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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Wong Kee (Roast Pork) @ Pudu

The mere mention of "siew yoke" (roast pork) and this name comes up more often than not.  Wong Kee @ Pudu is reputed to be one of the best siew yoke in town while some would even claim it to be the best.
 
They are also notoriously known to be very expensive and don't expect them to be 'friendly'...and they don't have to be judging from the enormous crowd they get daily.  I guess price and service is not the primary concern of their customers who are after their luscious and mouth-watering siew yoke.
 
The roast pork only makes its 'grand entrance' at 12.30pm and not a minute sooner.  By the time I arrived at 12.15pm on a weekday, all the seats inside the coffee shop were already taken up but fret not as there are still ample seats outside that's shaded.  [#Tip: Many of their customers will come early, way before 12.30pm, order their drinks, sit down and wait so that they can get served first when the siew yoke arrives.]  Ordering can be quite daunting too, and if you can't get the attention of the lady boss, just order from the Indonesian workers near the stall. 
 
Seeing the master (owner) at his craft, apportioning his slabs of siew yoke into sections, and then into strips, before finally chopping them into pieces, is indeed a sight to behold!
 
I had to wait about an hour for my food to arrive.  [#Tip: If you can't wait, I suggest you "ta pau" (take-away) as I noticed those who ta pau got their food much faster than those eating there, probably to get rid of the queue of waiting people in the front, otherwise the shop will be swarmed.]  I suppose you can come after the 'mad' lunch crowd has dispersed (like maybe 2pm) but I can't guarantee there'll be any siew yoke left (yikes)!
 
Their siew yoke is sold by the strips @ RM16 a strip (and one person can easily finish 1 strip, I tell you)!  See what I mean by expensive, although the price has not increased that much since I last ate it (some time ago), it is still by no means considered cheap by many but, at least, they serve it with (the more expensive) Japanese cucumber.
 
After the long, agonising wait, my orders finally arrived.  My order of siew yoke @ RM30 (for 2 persons) definitely lived up to the expectations of being one of the best siew yoke around.  The meat was so tender and the pork crackling was perfectly crispy to the bite.  The siew yoke stays so succulent and soft because they don't overcook the meat as evidenced by a very light tinge of pink at the bottom of the meat.
 
Also, I noticed that the owner, tasked with cutting up the siew yoke, slice off and discard the bottom part (presumably the burnt portion) of the siew yoke...maybe that's why it tastes so good and costs so much!!  [#Note: Wonder what they do with all the discarded portions which are still edible (as I know many siew yoke stalls serve it and don't cut off or waste them.]
 
It is indeed 'heaven in a bite' and a 'melt-in-your-mouth' sensation (if you happen to consume a more fatty piece)....and what makes it even more heavenly is the flavourful garlic oil/soy sauce combo (just a tiny bit) that's drizzled on the meat.
 
The rice @ RM2.50 a plate (quite a big portion) is just so-so, not as flavourful and moist as I would like, in fact a bit dry, though the grains were nicely separated.
 
I also ordered one portion of roast chicken @ RM5.50 and was pleasantly surprised by the taste.  The meat was really juicy and tender while the skin was fragrant and flavoursome.  If the 'bride' was the siew yoke and the 'bridesmaid' was the roast chicken....you know the saying 'always a bridesmaid, never the bride', the roast chicken certainly don't have to play second fiddle to the siew yoke as it's just as good!
 
Finally, the fresh and spicy chilli sauce took it 'over the edge' for me....it was really good!  The hint of garlic, ginger and lime juice in the freshly grounded chilli paste was one of the better ones I've come across in a long while.  The soup is self-service.
 
My Personal Opinion
 
This 'legendary' siew yoke certainly lived up to its reputation for being one of the best (or the best as some may argue) in KL (judging from the relentless crowd they get daily)....and the roast chicken is not a distant second.  If you like siew yoke that's a bit on the 'fatty' side, then you'll surely love this one!
 
Parking and waiting time (for the food) is a nightmare...and so are the prices!  [#Warning: To eat here, you have to be incredibly patient and be able to deal with their 'not-so-friendly' demeanour.]  I guess this is the 'price' you have to pay if you want a taste of this renowned and celebrated siew yoke.

You have to try it at least once......for the taste and experience.  But, I can't guarantee you won't get 'hooked' (after trying)...coz it's perfection in a bite!

(Kedai Makanan dan Minuman) Wong Kee
30 Jalan Nyonya
Off Jalan Pudu
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2145 2512

Monday, 24 March 2014

Melur & Thyme @ Suria KLCC

Melur & Thyme @ Suria KLCC is like an east-meets-west kopitiam serving an array of local favourites and western creations in an interior air-conditioned and an alfresco sidewalk cafe.
 
The café, with its dark wooden panelling and tiled walls, is both stylish and modern looking, and its leaf-like logo (reminiscent of a bunch of thyme leaves, I reckon) adds further charm to the place.
 
I liked the hand-drawn sketches and scribbles that were adorned on the corner wall of the café...rather cute and artsy!

Their menu is separated into a few sections consisting of Breakfast (from light fares to hearty breakfasts), Nibbles & Bits (small bites), Sip & Toss (hearty soups & fresh salads), Tapas-Melur (Asian appetisers) & Tapas-Thyme (western snacks), Mains, Desserts and Drinks.

What is unique about Melur & Thyme's dining option is their tapas menu.  Tapas are a variety of appetisers and snacks (either cold or hot) that patrons would eat in bars in Spain and it quickly gained popularity around the world.  Melur & Thyme's tapas menu is divided into 2 sections, the Melur section serves tapas with local flavours while the Thyme section is more of the typical Spanish tapas that we've come to know.

We started off our meal with our favourite small bites of Calamari Rings @ RM17 which were squid rings that have been battered and deep fried to golden brown.  The squid rings were fried just right until tender (not chewy) and crispy.....quite a delight!

Next, I ordered a couple of tapas to share.  As there were so many varieties, it was difficult to choose.  We finally settled for the Duck Satay and Crispy Chilli Baby Crab.
 
It seems they are famous for their duck dishes (since they used to be the former Duck N Such) and that was the main reason I just had to order their Duck Satay (small) @ RM12.  The duck meat, though tender, was slightly 'gamey' but the lemongrass marinade (infused into the meat) came through strongly and helped 'camouflage' the gaminess.  The peanut sauce that came with the Duck Satay was alright (though not my favourite), it had loads of fresh peanuts and a strong hint of lemongrass flavour as well.  [#Note: Looks like lemongrass features quite a fair bit in their dishes...it must be one of their favourite herbs....they even have a Lemongrass Pannacotta!]

I definitely did not think that the duck satay is 'to die for' (as some blogs put it) as I found it just passable.
 
The other tapas, the Crispy Chilli Baby Crab (small) @ RM21 were little baby crabs that have been fried till crispy and tossed with their homemade curry leaf sambal sauce.  The sambal sauce which was highly fragrant from the dried prawns, curry leaves and 'belachan' (fermented shrimp paste) was really good.  Eat those spicy and crunchy little babies with rice (coz it's a bit salty on its own) and you'll say....yeah, baby!

But for those who gets 'emotional' looking at those tiny little crabs, with their tiny little legs, whose life was drastically cut short before they'd even had a chance to grow up, it would be wise to avoid it.  But, for me, it was just a moment of aww....they're so cute and tiny, and then I pop those tiny little morsels of deliciousness into my mouth and all is forgotten!

All their tapas are served with either rice or bread and is big enough as a meal in itself (if you happen to be a small eater) or order a couple of tapas for sharing (if you are a bigger eater).  [#Tip: I would say that Melur's tapas are best eaten with rice while Thyme's tapas are better with bread.]

 
We ordered just one main for sharing, the Crusted Baked Hake Fish @ RM32 was a simple piece of baked fish fillet with a slightly crunchy crust served with mashed potatoes and boiled vegetables in cilantro garlic oil.  The hake fish was topped with spice, herbs and panko (Japanese bread crumbs) and baked till the crust was crispy while the mashed potatoes were buttery.

I suspect the hake is not of the 'fresh' type but a 'frozen fillet' as hake is usually sold and exported frozen.  This was evident by the flesh of the hake which was not white but more greyish.  Overall, the fish texture was a bit dry but the crispy and flavourful crust helped to elevate the tastiness of the frozen fillet to an acceptable level.
 
Our drinks for the night:
 
Fresh Watermelon Juice @ RM12
 
Chilled Mango @ RM10

My Personal Opinion

What was exciting for me was their variety of tapas that is good enough to eat as a meal in itself.  The thought of ordering a few (for sharing) would enable us to enjoy many different dishes in one sitting.

The service was attentive enough, after you've been seated and dining, except that there was no one to greet us at the entrance though.

Although I have not sampled enough to make a 'concrete' judgement, I think tapas is the way to go here...I would come for the tapas and leave out the mains!

Likes:  The Crispy Chilli Baby Crabs and the thought of returning to try more of their tapas, especially those from the Thyme section (the Gambas, the Crockets, the Mushrooms, the Chorizo...all sound inviting).

Dislikes:  The Duck Satay turned out to be my least favourite.

Restoran Melur & Thyme
Lot G03H-I Suria KLCC
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
50088 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2181 8001

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Delicious Cafe @ Dua Residency

I was first introduced to Delicious Café @ Dua Residency by some ex-colleagues of mine and decided to try it out one evening.  From the cafe's website, it seems Delicious started out as a tearoom in 1 Utama Shopping Centre in 2004 and have since mushroomed into 7 outlets in the Klang Valley with one each in Penang and Johor Bahru.
 
The 2nd time I was here, it was nearing Chinese New Year as can be seen from the décor (bottom right pic) on their ceiling.

If you happen to come here for an early dinner, the sunlight streaming through the glass windows and the lush green scenery outside exudes a calm serenity.

The review below is based on the food I sampled over 3 separate visits (not inclusive of the first visit, about a year ago, which was not documented as I had not started blogging then).

On my 2nd visit, I chose a starter of Cream of Pumpkin Soup @ RM14.90 with Parmesan and Truffle Oil.  This was a mistake (purely on my part).....why (because it was listed as a chef's recommendation on their menu)....and unless you truly like pumpkin (which I didn't), you should stay the hell away from it!  Stick with the Rustic Mushroom Soup instead.
 
The pumpkin soup was very thick and, mind you, I do like my soups thick and hearty (with some bite) but not quite like the pureed kind that was served.  It had the texture of pureed baby food....urgh!!  Worst still, there was this piece of (brown) thingy (don't know what it was...kinda like some mushroom??) in the soup that tasted really foul.  Can't understand why this is a chef recommended dish.
 
Our next starter, the Cajun Fried Calamari with Tartar Sauce @ RM22.90 (also a chef's recommendation) was a bit pricey for the small portion.  However, this was far better than the previous starter.  The fried calamari was crunchy, although the batter did not adhere to the squid very well, plus the squid was a little chewy.  It tasted better the last time we had it (which was incidentally my very 1st visit)....consistency in cooking is something many restaurants strive to upkeep but sometimes fail miserably!

On my 3rd visit, I tried the Potato Wedges with Sour Cream @ RM10.90 which was just a plain and simple dish.  The potato wedges was well fried till crispy but the sour cream was just too thick with a slightly hard consistency (like it had been semi-frozen and just taken out from the fridge).

The Crispy Fried Mushrooms with Aioli @ RM15.90 were white button mushrooms which have been lightly coated in flour and fried.  I didn't enjoy the mushrooms as much probably because the aioli that was served with it had a foul taste (as if it had gone bad).  I highlighted this to the waitress and she came back with a replacement that tasted the same.....just as foul!
 
Our first main (on our 2nd visit) was the Seafood Marinara Spaghettini @ RM25.90 with squid, prawns and anchovies in a garlic tomato sauce.  The spaghettini was cooked right and the prawns were fresh and fairly large (no complaints here) but the tomato sauce was way too acidic.  This was probably due to the ratio of sauce to spaghettini being too much, otherwise this was an ok dish and the portion was quite substantial.

Our other main was the Hainanese Chicken Chop in a Hearty Tomato Sauce @ RM24.90 (another chef recommended dish) which was served with chips and snow peas.  [#Note: Even the coriander garnish looks 'dead'!]

The chicken chop had a nice, frizzy egg batter and the tomato sauce was still acidic but (thankfully) was served separately, thereby allowing you to control the acidic taste of the sauce by pouring in more or, in my case, less!  But hey, don't compare this to the uber famous and delicious Hainanese Chicken Chop (from Yut Kee) or you'll be highly disappointed.

The Aglio Olio Spaghettini (RM15.90) with Added Beef Bacon (+RM9.90) @ RM25.80 was the choice for mains on our 3rd visit.  The spaghettini tasted plain and was difficult to finish as you reached the bottom of the plate as it was oily.  [#Note: The garnish (which I think is basil) again looks wilted!]

The final main I tried was the Teriyaki Salmon Steak @ RM38.90 (also chef recommended) served with stir-fried Soba Noodles, Pea Sprouts and Asparagus.  The salmon was cooked right (with a pinkish middle) and tasted ok while the skin was crispy (though the salmon was not as good, nor as fresh, as the one I had on my 1st 'undocumented' visit).

However, the soba noodles were underdone (as they were quite hard) and (again) very oily.  [#Note: The salmon was served with pan-fried potatoes (on my 1st visit) which were way better.]  Luckily, the teriyaki sauce (and the lime juice I squeezed over) helped to cut through the oiliness a bit but it still left a trail of oil on my lips.  [#Note: The piece of lime had very little juice as the skin of the lime was already yellow (a tell-tale sign that the lime was no longer fresh).]

My dessert (on our 2nd visit) of Coconut Cake with Fresh Coconut Filling @ RM12.90, topped with Hawaiian coconut shavings, was my favourite dish of the night.  It was moist and light and the sweetness from the fresh coconut filling was lovely, albeit a tad sweet but still ok.  Finally, the coconut shavings provided a little crunch to the fluffy cake.

Some of the drinks we ordered on our last 2 visits....

....and one of them was the 'Delicious' Iced Tea @ RM8.90 (thinking it would be 'delicious', of course, by its namesake) which was a combination of English Breakfast tea, strawberry and mint.  It looked nice in terms of presentation (the colour and the strawberry on top) but taste wise, it was so foul!  This has to go down on record as the worst drink I have ever had (can't quite fathom why some blogs describe it as 'delicious'). 

The mint taste in the tea was so overpowering that, to describe it in a 'nutshell', it was like drinking....liquid toothpaste!!  To call it 'Delicious Iced Tea', when it was nowhere near delicious, was beyond me (they should be careful before putting the 'Delicious' name on it).

Iced Latte @ RM11.50...no oomph one!

Orange Juice @ RM12.90 (which was not even filled to the brim....so stingy!)

My Personal Opinion
 
Verdict....was the food delicious?  Some were fairly delicious (like the Coconut Cake and Fried Calamari), some were barely delicious (like the pastas, soba noodles and chicken chop) and some failed miserably (like the "Not-Delicious" Iced Tea, Cream of Pumpkin Soup and their sauces) to live up to the 'Delicious' name!

I remembered the food to be fairly palatable on my 1st visit (about a year ago) but the taste and freshness of the ingredients seemed to have deteriorated over time.

Based on my bill of about RM135 (for 2 persons) on my 3rd visit, I can certainly think of many better places to eat for that amount.  People say.....third time's the charm but, unfortunately, not for Delicious, it was three strikes and you're out!

Delicious Café
1st Floor Dua Annexe
No 211 Jalan Tun Razak
Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2166 2066

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Ah Koong (Fish Ball Noodles) @ Pudu

Ah Koong Restaurant @ Pudu is a well-known fish ball noodle specialist that has been around since 1987.  They claim that their fish balls are made from pure fish paste and contain no preservatives. 

The place is air-conditioned (for added comfort) and once you find your table (and your table no.), proceed to the front of the restaurant to order your noodles and select the preferred (or additional) ingredients that you want.

There's a wide variety of items that you can add on to the various types of noodles of your choice.

From fish/meat balls to fish/prawn cakes to various stuffed items ("yong tau fu") like stuffed brinjal (eggplant), chillies, bitter gourd, ladies fingers, wantans, etc.....

......to more premium items like oysters, clams, abalone, prawns and many types of fish slices.

One of the favourite things that I like to add is the fish skin wantans (centre left of pic).  These are just like wantans but wrapped in a skin made from fish paste instead of the normal wantan wrappers.  I just love fish skin wantans...they are oh-so-soft and oh-so-yummy!
 
The most common way to eat fish ball noodles is, of course, to eat it in a soup version.  This is the fish ball noodles (kuey teow) @ RM7 a bowl.  It comes with fresh and fried fish balls, fish cake slices, fish paste, seaweed, fried "fu chuk" (bean curd sheet) and lettuce.  The fish paste are those tiny little morsels of fish that you find floating in your clear broth which were quite delightful.

You can also opt for the dry tossed wantan mee @ RM7 where it's tossed in a dark soy/oil combination and the addition of crispy "chee yau char" (pork lard bits) lent a hand to make it more tasty (trust me, you can't see it but you'll find it at the bottom of the bowl). 

The dry version has an accompanying soup that is served separately. 

This meehoon/mee curry version @ RM7.50 is passable though it's not as thick or flavourful as I would have liked.  The version here is much thinner and lighter, with very little "santan" (coconut milk), and would appeal to those who like a less subtle curry. 

There's also a tom yam option and porridge (if you like) though I've not tried them before. 

Some of the fried items that I picked were fried tofu puffs, fu chuk, spring rolls and fish and prawn cakes.

My favourite was the fried tofu puffs @ RM2/pc which had a generous filling inside.  The chopped "yin sai" (Chinese parsley) lent a certain fragrancy to the fish and meat filling that made it even better.  The fried fish cake @ RM4.90/pc was springy and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  The crunchy fried bean curd was RM1.50/pc.

The fried prawn cakes @ RM6.50/pc is very similar in texture to the fish cakes.  The fried spring rolls @ RM8/pc, on the other hand, was my least favourite.  The rolls which tasted very much like "lor bak" (marinated minced meat in thin soybean sheets) was bland in taste except for the overpowering five-spice powder seasoning.
 
They also sell their homemade Prawn Crackers @ RM10 a pack.  Inside, you will find 5 individual packets, with 3 large slices of prawn crackers in each packet, which is so convenient. 

Although, taste-wise, it's just average....it's the nostalgia and memories it brings which transports me back in time.  I remember waiting eagerly for the bell to ring for recess and running to the school canteen as fast as I could to get one of those large keropoks and slather it with a watery chilli sauce and, though it was something very simple but to a kid back then, it was awesome.....those were the days!

My Personal Opinion

Fish and any of its 'by-products' are among my favourite things to eat.  So, this fairly good fish ball noodles would definitely appeal to me and, moreover, it's a healthy breakfast choice.  If you have young children who love fish balls, this is just the place for them!

I also like the variety of yong tau fu and fried stuff that we can choose as side orders as well, though it can get quite pricey if you choose the premium items.

Likes:  The ability to enjoy fish ball noodle soup, fried tau fu pok, fish skin wantans and fried fish/prawn cakes, in comfort, says it all!

Dislikes:  The fried spring rolls (lor bak) and (to a smaller degree) the curry noodles.

Restoran Ah Koong Eating House
172 Jalan Changkat Thamby Dollah
Pudu
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2143 3477

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Hakata Ippudo @ Pavilion

This famous Japanese ramen restaurant chain was founded in 1985 in Japan's ramen capital of Hakata (where the first Ippudo store was opened) and became one of the most popular ramen restaurant over the years.

The interior of Hakata Ippudo @ Pavilion is unlike other ordinary Japanese ramen shop as it has a rather modern, stylish décor with an interesting 'display of spoons' and a 'wall of bowls' in red and white.  After hearing so much about their ramen, I had the opportunity to try it last Saturday.  I ordered a couple of appetisers to start off our meal.

First up was the ever popular Ippudo Pan-Fried Gyoza @ RM12 (for 5 pcs).  The gyoza (like a pot sticker) is very similar to the Chinese "wor tip" (meat dumpling) in taste except that the Japanese gyoza wrappers are much thinner and usually served with a soy-based sauce (seasoned with rice vinegar) and a chilli oil dip.  At about RM2.50 a pc, Ippudo's original pan-fried gyoza dumpling was kinda small and pricey but more than made up for it in terms of flavour.  When you bite into the super thin skin, there's a burst of juice and flavour coming from the gyoza...well worth the price!

Another side dish I ordered was the Crispy Corn @ RM8 which was lightly battered and deep fried and topped with seaweed flakes and paprika seasoning.  The deep frying created a slight crunchy coating on the young corn, probably due to the buttery breadcrumbs or (maybe) cheese coating, which made it flavourful while the corn remained juicy.

The final appetiser we ordered was the Spicy Shrimp Mayo @ RM15 which came beautifully plated.  The prawns, lightly battered and deep fried, were succulent though the batter was not as crispy as I would have liked it.  As the prawns were fresh and succulent, I am willing to 'excuse' the not-so-crunchy batter.  What made the prawns taste good was their outstanding homemade spicy mayonnaise dip.  As for the heads of the prawns, you can still 'suck' the hell out of it but it's not crunchy enough to be eaten totally though...which was a shame (as the Chinese just love to eat prawn heads)!

My son ordered the Unagi Rice with Wasabi @ RM17 as his main meal.  The fresh grilled eel came with some shredded egg omelette on a bed of Japanese rice and their homemade sauce.

You can't come to a ramen house and not order ramen, so I ordered the Shiromaru Motoaji Special @ RM34 which was Ippudo's original tonkotsu broth served with ultra-thin noodles, salted soft-boiled egg, pork loin, seaweed, bean sprouts, kikurage (black fungus) and chopped scallions...a classic Hakata-style ramen.  The wait staff will ask you if you'd like your ramen soft, normal or hard.  I chose normal as it's the obvious choice if you don't want your ramen too soft or too hard.

I have never been a big fan of ramen.....until I ate this bowl of ramen!  The "tonkotsu" (pork bone) stock had a robust porky flavour which was the result of hours and hours of boiling/simmering.  I loved the lean, tender and flavoursome pork loin while the soft-boiled egg was slightly salty and runny in the middle which made it so much better.  Add a sprinkle of sesame seeds and paprika and you're good to go....slurrppp!
 
Our drinks were Kiwi Juice @ RM7.90

and Orange Juice also @ RM7.90

My Personal Opinion

I've been converted....I am now a fan of ramen!  Now I know why people love ramen so much because if it's made well, it's really good (not like the mediocre ones I've been having).  Who wouldn't like a big hot bowl of ramen on a cold, rainy day....right?

At RM34 a bowl, you might think that it's pricey but the quality of the broth makes it all worth it.  Can't wait to return to have another bowl of ramen and also to try the other items on their menu.

It's the ultimate meal-in-a-bowl....and (yes) you can slurp (all you want)!

What I really liked:  It's a no brainer...the ramen, of course!  The service is good and attentive and the food arrives piping hot.   
 
Dislikes:  On the food.....nothing really but the tables/seats were a little cramped and close to one another...but you can understand why as they're one of the busiest restaurant on that level.

Restoran Hakata Ippudo
Lot C4.07.00 Connection Level 4
Pavilion KL
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2110 6233
 
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