one of the weaker dishes in this session.

typhoon shelter tiger prawn, sauteed Chinese chives with pork belly in XO sauce
typhoon shelter tiger prawn, sauteed Chinese chives with pork belly in XO sauce

No HK cuisine is complete without typhoon shelter dishes, and at Private Kitchen, we were served typhoon shelter tiger prawn (RM 38). The preparation method was as I remembered the last time I had typhoon shelter crab at Causeway Bay Spicy Crab at Hartamas – plenty of garlic and chili, the aroma was superb, and the prawns did not disappoint. Now I wonder if this would be a good way to prepare squid, hmm.

Sauteed Chinese chives with pork belly in XO sauce (RM18) was our token vegetable dish, even though there’s pork belly in it. I thought it was slightly sinful, but pretty tasty though.

amaranth with minced chicken in superior soup, Portuguese style fried rice
amaranth with minced chicken in superior soup, Portuguese style fried rice

Another soupy vegetable dish that we had was amaranth with minced chicken in superior soup (RM 16). Most of us would recognize it by the common name Chinese spinach. This is another very homey type of dish, a comfort food.

The Portuguese style fried rice with braised pork belly & seafood (RM 16) wasn’t a dish that looked very good in its presentation, it was sorta brownish overall with little color contrast, but don’t let the apparence fools you. The fried rice was very flavorful, and with prawns, squid, and pork belly, they didn’t skimp on ingredients at all. I had a bowl even though I was already stuffed by then, highly recommended.

deep-fried pork ribs with special salad sauce, typhoon shelter noodles with pork chop
deep-fried pork ribs with special salad sauce, typhoon shelter noodles with pork chop

The deep-fried pork ribs with special salad sauce (RM32) is another unique fusion food by Chef Lam that works well. The ribs were tender and juicy, and the slightly sourish and fruity salad sauce, while a bit unorthodox, worked well in this instance. I really enjoyed it too.

Our last “extra” dish of the night was a bowl of typhoon shelter noodles with pork chop in chili & garlic soup (RM15). This is a dish fit for single person consumption and comes with a generous portion of pork chop and the noodle in a soup that has some kick. I tried a spoonful (was stuffed already), and from what I could tell it was pretty decent.

Cheesie, chef Lam Fai, Suanie, Joyce, Dennis & Evelyn, Haze
Cheesie, chef Lam Fai, Suanie, Joyce, KY, Dennis & Evelyn, Haze

Most of the dishes we had at Private Kitchen were pretty consistent and for the lack of a better description – tasty. The prices are reasonable as well. The only downside of the place is, well, the location and challenging parking situation at times. Saying that this place is sort of a poor-man’s Elegant Inn would not be incorrect. Worth visiting though, for sure.

map to Private Kitchen restaurant at PJ Uptown

Address:
Private Kitchen Hong Kong Cuisine
103 Jalan SS21/37
Damansara Utama (Uptown) 
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.13451, 101.62378
Tel: 03-7728 8399
Hours: 11:30 am – 3 pm, 6 pm – 10 pm, closed on Mondays