I’ve been on a bit of a hot pot hunt as of late (or as well call it in Malaysia, steamboat), especially Sichuan style mala hot pot. So when the opportunity to be one of the earliest group to sample Xiao Long Kan Sichuan Hot Pot (小龙坎火锅) came calling, I was quite excited, to say the least.
Xiao Long Kan at Fahrenheit 88
Xiao Long Kan is one of the most popular spicy steamboat chain originated from Chengdu, which is the capital of Sichuan province in China. So when it comes to authenticity, you can’t do any better than that, this is the ground zero of Spicy mala hot pot.
pork bone broth, tomato, or mala soup?
Xiao Long Kan’s first branch in Malaysia is located at Fahrenheit 88, more specifically, at the side that is facing Starhill shopping mall (don’t try to look for it INSIDE Fahrenheit 88 like I did..)
While there’s plenty of seats spanning across 4 levels, it already gets pretty packed, but a little patience from your end and I’m sure you’ll agree that it is definitely worth it.
original condiment, without all the other fuss
There’s four different soup base to choose from – traditional spicy soup (mala, a must have), tomato soup, mushroom, and pork bone broth. You can always go for up to three like we did (all except mushroom). Additionally, the level of spiciness can also be customized. Do refer to the menu below.
Condiment situation is different here at Xiao Long Kan compared to just about every other hot pot outlets. Instead of a dozen or even more choices, here they stick to the traditional way of cilantro, green onion, and garlic. A special oil (xiang yu) is then added to the condiment which has the property of lowering heat. You can also choose to add soya sauce or black vinegar, though the good chef does not recommend doing so.
This blend is to ensure the taste of ingredients and soup is tasted to its fullest instead of being overpowered by fancy condiments. Can’t say I disagree.
Australian wagyu A5, we had to order another portion, so good
And then there’s ingredients. Xiao Long Kan does not lack in “special dishes” not easily found at other restaurants. Some of which even requires some sense of adventure.
We were served with Astralian wagyu A5 (so good we went for seconds), pork ball, pork neck, fish paste, prawns, pork belly, chili beef, rose meat ball, sliced lamb, and these are just the “normal dishes”.
In addition, we also had duck intestine, tripe, pork blood (my love!), pig’s brain, and even aorta!
I like that they also include a guide on the menu on how long you should cook each ingredients – ranging from 30 seconds (sliced green bamboo shoots), to 8 minutes (pig’s brain). Following the guide ensures that you don’t overcook certain items to the point where flavor is lost, or worse, under cook dishes and end up having an washing machine within…
sliced green bamboo shoots were definitely on point
Their rice cake & fried crispy meat are two of the ready-to-eat items we tried, and both are pretty delicious too. The rice cake should be consumed soonest possible to enjoy that crispy on the outside and soft inside texture.
As a rule of thumb, meat is best cooked in the clear or spicy soup, while vege goes better with tomato/clear soup, as advised by the head chef from Chengdu. These sort of pairing ensures that taste doesn’t clash, sorta like how you pair red with meat, and white with seafood kinda idea.
Jess, Mei Mei, KY, Eunice, Mag at Xiao Long Kan
Overall I got to say that this was one of the best hotpot I had recently, the super thick tomato soup, to the aroma from the red spicy soup, and all those fancy, fresh, and mostly imported ingredients. I’m pretty sure we’ll be back again for more mala goodness.
I think it’s safe to say that Japanese food is one of my favorite cuisine when it comes to heading out to a proper restaurant. In fact, this is the 100th entry on Japanese cuisine on this space – and for this occasion we head to Bangsar and look at Hana Tei Japanese Restaurant.
Hana Tei, Lucky Garden Bangsar
If you’re from Kajang and Cheras area, you may have heard of Hana Tei before. This Bangsar branch is their latest venture into KL city.
Personally, I thought Lucky Garden (the same row with 3 famous kopitiam) is a pretty good location to be at. It is in Bangsar, and parking situation at the area is usually pretty good during dinner time, though lunch can be a bit challenging.
The menu for Hana Tei is actually quite extensive, covering the usual suspects such as sushi, sashimi, to teppanyaki, teriyaki, nabemoto, tempura, as well as rice and noodle dishes. Well, on our review session, we got to sample quite a few of these dishes.
shake sashimi (thick cut salmon)
We started the night with shake sashimi (RM 35), or thick cut salmon. You get 5 pieces of fresh raw salmon at I think at least 1 cm thick. It was glorious. I also do like the fact that they use proper grated wasabi to go with the salmon here. It was definitely a treat.
camembert cheese yaki, gindara foilyaki
Next up was something rather unique – Camembert Cheese Yaki (RM 15). Grilled Camembert cheese with baguette with a side of jam. I thought it was rather interesting and most likely will go very well with some sake.
Then there’s Gindara Foilyaki (RM 48), cod fish with mushroom wrapped in aluminium foil and cooked with a miso soup base. It’s not entirely unlike Chinese style steamed cod except with a Japanese touch & flavor. I thought it was executed quite well.
hana tei beef sushi
If you’re a sushi person, well, here’s some treats for you, starting with Hana Tei Beef Sushi (RM 25). Instead of raw fish like usual, you get Australian striploin with salmon roe and ebiko, all wrapping those sushi rice.
The combination works surprisingly well to be honest, I love the contrasting taste between the savory beef and the freshness and slightly salty nature of ikura.
foie gras sushi, hotate maki spicy sauce
Then there’s also the one of a kind Foie Gras sushi (RM 28). This is probably one of the cheaper ways to experience foie gras, and foie gras never disappoint. I can have 5 of these for breakfast if I get my way! I shouldn’t, but I want to!
If you’re a fan of scallop and spicy food, you can find that strange combination in Hotate Maki Spicy Sauce (RM 35). The roll comes with quite a big chunk of scallop in each of them and covered with this hot sauce that really gives the dish a kick. You definitely don’t need any wasabi for this.
If you’re a fan of Japanese food, you should know about J’s Gate Dining at Lot 10 KL – a concept that is unlike any other when it comes to Japanese cuisine offering in Malaysia. As one of those fans myself, I was glad to be invited to the launch event and be one of the firsts to get a taste of what this place has to offer.
J’s Gate Dining, Level 4, Lot 10 KL
J’s Gate Dining is located on level 4 of Lot 10 in Bukit Bintang. Head up the escalator now and you’d see 18 different Japanese restaurants taking up almost the entire floor space offering various different types of Japanese cuisine,centered around the concept of authentic Japanese cuisine and services.
J’s Gate Dining launching, Lot 10 Level 4
The grand opening was officiated by Mr. Makio Miyagawa, Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia and Mr. Joseph Yeoh, Vice President of YTL Land & Development Bhd and YTL Hotels & Properties Sdn. Bhd., together with Mr. Naoki Yokoyama, Executive Officer of Sojitz Corporation, Chief Operation Officer of Retails & Lifestyle Business Division.
The opening ceremony is followed by a carving session of a 40.8 KG cultivated Bluefin tuna specially air flown by Sojitz Corporation all the way from Japan. We were then served the fatty tuna in the form of sushi after the event, and I may have returned for more than a few servings!
Bluefin tuna carving demonstration
J’s Gate Dining is separated into two “sections”, with one side a food court type of set up offering all pork free Japanese dishes, and another section with individual restaurants, some with non halal dishes.
Here is the list of restaurants:
Seafood rice bowls
Fuji no Sakura
Eel rice bowls
Traditional Kyoto cuisine
Umai Sushi Kan
On the same evening, a few of us were also invited to an exclusive tasting session to sample dishes from some of the restaurants at J’s Gate Dining. In the span of some 2.5 hours, we managed to visit these five restaurants:
Umai Sushi Kan – Sushi restaurant (pork free)
Umai Sushi Kan offers sushi & sashimi, perhaps the most familiar type of Japanese food for many of us. Again we got to have more of that cultivated Bluefin tuna sushi & sashimi, simply heaven. The rolls were pretty on point as well.
Torikin Yakitori (non halal)
Next up was Torikin Yakitori. There’s a good selection of different skewers to choose from, from chicken tail all the way to pork belly, priced at RM 4 to RM 7 per stick. These makes for some really good beer food.
Kushiage Kinme – deep fried skewers (non halal)
If yakitori isn’t your cup of tea but you still love things in skewers, hop over to Kushiage Kinme. Over here you get fresh ingredients deep fried with light batter in skewers. There’s prawns, quails’ eggs, pork, and even asparagus, my favorite is gindara (cod).
I highly recommend some cold sake with these, which was what we did.
Hachi Traditional Kyoto cuisine, we had waygu beef here (pork free)
If you prefer traditional Kyoto cuisine, Hachi could be your destination of choice at J’s Gate Dining. We sampled the wagyu set here that came with wagyu steak, roast beef, wagyu cutlet, bulgogi, roast vegetable, and rice, miso & edamame. A complete meal that should satisfy any beef lover.
Vito Cafe & Gelato (pork free)
Our fifth and final stop for the night was Vito Cafe & Gelato, where we had a sweet ending to the day. Vito also serve coffee in addition to gelato.
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.
A couple days ago we were lucky enough to be one of the first batches of people to be fortunate enough to have a taste of authentic Sicilian cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton KL by the award winning Guest Chef Lino Sauro from Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare in Singapore.
This event happens from March 14-18, 2017 so you may still have a chance to participate in the last few sessions if you catch this article early enough; or of course, you can head to Singapore and visit the good chef at his home turf.
The Library at Ritz Carlton KL
The dinner happened at The Library, a dining space that has an ambiance not unlike an extensive classy private library, complete with collection of books with topics ranging from film to art and travel. We were there for fine Sicilian food this time, so I’m afraid the books will have to wait for next round.
a bit of tidbit & bread prior to dinner
We started the night with a glass of sparkling wine, some bread, and a pre-dinner amuse-bouche of salmon with caviar which I thought was perfect to get us ready for what’s coming next.
For this first session of Sicilian dinner, we were also lucky enough to be joined by His Excellency Mario Sammartino, the ambassador of Italy to Malaysia.
amuse-bouche – Ostrica
Then came the first course – Ostrica, or oyster with sherry vinegar jelly, wasabi chips, and Avruga caviar. This amuse-bouche was perfect in opening up the appetite with its refreshing taste and subtle sweetness from the oyster that is perfectly balanced with the slight salty flavor from caviar. Usage of wasabi showcase Chef Lino’s boldness in using contemporary technique and ingredients.
Sanfeletto conegliano valdobbiadene prosecco superior docg was the accompanying wine.
appetiser – Polipo
Appetizer was Polipo, or charred citrus glazed octopus, risone, capsicum, sun dried tomato aioli, chilli, and pistachio pesto.
At the first glance, I thought we were having risotto, but as it turned out it was risone, or a rice shaped pasta that was much smoother, having a more controlled taste and texture that complimented the stronger tasting octopus well.
Vigneti zabu grillo terre siciliane igt was served with this seafood dish.
entree – Capellini con Aracosta
Then came entree, in the form of Capellini con Aracosta, or angel hair pasta, lobster, seafood, and carrot.
This is a deceptively simple looking dish that is again packed with the sweetness of what the Mediterranean sea has to offer. Lobster tail & angel hair pasta are two ingredients I enjoyed, and this combination did not disappoint.
Cecchi orvieto classico toscana doc would be the accompanying Sicilian wine.
main course 1 – Manzo Australiano
There were two choices of main course.
Manzo Australiano would be the Australian wagyu with morel mushrooms and horseradish sauce. Perfectly executed with the meat in the overused “melt in your mouth” texture, but that’s the best description I could give. The sauce was thick, strong, and go surprisingly well with the red meat (this coming from someone who loves his beef with only salt & pepper).
Wine pairing – mazzei zisola sicilia doc
main course 2 – Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo
Zuppa di Pesce Gattopardo, or the Signature Gattopardo Seafood Stew, would be the other equally worthy option. The stew is packed with several types of shellfish, prawn, as well as fish fillet. This stew is perfect in a cold rainy day, or any day actually.
Dessert was a unique interpretation of Sicilian Ricotta Cheese Cake, or Cassata by Chef Lino. The deconstructed dessert was a sweet treat with some strong sourish berries that wakens up the senses a bit, which I thought was nice. We also had some chocolates to go with coffee to end the session.
Sicilian wine pairing option available
This specially curated Sicilian course dinner is priced at MYR 250 with an option of wine pairing at MYR 375 per person. Dinner is served from 7 pm but only available until 18th March 2017.