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Tag / pearl

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

Fa Ying at Paradigm Mall is the new foray into modern Thai cuisine by the same people who run Rama V at Jalan U Thant.

If you aren’t exactly a Thai historian, the name Fa Ying (means Princess) might sound a bit bizarre for a Thai restaurant. According to the owner, Fa Ying was the name of the playful sister of Rama V, the revered Thai King who was credited to the modernization of Siam. Since this outlet serves a “playful” interpretation of Thai cuisine to the sister restaurant Rama V, hence the name Fa Ying.

Pretty neat, I thought, but maybe adding “Thai restaurant” at the back of that big sign board bight help a little. :D

Fa Ying Thai Restaurant at Paradigm Mall
Fa Ying Thai Restaurant at Paradigm Mall

The restaurant is located at The Boulevard at Paradigm Mall, the semi-outdoor area under the office block with a set up that’s not entirely unlike the “covered alfresco” area at Pavilion. It’s pretty much open air while still sheltered from the harshest of elements.

Fa Ying also spot a full bar, serving liquor, cocktails, and beer
Fa Ying also spot a full bar, serving liquor, cocktails, and beer

For those likes some proper drinks to go with Thai food, Fa Ying is definitely a place to go. Spotting a full bar, the restaurant serves a variety of cocktails, beer, and other drinks.

Some of the drinks we tried were:

  • Mango Thai Pandan RM 21
  • Thai Tom Yam RM 21 (funny name..)
  • Mojito Selection RM 24
  • Lemongrass Basil and Mango Sparkler RM 13

They also serve a fishbowl drink called Marquessa (RM 100) that comes with dragon fruit, cucumber, Absolut blue, burnt orange peel, white wine, and soda. It’s like a potent Thai version of Sangria.

While not an expert in cocktails by any means, I did enjoy their drinks.

lamb, fish, and seafood sate
lamb, fish, and seafood sate

Lets move on to the food.

We sampled three types of Thai satay here. The lamb satay (RM 20) was flavorful but without the overly strong “lamb” taste that some people dislike.

Fish satay a tender and soft, while the seafood satay with prawns & mussels were refreshing and went very well with their sourish sauce.

minced beef in cucumber, watermelon salad, pomelo salad
minced beef in cucumber, watermelon salad, pomelo salad

Minced meat in cucumber (RM 12) looked a bit like sushi but carries the distinctive Thai taste. The cucumber provided nice contrast to the meat, without the requirement of steamed rice to complement the meat. I’ll wouldn’t mind this as beer food.

For those who loves to go green, watermelon salad (RM 12) and pomelo salad (RM 16) will do the job just fine.

grilled scallops served with spinach and manow sauce
grilled scallops served with spinach and manow sauce

Our favorite appetizer of the day goes to this beautifully presented grilled scallops with spinach and manow sauce (RM 19). The scallops were perfectly seared, and the sourish manow sauce provided just the kick to complete this seafood experience.

I also think that this dish offers excellent value.

spaghetti with river prawn, Thai green curry pesto
cod fish with manow, spaghetti with river prawn, Thai green curry pesto

Codfish with Manow (RM 42) provides a choice for those who loves this buttery fish, I find no fault in the execution of this dish, except that it’ll probably leave some room for dessert.

Spaghetti with Thai green curry pesto (RM 22) and spaghetti with river prawn (RM 32) are among the two pasta dishes offered here, both were a bit spicy and definitely not masking their Thai origin. I find the experience a little strange, but perhaps it’s something you get used to.

roast duck sandwich, grilled tenderloin with green curry
roast duck sandwich, grilled tenderloin with green curry

My favorite main dish goes to the roast duck sandwich (RM 20). It was simple yet brilliant, and I wonder why it took so long for anyone to come up with this. It was utterly delicious and I would go back to Fa Ying just to have this. (btw my colleague Sheng had this and gave his approval as well)

Lastly, we also sampled their grilled tenderloin with green curry mushroom (RM 42). Perhaps I’m spoiled by those high grade beef at Prime, but for less than RM 50, the meat was decent.

Thai desserts at Fa Ying
Thai desserts at Fa Ying

Like most Thai restaurants, Fa Ying serves a variety of traditional desserts. I liked the fried banana fritters with vanilla ice cream, and their mango with sticky rice was pretty good as well. Each of these dish comes with half a strawberry, leaving the trace of the “playful” nature of Fa Ying.

Pearl, Reiko, Evelyn, Suan, Haze, KY, Audrey, Owner
Pearl, Reiko, Evelyn, Suan, Haze, KY, Audrey, Owner

We had a pretty good session at Fa Ying, and it is definitely a place I’ll revisit (if not just for the roast duck sandwich!). Mention ‘PRINCESS’ as password and get 10% off food bill before 1st of February 2013.

If you are looking for Thai food with a bit of a twist at a place with nice ambiance to bring a date, this would be a sweet choice.

map to Paradigm Mall, Petaling Jaya

Address:
Fa Ying Thai Restaurant
The Boulevard, Paradigm Mall
Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya
Selangor
GPS: 3.108806, 101.59564
Tel: 03-7451 2933

Fa Ying

Thai Garden Village is about 2/3 correct, it is a Thai food place that has a pretty neat looking garden, but at the same time it isn’t exactly a village. Situated at the less glamourous part of KL that is Kepong, I was first introduced to this restaurant by Kim, who is as big a fan of Thai food as Haze and myself.

Thai Garden Village at Kepong
Thai Garden Village at Kepong

Getting to Thai Garden Village is actually pretty simple, drive along Jalan Kepong either from MRR2 or Jalan Kuching (if you’re from KL) until you see a smallish Shell station, turn into West Road right next to it, and viola, Thai Garden Village is right there, almost disguised as a light industrial factory.

Parking is a pretty simple affair as they do provide ample space, the restaurant has both indoor and outdoor (garden) dining area, and can probably accomodate more than 2-300 diners.

smoked salmon salad, fish cake, tomyam, raw prawn salad
smoked salmon salad, fish cake, tomyam, raw prawn salad

The menu at Thai Garden Village is pretty extensive even though it is a pork free outlet.

For starters, you should never miss the raw prawn salad. This is the only place that I know of serving this in KL, and it doesn’t get any more genuine than this. Over a dozen prawns “cooked” by the acid from lime and served with plenty of cabbage and equal amount of bitter gourd and raw garlic, not for the faint hearted, but it is as rewarding as it is interesting.

They also serve a version of raw papaya salad with smoked salmon, which makes for good “yee sang” substitute if you were to have it over CNY period. Delicious even at non festive season.

The fish cake is another richly flavored affair, and goes well with the familiar Thai chili sauce.

Thai style lala, clear soup tomyam, kai lan ikan masin
Thai style lala, clear soup tomyam, kai lan ikan masin

The tomyam here comes in two versions – clear soup, and the more familiar reddish version. The “normal” version is basically just the clear type with added chili oil. Both are top notch, but ordering them at the same time was an overkill we should have expected.

Another personal favorite of mine here is the Thai style steamed lala that is usually served on an elevated metal plate with fire still burning below. The seafood is succulent, and the spicy, sourish soup was really addictive.

My only experience with vegetables here was limited to kailan ikan masin, which fared pretty well.

KY, Haze, Pearl, David
KY, Haze, Pearl, David

One other interesting dishes here is the flaming chicken, which is literally served burning (fueled by some alcohol, I suspect). While plenty fancy, I found the taste average.

Dessert choices include the standard red ruby and mango with sticky rice. The former gives a proper sweet ending, while the sticky rice could prove to be a little bit overkill on an already stuffed stomach.

Prices at Thai Garden Village is fair, an average meal should cost between RM 20 – RM 30 per person.

Good eats!

map to Thai Garden Village, Kepong

Address:
Thai Garden Village
Lot 32713, 6 1/2 Mile (West Road),
Jalan Kepong,
52000 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.2091, 101.6542
Tel: 03-6250 5519

Thai Garden Village Seafood BBQ

Remember a couple years ago, when suddenly out of nowhere there was this huge donut craze?

Big Apples and J.Co donuts (and later Krispy Kreme) were popping up everywhere, accompanying each new branch was always a long queue of customers eager to get a taste of fluffy pastry with a hole in the middle, it was quite a phenomena, well, at least until we got tired of it and the whole thing sort of tapered down.

The same thing is happening all over again, but this time around it is them Bubble Tea.

drinking Chatime
Chatime, only took a photo, wasn’t too impressed

Bubble tea is of course, nothing new in this country. The difference in these new establishments are not revolutionary, but they seemed to inject a breath of freshness in this old product.

Places like Chatime, Gongcha, and Ochado has one thing in common – they use updated ordering system and allows you to customize each drinks with different sugar and ice level as well as extra ingredients should you choose to add (pearl, grass jelly, etc). The tea are also brewed each day (or every few hours), no powdered form is used.

A fancy plastic seal is used to seal the drinks, only to be popped open by the oversize straw 2 seconds later.

map to SS Two mall

Price wise, they are somewhere in between your average cup of Old Town drinks and Starbucks coffee, which means from around RM 5.90 to RM 7.90 or so, depending on the type of tea, additional pearl/jelly/milk froth, etc.

As of writing, Chatime has the most branches in Malaysia with a total of 15, you can find them as far as Melaka and Penang (check the listing here). I tried their milk tea with pearl and frankly, wasn’t too impressed. The tea tasted alright, it wasn’t too sweet, but at the same time didn’t give me any ummph I was hoping for. I wouldn’t line up for 20 mins to get a cup of Chatime bubble tea, but if I’m thirsty and there isn’t a line, I’ll probably still grab one.

Address:
Chatime
G-K9, SSTwo Mall,

No. 40 Jalan SS2/72,
47400 Petaling Jaya
GPS: 3.12093, 101.62727
Website: Chatime at facebook

Gongcha at SS 15
Gong Cha at SS 15, one of Haze’s favs

Then there’s Gong Cha at SS 15 and Mid Valley, just like Chatime, it is another Taiwanese chain that was started in the mid of last decade and recently arrived in Malaysia. Gong Cha is not nearly as prolific as Chatime, but I find their drinks quite a bit better in quality, especially those with perforated milk.

map to gongcha  at Subang Jaya ss15

Their grass jelly and one particular winter melon tea were quite lovely. Lucky SS 15 is some distance from where I stay and they only open till 10 pm, otherwise I’d spend too much calorie quota at this place I think.

The white pearl (extra RM 1.50) at Gong Cha has a nice texture to it, but I couldn’t distinguised their standard black pearl (RM 1) with those from pasar malam, so no more black pearl for me.

Address:
Gong Cha
No 3, Jalan SS15/7,

47500 Subang Jaya
Selangor
GPS:  3.07629, 101.59040
Tel: 03-5638 3328
Websitehttp://www.gong-cha.com.my

Ochado at Pavilion Tokyo Street
Ochado at Pavilion Tokyo Street is good, Suanie & Cheesie agrees!

My favorite of the lot though, is Ochado at Pavilion’s newest 6th floor section – Tokyo Street (that also house the popular ramen place – Hokkaido Santouka.

Ochado isn’t Taiwanese bubble tea, but Japanese instead (though this brand actually started from Singapore last year). To me the tea actually tasted a bit better, and so does their grass jelly. I’ve also tried their coffee with a type of “coffee pearl” that was simply marvelous.

When Cheesie tested it, she went “OMG IT HAS IKURA!“. The coffee pearl pops in your  mouth and release concentrated flavors in small doses, I love it.

map to Pavilion KL

However, being in Pavilion also means that Ochado is slightly more expensive than the other two brands, but not more than extra RM 1 or 2 for similar drinks.

Address:
Ochado
6.33.00 & 6.34.00, Level 6, Pavilion
Jln Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur

GPS3.148872, 101.713368
Website: Ochado at Pavilion KL 

For those who likes bubble tea, this is a good development. However, just like the donut craze, the Old  Town & other modern kopitiam craze before, and the HK cha chan teng craze before that, eventually the bubble tea craze will come down and settle on a plateau. I’ll give it 1-2 years.