Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Momotalo Yakiniku @ Desa Sri Hartamas

Craving for some delicious and good quality grilled meats, Japanese yakiniku to be exact, my family headed out to Desa Sri Hartamas where the area is home to at least four yakiniku restaurants like Kannichikan (with pork), Momotalo (no pork), Gyukingu and, the newest kid on the block, Sin Nihon (mostly beef)...the latter two seem too premium for our budget.

We picked Momotalo Yakiniku @ Desa Sri Hartamas for our dinner venue (this place, I believe, has been around for more than 10 years?).  This yakiniku joint is quite simplistic in outlook and not very big with table seating on one side (about 5 tables-of-four) and tatami seating on the other (about 5 or 6 tables-of-six).

After our orders were made, these dishes arrived....kimchi, raw cabbage and pickled Japanese cucumber.  I initially thought these were complimentary side dishes but they were listed as Titbits @ RM3 on the receipt. RM3 is a negligible sum to pay but if you really don't want to eat these, I suppose you can tell them upfront. We enjoyed the crunchy cucumbers but none of us like kimchi.

Besides serving us these side dishes, the server also came round to mix up a dipping sauce for us.  Initially, I thought we had to choose our preferred dipping sauce since I saw five such sauces on the menu (but I guess that no longer applies).

First, he spooned some chopped garlic onto the sauce plate followed by their house-made miso paste, soy sauce and (finally) a dollop of chilli paste.  This sauce was harmoniously balanced with salty, garlicky and not-too-spicy flavours.

Mix everything together and the sauce was da bomb!  My husband had two plates and finished half of mine as well (since I prefer to taste the natural flavour of the meat. so I needed only a little dip).

We were also asked if we'd like to do the grilling ourselves or let them do it for us.  We opted for the latter as I reckon they'd be able to do a better job.  I also thought that the grilling would be done in the kitchen and the cooked dishes brought to us but apparently that wasn't the case.

The server would grill the meats at the table while you eat, so it was like having your own 'personal chef' at your table.  The server would also grill different meats at one time (three pieces of each at a time to be exact since there were three of us) so that we'd have a variety to eat at one go.  For those of you not used to having someone hovering around your table throughout the dinner (and prefer some privacy), then opt to do the grilling yourselves.

It's all about the yakiniku we started our dinner with this I-heard-so-much-about ox tongue and that if you haven't had it before, you should try it.  So, try we did.  Momotalo offers two types of ox tongue, one normal (RM20) and the other supreme (with a bit more marbling).

Supreme Ox Tongue @ RM28

Cooked Supreme Ox Tongue - firm, flavourful, absolutely scrumptious! ^o^

With a description that says tongue, I can see why many of us would be squeamish and shy away from ordering it but once I tasted it, I loved it...and so did my whole family.  It turned out to be my favourite meat that night...and we will not hesitate to order it again when we see it on the menu.

Sirloin @ RM28

The sirloin is cut thinly so it needs just mere seconds to cook.

Cooked Sirloin - tender and delicious.

Momotalo also offers two types of ox short ribs, the normal Harami Ox Short Ribs or Karubi Ox Short Ribs (Boneless or With Bone) go for RM28.  We chose the Supreme Harami Ox Short Ribs (Boneless) @ RM42 which is a more marbled cut.

These literally took only seconds to cook.  They were super yum :)  I'm glad I have my own 'personal chef' to do it for me.  Though our server speaks no English, he was always courteous and we understood his hand gestures perfectly...always gesturing us to eat.

Cooked Supreme Harami Ox Short Ribs (Boneless) - #OhSoYum!

After 3 orders of meat, it was time for some seafood.  The Seafood Combination @ RM39 is a good choice offering a bit of everything with 3 types of seafood.

The server used indirect heat to cook the shishamo (pregnant fish), so it took the longest time to cook. Maybe that's the best way to cook it...low and allow more smoky flavours to penetrate the fish?  I learned a few tips from him that I'll put to good use in future when I'm doing my own grilling! ;)

The serving came with only 4 - 5 pieces of cuttlefish.

Cooked Prawns & Shishamo - both were fresh, smoky and succulent.

Look at that charring on the prawns...and, even better, the server made it easier for us to eat by opening up the prawn shells (with his tongs) towards the end of the cooking! ^.^

The Cooked Cuttlefish had a slightly chewy texture.  Certainly not among my favourites that night.  A point to highlight is that they change the grilling mesh ever so often you won't find burned bits sticking to any of your meats or seafood.

I also couldn't resist ordering the Cuttlefish Heads @ RM17 when I saw it on the menu.

The server again chose to cook the fresh cuttlefish heads around the direct heat (so as not to overcook the heads and reduce chewiness?).  I'm glad I asked for the food to be cooked by expert hands as this allowed me to gain some valuable tips so I'd be better at grilling on my own the next time round.

The Cooked Cuttlefish Heads, finished with a sprinkling of chilli powder which amped up the flavours even more, had a crunchy texture.  Personally, I prefer the softer texture of squid tentacles.

When I ordered Salmon @ RM28, I was expecting to get the usual salmon slices for grilling.  What came were salmon cubes, submerged in a tray of water instead, with a slice of butter.

So, essentially, what you're getting is essentially steamed salmon in a butter sauce....which is a nice change from just simple grilling.

And because the Cooked Salmon Cubes were sitting in a buttery 'bath', they were incredibly moist and juicy. And not to worry...the leftover butter sauce was put to good husband poured it over his rice! O_o

After all the meat and seafood options, we added some vegetables starting with Onions @ RM11.  The grilling brought out the sweetness in the yellow onions.

I requested for a bit more charring and he dutifully obliged with better charred onions subsequently (the pic above is the one with less charring).  For the health-conscious, they can satisfy their lust of grilled stuff here as this is one place where the charring is minimalistic to respect the freshness of the ingredients.

When I ordered the Sweet Potatoes @ RM11, I didn't expect purple potatoes (I thought I'd be getting either yellow or orange-coloured sweet potatoes).

Again, I was expecting sliced sweet potatoes for grilling instead of potato cubes in a water bath.  This meant the water would boil/steam the sweet potato cubes until they soften.

Cooked Sweet Potatoes - soft, sweet, delish.

Our third vegetable was....well, the raw cabbage served to us earlier.  I know we eat raw cabbage all the time (in coleslaw) but those were finely shredded, these were in big chunks.  So, I threw them on the grill to char and soften (after 'my chef' left since all the food has been cooked) as I didn't want to waste the cabbage. But then another server walked by and started to flip the cabbage pieces for me (#SoEmbarrassing) but I was told other diners do the same too (*ok, not so embarrassing anymore*)...hehe! :D

All the meat, seafood and vegetables were seasoned minimally and differently, some with just salt and pepper, some with soy sauce or miso, and finished with a sprinkling of sesame seeds or chopped spring onions.  The marinades were subtle to allow us to savour the freshness and true flavours of the stand-out proteins.  Price of meat (beef, lamb, chicken and offal) ranges from RM17 - RM50 (with expensive Kobe available at RM165) while vegetables and mushrooms start from RM9 - RM17.  Seafood costs RM17 - RM39 while affordable set lunches are offered on weekdays.

The Green Tea @ RM7 per pax (refillable) and White Rice @ RM6 a bowl seemed a bit pricey.  If the rice was Japanese rice, that would make the price tag easier to swallow (I'm sure it was, just that I can't recall as I was too engrossed with the grilled stuff, haha).

When we asked for the bill, we were presented with this complimentary Chilled Lemon Jelly Dessert which we didn't expect.  If we had known, we probably wouldn't have drank so much green tea! :P  Notwithstanding that, the tangy, lemony flavours were a welcome relieve to our full tummies.  It was a perfect way to end our meal.

My Personal Opinion

Since there aren't any set menus (for dinner), the prices may seem a little higher for the a la carte orders, so be prepared to fork out around RM100 per person for a meal here.  Though prices are on the higher end, I have no complaints and deem it worthy when the meat and seafood is utterly fresh and of such good quality.

My only tiny grouse to our otherwise very satisfying dinner was that some of the diners decided to smoke (I'm not sure if that's allowed but none of the staff seem to object) probably thinking that it's ok since there are exhaust hoods to suck up the smoke (luckily so).

Overall, we enjoyed our meal tremendously and I would say it's an excellent place to satisfy your craving for some good tasting grilled meats.  Coupled with a personal one-on-one service of grilling the meat at tableside, it was brilliant and much welcomed.  I'd probably return at some point but not before I've had the chance to try out the other grilled meat joint in the area! ^_~

Momotalo Yakiniku
20 Jalan 24/70A
Desa Sri Hartamas
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2300 2080

Monday, 28 August 2017

Just One Food - Indian Snacks

In our annual trips to Church of St Anne in Port Klang for St Anne's Feast, I would always visit the snack stalls after mass and my last trip here was no different.

I would always seek out my favourite snack, an Indian fried fritter known as pakora, while I'm here.

You can refer to my previous post for a more detailed write-up on this super addictive snack.

So, we went looking for the same stall we've been buying from all these years and proceeded with our purchase (still selling at RM3 a packet).  I remember them being next to a drink stall previously but this year they seem to be located next to another snack stall.

After we bought our packet, we glanced towards the next stall and were greeted by pakoras that looked even better (as in crispier) visually.

When confronted with such a sight, we couldn't resist buying another packet (this stall sells theirs at RM2 a packet but the portion size is smaller).  Popped one immediately into my mouth and I soon realised that this one tasted way better...more fragrant and crispy! ^o^

No wonder they were doing such brisk business.  Everyone was buying multiple packets...I want, I want, I want to buy more packets too! :P

But I had to control myself from over-indulging, so I bought just one extra packet.  These were so crispy and were less dense than the other one.  The puffed up batter yielded more crispy edges....they were so good eaten there and then.  But, no worries, you can also take the balance home (if there's any balance, that is) and crisp them up later in the toaster oven.  Well, no prizes for guessing which stall I'll be buying from next year.....wuahahahaha! ;D

While here, my eyes also glanced over to the stall next to them.  It was a stall selling all kinds of Indian snacks and sweets.

I don't eat Indian sweets, so my eyes were (obviously) focussed on their crispy snacks......of muruku!  Muruku comes in all shapes and sizes, thick and thin.

And my favourite are the super thin ones....even better if it's "muruku campuran" or mixed muruku with nuts in them :)

Not only do they taste nice, they make them so colourful as well.  I especially adore the yellow, red and green-coloured flour crisps (I don't know what they're called actually) as they're super crunchy.

And, finally, the two types of nuts...peanuts (with skins on) and the other whitish-looking nut (I googled and found out they're referred to as "kacang gulabi").  You can find them in kacang putih stalls where they've been fried and sold (sometimes) with brown-coloured skins on or without skins.  I don't know what they're called in English though they also look rather like "kacang dhal" (yellow split peas) and "kacang kuda" (chickpeas).  I absolutely love them (but only if they're skinless) and they make the overall mix even more fragrant....the more, the yummier! ;)

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Pudu Chan Fatt Wanton Mee @ Damansara Uptown

Founded in 1955.  Called it a day in 1996.  Revived in June 2017 (by the daughter of the original stall owners), Pudu Chan Fatt Wanton Mee @ Damansara Uptown is back after a 21-year hiatus!

Well, I've never known nor tasted this wanton mee when they were originally in Pudu, so I came here just wanting to taste this wanton mee with no comparison or inkling whatsoever of how it tasted once before.

Since they started as a wantan mee shop back in the days, the Wanton Mee with Char Siew and Sui Kaw @ RM8.50 was our first pick.  It came topped with some crispy fried lard bits and the dark sauce for the noodles is very dry.  The first time I tried this, I just had a few strands of it (off my son's bowl) and couldn't quite get the gist of the taste.

They were served with two pieces of plump and meaty sui kow.

On our second visit here, I managed to taste a whole bowl of Wanton Mee with Char Siew & Wanton @ RM7.30 on my own and I have to say the sauce doesn't taste like the usual (more savoury) wantan mee sauce I'm accustomed to.  If you're one who prefers a more saucy (and wetter) wantan mee (like me), then this one won't appeal to you as the wantan mee sauce is oily and dry.  I read that the original wantan mee sauce had been tweaked to appeal to the modern tastes of customers who wanted it sweeter.  A blogger friend (PhongHongBakes) mentioned that it tasted like hoisin sauce but I wouldn't really know since I don't eat hoisin sauce all that much.  I can't put my finger on what's the difference though I felt that there's a smell and taste of something like five-spice powder in the sauce (I may be wrong).

The char siew we got on both times were lean and meaty (compared to those I've seen on other blogs) and missing all the features of caramelised, sweet-sticky, melt-in-the-mouth, tender char siew...but, more importantly, it missed out on the taste of what I'd term as good char siew! :(

The plump and meaty wantans were ordinary.  The soup base for the wantan mee was also quite different from the the ones I've had before.  It's a bowl of more peppery and savoury tasting soup.

But I did enjoy the texture of their wantan mee even though the noodles are no longer the famed hand-made noodles they once were.  Well, they obviously found a good wantan noodle supplier.

I was attracted by the Lion Head Meatballs (Soup) @ RM8.50 not knowing what it was initially.  Again, I chose to have it with their wantan noodles and the texture also held up in a soup version.  I'm not sure why the pork lard bits were scattered all over the soup which made no sense to me to throw something crispy into the hot soup only for it to turn soft.

The lion head meatballs turned out to be just super-sized meatballs made with pork mince.  The meatballs were super meaty, juicy and it had a nice crisp exterior with a slight crunch from the vegetables inside.

I initially thought it was cabbage but the extra crunch and sweetness it offered made me think it had to be Chinese cabbage.

I'm not sure what goes into this flavour-packed broth but this delicious and well-boiled soup had a very distinctive taste which, if I were to make a calculated guess, I'd probably say dried oysters and scallops formed part of the ingredients for the soup.  I feel this is a good soup base which is different from the broth that came with the wantan noodles coz that one is more peppery.

I also tried the Curry Laksa with Chicken @ RM7.50, passable I thought, although it didn't meet my husband's standard (he has very high standards for curry laksa, you know).  Filled with poached chicken, bean curd puffs and fried bean curd sheets, the curry broth isn't among the better ones I've had.  The curry, though thick with a bit of sweetness, just didn't have that creamy, savoury flavour I adore in a good curry.  Well, at least the poached chicken was smooth and tender.

My husband opted for a rice dish of Homemade Chinese Pork & Liver Sausage with Fried Egg @ RM10.90 (I flipped the egg over so you could see the mouthwatering sausages).  I really liked the homemade Chinese pork sausage ("lap cheong") as this one was almost totally lean.  But when I tasted the homemade liver sausage ("yun cheong"), I loved it even more.  It had a fragrant Chinese rice wine flavour and was even more delicious than the lap cheong.  And, more importantly, you won't find bits of fat fillers in both sausages unlike the majority of the ones out there.

And when it's capped with a perfectly fried egg with frizzy crispy sides and a runny yolk...there was even more to love!  For your choice of rice, you can go white (aka plain rice) or go dark (aka with dark soy sauce)....I obviously have a 'dark side'...kekeke! :D  The dark sauce was less savoury than anticipated (for my husband, not for me) but nothing an extra drizzle of soy won't fix.  I enjoyed this so much, I packed one home for lunch later.

A new item on the menu was the the "Lam Yu" Fried Pork Noodle (Dry) @ RM8.50 which consists of fried "nam yue" (fermented red bean curd) pieces with wantan noodles.

There's also the option of having of Lam Yu Fried Pork just as a snack for RM10 or in the form of Lam Yu Rice with Egg @ RM10.90.  The nam yue pork tasted decent although I would have preferred the pork to be in smaller pieces to produce more crisp edges.

We thought they missed out the fried egg and was just about to inform the server when it arrived separately.

A fried snack got my notice when it whizzed past me (which I didn't see on the menu) so  I just gestured the server and asked for the Fried Sui Kow @ RM7.20 (skip the chilli dip).  The filling of minced pork, prawns (and sweet corn?) was very plump and the sui kow skin was super crispy.  Sui know (both soup and fried versions) are commonly offered at many wantan mee shops but most can't do the fried version justice with subpar filling and a thick wantan skin that I don't enjoy but the ones here were terrific (better tasting than the ones in soup for some reason)! ^.^

The kopi-o-ping (iced black coffee) @ RM2.30 was fairly thick but lacking a bit of that fragrant coffee aroma I seek.  Still a decently acceptable glass of kopi-o-ping nonetheless.

My Personal Opinion

During our meal, I noticed a steady stream of elderly folks here.  Maybe this older generation is familiar with the good ol' wantan mee taste back in 1996 (before the original owners retired) and are happy to be able to savour it again.

However, my experience with this four-decade old wantan mee with a 62-years history ended with me not liking their speciality of wanton mee, char siew and sui kow (which they're famous for) as much.  Let's just say the char siew isn't their strong suit.

It's funny how a place didn't wow me with their signature dishes but with something else.  If I had to rate my favourites, it'd be the lion head meatball noodles first followed by the homemade Chinese pork & liver sausage rice and fried sui kow! ^o^  These, I felt, were the better bets here (at least for me).

Pudu Chan Fatt Wanton Mee
52G Jalan SS21/58
Damansara Utama
47400 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-7733 9100

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