Every once in a while, I get invited to one of these fancy dinners that I imagined myself being a part of when I was working as a casual worker at a five star hotel in my high school days.
I thought that it’d be pretty awesome sitting down having a number of different courses of almost bite size food served in plates that are unnecessarily large, and wouldn’t it be even more cool if they have different drinks for each dish?!
That’d really be living the life, won’t it?
A Premium Wine Affair, Senja at Saujana Hotel
Well, last Friday was one of such days, and yes, that’s another teenage-hood dream come true moment (though not the first time).
I was invited to “A premier Wine Affair of the Saujana Hotels & Resorts Wine Collection“, a private event hosted by the Saujana to unveil its new wine collection.
Charcoal’s Australian Chef Robert Johnston
The wines were specifically made from Frankland Estate, Margaret River, Western Australia, a well-renowned winery with an approach to winemaking that values the importance of soil and environment.
In the kitchen was Charcoal’s Australian Chef Robert Johnston who prepared a distinctive five course menu to pair with the wines for a night of, well, wine and dine.
By the way, you can only get these wines from The Saujana
Note: Instead of paraphrasing the note and pretend that I know exactly how to describe these wonderful wines, I’m going to include the tasting note here verbatim, and by the way, most media/writers do get tasting notes for wine/whisky, we can’t magically come up with fantastic descriptions that are all pretty much the same.
After socializing a bit with the crowd, we sat down and dinner began, our first dish was the lightly cured salmon, pomelo, cucumber, verjuice jelly to be paired with Souvignon Blanc Semillon 2014. Refreshing and easy on the palette.
Tasting note: On the nose it shows exotic fruit aromas, lychee, mango, rose, quince and spices. On the palate it exudes a powerful, burst of fruit, flattering and round with lightly spicy finishing.
poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea
Second course was poached chicken and crispy noodles, shitake tea. Paired with Chardonnay 2013, Miles from Nowhere.
The shitake tea makes an interesting base with its slightly bitter after taste, reminding me of chicken essence in a way. Crispy noodle provided interesting texture to the otherwise quite muted poached chicken. Very Asian-ish.
Tasting note: Butterscotch and ripe stone fruit flavours, with a rich and luscious creamy mouth feel. A complex wine with a spicy oak finish
Third dish was char grilled duck breast, sweet onion puree, apple and radish, balsamic reduction. Paired with Merlot 2014.
Really love the duck breast with the hint of charred taste. The Merlot carries mulberry and red plum fruit aromas, a touch of earthy complexity that went well with duck.
Tasting notes: Medium ruby red in colour. Alluring strawberry, mulberry and red plum fruit aromas with subtle hint of French oak spice and a touch of earthy complexity.
black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto,
oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce
The main dish was black Angus tenderloin, roasted pumpkin risotto, oyster mushroom, bone marrow and parsley sauce. Paired with Cabernet Souvignon 2012. While the Wagyu from Hanaya a couple days ago was heaven, I still enjoy Angus beef with its more profound texture.
Tasting notes: A powerful yet elegant wine. Soft and rich with full body. Well rounded tannins on the palate with concentrates fruit flavours and provides a great length on the finish.
coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili
Coconut rice, caramelized banana, candied coconut and chili as dessert to end the night. Good food with excellent company, what a great way to start the weekends.
great company and awesome food with delectable wines
The other wines we tried were Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014 from Grape Expectations Estate, Margaret River, and Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc from Frankland Estate.
Address: Senja Saujana Golf & Country Club, Jalan Lapangan Terbang SAAS, 40150 Selangor GPS: 3.106865, 101.575285 Tel: 03-7846 1466 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I actually first got to know about Suzi’s Corner from Time Out KL food awards in 2011 when it was nominated for the “best of steak” category, and that was when it piqued my interest, a cheap steak place that is recognized to be one of the bests in town among the big boys? I gotta try this.
Suzi’s Corner at Ampang (opposite Ampang Point)
Sure enough, it then took me another two years or so before I found myself wandering around Ampang on the motorcycle trying to figure out a place for dinner before futsal session with my colleague.
Steak isn’t exactly the perfect meal before a cardio heavy sports, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.
tenderloin under RM 40, served on a hot plate
Suzi’s Corner is actually a food court, and within it, Steak Hut is the stall that offers somewhat localized Western food. Among the dishes to choose from are lamb chops (RM22), grilled salmon (RM21), chicken chop (RM14), and more.
For a steak lover though, I just had to go with the tenderloin. At RM 34, it’ll be a miracle to find a cheaper version anywhere else.
I’d advise to not have the hot plate, or put the beef aside
I ordered the beef at medium rare, but what came was probably closer to medium. By default, the beef here is served on a hot plate (Malaysians love hot plate), so that probably contributed partly to the meat being slightly overcooked for my liking. I’ll order it rare and to be served on regular plate next round.
A side of fries, bun with butter, and some steamed vegetable came with the dish to complete the meal. Overall it was definitely worth the asking price, and I would not hesitate to go there again.
Is it super awesome beef? No, but Suzi’s Corner definitely manage to satisfy the craving for red meat, at least for a few days. 🙂
Address: Suzi’s Corner 213/26 Jalan Ampang Batu 4 1/2, Jalan Ulu Kelang, 68000 Ampang, Kuala Lumpur GPS: 3.158677, 101.748378 Tel: 03-4256 6720 Hours: 6pm to 11pm, closed on T uesdays
The branch at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng is Las Vacas’ latest and biggest, so naturally it is most suited as a location to offer their buffet dinner for this fasting month. Parking is plenty and free, while the location is quite suitable for those who work in the city and decide to buka puasa before heading home.
The buffet is priced at RM100++ for adults and RM50++ for children aged 12 years and under, and served from 6.30pm – 10.00pm, 8th July 2014 to 27th July 2014.
canapes, salad, kuih, salad, and drinks
If you compared to the offerings from hotels, the buffet spread here isn’t particularly impressive in terms of size, tho there are certainly enough variety to provide a more than balanced meal. However, you don’t come to Las Vacas to have 300 different dishes, you come here because of the meat.
Anyway, starting with appetizers and desserts, there a selection of canapes and salads, including smoked beef with mustadard, tuna mayo egg, teriyaki, black olive tapenade, chicken with creamy pesto, smoked turkey salad with balsamic, salad with beef strips, girlled begetables and red cabbage slaws and so forth.
There are also some traditional kuih as well.
nasi hujan panas, ayam masak merah, spaghetti with mushroom,
tempura, sayur campur masak lemak putih
For main, you can find classics such as nasi hujan panas (the version here was very good!), nasi minyak, nasi tomato, beef rendang, ayam masak merah, ikan bakar, ayam pedas, and more.
Australian steaks, New Zealand lamb, burger patties, and sausages
Then, we get to the real reason why you would come to Las Vacas for buka puasa – the all-you-can-eat Australian steaks and New Zealand lamb! There’s also burger patties and sausages too if you prefer a little bit of variety.
be sure to ask for how well you want the meat to be done
For someone who likes my steak medium rare, I find the preparation served here slightly too cooked, perhaps it is to cater for the general public. Luckily, you can always tell the chefs to prepare the beef at your preferred “doneness” and they’ll be more than happy to comply.
Las Vacas also stock some pretty delicious French and whole grain mustard that goes very well with the meat.
Haze, Suan, Horng, & KY at Las Vacas Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
On Friday and Saturda, there will also be traditional Malay performances to compliment your meal. As with many other places, imported dates from Middle East is available to provide a “proper” way to break fast. The restaurant also have an in-house surau for your convenience.
All other ala-carte menu item will still be available for order as usual during this period.
Address: Las Vacas Meat Shop No. 33, Lot 5, Ground Floor, Wisma Winbond, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, 50450 Kuala Lumpur GPS: 3.162898, 101.714842 Tel: 03-2181 5586
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 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.
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
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 (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 (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
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
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
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
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 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.
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
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.
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 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’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, 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
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 & 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, 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
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 Hours: 12.00pm – 2.30pm, 6.30pm – 10.30pm