Thursday, 21 September 2017

TR Fire Grill @ Pavilion

TR Fire Grill is an American bistro operated by the same people who owns another American casual dining chain restaurant brand, Tony Roma's (an obvious clue in the name itself).  And TR Fire Grill @ Pavilion, which opened more than a month ago, is their first international location.

Situated next to Din Tai Fung, I was taken aback by the size of the place when I stepped in.  It's more than 5,000 sq ft and can seat more than 180 guests (when I googled later).  It certainly wasn't bistro-sized and its stylish, elegant ambience was miles away from its diner-like sister restaurant, Tony Roma's.

There's even a full bar ready to churn out crafted cocktails and beverages, with wine and beer offerings too, for the enjoyment of guests.

Aware of its relationship with Tony Roma's and remembering the same dish we enjoyed there, we started with something familiar, the Zing Zing Shrimp @ RM30.

The generous portion of good-sized succulent shrimps, fried to a crisp golden-brown on the outside and doused in a not-too-spicy red pepper sauce (made in-house) sat on a bed of shredded greens.  Finished with a sprinkling of white and black sesame seeds, they were as good as the ones I remembered from their sister restaurant.

We also had another shareable side, the Jalapeno Potato Tots @ RM12 featuring a dozen large-sized rather cheesy potato croquettes (fans of cheese...rejoice!), with a nice crisp on the outside, served with jalapeno ketchup.  A bit too cheesy for me, so I had to dunk it into the jalapeno ketchup to take away some of the cheesiness! ^_*

The potato tots were too filling for two to finish (well, the menu did say the serving is meant for 3 - 4 pax).  I guess I underestimated their 'teeny tots' which turned out to be 'big balls' instead...kekeke! :D

There are two soups on the menu and I went with the Smoked Chicken & Tortilla Soup @ RM10.  This was a light tomato-based soup with chicken cubes, onions, tomatoes and avocado served with some crispy tortilla strips.

It was a forgettable soup, the chicken cubes didn't carry any smoky aftertaste and finding avocados in a soup was a first for me though I've seen it some Mexican soup recipes.

We had only one main (since we had three starters), the Shrimp Po' Boy @ RM37...and yes, we were kinda having a shrimp fest!  The crisp shrimps were smothered in a house-made spicy relish sauce with lettuce, tomatoes and onions.

The fries served with the shrimp po' boy were freshly fried and nicely crisp...loved it! ^.^

The sauce-coated shrimps in the shrimp po' boy were definitely spicier (than the zing zing shrimps) but nothing we couldn't handle.  I wasn't liking the bread as much as I'd prefer a softer, pillowy bread.  The bread also tasted a tad too dry...perhaps some butter (and some grill marks) would have made a difference.

They were very quick to fill up our glasses with complimentary water (as soon as we sat down) and even brought another whole bottle to the table.  Well, how nice...luckily there's more than enough to quench our thirst since prices of handcrafted (alcohol-free) drinks here start from RM17...hihihi....not so great for the budget-conscious, eh?

When we couldn't finish the potato tots and shrimp po' boy, we requested for take-away and they came neatly packed in two environment-friendly, separate paper boxes even though the unfinished food could easily fit into one...we were impressed! ^_~

My Personal Opinion

Overall, the food seems promising and what I did manage to try fared pretty ok.  I'd probably return at some point although I'm not too thrilled with the common occurrence of cheese in many of their dishes (for non-cheese fans like me).  I guess I'll just have to narrow my choices to the balance 50% of the menu.

If you're one of those who like to dine in a spacious yet splendid environment, TR Fire Grill probably has one of the largest dining spaces I've seen in Pavilion.  Overly positive or over ambitious?  Only time will tell.

TR Fire Grill
Lot 6.01.06 Level 6 
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2113 0048

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Just One Food - Furikake

What is "furikake"?  Well, it's like the salt and pepper of Japan.  It's a dry Japanese seasoning that typically consists of roasted sesame seeds, chopped dried nori (seaweed) and bonito fish flakes along with salt and sugar.  It comes in a variety of flavours including salmon, shrimp, wasabi, powdered egg granules, shisho, kimchi and powdered miso.

I can't believe I discovered furikake so late in life! ^_~  This flavour-packed seasoning is great sprinkled on cooked rice, noodles, fish, chicken, vegetables, tofu...or, well, just about anything.

I was first introduced to this when I found this salty, fragrant condiment sprinkled on top of the poke bowl I ordered at Eatomo.  Maybe I had already eaten it earlier but just didn't notice.

I also found it sprinkled on another dish that night.....on the fried Kuruma prawn head!  It was like an umami bomb of flavours.  At that time, I didn't know what it was.

A few weeks later, this familiar condiment showed up in a sushi roll we ordered at Burger & Sushi that has been rolled in furikake for a tasty outer coating.  It was then that I enquired about this seasoning and was told that it's furikake.

We loved it so much that we asked for our sushi roll to be encrusted entirely with furikake the next time we had it again (forget about rolling it in ebiko, we said).

And as luck would have it, I was gifted a packet of furikake from Japan.  Judging from the pictures of what looks like salmon and shrimp, I guess that's the flavour of this furikake did have that fishy (but not in an unpleasant way) oceanic flavours.

Let me show you up close and personal the contents of this furikake...I can definitely see the nori and sesame seeds...and what I think are dried egg omelette pieces.  Now that I know what furikake tastes like, I can think of many ways to use this seasoning.

The simplest way would be sprinkled over plain rice (or sushi rice) where it turns a plain bowl of rice into something so delicious by giving it that savoury flavour boost.  One spoonful of the rice (flavoured with furikake) and you'd probably not want to eat rice ever again without it.

Or over egg-coated rice! ^_^  Just crack one egg (for one portion of rice) over steamed rice (when it's done), stir thoroughly and steam for a further 2 - 3 minutes (but if you're using a Japanese pasteurised egg, then all you have to do is stir it in).  You can do it in a rice cooker too by adding the eggs just when the rice is cooked and leave it in the rice cooker until you're ready to eat.

If you're trying to cut down on the amount of rice you eat, don't sprinkle furikake on top! ;P  It makes it so delicious, you'll end up eating a few more bowls of rice.  In the same context, it should work great with onigiri rice balls as well.

Sprinkle it on teriyaki chicken.

It's egg-cellent on top of a fried egg! ^.^

Or over instant noodles...dry-style.  

I even put it on soup noodles.  Should be great with soba noodles too.

Scattered over fried rice.

Try it with chilled tofu...drizzled with a little garlic oil and a few drops of sesame oil.  Very refreshing with the benefit of a savoury lift from the furikake...this is probably my favourite way of using the seasoning. ^o^

Sprinkled on blanched sugar snap peas, they're transformed from bland to tasty.  It should work just as well with edamame or, even simpler, sprinkle them on sliced Japanese cucumbers.

Other suggestions (from the internet)....use it on buttered popcorn, French fries, spaghetti, scrambled eggs, salads, roasted veggies, baked fish or even as a crust for seared tuna.

Just imagine the things you can use with this to amp up the flavours of anything you can think of.  But heed the warning: You might not be able to resist it once you've tried!

It's a staple in many Japanese restaurants everywhere...and it's now a staple in my home too...a little goes a long way.  Great with anything that you want to add an incredible amount of savoury umami flavours to. What a seasoning!  Time to restock. ^_~ 

Monday, 18 September 2017

6 Places for Good-to-the-Last-Drop Curry Laksa/Mee

Curry Noodles is in my top three list of favourite noodles but, for my spouse, it's right at the top of his list.

I love our KL version of Curry Laksa the most with poached chicken (or with some other "liew" aka ingredients) although I don't mind Penang's version of Curry Mee (or White Curry Mee) with seafood and coagulated pork blood either.  The only version I don't quite like is Ipoh's version of curry noodles as the ones I've tried so far has a very distinctive taste of curry powder which I dislike.

For me, the curry laksa broth has to be creamy enough with a good dose of "santan" (coconut milk) flavour.  It must also have a savoury profile overall with just the right amount of spiciness and a hint of sweetness.  Here are some of my favourite go-to places to get my curry laksa fix.

This stall (which also sells Penang Assam Laksa) dishes out a decent curry mee.  Although they supposedly sell a Penang-style curry, it comes with poached chicken instead of seafood.

I like how a squeeze of the kalamansi lime lifts up the broth and makes it lighter on the palate.  This curry is easy to finish as it's not as thick and creamy as some others.

This homey taste of curry noodles come in two versions for your slurping pleasure.

Either a KL-type with curry chicken.....

....or a Penang version with seafood and coagulated pig's blood.  Both versions offer a fairly thick and creamy curry for a very respectable rendition.  Slurp up! ^.^

Known as Sisters' Curry Laksa, this one may be more suitable for those who like a non-spicy and less rich curry but it's also one of the more expensive ones (and with a smaller portion) compared to the rest.

Their very smooth and absolutely tender poached chicken stood out against its peers.  The more than decent curry broth, though lighter, is still aromatic and flavourful.

Annie 1 @ Damansara Uptown

This curry laksa supreme comes with a chock-full of ingredients (sans blood cockles) for a meal that's fully-loaded to please (but skip the curry laksa with "yong liew").

And the key highlight of this one is the awesome char siew (as good a grade of char siew as those you'd find in a very good char siew rice or wantan mee).

Restoran Loong Kee @ Pandan Indah

Although this curry laksa may not compete as well with the other curry laksas out there, I felt it warranted a spot on the list just because I ate it more often than any of the rest since it's located right where I live.  With poached chicken, char siew slices and smallish cockles, I like to have it with wantan mee.  Though not as thick and robust in santan flavour, it's still a respectable laksa.

Mei Sin Eating Shop @ Imbi

But I saved the best for last.  It's not easy for me to say something is the best coz we're bound to find one that tastes better further down the road but I've not been able to find one that can beat this one...yet.  This place serves an excellent bowl of curry laksa which happens to be my (and my husband's) current favourite! ^o^

And the best can have it with yong tau foo like stuffed brinjal and bitter gourd but the tastiest item is one that looks a bit like a "sar kok liew" which has a filling of fish paste and crunchy jicama wrapped in bean curd skin.

Or have it with poached chicken liver...if that's your thing! ;)

Or even a dry curry version...for those who like it dry.

For a bowl of curry laksa to be successful, it goes without saying that it needs a creamy, savoury curry broth and one other key ingredient...plump, juicy, fresh blood cockles!  But I've refrained from mentioning it coz, depending on your luck these days due to dwindling and erratic supply, you may get good-sized ones at times, on other days, they may be smallish and, on some days, there can be none! T_T

So, if curry laksa happens to be one of your favourite noodles too, it may be worth your while to seek out some of these good-to-the-last-drop curry laksa.

My quest for exceptional tasting curry laksa continues.....although I'm not the type to go to the ends of the earth to seek out an excellent one where I have to get up insanely early, queue up, made to wait a good two hours for it or where the owners don't give two hoots if they have your business.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Take Eat Easy Gastrocafe @ Sunway Velocity

I read about this newly opened cafe and since I had something to do at the mall, we decided to eat here after we were Take Eat Easy @ Sunway Velocity.

This (a-little-over-a-month-old) gastrocafe is situated at the outdoor area of the shopping mall next to a Chinese mixed rice shop.  They have two other outlets in Wisma Fiamma (Bandar Menjalara) and Pearl Shopping Gallery (Old Klang Road).  The menu is so extensive, from local favourites to western food to Asian cuisine, there's something for everyone be it breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or just snacking in-between.

What I wasn't expecting was for the place to be so dark when I stepped in based on the bright photos I saw on a blog.  So, the photos taken didn't turn out all that well (and the bright light stand on the table didn't help).

Anyway, since it was quite late by the time we were done, I decided to order a snack platter to share...the Fritto Misto Platter @ RM69.  I had to use a photo editor to 'tweak' my photos to make it look brighter and, at least, visible...though not necessarily better! :'(

Is this a bit better?  Since we were only ordering one dish for sharing, it had to be a fully-loaded platter with a bit of everything and this came with 10 different snacks.  Let me break down for you what was on this platter.

Golden Mushrooms (the shape of it looked like shimeji mushrooms only these were much bigger in size). These were bread-crumbed for crispiness but remained juicy.

Breaded Shrimps - again, nothing to fault, they were fresh and crunchy shrimps...and Whitebait Fish - this was one of my favourites as they were super crispy and addictive to eat.  Great with a squeeze of that charred lemon! ^.^

Mini Crabs - These weren't even visible until we dug into the bed of whitebait and found them hidden beneath.  You'd feel for this mini crabs (with their lives cut short)...for just a second....and then it's quickly forgotten as you continuously munch on these crunchy little delights dipped in a tangy chilli sauce.

Beef & Chicken Satay (2 sticks each) - the meat was lean and fairly tender, proving to be satisfying dipped in the tasty, chunky satay sauce.

Chicken Sausages - these tasted like any commercially-prepared sausages, maybe a tad tastier and fairly enjoyable dipped in the cocktail sauce.

Sauteed Eggplant in Plancha Sauce - this was my other favourite on the platter with softened eggplant in (what I believe) is a creamy roasted red pepper and tomato sauce with a pinch of spiciness (probably from paprika or cayenne) and a bit of nutty flavour.

Chicken Cubes in Parsley & Butter Sauce - this tasted almost like a chicken and mushroom cream soup, with a strong hint of black pepper, except this one had tender chicken cubes in it.  It had a thick consistency which made it a good vehicle for dipping the crispy garlic toast in.

Cajun Fries - The menu said cajun fries but I think they forgot to sprinkle the cajun seasoning.  These tasted like just plain fries.

Cucumber Sticks & some Salad Leaves - thin Japanese cucumber sticks and salad to offer a tiny amount of respite from all the fried food?  Kekeke! ;D

Accompanied by Sauces/Dips - there were four...a satay sauce, a Thai-style chilli dip (but not as sweet) with a good amount of heat and freshness from the lime juice (my favourite dip), a cocktail (or Thousand Island) sauce that's great with the fried stuff and a final one that I didn't like (some kind of mustard dip, I think).

In the end, the platter managed to feed two people (fully) but may also be ideal for three persons as snacks with a beer, cocktail or juice in hand.  It's also a platter that's bound to appeal to the young.

For drinks, there was the refreshing Royal Lady @ RM15, a fresh concoction of orange juice, passion fruit, white peach, lemon and sprite topped with a slice of orange and some crunchy pomegranate seeds.

I went for their freshly squeezed juice served in a gimmicky light bulb shaped bottle...the Tropical @ RM16 consisting of mango, honeydew, kiwi and guava.  The all-natural juice tasted pure and thick kept cold in an icy bath which didn't dilute the juice.

You can take the bottle home with you, so I asked for a bag to put it in (in case I drop it enroute to the car) only to be pleasantly surprised when told that they'd give me a new one to take nice (and here I thought I was going to bring home the one I drank from..hehe)!

My new-but-doesn't-light-up bulb...sadly, this one didn't have the cafe's name imprinted on it! :'(

The place is so dark I think it's more suitable for young couples (on a date!)....if you come during dinner time. They even provide a light on the table which you can switch off for a more intimate setting! ^_*  There's even the availability of charging sites at tableside for electrical gadgets which the younger crowd will certainly appreciate.  Maybe the place is not as child-&-elderly-friendly because of the dark ambience and high chairs.

My Personal Opinion

I'm always happy to see more western additions to the dining options at Sunway Velocity.

Even though I've tried only one dish, the variety offered me a glimpse of what they're capable of and, based on that, I'm sure I'll be returning to try more although I may not be too thrilled with the darker-than-norm atmosphere (for family "makan") but that shouldn't be an issue during the day.

You can certainly chill, relax and Take Eat Easy! ^_~

Take Eat Easy Gastrocafe
Lot V03-01-02 Lingkaran SV
Sunway Velocity Mall
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2710 6020

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