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Tag / risotto

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

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 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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