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AFC’s latest foray in their long line of food & restaurant themed series comes in the form of  “Reality Bites: Rise Above with Style”, featuring two celebrity chefs – Johnny Fua & Sherson Lian of Elegantology.

I was invited to the premier of the show followed by a dinner at Elegantology, and since I’ve yet to have a taste at this rather unique restaurant that I’ve heard so much about recently, it was an opportunity I had to take.

Reality Bites premiere at Publika
Reality Bites premiere at Publika

Reality Bites is a six part series starting 10th December, at 9pm every Tuesday on AFC. The show takes part in Elegantology Gallery & Restaurant, featuring not only the glitz and glamour of running the kitchen of a higher end restaurant, but also the day-to-day challenge and many issues faced by the two chefs and their crews.

Chef Johnny Fua, Chef Sherson Lian, & the director of Reality Bites
Chef Johnny Fua, Chef Sherson Lian, & the director of Reality Bites

During the event, we were shown the first episode of Reality Bites in its entirety, alongside with an on-stage session with Chef Johnny Fua & Sherson Lian, the director of the series, as well as the creative director of Elegantology, Beatrice Looi.

So if you want to see a restaurant themed reality series that is closer to home, tune on your TV Tuesday 9pm on AFC!

some homemade bread to start, love the truffle butter
some homemade bread to start, love the truffle butter

After that of course, is what I was even more interested in, the degustation menu at Elegantology.

We started out with Elegantology Baker’s choice, served with truffle butter florets, paprika chickpeas hummus, and EVOO (olive oil & balsamic vinegar?). I think we must have asked for extra truffle butter at least twice, it was very good.

Ceviche scallop, foie gras cube with braised shimeiji mushroom
Ceviche scallop, foie gras cube with braised shimeiji mushroom

Next up was ceviche scallop, paw paw kerabu, nam pla influenced Ponzu sesame drizzle. A dish that has some similarity in Sarawak’s umai, both using acid to lightly cook the seafood. Scallop was huge, juicy, and delicious, I can hae this often. The kerabu was an interesting experiment, tho one that I wouldn’t care too much for.

Foie gras cube, olive lemon soil, soy bean milk braised shimeiji mushroom is similar to chicken liver pate, but undoubtedly a lot more luxurious and sophisticated. The mushroom adds a welcoming change of texture which I do appreciate.

oxtail broth, brandied sea cucumber
oxtail broth, brandied sea cucumber

Continuing our course was a much needed soup dish in the form of oxtail broth with brandied sea cucumber. The oxtail is de-boned while sea cucumber provided the texture that’s similar to beef tendon, but with a dash of seafood sweetness. The soup itself carried a nice herbal aroma.

tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved. Josen, Mei, Cheng Yi & KY
tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved. Josen, Mei, Cheng Yi & KY

Tomato sake granita, sour plum shaved was chosen as a sort of intermission to the degustation dinner course. It was cold, sour, and a tad sweet, perfect as a palate cleanser before we continue with perhaps the most important dish.

kobe beef skewer, miso pineapple bearnaise
kobe beef skewer, miso pineapple bearnaise

Which was the kobe beef skewer with miso pineapple bearnaise. This was the first time I tasted kobe beef (well at least that’s what they claimed), and yes, it was every bit as awesome as the sterling reputation it carries. The meat was super tender with superb marbling, a melt-in-your-mouth feeling that somehow does not compromise on texture.

It was so good we jokingly asked for second servings from the waiter, who actually complied! Sometimes you can achieve a lot more in life by just asking. :D

barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice; replated black forest gateau
barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice; replated black forest gateau

The penultimate dish was barramundi, smoked muscovy duck glutinous rice. While the fish was fresh, it was perhaps just a tad too cooked for my liking, the glutinous rice was perfect though, goes especially well with the sambal-like sauce. Also, after the beef, nothing feels the same anymore.

The rather funky looking dessert was the replated black forest gateau, a bit of sponge, chocolate, ice cream, cherries, and cream all carefully arranged in a careless appearance. It was acceptable but perhaps did not live up to the capability of the restaurant. 

I really appreciate the idea behind Elegantology and their bravery in always experimenting with different dishes and menu. The overall dinner experience was very good, and while a couple dishes did not wow, they were mostly excellent, and most importantly, provide diners a different and unique gastronomic experience.

It was a wonderful night overall and I’m grateful for this opportunity.

map to Solaris Dutamas

Address:
Elegantology
35 Level G2, Publika, 

Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-6206 5577
GPS3.170961, 101.665721

Several weeks ago I managed to convince the girls to try a new place, and we ventured out to the land of gangsters that is Kepong. We past by the glamorous Desa Park City and turned into the older part of Kepong where steamboat restaurants are aplenty and finally arrived at where we were going to have dinner – Jan Jan Thai Restaurant.

Jan Jan Thai restaurant at Kepong
Jan Jan Thai restaurant at Kepong

There are in fact, two Thai restaurants within 50 yards from each other here. Directly opposite Jan Jan is the older and almost equally as busy Thai restaurant by the name Janwa. According to the locals, the head chef from Janwa left to open Jan Jan as a competitor (similar to Rakuzen and Jyu Raku at Subang Jaya)

There’s an on-going healthy debate as to if Jan Jan or Janwa offers better Thai dishes, but for the purpose of this trip we’re not going to worry too much about that.

excellent tomyam and steamed barramundi
excellent tomyam and steamed barramundi

Once we found an empty table and made our order, which took a while on a weekend, food did not take very long to be served.

Seafood tomyam soup (RM 16-29) comes in either clear or red, and we opted for the latter, more chili laden variety. It was hot, spicy, and filled prawns, squid, fish, tomato, and more. Perfect dish for us since it was raining so heavily.

The Thai style steamed barramundi (market price) turned out to be pretty good dish too. The fish was fresh and the soup positively sour and flavorful. This dish is not quite De Chiengmai‘s standard, but it holds its own.

the lala was great, green curry not so much. Yuki, Haze, KY, Kerol
the lala was great, green curry not so much. Yuki, Haze, KY, Kerol

Thai golden lala (RM 17) was my favorite dish of the night. The shellfish were big and juicy, and I particularly love the unique Thai style sauce that the dish came with. It was a combination of sweet, spicy, with a hint of sourness. Very different any Chinese or Malay style preparation.

The disappointing dish turned out to be the Thai green curry (RM 12). I love my green curry thick and flavorful, but this one was just watery and very sweet. We took a few spoonful but otherwise left the dish almost untouched.

There are definitely more dishes at Jan Jan Thai that I want to try on other visits – petai prawns, deep fried brinjal, paku with belacan, mango chicken, bbq crab and Thai curry crab all sounds very enticing. I’ll just have to remember not to order their green curry again.

map to Jan Jan Thai restaurant, Kepong

Address:
Jan Jan Thai Restaurant
No.33, Jalan 5/62A,
Bandar Menajalra, 52000
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.193859, 101.631517
Tel: 03-6277 7598

Most of us know Alicafe as the tongkat ali infused canned coffee drinks. In fact, it is my favorite driving companion to keep me awake whenever I’m on one of those balik kampung drives on the highway.

There’s more than just drinks when it comes to this brand, now there’s an Alicafe TigaRasa restaurant. I was one of the lucky few who was invited to get a taste of what they have to offer just a few days ago.

Alicafe Tiga Rasa restaurant, at USJ Taipan
Alicafe Tiga Rasa restaurant, at USJ Taipan

Located at USJ Taipan, Alicafe TigaRasa restaurant offers Malay cuisine in a contemporary setting and pretty good range of menu. The restaurant is tastefully decorated, giving it a bit of a kampung feel, but of course, dining area’s air conditioned.

The kitchen area is separated by glass, you can actually see your food being cooked (side effect: they always have to keep the place spotlessly clean).

here's the tiga rasa secret - sambal lemak, gulai lemak, and hebi-hiam
here’s the TigaRasa secret – sambal lemak, gulai lemak, and hebi-hiam

Now here’s how this restaurant got it’s name, tiga sara (three flavors) – from the three different traditional Malay sauces:

  • Gulai Lemak – the creamy coconut based sauce with kunyit, sambal, and lemongrass. Rich and flavorful
  • Sambal Lemak – a classic with plenty of chili, garlic, some coconut milk, and other spices
  • Sambal Hebi-Hiam – now this one is interesting, hebi means dried shrimp and hiam translate to spicy in Hokkien. So yah, this is  inspired by Nyonya cuisine and prepared with dried shrimps, curry leaves, onions, garlic, and more.

ikan pari, grilled lamb, and grilled chicken in different sambal, vegetable too
ikan pari, grilled lamb, and grilled chicken in different sambal, vegetable

You can then mix and match the three sauces with ikan pari (stingray) or ikan selar (yellowtail scad), grilled lamb chop, grilled chicken, mixed grill, or mixed vegetables. For those who like it even hotter, you can always customize the order with added chili padi too.

I tried the three sauces with pari, mixed vegetable, and lamb, and it is pretty difficult to pick a favorite. Each one offers a different experience, but they share the same characteristic of being rich and flavorful. I like the fact that terung (brinjal) and other vegetable is added onto the meat/seafood dish too. Goes well with steamed rice.

siakap tomyam, curry fish head, and fried chicken
siakap tomyam, curry fish head, and fried chicken

Other than dishes prepared from those three sauces, Alicafe TigaRasa offers dishes such as siakap tomyam, curry fish head, fried chicken and more.

Saikap tomyam (barramundi) is deep fried but served with spicy tomyam sauce, and the curry fish head reminds me of my mom’s style of cooking, the Nyonya version of curry that is slightly milder (unlike some Indian style would) yet plenty delicious.

The fried chicken has a hint of belacan to it, a very different style from some of those “KFC copycats”, and definitely a taste that I’m familiar of from the mixture of Nyonya-Chinese style of food we get in Penang.

this whole set for 4 can be had for RM 69.90
this whole set for 4 can be had for RM 69.90

To be honest, I’m quite impressed with the food at Alicafe TigaRasa, they do fill a niche by offering mostly traditional Malay cuisine with some mixture of other tastes that is still very close to home.

For the puasa month, there’s special promotional set that starts from RM 10.90 that includes a drink, kurma dates, a main course, and Hokkaido cake as dessert. For family of four (or 5), a RM 69.90 set gets you siakap fish, fried chicken, scrambled egg, TigaRasa mix grilled vegetable, Hokkaido cakes, kurma dates, and Alicafe’s homemade Pati Kurma Madu drinks.

the desserts, and the leng lui is of course, Hanis
the desserts, and the leng lui is of course, Hanis

I can’t wait for  them to have more branches!

map to Alicafe tiga rasa restaurant

Address:
Alicafe TigaRasa Restaurant
No.8, Jalan USJ 10/1H,
Subang Business Centre,
47620 Selangor
GPS: 3.04817, 101.68677
Tel: 03-8011 9412

Alicafe TigaRasa

New Yew Sang might not have a name that sound like an authentic Thai Food place, but this little coffee shop that is famous for steamed rice (and soup) and lui cha for the breakfast and lunch crowds is a hidden gem for tomyam lovers.

New Yew Sang Thai Food with Yuki, Horng, Ring, Kerol
New Yew Sang Thai Food with Yuki, Horng, Cheesie, Kerol

I was first introduced to this place by Kerol, who is a fellow Penangite and one of the harshest food critic especially when it comes to tomyam. If she said it’s good, she’s usually right.

I went there for a scouting expedition by ordering the tomyam meehun prior to the following two visits (where these pictures are sourced), and the experience was a really positive one. I think I overhead the owners speaking Thai to the kitchen staff as well, that’s always a positive sign.

paku, Thai steamed siakap, seafood tomyam
paku, Thai steamed siakap, seafood tomyam

To be fair, this is a tai chau place with heavy influence of Thai food instead of a typical Thai restaurant, like Ghee Seng Thai food in Penang. The ambiance is nothing to shout about, the place is relatively clean, and there’re fans under the root in an otherwise semi alfresco dining area. Parking is relatively easy to get at night though.

The menu is quite extensive, but lets start with the most important item – tomyam. The tomyam here is thick, extremely flavorful and positively spicy. Use the ladle and dig at the bottom of the bowl will reveal the ingredients that made up the soup, ie: no short cuts, no powder/paste nonsense. If you like your tomyam hot & spicy, this is a place to go.

lala, steamed fish, butter squid
lala, steamed fish, butter squid

The butter squid here is laden with plenty of those very addictive deep fried egg on top. A dish that I’d recommend ordering, but according to Yuki & Horng, they have a “wet” version of butter squid that is even better. I imagine it to be similar to those from Thim Kee at Pudu.

The lala here is commendable, but not something that is really special. If you’re going for a pure lala trip, look no further than the lala stall at Alisan SS4 just down the road. Steamed saikap that we tried was of pretty good standard, the soup base definitely carries a heavy Thai influence – sour, strong, and slightly spicy.

prawn with petai, some tofu dish, vege (vitamin c, hey!)
prawn with petai, some tofu dish, vege (vitamin c, hey!)

In another visit we tried prawn with petai, another spicy dish that never disappoint. The petai was halved and cleaned (some place tends to leave the center bitter part intact), and prawns were fresh prepared just right, delicious.

For those who likes a bit of balance and enjoys eating tofu, I wish I could tell you what the dish in the picture was called, but for the life of me that escaped my mind. Ask the server to recite the tofu dishes they have and stop her at the most bizarre sounding one and you’d have the winner. It was very rich, smooth, and provides a great contrasting taste to the other dishes that were usually spicy, sour, or a combination of both. I enjoyed it a lot.

Prices at New Yew Sang is reasonable. We paid something between RM 15-20+ per person when we eat there. If you like your dishes rich and spicy, check out this place, or you can check out other Thai food posts here.

Address:
New Yee Sang kopitiam
Jalan SS 6/8
Kelana Jaya

GPS: 3.106717, 101.598178

New Yee Sang kopitiam

This blog is often criticized by many of my Muslim colleagues and friends for its lack of halal/pork free food content, well, here’s an entry that will perhaps right things a little. (wait, I do have a little less than 30% of my posts in this category, oh well..)

A couple weeks ago I was invited to a classy Malay restaurant hidden in the midst of the city for a food review - Songket restaurant.

Songkek restaurant at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
Songket restaurant at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng

Songket is actually a type of traditional Malay and Indonesian fabric that is hand woven in silk or cotton, and often with intricate gold or silver threads in them. In short, the restaurant, like the fabric, is one of class and quality.

Anyway, lets get on with the dishes!

satey & cucur udang, otak-otak, begedil
satey & cucur udang, otak-otak, begedil

We started out with appetizers, naturally.

There were satey ayam & daging (beef and chicken satey, RM 18) that is served with peanut sauce and some raw onion, cucumber, and ketupat, just like how they’re supposed to be. The meat were marinated properly, succulent and void of impurities like hard tendon or chicken skin, tasty.

Then there’s cucur udang (prawn fritters, RM 10) in light batter and home made chili sauce with a kick. I was happy that they also serve Northern style otak-otak (steamed fish cake, RM 12) with generous amount of seafood in it.

My favorite appetizer of the night though, has gotta be the begedil (deep fried potato cutlet RM 10) – it is basically deep fried mashed up potato with chicken (or meat). A little sweet, a little savory, and positively brilliant!

kerabu mangga, ayam sambal petai, ayam lemak asam gelugur
kerabu mangga, ayam sambal petai, ayam lemak asam gelugur

Kerabu mangga (raw mango salad, RM 12) is another Northern dish that is very similar to those found in Thailand, certainly appetizing.

I like the way they prepare the petai by splitting them into half and taking away the centre stem for the ayam sambal petai (chicken with bitter beans, RM 28) dish. Personally though, I still think that petai goes better with seafood instead of chicken, but this dish was actually not bad.

Ayam lemak asam gelugur (chicken with tumeric, coconut milk, curry gravy, RM 23) is a light curry dish that I thought could use a little more kick, I suppose this has to do with catering tourists, you should be able to ask for hotter version if only you ask.

nasi minyak, pandan nasi lemak, nasi kerabu
nasi minyak, pandan nasi lemak, nasi kerabu

We sampled 3 types of rice at Songket, the nasi minyak (oily rice, RM 6) goes well with curry dishes, pandan nasi lemak (RM 6) is aromatic with a light pandan taste, and nasi kerabu (rice with herbs and vegetables, RM 8 ) can almost be eaten just by its own. I would recommend any of these over the normal steamed rice.

ikan siakap masak manis, pucuk paku goreng, kari udang raja
ikan siakap masak manis, pucuk paku goreng, kari udang raja

Ikan siakap masak manis (sweet style barramundi, RM 60) definitely tastes like a traditional Malay dish, the fish was fresh, and tomato, chili, onion, and other ingredients complimented the seafood perfectly, I like it.

My favorite dish of the day though, has gotta be pucuk paku goreng (stir fry wild fern, RM 12), the texture of fern and its taste are something that can’t be substituted by another vegetable. Chili, garlic, shallots, and a few shrimps made up the rest of this fabulous dish. This is a must-order.

For those who wants the ultra luxurious dish, there’s the kari udang raja (king prawn in curry, RM 75). The prawns were definitely huge, and there were some eggplants to go with in the rich, thick, curry.

rusuk panggang (chargrilled marinated short ribs)
rusuk panggang (chargrilled marinated short ribs)

Rusuk Panggang (chargrilled marinated short ribs, RM 60) is dish not to be missed by any meat lovers. The marinate as well as the grilling were perfect. As a result, the ribs were really tender to the point where you can cut it just by using the spoon. The flavor too were absolutely marvelous. Best of all, this is served with the same begedil that I really like.

durian tiramisu, sago gula melaka, pandan pudding
durian tiramisu, sago gula melaka, pandan pudding

Then it was time for desserts.

For the durian lovers, you must not miss the durian tiramisu (RM 15), rich, creamy, and full with that unmistakable durian aroma that will probably prevent you from taking this to your hotel room.

The sago gula melaka (RM 10) is a classic, with plenty of sago swimming in coconut milk and palm sugar beneath it, another rich dessert. Pandan pudding (RM 10) is well, a pandan infused pudding with palm sugar. After the other two desserts, this one came across without much excitement for me.

traditional dance, KY & Haze at Songkek restaurant
traditional dance, KY & Haze at Songket restaurant

Songket is not just about food, if you stay a little longer on Mon-Sat, by 9pm there are traditional dance performances of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and native origins. A pretty cool show especially if you happen to have foreigner friends.

The prices at Songket is definitely a little on the high side, but the food quality, ambiance, and all the extras that were thrown in definitely make this a place worthy of a visit especially if you’re looking for fine Malay cuisine.

map to songkek restaurant

Address:Songket Restaurant & Bar
29 Jalan Yap Kwan Seng,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.162557, 101.714998
Tel: 03 2161 3331