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Tag / pasta

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

Chef Stefano Merlo hail from the kitchen of the acclaimed Rossini’s at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, Bangkok, and brought with him a unique take on contemporary Italian cuisine at Favola from 15 – 21 April, 2012. There are over 20 menu items to choose from, and available only for dinner. Ala carte dishes are priced from RM 30++ to RM 250++, while a 4-course set menu is available at RM 300 nett per person or 4-course set menu with wine pairing at RM 450 nett.

We were among the lucky few to be invited to the cooking and tasting session with Chef Stefano last weekend.

Chef Stefano Merlo at Favola, Le Meridien KL
Chef Stefano Merlo at Favola, Le Meridien KL

Chef Stefano is a native of Padua in northern Italy and has worked alongside with many highly regarded chefs in prestigious restaurants around the world. This includes Michelin starred Chef Alfredo Russo from “Il Dolce Stil Novo”, and respected Head Chef Toshikazu Tsuji from Enoteca Pinchiorri in Tokyo.

artichokes fritata in preperation
artichokes fritata in preperation

The good chef prepared three dishes for us to sample during the cooking demonstration – Artichokes Fritata, Seafood Risotto, and Milk Risotto with Cherry Parfait.

First, the artichokes fritata, a very interesting preparation of perhaps the most mundane of all ingredients – egg.

  • 12 eggs
  • 100 gram cream
  • 4 stalks of artichokes
  • bread croutons
  • shiso cress

artichokes fritata
artichokes fritata

First, fry eggs with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper but keeping the yolks slightly runny. Transfer the fritata in a blender and blend it with cream till smooth. Peel and clean artichokes and steam in oven for 30 minutes at 90c. To serve, pour 3 spoon of fritata and top with artichoke, crutons, shiso cress and extra virgin olive oil.

The only tricky part is that you need a culinary foam maker to make this fritata, but the result was a breakfast with very unique texture and a familiar taste, it was very nice.

seafood risotto, plenty of bisque is the key
seafood risotto, plenty of bisque is the key

Next was seafood risotto.

  • 140 gram risotto
  • prawns, scallops, seabass, baby squid, mussels, clams
  • 200 gram clam and mussel stock
  • 50 gram butter
  • 50 gram parmesan cheese
  • 10 gram chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 gram lecithin
  • salt

lecithin is used to make foam, and seafood prepared separately
lecithin is used to make foam, and seafood prepared separately

Toast rice with butter and a pinch of salt, then cook with clam and mussel stock till rice is ‘al dente’ (slightly hard in the center). Remove from heat and add two tablespoon of butter, then mix rice with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Pan fry or grill the seafood (one by one as they have different cooking time). Make foam by using the remaining clam and mussel stock mix with lecithin (this can be omitted at home). Pour risotto in serving plate, mix seafood and foam to serve.

seafood risotto, almost too pretty to eat
seafood risotto, almost too pretty to eat

The risotto took some 20 minutes or so to make, and the resulting dish was excellent. It was undoubtedly the best risotto I’ve tried. The generous amount of seafood stock used in the preparation of this risotto made it very rich and flavorful, but at the same time Chef Stefano kept it in check and not overpowering. Exquisite.

milk risotto with cherry parfait
milk risotto with cherry parfait

milk risotto with cherry parfait is a dish that takes quite a bit of preparation and a pacojet to prepare, so I guess it is not very useful to share the recipe here, but if you have a penchant for unfamiliar taste, this dessert is a must order. I love it, but Haze find it unsuitable for her taste. It is milky, and has a texture not unlike porridge, but yet undoubtedly a dessert. Try it!

Saturday lunch buffet at Favola
Saturday lunch buffet at Favola

After the cooking demonstration and a taste of all the three creations by Chef Stefano, we were treated with the Saturday Hi-Tea at Favola (RM 88++ from 12pm – 3pm).

The generous spread includes antipasti, salad, dessert, meat, seafood, risotto, pasta, bread, and fresh baked pizzas, and more.

i love the squid ink pasta
i love the squid ink pasta

It was definitely a very fulfilling session with some familiar faces. Read what the others say.

KY, Haze, Evelyn, Suan, Horng, Mei, Josen
KY, Haze, Evelyn, Suan, Horng, Mei, Josen

Address:
Favola
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
Kuala Lumpur 50470

GPS: 3.135631,101.686476
Tel: 03-2263 7753

A week ago I was invited to Opus Bistro for a revisit, this time around it’s an event organized by MilkADeal, the group buy website that not coincidentally, is having a good deal for Opus Bistro right this moment. Details of the deal at the bottom of this post.

My previous visit at Opus Bistro was a wine tasting event with Montana wine while this one is a purely food oriented session with all the dishes here available on their menu (Opus’s website).

Opus Bistro at Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar
Opus Bistro at Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar

We were seated on the first level, a tastefully done dining area fit for private functions as well as cozy dinner without the usual noise associated in a busy restaurant.

Many of you aren’t necessarily interested with the  thickness of chair cushion and how many replica pantings are on the wall, so lets go straight to the food, shall we?

seafood antipasti platter
seafood antipasti platter

Like most finer dining places, we started off with some bread that you dip in olive oil and balsamic vinegar while sipping a glass of white wine, but that is pretty dull to describe, move on to the first dish then – the seafood antipasti platter (RM 45.)

Here is a dish with some of my favorite ingredients – squid, scallop, tiger prawn, and clam. All perfectly prepared but come in different texture and flavor that compliment each other rather well. I love it.

risotto ball, seafood spaghetti, lamb shank
risotto ball, seafood spaghetti, grilled lamb cutlets in red wine sauce

Then there’s the risotto ball (RM 22), something that is quite unique to Opus. It is sort of a vegetarian “meatball” that the health conscious should love, but meat lover such as me find slightly lacking.

The seafood spaghetti (RM 22/36) is a delightful dish especially if you didn’t have the antipasti platter to start off dinner. Here you find mussels, prawns, squid, and clams accompanying the pasta in olive oil and herbs, almost healthy.

The grilled lamb cutlets with rosemary in red wine sauce (RM 58) is a dish that can satisfy anyone with a huge appetite for meat. There’s a choice of mint sauce too if red wine sauce isn’t your thing. The meat is tender and succulent.

aglio olio with smoked duck, roast cod, tiramisu, chocolate desire
aglio olio with smoked duck, roast cod, tiramisu, chocolate desire

For those who love to venture into the slightly wilder side, there’s linguini aglio olio with smoked duck (RM 17/30.) The smoked duck breast carries a slightly salty smokey taste that will satisfy your curiosity.

We also tried both versions of roast cod (RM 58) at Opus. I personally favor the one with white wine sauce over the lemon caper sauce but truth be told, both were excellent.

For desserts we had tiramisu (RM 16) & chocolate desire (RM 20). The hot chocolate in pastry combine well with the cold vanilla ice cream to serve as the far better dessert for the night.

Haze, KY, Ringo, Kerol, and Suan at Opus Bistro
Haze, KY, Ringo, Kerol, and Suan at Opus Bistro

Opus Bistro is in effect, a place with pretty good food at a still affordable pricing, a poor man’s fine dining restaurant if you would.

The good news is, in the next 6 days (till 10th of May, 2011), you can get a deal from MilkADeal that maks Opus a must-visit place. The deal is – RM25 instead of RM74 for a Main Pasta + Wine / Fruit Juice / Soft Drink. Click on it, purchase, redeem, and enjoy!

map to Opus Bistro at Bangsar

Address:
Opus Bistro
67, Jalan Bangkong
Bukit Bandaraya
59100 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.138116, 101.669197
Tel: 03-2092 4288

Last weekend Le Meridien threw a small party for a few lucky bloggers. The email invitation I got a few weeks prior to the event called it “A Night of Discovery” with no other details. As it turned out, it was a grand tour/food crawl at the various fine restaurants within the hotel, with surprises along the way.

Conservatory Bar at Le Meridien KL
canopes at Conservatory Bar, Le Meridien KL

The evening started out at Conservatory Bar, the lounge at the main entrance of the hotel. A glass of wine in hand and ample of canopes for us to get the stomach ready for what’s next.

We had pan seared cremolate tuna sashimi with sesame wakame salad, diced feta cheese, ratatouille and pine nuts in mini pita bread (pic), martini of tomato salsa, mozzarella mousse and pesto (pic), and even chicken tandoori and minted raita on chili focaccia bread. I had to start pacing myself to not over eat.

Favola at Le Meridien KL
Favola at Le Meridien

We then took the elevator and moved up to Favola, Le Meridien’s Italian dining outfit. More food awaits us as chef Antoine started to explain the seafood centric food laid before our eyes, for examp;e, the fabulous spicy calamari with olive oil & citrus (pic.)

chef Antoine at Favola, showing us the various tomatos
chef Antoine at Favola, showing us the various tomatos

The good chef then shows us the various ingredients important to Italian cuisine that are used here at Favola, including almost half a dozen types of fresh tomato, and the imported as well as one local mozzarella from Langkawi (Malaysia boleh!) that passed his personal quality tests. I can have those cheese as snack all day if you ask me.

Antipasti Duo at Favola
Antipasti Duo at Favola

Our main dishes (or what we thought as main dishes for the night) at Favola were two antipasti.

Smoked salmon with cold cucumber and macadamia puree, grilled peaches, buffalo mozzarella, Pecorino rocket and Radicchio salad. I love the contrast between the salad and the salmon, and I can really use more of that buffalo mozzarella at home, It was so good!

foie gras on wild mushroom risotto, haze
foie gras on wild mushroom risotto, haze

Then there’s the pan seared foie gras on wild mushroom risotto in clear beef broth that was so delightful. This was highly anticipated when chef Antoine told us about it, and the dish did not disappoint at all.

The other part of this antipasta was the chicken meatball in green olive tapenade, onion and roasted bell pepper, that was very good too.

after Favola, we make our way to Prime
after Favola, we make our way to Prime

At this point in time, with some really good determination to not over eat, my stomach stood at maybe 70% full. Then we collectively moved to Prime, my favorite steak house in town.

the beef served at Prime, that's a grade 12 wagyu on my hands
the beef served at Prime, that’s a grade 12 wagyu on my hands

A surprise awaits us at Prime as we stepped into the private room. Slabs of Blackmore Wagyu beef from grade 6 to 12 as well as grain fed Austraian Angus beef were on display as chef Antoine again explained the ingredients used at Prime to us.

The number of days a vacuum packed beef could be kept refrigerated is tightly regulated here to ensure maximum quality that goes into every serving.

it's like choosing between fish & bear palm (chinese proverbs, learn!)
it’s like choosing between fish & bear palm (chinese proverbs, learn!)

Look at the two slabs of Blackmore Wagyu marble grade 6 and 12. These are some of the best beef you can get, the grade 12 Wagyu on the right consists of some 60% fat, not for the faint hearted, but that was exactly what we’re going to have at Prime! Yes, I’m a very lucky man.

blackmore wagyu marble 9, with truffle sauce
Blackmore Wagyu marble 9, with truffle sauce

Undoubtedly, the high light for the night were the steak. The charcoal grilled Blackmore Wagyu chuck flap tail marble 9, with roma tomato confit, brocolini and braised intercoastal on mascarpone polenta. It was absolute heaven, especially with some truffle sauce to go with the red meat.

teppanyaki ice cream, ciki
teppanyaki ice cream, ciki

Dinner wouldn’t be complete without desserts, and for that we were guided to the final destination of the evening – Latest Recipe.

Teppanyaki ice cream is a must have here, and the Belgium waffle personally prepared by chef Antoine was fantastic.

desserts at latest recipe, and macaroons
desserts at latest recipe, and macaroons macarons

We were also served a dessert platter with honey dew sago shot, carrot cake, lychee tart, vanilla creme brulee, agar agar, and my personal favorite – chocolate mousse with citrus jelly. It sounded like an unlikely combination, chocolate & citrus jelly, but the contrast was perfect, I finished it despite the stomach complaining at 150% capacity filled.

fatboybakes, ciki, a lil fat monkey, Damian of Le Meridien
fatboybakes, ciki, a lil fat monkey, Damian of Le Meridien

This was easily one of the best events I’ve attended, the people at Le Meridien were fantastic hosts and have everything prepared meticulously. A big thank you to Damian, Sashi, Harvey, Fauzy, and of course, chef Antoine for the great evening.

map to Le Meridien at KL Sentral

Address:
Le Meridien
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
Kuala Lumpur 50470

GPS: 3.135631,101.686476
Tel: 03-2263 7888

A few weeks ago my buddy Terence called up and then passed the phone to Colin, and I was invited to a food tasting session.

At first I thought it was for TDH (Tom Dick and Harry’s), the popular watering hole at TTDI, but when I reached there with a hungry stomach a couple weeks ago, it turned out to be the restaurant right upstairs of TDH – Hoofed.

interior of Hoofed is tastefully done
interior of Hoofed is tastefully done

To be honest, I hadn’t know there’s a restaurant above TDH despite the numerous visits there. I guess it doesn’t help that one rarely gets to leave TDH with very clear vision at the end of the night.

Hoofed is a tastefully decorated restaurant, with an ambiance that rivals many a five star hotels. I particularly love the old school subway style ceiling (Colin had to personally put them on one by one).

Hoofed at TTDI food review session
Hoofed at TTDI food review session

In order to maximize the number of dishes we get to try, Hoofed prepared the dishes in small doses. I thought this is a pretty good way of handling food review, much better than having a bunch of people splitting several dishes and everyone ended up having to fight for the good stuff.

The night started with a plate of pretty interesting duck salad that comes with duck breast, century egg, 7/8 boiled egg, and fresh  vegetable in vinegrete dressing. A refreshing taste that I haven’t had before, it was pretty good actually.

Hoofed prides itself in serving pork dishes, and they have suckling pig too! (whole piglet at RM 170). I was given a portion, and it was really as good as they come.

roast pork, tenderloin steak, pork ribs, pasta with roast pork
roast pork, tenderloin steak, pork ribs, pasta with roast pork

Other pork dishes I tried when I went there again for a little xmas gift exchange session last week were the really awesome roast pork, pork ribs, and pasta with fried roast pork.

I’m hesitant to say that it is the best roast pork I’ve had, but it is tough to rate it any lower than the one at Wong Kee, Pudu. They are essentially different, the version here is softer and goes well with mustard, while Wong Kee’s roast pork has a crunchier skin and fatty midsection but slightly tougher meat. They’re equally good in their own way.

Same can’t be said about the pork ribs I ordered though, while it was tender and juicy, I thought it was a tad too sweet for my liking, that kinda masked out the savory part of the meat a little.

Those who had the pasta with roast pork though, swore by it. I didn’t manage to steal some from Winnie, but boy it sure looked good.

lamb shank, grilled fish, tenderloin
lamb shank, grilled fish, tenderloin

Since I didn’t bring the bigger camera for the session, these two collages were actually hand-me-down photos from Hoofed.

The lamb shank is best enjoyed by two person as Horng ordered and couldn’t really finished it all by himself. Haze had the tenderloin steak that turned out to be slightly more cooked that she would have liked it.

I had the grilled fish during the review session and it was very good though.

dessert, fried rice, pasta with roast pork
dessert, fried rice, pasta with roast pork

To me, the most surprisingly dish at Hoofed has gotta be the fried rice. Though this place doesn’t really concentrate on a particular cuisine, fried rice seems to be an unlikely entry in their menu, and it is a damn fine plate of fried rice at that. This, and the pasta with roast pork, should be the must-try dish at Hoofed.

I’ve only tried the brownie with ice cream as far as dessert is concerned. It was good, but to be frank I’m not a big dessert person and would almost always stuff myself with more roast pork instead.

xmas gift exchange with TDH gang
xmas gift exchange with TDH gang

To be frank, not everything at Hoofed is spot on. I love all the pork dishes with the exception of ribs, the fried rice and fish were pretty awesome too. Some of the other dishes however, are still a work in progress, but I am sure with Colin’s attention to detail and constant communication with diners, they will improve in time.

Dishes at Hoofed is priced at a tad above average, but the ambiance and the right dishes do make up for it.

map to hoofed at ttdi

Address:
Hoofed
No 18A, Lorong Rahim Kajai 14,
TTDI 60000 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.15455, 101.62289
Tel: 03-7728-8567