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Thursday, 19 July 2018

Osaka Kitchen, J's Gate Dining @ Lot 10 Shopping Centre

J's Gate Dining in Lot 10 Shopping Centre now houses 16 speciality restaurants on one floor (with one casualty so far, Tokyo Obanzai Hachi).  I've visited two of them, Bonta Bonta and Kaisen Don Kinme and end up liking both.

The latest to open (a little over a month ago) is Osaka Kitchen, J's Gate Dining @ Lot 10 Shopping Centre (which we've been looking forward to), specialising in teppanyaki and okonomiyaki cooked on an iron griddle in front of diners.

Since we're here for the teppanyaki, let's start with that.  You can choose from either chicken (RM37), pork (RM42) or beef teppanyaki (I didn't see a seafood choice) but the surprising thing though was that the various teppanyaki choices all come in a set course.  You can't order just the meat and have it commonly served with rice and vegetables like in most teppanyaki joints I've been to.

For the beef course, there's a choice of Beef Rump Steak (RM80) or Beef Sirloin Steak (RM160).  I also saw a note at the bottom detailing the additional cost for the Japanese Beef Sirloin Steak (+RM80) and Japanese Beef Fillet Steak (+RM140) which would mean that the prices will be jacked up to RM240 or RM300 (yikes!) if you want Japanese beef (so I'm assuming the earlier two choices are Australian beef perhaps?).

Haiz, all so expensive, I had to settle for the cheapest option, the Beef Rump Steak Course @ RM80.  Funny thing was, the server didn't ask me how I want my beef done.  I'm not sure if it's an error on her part or they actually don't give you a choice on how you like it cooked.  She said they usually cook it to medium before I asked if I could have it medium rare and then she said it's cooked between medium rare to medium (it felt like she was just pacifying and/or accommodating me by including the words 'medium rare' in her sentence) :P

Since my beef rump steak comes in a set meal, the course began with the appetiser which turned out to be a fresh salad.

It had crunchy lettuce, shredded cabbage, capsicum slivers and cherry tomatoes topped with some tiny crispy silver fish in a light shoyu dressing.  Very refreshing starter.

Next to arrive was the Japanese Omelette with Pork Belly.  This was basically just a fluffy omelette wrapped with finely chopped pork belly.

Served with a drizzle of mayonnaise and a sprinkling of aonori (green seaweed flakes) in a slightly sweetish teriyaki-like (okonomiyaki?) sauce, it was temptingly tasty. ^o^

Then we were served the Seared Specialty Sesame Tofu.  Don't be fooled by the word 'tofu' as it was unlike the texture of tofu I was expecting.  The texture caught me completely off-guard.

It had a lightly seared outer layer that was fragrant but it was very wobbly and gooey with a chewy, flour-y taste.  It was like I was eating an extremely soft version of radish cake (or mochi).  It had this gel-like consistency that I found unpleasant (though I've read reviews raving about this dish).  Maybe I was supposed to eat it with the wasabi (but I don't eat wasabi!) to cut through that gummy texture.

The Grilled Avocado with Melted Cheese was next.  The way they cook this is they sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of an avocado slice.  They let it cook on the teppanyaki grill (covered) until the cheese melts and forms a crisp layer of cheese (those that fell off the avocado and onto the grill).  It's finished with a sprinkling of aonori.

Well, if you like cheese and you like avocado....you'll like this.  It's a simple rendition of soft, creamy avocado and cheese with a few cheesy crisps.  Again, not my favourite (since I'm not a cheese person) + it also felt rich as it was creamy (cheese) on creamy (avocado).

Finally, it was time for the main, the Beef Rump Steak was served with some garlic crisps, fried pea shoots and a dipping sauce (of probably soy, mirin and grated daikon) that's somewhat similar to those served with tempura.

I've turned one of the pieces around so that you can judge the doneness.  As you can see, it was just a little pink in the centre, so it was much more medium than it was medium rare although it did have that perfect searing on the outside.  Because it was cooked more than I would have liked, perhaps that contributed to the meat being not as tender but still came off pleasantly tasty and I enjoyed the pea shoots very much (there was so little of it though)! ^.^

In the end, I was glad that I didn't choose the more expensive beef cuts since we don't have a choice on how we want our meat done.  I hope this was not a case of the server (who served us) not doing her job properly! >_<  Anyway, do make a request for your choice of doneness (when you eat here) just to be sure.

Our other main was the Okonomi-yaki Course @ RM45 that offers the same courses as the one before but only the pork okonomiyaki is available for the set meal.  If ordered as a stand-alone dish, you have a choice of pork (RM23), pork & squid (RM29), mixed with pork, squid & prawn (RM32) and Osaka Kitchen's special with pork, squid, prawn, beef & avocado (RM40).

Okonomiyaki is basically a Japanese-style savoury pancake made from flour, eggs, cabbage and Japanese yam with various toppings.  It's then drizzled with generous amounts of Japanese mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce (a mix of soy sauce, ketchup and Worchestershire sauce) and finished with an equally generous sprinkling of aonori and katsuobushi (bonito flakes).

This was my first time trying okonomiyaki, so I didn't know what to expect.  First mouthful, it tasted very similar to takoyaki to me but I'd rather have takoyaki than this okonomiyaki coz then it'll be stuffed with my favourite baby octopus.  I felt that it had too much batter and not enough filling.

Maybe it's because this one is a pork version which I didn't fancy.  Perhaps, a seafood version with either prawns, octopus, squid or scallops may be more my cup of tea.  Besides okonomi-yaki, they also offer yaki-soba (though it wasn't available yet on our visit).

To end our meal, the dessert of the day was ice cream (as told by the server) and we were asked to make a choice between matcha, vanilla or yuzu.  We picked vanilla.....

......and yuzu.  Let's just say the ice cream was more icy than creamy! >.<  The yuzu one tasted more like a sorbet.

The best part about the dessert were the pretty transparent plates they came in...haha! :D

Though the staff were courteous and proactive (refilling our green tea and clearing our finished plates), they were also very flustered with their service.  Some of the issues were....1) the various courses did not come in sequence (as per the menu), 2) we had to remind them of one forgotten course, 3) they brought us one course twice and 4) one of the mains (the okonomiyaki) arrived after the first two courses!

I think they have to rethink their execution...and soon.  They need to find a better system to execute the various courses to know who got what.  Perhaps, they should consider sending out all four small dishes at once (in one tray) instead of course by course.  That way, there will be no confusion as to which courses have been fulfilled for which diner.  And once the diner has finished all his four starters, they only need to follow up on the main and the dessert.

My Personal Opinion

The teppanyaki didn't impress as much as I thought it would.  Not having a say in the meat doneness, I can just as easily go to Tamaruya Meat Master (also at Lot 10) and have my fill of beef done exactly to my liking....with bigger portions and cheaper prices too (and what I pay goes directly into the amount of meat and not get 'wasted' on side dishes that I could do without (since I ended up liking only two out of the four courses).

As for the okonomiyaki, it too didn't turn out to be the tasty treat that I was expecting.  Hmmm, I'm not sure if I'll be back.  I mean I know I'll be back to J's Gate Dining, I'm just not sure if I'll return to this particular restaurant.  If I do return (and that's a big maybe), it'll be for the teppanyaki, not the okonomiyaki! ;)

Osaka Kitchen, J's Gate Dining
Unit Level 4
Lot 10 Shopping Centre
Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2110 3591

Monday, 16 July 2018

#ewew cooks Cottage Pie

Cottage pie or shepherd's pie is basically a meat pie with a crust of mashed potato.  The meat used is usually ground beef or ground lamb which is cooked in a tomato gravy of onions and vegetables and topped with mashed potato.

It seems it should be called cottage pie (if ground beef is used) and named shepherd's pie (if it's ground lamb).  Well, now I know.  So, I guess I'm making Cottage Pie then (though nowadays both names are used interchangeably).  I suppose you can also substitute it with ground chicken or pork if you like (but I won't know what fancy names to call those pies other than chicken or pork shepherd's pie...kekeke!).

This recipe is inspired by Patricia Heaton and Jamie's Table which I've tweaked and simplified further.  I don't mind sacrificing a bit of the taste if I can save on buying more spices and seasonings which I'm not able to use up.

Ingredients:

1 packet minced beef (the one I got was about 260g)
4 medium potatoes
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 a red capsicum, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks of Chinese coriander, chopped
2 knobs of butter (I use those 9-in-1 mini packs)
4 tbsp tomato puree (you can add more if you like it wetter)
1 tsp (dry) mixed herbs
Salt & (freshly cracked) black pepper to taste

Preparation:

Make sure the diced vegetables (of onion, carrot, bell pepper and celery) are cut uniformly as this will ensure that they all cook at the same time.  The quantity of each of the diced vegetables is about 3/4 of a cup.

Method:

Pour in a tbsp of olive oil into a hot pan and put in the ground beef.  My recipe has a reduced amount of meat used as I wanted more vegetables than meat in my pies.  You can 'beef up' the beef (double the portion if you like).  Once the ground meat is in, season with 1 tsp mixed herbs, 1/4 tsp salt 1/8 tsp black pepper.  You can use 1 tsp of chopped fresh thyme if you have.  I didn't, so I substituted it with 1 tsp of mixed dry herbs of rosemary, thyme, marjoram and basil (I 'invested' in this seasoning recently since it's so versatile with a mixture of four herbs which I can use on a lot of stuff).

Saute the meat on relatively high heat to get it nicely seared (I learned that from Tobie Puttock's video on Jamie's Table).  Cook it for about 3 minutes until it's nicely browned.  Remove the cooked meat onto a dish.

Next, put in all the vegetables (of onions, carrots, capsicum and celery) together with the minced garlic too in 1 tbsp of olive oil and saute for 5 minutes.

Again, season with 1/4 tsp salt 1/8 tsp black pepper.  The vegetables are so pretty and colourful, don't you think?

Once the vegetables start to soften, add back the cooked beef mince to the pan.  To that, add 4 tbsp of tomato puree (add more if you want a more tomato-ey taste) and 1/2 cup water (use fresh stock if you have) and simmer on medium low heat for 5 minutes.

I bought this bottle of fresh tomato puree from Mercato (coz I liked the jar!) and found that it only cost RM6.99 for 720 ml (quite a bargain for a product of Italy since Italian tomato puree is known to be the most acclaimed variety, no?).  Anyway, I like the taste of this tomato puree as I find it not as acidic as some of the ones I've bought before.  I think I should have added more tomato puree into my mixture.

I improvised and substituted fresh flat-leaf parsley with coriander (since there weren't any at the supermarket when I wanted to make this).  Add chopped coriander (I like a lot) towards the end and simmer for a further minute until the sauce is almost dry.  If you want to include green peas into the mix, you can. Just add frozen peas in the last minute and stir them in (the baking process will cook and soften the peas).

And the Cottage Pie filling is done.  Let it cool.

In the meantime, make the mash.  In a heavy saucepan, season the water generously with salt and bring to a boil.  Put the potatoes in and parboil until soft.  Once a fork easily pierces through the potatoes, you know it's ready (which is about 15 minutes).  Drain the potatoes thoroughly.

Add 2 knobs of butter to the potatoes while they're are still warm, season with salt and black pepper.  Mash. You can also add milk or cream to the mash but I didn't, so I loosened it up with a little water (stock would be more flavourful if you have).

By now, the filling would have cooled a little for you to spoon into ramekins.  Fill it slightly more than halfway up and the rest of the ramekin can be filled with the mashed potato.

Top the balance of the ramekin with the potato mash and press down to seal the edges.

I don't have those fancy tips to pipe in the mash, so I just use a fork to press down or poke at the mash to create ridges as this will give rise to crusty edges.

Finally, sprinkle a pinch of salt and black pepper and drizzle a little olive oil over the top of each ramekin. You can sprinkle some cheese on top too if you want.

Put the ramekins on a lined sheet pan (that's in case the filling bubbles over).  Bake at 200°C for 30 minutes.

The Cottage Pie is done once the mash turns a nice golden brown.

The filling was more than enough to fill 4 ramekins (I was left with extras to fill another 1 - 2 ramekins) but I had run out of mash (so you'll need to adjust the amount of potatoes needed...rule of thumb is one potato for each portion/ramekin...and when you increase the potatoes, you have to increase the butter too, of course).

You can keep the extras and make a pasta dish out of it by adding more tomato puree (and that makes a wonderful meal in itself).

You can also choose to make a layered casserole by spooning all the vegetables (and mash) into one large casserole or you can do it like I did here, into small ramekins, one for each person (maybe two if you're feeling peckish).

This was my second time making Cottage Pie...but my first attempt at making it from scratch.  Hmmm, I think I pretty much nailed it! ;)

The previous time I made a Beef Shepherd's Pie was through a dinner box provided by (the now defunct) Urban Stove that looked something like this...it wasn't great looking nor great tasting (that's why it's defunct...wuahahahaha)! :D

Mine (made from scratch) definitely looks better presented...and it was better tasting too.

It's a wonderfully comforting dish.  Just imagine curling up in the cold air-conditioned comfort of your home and out comes this hot mash and still bubbling beef and vegetable stew to warm your heart.  Simply yummy. ^.^

Because it's a dish of meat and potatoes, it can be a little heavy, so it'd be best to serve it with some green leafy vegetables (like a fresh arugula salad with cherry tomatoes or sauteed broccolini or, in this case, stir-fried pea shoots) to offer a fresh bite.

The potato mash was really nice, buttery, soft and fluffy on the inside with nice crispy edges on the outside. Eaten with the bubbling hot beef and vegetable stew, it was hearty and delicious. ^o^

If you want a vegetarian version, you can too....just omit the ground beef.  It should still taste good...and you can call it a 'shepherdless' pie....hihihi! ;D  And if you add a sprinkling of breadcrumbs (and cheese) to the mashed potato topping, it turns into a cumberland pie!  So, whether it's a cottage, shepherd's, 'shepherdless' or cumberland pie...try making one today and you'll realise that the name just sounds fancy but it's actually quite simple to make.

I wasn't expecting it to be so successful actually.  If you're having a party and want to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen or away from your guests, then this Cottage Pie is certainly a contender as a main since it can be prepared ahead of time and put to bake when your guests arrive.

Give it a go at making this savoury, comfort-food classic.....who doesn't like meat and potatoes, right? ^_~

Serves 3 - 4 (mashed potato was enough for 4 ramekins but filling was enough for 6)

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