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One of the trickiest issues pertaining opening a restaurant must be choosing a name for it. At The Steakhouse at Changkat Bukit Bintang, they took the easy way out and gave it the most straight forward name there is.

Fortunately, making up for what is lacking in the name, The Steakhouse manages to express pretty good creativity in the dishes we sampled last week over a food review session. We were left with a rather positive note.

The Steakhouse at The Whisky Bar, Changkat Bukit Bintang
The Steakhouse at The Whisky Bar, Changkat Bukit Bintang

The Steakhouse is located at perhaps the busiest street at night in KL that is Changkat Bukit Bintang. With a capacity of 40 pax, the restaurant is tastefully decorated and provide good privacy for discrete couple dining while able to accommodate slightly larger groups as well.

Service is swift with knowledgeable staffs, and I really like the ambiance there. Of course, we were on an invited food review, so your mileage might vary in this aspect.

Anyway, lets get on with the food!

deluxe chilled seafood mountain
deluxe chilled seafood mountain – lobster, oyster, tiger prawns, tuna sashimi

The session started off with a bang. The Deluxe Chilled Seafood Mountain (RM 158) is a pretty impressive dish, recommended for 2 pax sharing (I think you can easily share this with 4 pax), this big bowl of gastronomic dream comes with half lobster (Maine), tiger prawns, fresh oyters, and tuna sashimi. The seafood were fresh and the lobster especially delicious. Three types of condiments came with it, but they’re plenty good enough to consume as is.

beef carpaccio, shrimp cocktail, air dried Spanish beef ham
beef carpaccio, shrimp cocktail, air dried Spanish beef ham

Following the seafood mountain, we have a host of other appetizers, most of which make excellent beer/wine/whisky companion. We had some red wine to go with these.

Beef carpaccio (RM 32) came with capers and thin slices of parmesan cheese, the taste reminds me of good quality tuna, and the portion is ample to go around.

Shrimp cocktail (RM 28) came with three very good size tiger prawns. I must say that perhaps the oversized prawns dictates that they be cooked more thoroughly, and thus the texture was a bit tougher than what I expected. I probably prefer it to be smaller.

Air dried Spanish beef ham (RM 38) had me fooled, for a moment I thought it was my beloved Parma ham with rock melon. Excellent pork free substitute, those who never try Parma ham due to preference or religion restriction must order this dish.

pan fried duck foie gras, escargot
pan fried duck foie gras, escargot

Pan fried duck foie gras (RM 42) was executed with perfection, while not from the (often higher quality) goose, I really find no fault in this dish. Ciki agrees.

Escargot (RM 32) comes in half a dozen per portion and baked with garlic herb butter. Those who sampled find it commendable.

caesar salad with duck breast, scottish smoked salmon, baked portobello mushroom, lobster claw
caesar salad with duck breast, scottish smoked salmon, baked portobello mushroom, lobster claw

Caesar salad (RM 26) here is a slightly more luxury affair than usual with the addition of smoked duck breast. The addition of meat really brings out the flavor of this otherwise rather plain salad.

Scottish smoked salmon (RM 32) isn’t any different from what you usually get from Japanese restaurants, though I find myself looking for wasabi and soya sauce, which is logically absent from a place like this.

I absolutely love the huge portobello mushroom (RM 26), baked with spinach and seafood. What I really want is someone to start making portobello burger with one single massive mushroom as the patty like what I had back in Cincinnati yonks ago, instead of the common version here with many tiny mushrooms.

mashed, chips, and sauteed potatoes
mashed, chips, and sauteed potatoes

Steak comes with a choice of potato on the side. At Steakhouse KL, the choice is between mash, fries, and sauteed potato. Pick either and you won’t be disappointed, but if you chose the fries, you’re going to wonder if this was the recipe McDonald’s had when you are a little kid, they’re fantastic!

chilled & aged Black Angus rib-eye, tenderloin, and striploin, medium rare
chilled & aged Black Angus rib-eye, tenderloin, and striploin, medium rare

And finally, after all sampling almost all the appetizers on the menu, we moved to the beef. Steakhouse serves chilled & aged Black Angus, and chilled Australian grain fed beef. The cuts available are medallion, tenderloin, rib-eye, striploin, and T-bone (only the latter). These are priced from RM 68 (grain fed striploin) to RM 108 (750g of grain fed T-bone).

We sampled tenderloin, rib-eye, and either striploin or medallion. The meat were perfectly prepared and properly rested before being served. It was juicy and full of flavor. I had quite a bit despite stomach being rather filled with the appetizers.

For those who likes their beef with sauce, there’s black pepper, red wine, mushroom, bearnaise, and BBQ sauce to go with. On top of that, there are also five different types of sea salt to season your steak with.

classic Italian tiramisu, baked cheese cake, ice cream, cheese platter
classic Italian tiramisu, baked cheese cake, ice cream, cheese platter

By the time we finished the beef, I was stuffed, but of course, the girls always have a different stomach for desserts, so our hosts brought us some.

Classic tiramisu looked messy but passed the taste test with flying colors. Baked cheese cake is suitably rich. Ice cream came in tall cocktail glasses with at least 5 variations to choose from. There’s also a decent cheese platter for those who insist on another product from cow.

chocolate fondue at the Steakhouse KL
chocolate fondue at the Steakhouse KL

Last but not least, there’s also more than decent chocolate fondue for that touch of romanticism, perfect for those who brought a lady who they want to impress. Reminds me of that time when I did the same at KLCC, sadly that place is defunct.

we certainly had a great time at the Steakhouse
we certainly had a great time at the Steakhouse

We went away rather impressed at this outlet in Changkat. Competition at this street is always tough, but I believe the food here speaks for itself and believe that it’ll be one of the longer serving tenant here.

map to the Steakhouse KL

Address:
The Steakhouse KL
No.48, Changkat Bukit Bintang,
50200 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.14748, 101.70822
Tel: 03-2143 2268
Hours: 5pm to 11pm daily

A couple weeks ago we were invited to have a food review session at KL Hilton’s Graze, the new restaurant that take over the spot previously held by Senses.

While Graze unmistakeably exudes the same class and standard fitting for the Hilton name, the restaurant is now a lot more approachable to common people with its unpretentious setting and more rational price tags.

Graze at Hilton, taking over Senses, chef Michael Elfwing
Graze at Hilton, taking over Senses, chef Michael Elfwing

Senses enjoyed a pretty successful tenure under Chef Michael Elfwing, but over the years it sort of evolved into a restaurant where most only go there for special occasions. The molecular gastronomy dishes were great, but the cost of ingredients often mean higher price tag on the menu.

At Graze, the menu comprises of classic Western dishes that emphasize on fresh ingredients and seasonal produce. Chicken liver parfait instead of foie gras and suddenly it’s RM 28 instead of some RM 60+. Dishes here are meant for sharing as well, and the atmosphere of a warm and casual group dinner is much encouraged. There is no need to play dress up either.

bread, calamari fritti, smooth chicken liver parfait
bread, calamari fritti, smooth chicken liver parfait

We sampled quite a selection of appetizers and main dishes for the session, and in the interest of readability I’m going to just list them here.

Calamari Fritti – flash fried squid (RM 28). Crispy on the outside while fresh and juicy inside, perfect with the accompanying mayo that is slightly tangy.  Goes well with wine, but I wished we had beer for this.

Smooth Chicken Liver Parfait (RM 28). Really the best chicken pate I tried, it’s called a parfait here thanks to the layer of fat surrounding the liver, served with caramelized apple jam and toasted baguette.

mimolette cheese souffle with raisins & pine nuts, pissaladiere tart with olives and anchovies
mimolette cheese soufflé with raisins & pine nuts, pissaladiere tart with olives and anchovies

Mimolette Cheese Soufflé with Raisins & Pine Nuts (RM 28). Melt in your mouth goodness. Gotta eat this within 5-10 minutes while it’s all puffed up and fluffy.

Pissaladiere Tart with Olives and Anchovies (RM 28). Very similar to pizzas except the absence of tomatoes in the list of ingredients. Great for sharing, and I like the fact that care is taken in the arrangement of raisins to ensure there’s one in every slice.

onion soup, petit baguette layered with gruyere cheese, goat cheese beignets with sweet millet & garden salad
onion soup, petit baguette layered with gruyere cheese,
goat’s cheese beignets with sweet millet & garden salad

Onion Soup, Petit Baguette layered with Gruyère Cheese (RM 18). One of the three choices of  soups at Graze, rich, creamy, and with the proper amount of cheese. Can’t find fault with this.

Goat’s Cheese Beignets with Sweet Millet & Garden Salad (RM 25) – The texture is almost not entirely unlike cream puff, but instead of cream this oozes out goat’s cheese instead. Very rich and packs a punch to the taste bud, the garden salad barely enough to neutralize those cheesy taste, I’m not complaining at all.

steak tartare with hand cut fries, onion jam, tasted sour dough bread
steak tartare with hand cut fries, onion jam, tasted sour dough bread

Steak Tartare with Hand Cut Fries, Onion Jam, Toasted Sour Dough Bread (RM42) – The priciest of all appetizers in the menu, but the portion’s really big enough to serve this as a main dish, or at least to be shared between 2-3 person. The dish was beautiful and the beef delicious, it was a shame I can’t have more of it due to all the other dishes yet to be tasted in this review.

roast chicken with garlic & thyme, prime rib steak
roast chicken with garlic & thyme, prime rib steak

After the 6 appetizers (that’s all of them available in the menu) and one soup, it was time to move onto the main dishes. Prices of rice & pastas are at RM 33, with other main courses from RM 38 onwards.

Roast Chicken with Garlic & Thyme, Ruby Roseval Potatoes & Button Mushrooms (RM 42). Half a chicken served on a beautiful pan, just about as unpretentious as it gets. The poultry looked good and tasted even better, remember to eat the garlic too!

Prime Rib Steak (350 gram, RM 188). The most expensive item on the entire menu, for the budget concious there are cheaper options of tenderloin (150g RM 64, 200g RM 74), T-bone steak (300g RM 98), NY cut Sirloin (160g RM 64, 220g RM 74). While it isn’t as fancy as Wagyu, the beef was prepared perfectly and tasted every bit a good prime rib steak should.  I like how bare it was as well, without any sauces that gets in the way of a piece of great tasting beef.

slow cooked dorper lamb shoulder, moussaka - baked lamb & aubergine
slow cooked dorper lamb shoulder, moussaka – baked lamb & aubergine

Slow Cooked Dorper Lamb Shoulder & Grilled Rack with Parsley Mashed Potatoes (RM 58). Tender, juicy, and I must say, quite a large portion of lamb shoulder as well. This dish should satisfy those who likes lamb, but isn’t exactly special in comparison with other dishes.

Moussaka – Baked Lamb & Aubergine (RM 38). One of the cheapest options in the menu, but certainly doesn’t lack any omph. It tasted a bit like lasagne without the pasta, and I find myself enjoying the combination of lamb and eggplant in this dish.

tortellini of potato & fontina with sauteed escargot & baby spinach, bouillabaisse, sea bream, snapper & lobster with toasted baguette & rouille, grilled snapper
tortellini of potato & fontina with sauteed escargot & baby spinach,
bouillabaisse, sea bream, snapper & lobster with toasted baguette & rouille,
grilled snapper, carper butter, haricot vert & la ratte potatoes

Tortellini of Potato & Fontina with sautéed Escargot & Baby Spinach (RM 33). Generous portions of escargot and those delicious tortellini of potato with Fontina cheese made for a great combination. If you like escargot for appetizer and pasta for main, this can substitute both and pass with flying colors.

Bouillabaisse, Sea Bream, Snapper & Lobster with Toasted Baguette & Rouille (RM 92). A traditional fish stew recipe from south-eastern France, this is one of the more luxurious main dish on the menu, and that is probably due to the addition of lobster in the list of ingredients. Definitely delicious.

Grilled Snapper, Caper Butter, Haricot Vert & La Ratte Potatoes (RM 58). A healthy choice for those who like seafood with minimal fuss. The fish tasted fresh, and condiments matched well.

warm tarte tatin & vanilla ice cream, Graze chocolate tart, lemon tart with fresh berries, cheese
warm tarte tatin & vanilla ice cream, Graze chocolate tart, lemon tart with fresh berries

Before the end of the night, we also sampled the three different tarts available at Graze (all priced at RM 18). The warm tarte tatin & vanilla ice cream, Graze chocolate tart, lemon tart with fresh berries. My favourite was the warm tarte tatin, which was like a better version of apple pie, and quite impartial with the other choices. Then again, I’m not a huge fan of desserts.

For those who likes to end their meal with cheese, for RM 45 you get access to the selection of cheese from the cheese wall. I’m out of the league when it comes to naming them, but they are delicious and together with a cup of hot coffee, makes for a perfect conclusion to an awesome dinner.

Address:
Graze
3 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
50470 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.135331, 101.685762
Tel: 03-2264 2592
Hours12.00pm – 2.30pm, 6.30pm – 10.30pm

I love me some good steaks, and while we have plenty of awesome affordable good foods in Malaysia, steak isn’t exactly one of them. Good steaks are often rather expensive, and the cheaper ones usually left me thinking if I should have been chewing my shoes instead. Hence, we don’t end up having steaks nearly as often as we want to.

My last steak dinner was at Las Vacas at Kelana Jaya, a restaurant with minimal frill and good steak, and it was also where I found out about El Fresco at Jaya Grocer from Lance & Enoch (hello neighbour!) from feedbacks on facebook and Instagram

El Fresco at Jaya Grocer, pick your meat
El Fresco at Jaya Grocer, pick your meat

El Fresco is located at Subang Empire Mall’s Jaya Grocer, and yes, a restaurant within the big grocery store where the tables and seats are arranged pretty close to isles where you find racks of .. well, groceries.

The concept is simple, go to the meat section (or fish if you want to have salmon steak, for example) and pick your steak, then proceed to El Fresco’s counter and hand the meat over and have them cook it. There is no cooking charge for anything over RM 20, and just like Air Asia, if you want extras, you can always add on (salad, mixed vegetable, fries etc)

Angus tenderloin, one with salad, the other with mixed vegetables
Angus tenderloin, one with salad, the other with mixed vegetables

Standard cut for steak is usually at around 250-300 gram here, and prices stated at the butchery is by the kilogram. We chose Angus tenderloin (mid-high in price, RM 189/KG) and each slab cost us just under RM 42.00.

In a way, you can go expensive, or you can go much cheaper as well. Lamb rack at RM 85.90/KG, and beef anywhere from RM 99/KG to RM 359/KG for some Wagyu with good marble ratings.

I like mine medium rare, and they executed it perfectly
I like mine medium rare, and they executed it perfectly

I had my Angus tenderloin medium rare with mixed vegetable, and Haze ordered hers prepared rare with salad. While wait time was a little long (25 minutes) when we were there, it actually wasn’t too bad, you can even walk around and shop a little bit in the mean time.

The steak came out excellent and I really liked my steak pure as is and without any sauce or extra seasoning. The meat tender and juicy, and for under RM 50? An awesome value.

The pizzas & salmon steaks from El Fresco looks good too, and I have a feeling we will be back there pretty soon.

Empire Mall map

Address:
El Fresco
Jaya Grocer, Empire Shopping Gallery

47500 Subang Jaya
GPS3.082109, 101.582716
Webjayagrocer.com/fnd_elfresco.php

Haze and I both knows how to enjoy a piece of good beef, but unfortunately good beef are usually only available at very up class restaurants (such as Prime or Mandarin Grill); and speaking from experience, those from the more affordable places often disappoints.

Then there’s Las Vacas, a no-frill restaurant and retail that offers prime cuts of beef and lamb at very decent price.

Las Vacas at Kelana Jaya
Las Vacas at Kelana Jaya

Las Vacas is basically a meat shop with professionally trained butchers and a kitchen. They stock a wide selection of meat and you can either buy raw to grill at home, or dine in.

There’s Angus, Wagyu, grain fed, tenderloin, ribeye, sirloin, lamb shoulder, and even salami, sausages, and burger patties.

grain fed tenderloin and wagyu ribeye
grain fed tenderloin and wagyu ribeye

We went there for the first time a few weeks ago, I ordered a medium rare tenderloin, while Haze asked for her Wagyu ribeye  to be prepared rare. Prices of meat is indicated at the display per 100 gram, and normal cut is usually 280-300 grams, though you can always choose a bigger/smaller portion according to appetite.

There’s a cooking fee (RM 15 if I remember correctly) on top of the price of the meat, and you get a small serving of salad (quite forgettable) and a piece of pretty decent garlic bread on the side.

love that my tenderloin was cooked to perfection - medium rare
love that my tenderloin was cooked to perfection – medium rare

The meat did take a while to get prepared, and I believe it was because they actually let it sit before serving to ensure they are properly moist. There’s Dijon mustard and A1 steak sauce if you like, but I love my steak as is with nothing but basica salt & pepper seasoning to fully enjoy the unadulterated taste of meat.

The result was excellent, and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal. Dinner ended up at around RM 180 including a couple bottles of premium carbonated drinks. Pretty reasonable for what we got, will visit again.

map to Las Vacas, Kelana Jaya

Address:
Las Vacas
No.23, Jalan SS5A/11 Kelana Jaya 
47301 Petaling Jaya 
Selangor, Malaysia
GPS: 3.095934, 101.604719
Tel: 03-7874 0711
Weblasvacasmeat.com
HoursTues – Sunday, 10am – 10pm

Las Vacas Meat Shop

Mexican cuisine isn’t one of the most popular foreign foods in Malaysia, but if you want Western style food with a dose of hotness, this is where you go. Las Carretas is probably one of the earlier establishments serving Mexican cuisine in the country, and with three branches in town, the brand is proved to be pretty popular among locals and expats as well.

Las Carretas at Ampang
Las Carretas at Ampang

This is the second post on Las Carretas on the blog, the first being a 2006 version when (I believe) they only had one branch at USJ. The chain has grown since and I thought it’ll be appropriate to pen another review since we went to the Ampang branch just a while back.

fresh oysters in different flavors
fresh oysters in different flavors

There are quite a selection of starters in the menu, but for oyster lovers, one must not miss their offerings. Have it fresh, with cheese and herbs, or salsa on top (RM 29.90 for half dozen). The shellfish were big, fresh, juicy, and absolutely mouth watering. Very decent value for what you get.

chips and salsa, squid rings, oxtail soup
chips and salsa, squid rings, oxtail soup

Chips and salsa is always served while you wait for food to arrived. While they’re very tasty, try not to over indulge in them to avoid stuffing your stomach too early before your main arrives.

Calamares a la Romana is the Mexican way of saying deep fried squid rings (RM 21.90), and they are served with garlic mayo dip and tartar sauce. Tastes pretty good but not exactly something you can’t get from just about anywhere.

I tried Sopa De Rabo (boneless oxtail soup, RM 11.90) and well, if there’s anything better than oxtail soup, it is making it boneless. Easy to consume, delicious and with zero hassle. I love it.

rib-eye steak with foie gras, boneless chicken chop, NZ lamb loin
rib-eye steak with foie gras, boneless chicken chop, NZ lamb loin

For my main dish I chose Bife Ancho, or rib-eye steak with an addition of seared foie gras (RM 92, or RM 68 without). The 45-day aged Australian grain fed beef were excellent, but the preparation of foie gras was lacking, I felt that they overcooked it a bit.

Other friends who had Pollo Loco (boneless chicken chop with black peppercorn sauce, RM 19.90) and Crusted N.Z. Lamb Rack (RM 64.90) were very happy with their choices. The lamb, served with freshly made rosemary sauce and cooked to perfection, was especially praised.

prawn spaghetti, grain fed t-bone steak, beef fajitas
prawn spaghetti, grain fed t-bone steak, beef fajitas

Prawn Spaghetti (RM 38.90) was served with pretty good size prawns and drenched in garlic, chili, and fajita sauce. Positively Mexican and yet something that’s easy to adapt to if you’re not used to the taste.

If you have a big appetite, Chuleton De Bistek (T-bone steak, RM 65.90) and all it’s 450 gram glory can be yours, complete with salad, ranch dressing, and steak fries. One of our team members’ go-to meal here.

Interestingly, we only really ordered one “classic” Mexican dish among the 10 of us. The beef Fajitas (RM 33.90) was served in a sizzling hot plate with plenty of warm tortilla to go around. I love their Guacamole sauce that comes with this dish.

awesome lunch with the team
awesome lunch with the team

It seems to me that after some 6-7 years between the last visit and this one, Las Carretas hasn’t missed a beat. Food is still generally very good (except for the foie gras), prices are reasonable for what you get, and service isn’t anything to complain about either. I should go there again, this time maybe sooner.

map to Las Carretas, Ampang

Address:
Las Carretas Mexican Restaurant
22 Persian Ampang
55000 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.159156, 101.746702
Tel: 03-4257 1668
Weblascarretas.com

Las Carretas

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