Back in late 2015 I was involved in The Star R.AGE food fight competition, it was one of the highlights of my online writing career to stand along the likes of Chef Wan & Chef Darren Chin as one of judges of the cooking competition. One of the finalists of the competition was Ahong Yeang, who was already running a small restaurant at University Hospital then.
Sometimes around Q3 21017, Ahong moved on from his previous joint and opened Grub by Ahong & Friends at Seksyen 17. I finally visited a couple weeks ago.
Grub by Ahong & Friends, Petaling Jaya, Seksyen 17
Grub by Ahong & Friends is located at the small rows of shops right behind Happy Mansion (possibly the birthplace of hipster food in PJ?). Parking can sometimes be a bit challenging for those who can’t walk more than a couple dozen steps, but alas, the walk back to the car after a good meal can be a healthy exercise.
Grub serves a selection of Western dishes at very reasonable prices. The restaurant itself is minimalist but comfortable, with a few tables and open kitchen at the ground floor, and more seating area upstairs. Yes, there’s air conditioning.
beet root salad & wine
To keep prices low, Ahong came up the system of ordering by pencil & paper as well as self-serviced drinks you pick up from the counter where you also find cutlery, plates, and glasses. Corkage is RM 7 per pax but if you spare a glass for the good chef then that is waived. Grub also carries a small selection of wine.
We started the night with beet root salad (RM 13.50) that came with roasted beetroot, fresh fruits, feta cheese, rockets, honey, and nuts. A simple mesh up that leaves me wanting more.
local seafood bouillabaisse, wagyu steak
For main I picked steak, the picture above is wagyu rump, wagyu ribeye is priced at RM 145 but they ran out that night. Again another spot on execution with no fuss and great ingredients.
My partner in crime picked the local seafood bouillabaisse (RM 25) which is served with grilled white fish, clams, squid & prawns in lightly spiced seafood soup with pasta & sourdough bun. A comforting dish if you’re looking for something lighter. Also their sourdough bun was actually very good as well.
carrot cake, chocolate tart, fruits in ice, Ahong
We rounded up dinner with carrot cake (RM 10) and chocolate tart (RM 12), and were also served Grub’s signature fresh fruits in tear-drop ice that is on the house.
Overall it was a great no-fuss dining experience. We ended up spending another couple hours chatting with Ahong until his staffs lowered the shop grill half way. Fantastic night and will definitely go again.
Jacob’s Creek has a bit of a special place in my heart, for the fact that one of the first wine events I’ve ever attended back in 2009 was hosted by this very brand, so when I got the invitation for Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Wine Dinner last month, I immediately made plans to be part of the launch.
Jacob’s Creek double barrel wine dinner, the menu
The introduction for this special Double Barrel blend was held at Eight Gourmet Gala, with a rather big set up attended by media, celebrities, and people who has a bit of online real estate such as yours truly.
Brand Ambassador, Jenny Rothenberg was also present to explain what this whole “double barrel” is all about.
To put it simply, the wine (Double Barrel Shiraz & Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon) is matured traditionally in French and American oak barrels, before finishing it in old whiskey barrels, giving them a more complex palate.
pan seared French foie gras, Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz
Anyway, to the dinner.
We started out with pan seared French foie gras, paired with Jacob’s Creek sparkling chardonnay pinot noir, the citrus and toasted cashew flavors of chardonnay marrying the fresh bread crust characteristic of pinot noir complimented the richness of pan seared foie gras perfectly. Most certainly a good start to the night.
white truffle pumpkin potage, wine barrel vs whisky barrel
Second course was the white truffle pumpkin potage, a thick soup that tastes like a blend of pumpkin with a hint of white truffle, which, to be honest, was not particularly very exciting for me. It was OK, but not among the best soups I’ve tried.
Next came the entree of smoke turkey drumstick, we had it with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz and Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz. I thought the meat was handled very well, tender, juicy, and extremely smokey to a point of being spicy, which may not suit everyone, I liked it though.
That complimented the sweet red fruits & dark chocolate palate of Shiraz well. The direct comparison between the two Shiraz showcased differences due to additional treatment of finishing the wine in whisky barrel. Most agreed the double barrel version is a tad smoother.
pan seared Wagyu with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Souvignon
Then came my favorite dish of the night – pan seared Wagyu (marbling grade 9). The meat is done medium rare with very little distractions in terms of finishing. It was positively satisfying, with Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Souvignon doing an excellent job as accompanying side kick. A good red with a fine piece of meat never disappoint.
poached lobster with truffle garlic oil
Another option for main was poached lobster with truffle garlic oil, a fine looking dish but unfortunately suffered slightly from being overly cooked in this instance. The seafood would have served as a good companion to the Cabernet Souvignon otherwise.
premium chocolate & French macaron for dessert, bok & sycookie
We ended the night with a simple dessert of chocolate & French macaron, a sweet ending to a pretty special night hosted by Jacob’s Creek. Looking forward to the next event and thanks for the invite!
In my memory, the rustic row of shops by Jalan Batai is home to a couple old school kopitiam in an otherwise pretty luxurious residential area, but my memory of the place hasn’t been updated for a while. Batai Village now houses some of the more trendy restaurants in town, and the old Hock Lee has since became Ben’s Independent Grocer.
Progress I guess, and to be honest I think it is in a good way. There’s still a sense of close knit community presence, and they’ve even managed to retain many of the hawker stalls operating in the corner kopitiam, upgraded of course.
We were there at night on a promise of good Japanese premium steaks at Torii. As it turned out, the promise was delivered with excess.
Torii at Batai Village, Damansara Height
I’ve talked about the excellent yakitori offered at Torii at TTDI previously, similar menu is offered here at Batai branch, but now with the addition of Japanese Premium Steaks, which is what we were there for.
I was told that the branch at TTDI is closing down as they shift their focus to Batai.
Matsusaka or kobe beef? Take your pick
The steak comes in 5 different choices and are priced per 100 gram:
Matsusaka, RM 310
Kobe Zabutan A5, RM 250
Kobe Sirloin A4, RM 180
Kobe Sirloin A3, RM 150
Kobe Sirloin F1, RM 120
You may have read on wikipedia or other sources that Kobe beef is usually not exported (or only to limited countries) from Japan, in a way that is true, so some of these Kobe beef found in “unofficial” countries are actually hand carried over borders, but they are true 100% Kobe beef regardless.
sauteed spinach, green bean with black sesame, egg yolk croquette
Additionally, Torii also offer several sides to go with those red meat
For the session, we worked through Kobe Sirloin A3, Kobe Zabutan A5, and Matsusaka, a 100 gram each and served with pan seared foie gras & grilled Japanese scallop.
As you can see from the picture, marbling goes up from each grade, and to be honest you really have to find your sweet spot. While I love the super fatty Matsusaka and it’s melt in your mouth texture, Haze found her sweet spot to be around Kobe Zabutan A5 or even the A3. You get a bit more firmness as you go “down” the grade. There’s really nothing wrong if your favorite is at F1.
The steak is served with black truffle sauce, they are basically match make in heaven for the beef, so rich, full flavor, and ultra satisfying. Yes, 100 gram is plenty of beef when they are of these quality and so rich in fats (in a good way).
Needless to say, the foie gras and scallops were both on point and served as perfect companion for the steaks.
KY & Haze at Torii Batai Village
Together with the steaks, we also sampled three different side dishes. Sauteed spinach was simple and refreshing while staying true to its Japanese identity, green beans with black sesame is a little stronger tasting and perhaps needs a bit of getting used to, while egg yolk croquettes were perhaps a bit of an culinary experiment that I myself may not 100% agree at this point of my life.
Torii Premium Japanese Steak price list (as of Oct 2016)
I hope this menu is going to be offered on a permanent basis at Torii. A certain treat for anyone who loves steak, and to be honest, at this price, they do offer pretty decent value for money, especially considering you don’t have to fly to Japan for it.
P/S: interesting useless fact, Kobe beef is so good the basketball superstar’s parents named him Kobe Bryant.
When it comes to steaks, quality of cut is often directly correlated with satisfaction in eating them, and unfortunately, so is the asking price. To “solve” this problem, sous vide is often the most recommended solution – cook the beef in a slow and controlled temperature, and you’ll get almost any cut to be tender.
Sounds good, right? But here’s the catch – sous vide machines can be very pricey, and I’m not about to spend upwards of RM 1,000 – 2,000 without really knowing what I get myself into.
Enter McGyver inspired cooler-box sous vide solution. (well, I actually read this from another website)
all you need is a thermometer and a cooler box
For this method, you only need the following 3 crucial items
ziplock bag (freezer type recommended as they’re usually stronger)
Now let’s look at how to make your own sous vide beef & chicken.
sous vide steak, medium rare, done in an hour or so
season your meat with salt and pepper, or any other desired seasoning
place them in zip lock bags
prepare hot water 2-3 Celsius above your desired internal temperature for the meat (example: slightly less than 60 C for medium rare beef, 75-80 Celsius for chicken)
lower the meat-bags and shake off excess air pockets before zip locking it
monitor every half an hour, if temperature drop below desired level, add hot water to bring it up
let the meat cook for an hour or two, depending on the thickness
sous vide chicken breast is surprisingly good on salad
use the thermometer to ensure that internal meat temperature is appropriate
for beef, heat up skillet (I use an IKEA one) to high temperature, then sear for a minute on each side before serving, a blow torch will do similar wonder for chicken breasts
add your side dishes, and eat away!
The results we got were amazing. Relatively cheap cuts of grass fed beef had the texture not entirely unlike tenderloin, and for the first time in my life, I actually enjoyed chicken breasts as it came out succulent and moist.
On our trip to London, we were lucky enough that accommodation was arranged at Dorsett at Sheperd’s Bush located about half an hour from Heathrow Airport by taxi, and only some 10 stops from the heart of the city via the tube on central line.
Dorsett Hotel at Sheperd’s Bush, London
The hotel has some 300 rooms separated in eight floors. The design is a mix of contemporary British style with Chinese influence, pretty interesting. Right in front of the hotel is a park, with Sheperd’s Bush tube station about 5 minutes away on foot, and conveniently, Westfield (as we found out later, the largest mall in London), less than 10 minutes away.
our suite on the 8th floor, Dorsett Sheperd’s Bush
Though we booked the deluxe room, the hotel was kind enough to bump us up to their suite. This was like the business class of hotel room that comes with all the bells & whistles – there’s a full master bedroom, a separate seating area to entertain guests, a “living room” with 42″ TV & sofa, as well as a nice bath tub and shower facilities.
Other convenience such as a work desk, mini fridge, iron board, hair dryer, bathrobes, and even small bottles of wine & sparkling water are included too.
executive lounge & the gym at Dorsett Sheperd’s Bush
There’s also a gym, meeting room, spa (unfortunately we didn’t get to try), business center, and access to the executive lounge if you stay in the suite or executive guestroom.
Best of all, to me personally anyway, is that the hotel also has SUPER FAST wireless internet connection. I did a speed test and got something like 700 MB/s download speed – definitely first world connectivity.
English breakfast at the hotel, we have bacon!
Like most hotels, Dorsett Sheperd’s Bush serves continental English breakfast daily. While the buffet spread isn’t particularly huge, the quality of food made up for it. The bread & pastries were all so delicious (must be the butter & flour they use?), and I also particularly like the bacon and those pork sausages, so yummy.
“Pictures” restaurant on the ground floor
The hotel has three restaurants on the ground floor, on the second night, we had our dinner at Pictures, their all-day dining brasserie style restaurant with European menu.
The restaurant was tastefully decorated, and got its’ name from the building’s previous role as a theater. There’s even pictures of classic movie stars on the wall, pretty neat isn’t it?
crayfish cocktail & crispy calamari as our starters
To start, we had crayfish cocktail and the hotel manager’s recommendation – crispy calamari as our starters.
The mixture of fresh water crayfish and avocado was somewhat interesting, as most savory but cold dish tend to give. I think it’ll be great to have it as a filling in a sandwich too.
The calamari however, was excellent! I’ve never had fried calamari in coriander dressing, but the recipe turned out to be sophisticated and beautiful. I certainly would want to try to make this at home one of these days, you don’t even need mayonnaise or beer to enjoy this, no wonder it’s one of their best sellers.
21 day aged 6 oz Scotch fillet
For mains, I had the 21 day aged 6 oz Scotch fillet, while Haze went for the 28 day dry aged cattleman’s 8oz striploin. Both dishes came with portobello mushroom, cherry vine tomato, and skinny fries.
While wagyu and kobe is all the rage these days, I still enjoy my proper aged beef, and they were very well executed here – tender, juicy, and full of flavor, can’t ask for more.
we enjoyed our stay at Dorsett Sheperd’s Bush, thank you for the lovely time
We enjoyed our 3 nights at Dorsett, and if you head to London for business or leisure, this place should be in your short list.
Note: This UK – Malaysia Influencer Exchange programme was organised by Malaysia Airlines. However, opinions are of my own. Malaysia Airlines flies between London and Kuala Lumpur twice a day on the A380. There are 8 seats in the First Class, 66 in Business Class and 420 in Economy. Make your flight reservations today on www.malaysiaairlines.com.