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Friday, 28 April 2017

Rakuzen @ Sunway Velocity

They say third time's the charm, but I wasn't going to take any chance after my first two new restaurant visits to Sunway Velocity, Bentoya and Boxes, failed to impress.  I played it safe and opted for a reputable place this time, a tried and tested name, Rakuzen @ Sunway Velocity, for my third dining visit.

I've been wanting to visit Rakuzen for a while now (especially after being reminded about the place by phonghong's blog) but just never gotten round to doing it since most of the outlets are located a fair distance from where I live.  But now that not one but two has opened near me, there's no excuse not to try.

The menu here is endless for a first-timer.  It's so extensive you'll need a bit of time to go through the entire menu.  On top of that, there's also a separate menu for seasonal offerings.

First up, I was attracted to the Sakura Ebi no Chawanmushi @ RM15 coz I thought I'd give a non-common type of chawanmushi a try.  This is basically a Japanese steamed egg with Sakura shrimps in a special sauce.

As you dig into this chawanmushi, you uncover more and more goodies...starting with the Sakura shrimps that you can see on top, of course.

Then, there were the fresh shiitake mushrooms, not one but two pieces.


And also a good-sized fresh prawn + ginkgo nut.

As I dug further, it revealed more goodies.  I certainly wasn't expecting a fair-sized scallop in there!  In terms of taste, the special sauce was almost soup-like, so expect this chawanmushi to be more soupy compared to the usual chawanmushi.  Not that the seafood wasn't fresh but so much shrimps, prawn and scallop in a tiny serving of chawanmushi probably intensified the flavour too much that I detected a hint of fishiness in the steamed egg.  I think I prefer the common (and cheaper) type of chawanmushi....haha! ;D

Next, we couldn't resist ordering the Salmon Mentaiko Roll (6 pcs) @ RM26 which is a perennial favourite of ours.  This roll was stuffed with avocado and lettuce, topped with fresh salmon and mentaiko, and sitting on top of a drizzle of Japanese mayo.

The ever luscious roasted cod fish roe was well charred and divine tasting...and they weren't stingy with the amount of mentaiko either.

Soft shell crab is a weakness for me.  Whenever I see it on the menu, I'd be tempted to order and I succumbed to my temptation again.  The Fried Soft Shell Crab here @ RM38 is certainly not cheap for just one small crab.

But when it arrived, I was thankful to see a hunky slab of crab as opposed to the usual rather flat (and often deflated) soft shell crab.

Just look at how meaty it is!  Most of the soft shell crabs I've eaten so far weren't as meaty as this one.  Their bodies are usually fried to crispy perfection but often deflated.  This one, as you can see, was very meaty, in fact it looked like a normal crab, so if you like to eat meaty crabs without having to contend with shells, this may well be just the crab for you ^_*  I actually preferred the legs as they were a lot more savoury and crispier too! ^o^

It was served with a simple dipping sauce of Japanese soy and chopped spring onions (and probably a bit of vinegar in there as well).

This was followed by some carb-loaded tummy-fillers starting with the Sake Oyako Don @ RM30 which featured fresh salmon, salmon belly and salmon roe on a bed of sushi rice served with miso soup.  This warrants no complaints as everything was fresh and lovely.

Next up was the Sakura Ebi Chahan (Sakura Shrimp Fried Rice) @ RM15.  The rice grains were well fried and fluffy....simple yet tasty.  It even had a bit of that "wok hei" going on! ^.^

Finally, the Onigiri Mentaiko @ RM9 with a choice of Okaka/Sake/Ume/Mentaiko (bonito/salmon/plum/spicy cod roe).  It was stated in the menu as RM9 per pc but we got two instead, so a quick check with the waitress confirmed that the price is for two pieces.  This is a very filling onigiri, so order it only if you're super hungry, otherwise you may end up not finishing the second piece.

This is the first Japanese place that I've been to that serves complimentary green tea (refillable as well) which is a nice gesture, really.  After all, the cost factor isn't all that much to absorb.  More Japanese eateries here should emulate this as I hear this is the norm if you're dining in Japan.

My Personal Opinion

In the end, I went for a 'proven' name in Japanese food that have since expanded to 15 branches in and around the Klang Valley.  I guess they're doing well....and I did like what I've tried so far.  

Actually, Rakuzen is one of very few (probably the only one) in this mall that can be considered a more premium restaurant.  And, guess what?  It was almost full when we walked in on a weekend night while the more affordable restaurants were barely occupied.  So, what does that tell you?  Cheras folks have discerning "atas" tastebuds too.  That's why I feel that Sunway Velocity may have gotten their tenant mix (for F & B) wrong by concentrating too much on chain restaurants, lower end eateries or the common, tried and tested types.  I (personally) would like to see more original and higher end restaurants opening here.  

This was my first visit to Rakuzen.....and it certainly won't be my last.  After all, I can't see any other premium eateries in this mall that I can try (for now), can you? ;)

Rakuzen
Lot 1-28 Sunway Velocity Mall
Lingkaran SV
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-9770 1170

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Nanoblock #7 - Sydney Harbour Bridge

Time to indulge in one of my pastimes again.....

After my last Nanoblock purchases revolved around my Santa collection, it's back to my collection of world landmarks and famous buildings with the Sights to See series.

So, here comes the next addition to my collection.....Sydney Harbour Bridge (310 pieces @ RM79.90).  I think I chose this one coz I was intrigued as to how the nanoblocks of the bridge could hold and be assembled in an arch.

Image result for sydney harbour bridge
photo credit: en.wikipedia.org

Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of Australia's iconic landmarks.  Affectionately known as the Coathanger because of its arch-based design, it just celebrated its 85th birthday last month (officially opened on 19 March 1932).

Image result for sydney harbour bridge
photo credit: en.wikipedia.org

BridgeClimb (which started in 1998) is now one of the 'must dos' for tourists (and locals too) on a trip to Sydney.  Quite a few celebrities have done the Climb which include Matt Damon, Robert DeNiro, Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Jamie Oliver, Sam Smith, Meghan Trainor, Ricky Martin, Keith Urban, Bill Gates, Usain Bolt, to name a few.

The box's contents with instruction guide.

And here's the completed Sydney Harbour Bridge.  It was (by far) the most enjoyable to assemble, especially when I was putting up the bridge across.


Front View (finished size: L12 x W8 x H5.5 cm)


Top-Down View


View from the Right


View from the Left


View from the Back

Of the three Sights to See series I've assembled so far, I like the finished look of this Sydney Harbour Bridge the most compared to my previous collection of Himeji Castle and Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris.


My collection is slowly growing........^_^

Monday, 24 April 2017

Meng Kee Wantan Mee @ Glenmarie, Shah Alam

Meng Kee is a well-known 30+-year-old 'institution' when it comes to "char siew" (barbequed pork).  I first sampled their char siew when they were in Jalan Alor but have never visited them since they moved to Shah Alam coz, after all, we have something similar in Uncle Meng (run by one of the brothers) located at Taman Shamelin that's so much nearer to where we stay.

But, one Sunday morning, on our way to PJ, we detoured and ended up in Shah Alam.  We wanted to patronise Meng Kee Char Siew but found it closed on a Sunday!  I guess they're so popular that they make enough money and don't have to open on a Sunday.  That's when I saw that there's more than one Meng Kee here....there's a Meng Kee Wantan Mee (opposite Meng Kee Char Siew) and a Meng Kee Peking Duck (two doors away from Meng Kee Wantan Mee).

We went into Meng Kee Wantan Mee @ Glenmarie, Shah Alam (Meng Kee Peking Duck was not opened yet).  Their menu is pretty straight forward with offerings of wantan mee (dry & soup versions), minced pork wantan mee (dry & soup), miso wantan mee and "kai see" hor fun (shredded chicken kway teow).  Their snacks include wantan (fried or soup), "siew cheong" (minced pork sausage) and veggie dish of Hong Kong "choy sum".  There are also options for stand-alone char siew (RM22 for small, RM40 for big), poached and roasted chicken (RM24 for half, RM47 for whole) which are apparently from Meng Kee Char Siew across the road (but since they were closed, they weren't available on the day we were there).  

That got me wondering at first why they weren't available and whether they're truly 'affiliated' to Meng Kee Char Siew since they seem to get their 'stocks' from them.  Then again, there's also no reason that they aren't affiliated as Meng Kee will not let them leverage on their name so blatantly.

So, upon my return, I googled and found an article by The Star which reported that the daughter has taken over her father's famous Meng Kee Char Siew shop and that these two restaurants, Meng Kee Peking Duck and Meng Kee Wantan Mee (formerly Meng Kee Ramen), are under the Meng Kee umbrella.

But the proof of the pudding is still in the eating and we obviously have to try the char siew.  So, all of us ordered Char Siew Wantan Mee (Dry) @ RM5 (small) which, looking at the portion size, is certainly cheaper (and more value) compared to the prices in KL.  If you want an even bigger portion, you could go with big for RM6 or XL for RM7 (still relatively cheaper than a lot of shops in KL).

When my plate of wantan mee arrived, I could see that it was swimming in sauce so I was hesitant and judgmental at first.  But one taste of the sauce (after it was well mixed in with the noodles) allayed my fears, it was delicious.  And that could only mean one thing....lard oil played a part in it.  Some might say that it's a bit on the oily side but I'm fine with it as oil means fat and fat means flavour! ;)

As far as the char siew was concerned, it had the Meng Kee stamp alright with that slightly sweet, sticky caramelised outer layer and the right balance of lean and fat yielding tender, luscious meat in one bite. We usually don't make any special request for the cut of char siew we want when it comes to wantan mee, so (depending on your luck), you'd get some parts that are more lean or some that are more on the fatty side. But, rest assured, even if you get a slightly leaner cut, it'll still be very much tender.

The soup wantans, on the other hand, were just plain and ordinary.

Two types of chilli condiments were offered.  Not sure what the fresh sambal belacan dip is for though...for the minced pork mee, perhaps?  Anyway, I dipped my very ordinary soup wantans in them.....hehe! ;D

The flip side of the menu lists dishes you'd get from "tai chow" places like individual rice dishes (fried rice, sweet & sour pork, lemon chicken or ginger onion pork rice to name a few) and stir-fry dishes (deep fried Hakka pork belly, deep fried squid, fried chicken wing, etc).  It seems they allow you to cross order from Meng Kee Peking Duck two doors away (but we couldn't do that as we were too early and they only open from 11am).

So, we weren't left with many choices for sides and went with the Fried Wantans @ RM5 (for 10 pcs) served with a Thai-style chilli dipping sauce.  They were just crispy morsels of delight as they should be, nothing more.

My Personal Opinion

Well, this had all the hallmarks of a sticky, sweet, tender char siew that Meng Kee is famous for, so I guess it passes the test! ^_~

Would I drive all the way from KL just to savour Meng Kee's char siew?  Certainly not!  Probably can detour here if I so happen to be somewhere in PJ.  But, then again, I don't have to.  I've got a similar one in Uncle Meng near me that's just as good as Meng Kee's.

Restoran Meng Mee Wantan Mee
23 Jalan Juruaudit U1/37
Hicom-Glenmarie Industrial Park
40150 Shah Alam
Selangor

Friday, 21 April 2017

28 Fireplace @ Ampang

I was last here with my friends for some late night coffee drinking, that included French toast and pancakes, after a phenomenal meaty affair at Flint.

After having a little teaser of what 28 Fireplace @ Ampang could offer...plus I did say, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, I'll be back.....and so I did, a week later, for dinner.  Actually, looking at their menu, they seem more inclined towards a breakfast and coffee place with breakfast staples, gourmet sandwiches and salads making up the bigger part of their menu.  But they're introducing some new additions to their menu (as seen on their Facebook page).

I only realised that they were introducing these new dishes as weekend specials (and they aren't permanently on the menu yet) when I was there.  For the week that I was there, they offered a menu of four dishes which was clearly displayed at their counter.  So, until their menu (version 4.0) is finalised, their weekend specials might differ on different weekends.

Since we were here to try some of their newly introduced dishes, we started with the Zucchini & Corn Fritters @ RM28 with beef bacon and an avocado and pineapple salad.  FYI, it was a disaster when I tried making corn fritters at home once, so it'll be to my best interest to have someone professional cook these for me...hehe! ;D

The two fairly large zucchini and corn fritters on the plate were nice and thick with crisp edges.  It was served with (what I was told) tzatziki sauce that's usually made with chopped cucumbers (which I initially thought were chopped gherkins), yoghurt, dill and lemon juice.  It was a refreshing and satisfying dip for the fritters.

I absolutely loved the very refreshing and tangy avocado and pineapple salad that came along with the dish. What's not to love...it had two of my favourite fruits tossed simply with lemon juice and black pepper together with cherry tomatoes and chopped parsley! ^.^

From the name of the dish, one might think it sounds like a starter (for sharing...or maybe not!) but the portion size of it all makes it fulfilling enough as a main.

Their next introduced dish of Chicken Schnitzel with Capers & Beans @ RM30 was served with potato salad, sauteed french beans, tomatoes, caramelised shallots and capers with a drizzle of a balsamic reduction sauce and a separate serving of what looked like mustard (which I didn't taste as I don't like mustard).

This chicken schnitzel was slightly different from the ones I know and had before.  This one wasn't the thinly pounded parmesan and breadcrumbs-coated deep-fried cutlet of chicken I'm used to.  It was a thick cut of chicken breast (almost like a roulade) that looked like it was pan-fried although it did have that crispy parmesan and breadcrumbs coating sprinkled generously on top.

The chicken breast was tender but (overall) may feel a little on the dry side (towards the end) because of the crispy topping and the fact that it didn't come with sauces (that are to my liking, unfortunately) to help moisten up the meat.  The vegetables and the shallots with capers did offer some relieve....and the potato salad was very nice too.  Having said that, the dish was certainly well executed and should prove satisfactory for many, just that (personally) I can't take too much breadcrumb-coated fried meat (like tonkatsu) in one sitting as I sometimes find it too dry for my taste buds.

The final dish from the new menu we tried was the Norwegian Salmon Steak with Oyster Mushrooms & Mash @ RM45 served with grilled cherry tomatoes and finished with a scattering of fresh dill.

The salmon was seared beautifully on the outside (just look at that ideal browning both top and bottom) and the tremendously crispy skin was such a delight to eat.

Whenever I see salmon steak on the menu, I always have to ask if it's actually a fillet or steak cut (since some places use it interchangeably).  I don't like a steak cut (with a centre bone) as the thin cut makes it very easy to overcook.  This wasn't a steak cut, so salmon fillet would probably be a better description.  Seasoned just right, this salmon fillet was perfectly cooked, still pink in the middle and moist to the bite....exquisitely pleasurable! ^o^

The potato mash, with sliced oyster mushrooms and chopped herbs, was chunky and rustic and a tasty companion to the salmon.  All in all, a great dish that I enjoyed immensely.

Our drinks of Flat White @ RM12....

.....and Iced Latte @ RM13.  The coffees are always good here...

....and always pretty as well! ;)

My Personal Opinion

This is a great cafe and fast becoming one of my favourites in this part of town (that's closer to home).  Their exciting version 4.0 menu is certainly on the right track with these add-on hot dishes to their menu of mostly pastas, gourmet sandwiches and salads.

The three dishes that we tried will be great additions to their menu when it's finalised.  I certainly hope the salmon fillet and zucchini and corn fritters make it on the menu permanently as I'd love to have them again.

After two visits, I'm absolutely certain that there'll be a third.....and a fourth...and a....!  Well, I've been here for dinner and after-dinner snacks, it's time I come when the sun is up...for some morning brekkies! ^_~

28 Fireplace
28 Persiaran Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-4265 5077

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