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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Secret Penang Cafe @ Taman Segar, Cheras

The secret has long been out.....that there's a cafe in Cheras serving authentic Penang food...or at least they claim to be.  When you have the word 'Penang' as part of your cafe's name, it's bound to conjure up the impression of authentic Penang food.  

So, if you're curious about Secret Penang Cafe @ Taman Segar, Cheras, then come on over to check out just how authentic the food is.

Let's start with our first order, the Penang Assam Laksa @ RM7.50 (for small, RM9.50 for big).  Unfortunately, they don't serve it with "lai fun" (thick rice noodles) which is synonymous with assam laksa.  Instead, it was bihun (rice vermicelli)...that's epic fail in my eyes already! >.<  Filled with sliced onions, cucumber, bunga kantan (torch ginger flower), minced kembong (mackerel) and topped with prawn paste and fresh mint, the assam broth had no complexity of flavour whatsoever.  This has to go down as one of the worse assam laksa I've eaten, so stay clear of this one.

As for the Penang Hokkien (or Prawn) Mee (+ Bihun) @ RM7.50 (for small, RM9.50 for big), I was pleased to see it generously filled with the prawn mee soup unlike some places where they can be quite stingy with the broth.

Digging in, I was sufficiently impressed to find a fair amount of sliced lean pork, half a hard-boiled egg, a piece of tender pork rib and a good sprinkling of fried shallots.  What I wasn't impressed with was the smallish prawns and only a few at that.  This was supposed to be prawn mee...so where were the prawns?! O_o  It was just a passable prawn mee as the prawn soup base didn't have the depth of flavour (but at least edible compared to the earlier assam laksa).

The Penang White Curry Mee (+ Bihun) @ RM7.50 (for small, RM9.50 for big) with squid, pig blood cubes, tofu puffs and smallish cockles had an enjoyable broth, slightly sweetish but a tad light.  Still, the most decent of the three soup-type noodles I tried here.

There were two dishes on the menu that had the word 'famous' attached to it and one of them was the Penang Famous Fried Kuey Teow (with Duck Egg) @ RM9.50 (for small, RM11.50 for big), so we had to order that, of course, plus the option with duck egg isn't always easily available in KL.

This turned out to be my son's favourite dish here.  When I had it another time, I got "see hum" (blood cockles) that were a bit larger in size...yay! ^.^

The noodles, fried with prawns, "lap cheong" (Chinese dried sausage), crunchy fat bean sprouts and chives, had a hint of "wok hei" and the duck egg offered a richer taste to the fried noodles.  There's also the usual version with chicken egg @ RM8.50 (for small, RM10.50 for big).

The other dish on the menu which had the word 'famous' attached to it that I just had to try was the Penang Famous Fried Rice @ RM8.50 (for small, RM10.50 for big).  The wok hei in this one was even better and, with two large prawns and lots of crispy fried shallots, the fried rice was fragrant and delicious.  Penang is not even famous for fried rice...and with all their more famous dishes here, this somehow ended up as the best thing in my books. ^o^

The Penang Fried Chee Cheong Fun @ RM8.50 (for small, RM10.50 for big) is almost similar to the fried kuey teow, fried in exactly the same way and with the exact ingredients...and by that, I mean exactly, right down to the see hum...the only exception being that chee cheong fun rolls were used instead of kuey teow.  If there's one thing I thought could be better across all three dishes would be the quality of the lap cheong as it wasn't fragrant enough.

If you want to try the Penang Shrimp Paste Chee Cheong Fun @ RM5.50 (for small, RM7 for big), don't "tapau" (pack) it home coz, to my horror, the sauces weren't packed separately but poured all over the chee cheong fun when I opened it at home! O_o  It looks like they have yet to learn the proper way to "tapau" this.

That aside, it did have a fairly good balance of flavours of salty shrimp paste, spicy sambal, crunchy fried shallots, fragrant sesame seeds and crushed peanuts (not sure why the crushed peanuts were there though)...and the rolls were soft but somehow didn't feel as thin (or translucent) as the earlier fried ones though.  The one difference (compared to some others I've had) is that this chee cheong fun is served steaming hot...and in rolls.  For this Penang-style chee cheong fun, it didn't quite match the terrific one in O & S Restaurant.

For side orders, we went with the Penang Loh Bak (Set) @ RM13.00 featuring loh bak (five-spice fried meat roll), Taiwan sausage, fried shrimp cake, cheese tofu and century eggs.

Let me clear away the shrimp cake for a better look at what's underneath.  Didn't think much of the shrimp cake and cheese tofu but the loh bak was acceptable and the century egg (with vinegared ginger) was of course a love-it or hate-it kind of thing (I'm the former).

The drinks of Nutmeg Juice (Cold) @ RM3.40, Pat Poh (or Eight Treasures) Herbal Tea with Lemon @ RM2.90 and Cold White Coffee & Cold Milk Tea @ RM3 didn't impress as both the nutmeg and "pat poh" (concoction of eight herbs) flavours were so mild, I couldn't taste anything other than the sweetness.

My Personal Opinion

I don't know what's the 'secret' in the name...but I do know that the 'Penang' part of it wasn't met in some of their offerings.  I didn't like any of their soup based noodles, like prawn mee, assam laksa or curry mee, nor their drinks.

Their fried rice, char kuey teow and chee cheong fun fared much better, so these would be the more worthwhile options here, if you ask me.

Secret Penang Cafe
34 Jalan Manis 3
Taman Segar
Cheras
56100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-9134 9124

Friday, 8 December 2017

Kannichikan Yakiniku @ Old Klang Road

After enjoying our dining experience at Momotalo Yakiniku in Desa Sri Hartamas recently, we wanted to try the other Japanese barbecue in the same area.

But that was before we realised that the same Japanese barbecue place has another outlet nearer to us, Kannichikan Yakiniku @ Old Klang Road, which took over from Gyutaro Yakiniku that was previously managed by them as well.

Taking the stairs to the first floor, the place looked spanking new.  Besides the main dining area, there are also some partitioned spaces for a more private dining environment (which we chose to sit).  The place was pretty quiet when we were there on a weekend and, glancing around, I noticed that the place is mostly patronised by Japanese and foreigners (I think we were the only locals that evening).  If it's good enough for the Japanese, it should be good enough for us, right? ;)

Looks like Christmas came early at KNK (this visit was in early November!) seeing that they're all decked up already for the coming holidays.  It's beginning to look like Christmas....everywhere we go! ;)

Right after our orders were made, the first things to arrive were a plate of raw cabbagegarlic and the sauces.

On one side was a salty dark sauce that looked like a combination of soy with sesame seeds and spring onions and a wedge of lemon on the other side.  On the table were two small containers filled with chopped garlic and a chilli paste.

Unlike Momotalo, the server did not offer to mix the dipping sauce for us, neither did he mention how it should be mixed.  We were on our own.  Luckily, from my experience at Momotalo, I knew roughly what to do and proceeded to mix the sauce ourselves.  So, I spooned some chilli paste and fresh garlic into the sauce and added a squeeze lemon.

Mixing everything together, I did a taste test.  OMG, it was too spicy...I must have spooned too much chilli paste into it.  I think it would have been better if the server mixed it for us (like how it was done at Momotalo).

Realising my 'mistake', I asked the server for more soy so that I could add that to my dip to reduce the heat. She brought me a big plate of soy and I poured some over into my dip.  It was much better.  The balance I used as a dip (which I ended up liking more) as it had that zesty tang of lemon juice in it.

After liking our first experience with beef tongue, that became our very first order here...a combination of Beef Tongue + Under Tongue Meat + Pillar Tripe @ RM37 (marinated in just salt and pepper).  But they ran out of tripe (not that I minded), so we were given more of the other two meats instead.

First impression when I saw the beef tongue was that it didn't look anything like the ham-like round discs of meat we had at Momotalo before.

Taste wise, the beef tongue (on the left) was also not as flavourful and tender as the one I remembered eating at Momotalo.  I ended up liking their under tongue meat (on the right) more as it was (at least) a bit more marbled.

I saw Australian Wagyu Ribeye @ RM52 on the menu and I wanted that.  I think this was one of the cheapest wagyu beef on the menu.  Needless to say there were other more premium Japanese wagyu offered...but those were also at premium prices! :'(

There were six fairly thick slices of wagyu ribeye together with some slices of pumpkin and eggplant.  You can also see that the beef wasn't that well marbled either.

Trying my darndest not to overcook my ribeye...I think I did a pretty good job! :P

Maybe because the slices were cut a bit bigger and thicker, I found it more chewy than I thought it would be. Maybe if I had a knife to cut it into smaller pieces (instead of having to chew it apart with my teeth), it probably would have felt more tender.  The flavour was alright but, in the end, I didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

Of course, Pork Belly @ RM24, marinated in their in-house sauce, is a must-order if it's on the menu.

This fatty cut of meat grills really well....coz once the fatty bits get into contact with the coals...it's sizzle, smoke, the more sizzle and smoke, the better! ;D

Just look at the well caramelised edges of the pork belly slices...yum!

We enjoyed this so much, we immediately ordered a second helping....but, as you can see, we got a leaner cut than the first plate.

Less fat, less caramelisation happening! >:(

End result....still good but not as good as the first plate.

With enough orders of meat, we went with the Seafood Moriawase @ RM71 featuring a mixed seafood of marinated salmon, prawns, scallop and squid.

All four types of seafood were really fresh.

Of the four, my ultimate favourite was the prawns.  I liked that the body was deshelled which allowed for more of the lovely smoked flavour to penetrate the prawns...and ultimately more caramelisation as well.  Ridiculously good! ^o^

Besides the prawns, I absolutely loved the salmon.   It was so fresh you don't even have to cook it all the way through.  The extremely soft and tender texture of the salmon made it difficult to lift them off the grill without breaking bits of the flesh.  So tasty :)

The squid and scallops were decent too.

We didn't need to order any vegetables since we got some pumpkin, eggplant, corn, onions and cabbage with the dishes we ordered.

Rice is RM4 a bowl.

Refillable Green Tea @ RM6 per person.

Complimentary juicy and sweet Watermelon Slices at the end of the meal.

The produce was certainly fresh...but the salmon, prawns and pork belly stood out against the rest.

Since there was no offer from the servers to grill the meat for us, I had to assume that this was a GIY...'Grill It Yourself' kind of place (unlike Momotalo where they'll ask if you want them to do it for you).  They use "binchotan" or what is known as white charcoal here which has a much higher temperature than black charcoal, so grilling time is minimal.  We did overcook our first round of grilling but we learned quickly not to leave it on the mesh for too long.

Though service was attentive, it wasn't very proactive.  I noticed the servers peeking into our 'cubicle' ever so often (which was kind of awkward at times) but they offered no assistance whatsoever (in the grilling) except to clear the empty plates.  They also failed to notice our half empty glasses and didn't offer to refill our green tea.

Throughout our meal, the servers gave us only one small plate each (to place our cooked meat) which I felt wasn't the most ideal since we had to distribute the meat immediately once they were taken off the grill.  I would have preferred to have different plates to place the different proteins and we can each take what we want and eat at our own pace.  So, I asked for more small plates.  Well, guess how many they gave us?  Just two more! O_o  I didn't know that plates were such a 'precious' item here.  So, even though overall service was alright, it fell short of my expectations.

My Personal Opinion

Service aside, the food was still good though prices are notably higher than Momotalo.  Since the beef didn't shine, I'll probably skip that and just concentrate on the seafood and pork.

Your opinion will probably be swayed by the mostly Japanese clientele you see frequenting this place but I actually prefer Momotalo for the beef and service.

The one thing I did like over Momotalo is the brightness, cleanliness and availability of partitioned spaces for a more private dining.

The place does deserve a revisit if I want a mainly seafood (and pork) BBQ though I'd rather give the one in Desa Sri Hartamas a try instead of this one...just to see if there is any notable difference.  In the end, did it endear me as much as Momotalo did?  Probably not! ^_~

Restoran KNK (Kannichikan Yakiniku)
23-1 First Floor 3rd Mile Square
151 Jalan Kelang Lama (Batu 3 1/2)
58100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-7972 4011


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Just One Food - McD's Fish & Fries

On a rather wet and cold weekend evening, the pouring rain dampened our spirits to go out for dinner.  By the time the rain stopped, it was already late so we decided to go to the nearest McDonald's branch in Pandan Mewah.

I like to come to this 24-hour outlet as this one houses a McCafe where I can opt to have a fairly decent cup of coffee with my meal...and that's always a plus.

My Iced Latte @ RM6.90

My husband has had McD's Fish & Fries (not the quintessential British fish & chips ya) before and mentioned that he enjoyed it, so I thought I'd have that.  You have a choice of one fillet at RM12.95 or two at RM17.95.

I think an average eater needs at least the 2-piece set to have any chance of fulfilling his or her hunger, so I went for the double at RM17.95 that comes with two slices of fish fillet, McD's signature fries (not chips!) and a drink.  There have been some grievances from people who have tried this lamenting that the piece of fish is rather small.  As you can see from the pic above, the size of the piece of fish is almost the length of the box, so I'd say it's a commendable size.  Perhaps, if you're a bigger-eater, than the two pieces of fish might probably not fill you up.  For me, it was just nice...not overly filling but I didn't go away feeling hungry either.

The tartar sauce you get is the same one that's slathered on their Fillet-O-Fish.  I've always liked this tangy tartar sauce with a sourish hint from the chopped dill pickle, so I'm all for it.

The fish fillets, fried to golden perfection, have a slightly thick but very crunchy batter enveloping them....simple crispy, crunchy goodness! ^o^  I'm sure lots of kids are gonna love this as much as some adults do too! ;)

First of all, the fish meat looks white (not transparent!) and it was nice and flaky.  Even better with a sprinkling of black pepper! ^.^  I'm not sure what fish they used but it certainly didn't taste anything like those horribly fishy, frozen, transparent-like, dory fillets that I've had at many other places.  For a fast food outlet, I think this is a very acceptable quality.

So hurry if you want to try a decent fish & fries as this is for a limited time only (23 November 2017 to 3 January 2018, I read somewhere).  For a very reasonable price of RM17.95 with fries and a drink, there's really no cause for complaint on its value or taste.....so, i'm lovin' it! ^_~

P/S: This was way better than their Thai Fish Burger with Green Curry Sauce I had previously.  Though the fried fish fillet was nice, the green curry sauce was thai-rrible!  It tasted disgustingly cloying coz the green curry sauce had the consistency of an overly gluggy thick mayo (yucks!) with a green curry flavour that was so overpowering with the taste of lemongrass + it was too spicy! >_<

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