Thursday, 30 August 2018

Gyukingu Japanese BBQ @ Desa Sri Hartamas

My husband (unfortunately) don't share the same love that me and my son have for Japanese food...but Japanese BBQ is what I would term middle ground, something all three of us enjoy.

I don't know if it's coincidence (or otherwise) but Desa Sri Hartamas seems to have a higher than usual concentration of yakiniku eateries in the area.  So, we headed to Gyukingu Japanese BBQ @ Desa Sri Hartamas for yet another BBQ experience (they have another outlet in Kota Damansara) and arrived just before 7pm.

Considering that Gyukingu has been around for more than 3 years, the place still looked spick and span.  I was expecting the worse when I found the place deserted with only one table occupied (by a couple) but I consoled myself that it was still early dinner time.

The menu boasts of premium cuts of beef from Japanese Saga beef (RM160) to Australian wagyu (RM110) for your selection.  I actually came here specifically for the Iberico pork (after reading reviews, only 2015 ones were available) and was disappointed to see that they're now pork-free.  Not sure when this happened, probably this year, as they still had pork in their 2017 Christmas menu as per their Facebook (they should have announced the change). >.<  Apart from beef, other options include chicken, lamb, various types of seafood and mushrooms.  The place doesn't just specialise in yakiniku (as what I thought), there's an extensive list of other food available.  There are also set menus on offer but we decided to go a la carte.

The stainless steel charcoal grill exhaust hoods here still look like new and in good working condition, so rest assured that you won't be going home smelling of yakiniku in your clothes and hair. ^_~

Once orders were made, the sauce arrived...and it was just a soy dipping sauce!  I actually don't mind (since I don't really need robust sauces with my meat) but I could immediately sense the apprehension of my family.  They want a sauce that's similar to the good one they had at Momotalo Yakiniku or even the one at Kannichikan (KNK) Yakiniku.

So, I asked if they have any other sauces.  Luckily, the lady (who took our orders) said she they have miso and garlic paste if we like.

I had to improvise to come up with a sauce for my family and began to assemble our own sauce (not sure if I was even meant to do that with what was provided).  I added some miso paste and garlic to the soy sauce and mixed everything together.  The garlic, which has been pulverised into a paste, was very pungent (unlike the milder flavour of chopped garlic), so go easy on that.  At least I ended up with some kind of sauce that resembled the ones at Momotalo and Kannichikan though not quite as good in taste but it'll have to do.

As with any Japanese BBQ, beef is a must but their expensive premium beef was out of our league, so we settled for their promotional Harami (Australian Wagyu) @ RM28 (upon their recommendation, we initially wanted Beef Sirloin @ RM32).

When I lifted up the meat to be grilled, though the meats were not in a frozen state, they were (what I would term) heavily chilled.  I've had my fair share of being presented with frozen meats at BBQs (which doesn't augur well) as it gives me the impression that their meats aren't flying off the shelves fast enough and that's why they have to be kept frozen to prolong its 'expiry date'.

Luckily, the meat was tender enough though not very flavourful.

When the Jyou Karubi (Boneless Beef Short Ribs) @ RM42 arrived, one could see straight away that there were two different cuts on the plate...the slices on the left looked marbled while the ones on the right were leaner with some fats around it.

They won't take long to cook if you enjoy them medium-rare.

But these turned out less tender than the cheaper Australian wagyu.

One of the cuts we never fail to order at Japanese BBQs is the tongue after our previous experiences.  There are 4 variations here...Beef Tongue (RM33), Thick Cut Beef Tongue (RM43), Beef Tongue with Spring Onion (RM45) and Jyo Tan Shio (Special Beef Tongue) @ RM43 which we ordered in the hope the more expensive beef tongue would yield the tenderest cut.

Besides it arriving in a semi-frozen state, I was more astonished to see how thickly cut they were (compared to the really thin ones in Momotalo).

I made sure I didn't overcook the tongue slices (they were nicely pink) but it was still tough and neither did it have the flavour I seek.  If this is considered not a thick cut, I can't imagine how thick the Thick Cut Beef Tongue will be.

Next, we opted for some seafood selections starting with Ebi (Shrimp) @ RM32 featuring five fresh, large shrimps.

Oh, just focus on the shrimps and pretend you didn't see our futile attempt at trying to cook the carrots and pumpkin (used as decoration that I 'salvaged' from the plates of food...haha), they're inedible as they can't be grilled till soft.

The nicely charred shrimps were fresh and firm to the bite.

The Surume Ika (Squid) @ RM32 featured a whole squid which the lady manager assured me will be more tender than the Squid Slices @ RM20.

Nope.....still chewy by my standards! >_<  I've almost given up hope of ever finding tender squid for BBQ.  It's not that I've overcooked the squid (at least I don't think I did) as it still has to be cooked till it turns opaque, right?

Our final seafood option was Salmon @ RM19 which I checked with the lady manager that they're salmon pieces meant for grilling.

The salmon (cubes) arrived in an aluminium foil container....aiyah, these are not meant to be put directly onto the grill.  They're meant to be cooked in the tin foil which would mean that the salmon will 'steam' instead.

The salmon, sitting on some shredded bamboo shoots (I think), which was left to cook in its own juiced turned out tasteless.  It wasn't all that fresh either.

Of all the BBQ meat and seafood we had, we liked the Australian Wagyu well enough to order a second helping :)

From some 2015 reviews I read, the Garlic Fried Rice @ RM9 came highly recommended.  It even went as far to say that it's worth a visit just for this alone! :P  Lacking in wok hei as well as garlic taste and aroma, it (unfortunately) didn't live up to the praises it received.  In their defence, however, they did look different from the then ones.

Photos of well-fried dumplings convinced me to order the Ebi Gyoza @ RM15 but ours didn't look anything like the well-fried ones that I saw.  Quite possibly, I think, the chefs have changed or this one was cooked by a different chef.

The dish of Fried Spinach with Beef Bacon @ RM17 fulfilled the fibre intake requirement for our meal.  The portion was very little for the price paid.  Refillable green tea was RM4 per person and rice cost RM4 a bowl.

#Some points of contention

Just like our experience in KNK and some Korean BBQ places we've been, I'm in disbelief as to why they can't give us more serving plates for the cooked food.  Surely we need to put the grilled meat/seafood on a plate or are we expected to eat it direct off the grill?  They gave us only one plate when I asked and when I requested for more, guess how many they brought?  One! >.<  Why can't they give us a stack of small plates like Momotalo did (who would serve each grill item on a separate plate).  I even had to recycle and use the dishes that some of the cooked food arrived in.  

Maybe I've watched too many cooking shows where the cooks would remind us to wash our hands or turn over the cutting board after cutting raw meat to avoid contamination.  And because of that, I wouldn't want to risk contamination by putting the cooked meats back onto the plates they came in.  I think the food handlers need to watch a few more cooking shows, don't you think?  Hehe! :P

By presenting their meats (some of them, at least) overly chilled, it does give the impression that their food aren't exactly flying off the shelves and, perhaps, not as fresh.

Even with only one table occupied (when we arrived) and one more table taken up (when we left), there was no offer by the staff to grill the meats for us.  Then again, how could they when they seem under-staffed as I only saw 3 staff working on a weekend night (the lady manager and another two servers, one of which was also in charge of making the drinks).

My Personal Opinion

With only 3 tables filled on a Saturday night (during the time that we were there), they seem to have fallen on harder times and, perhaps, their standards are no longer what they used to be.

During such times, I think going over their menu (and condensing it) could be a way forward as I certainly felt that they had too much going on...they had noodles, rice bowls, sashimi, various other Japanese dishes...even 7 varieties of soup besides their core speciality of BBQ! :O  Sometimes, offering variety isn't the wisest choice as your food bill goes up (and freshness goes down) if there are no takers.  Perhaps, getting back to what they're good (Japanese BBQ) and offer a smaller variety might bring about better results.  I'm of the opinion that less is more! ;)

In the end, it was a BBQ experience that was just passable, certainly not as good as the one we had at Momotalo, not even KNK.  Prices were pretty similar with the other two but freshness and taste were far from similar.  I guess I shouldn't read too much into reviews from 3 years ago! >_<

Gyukingu Japanese BBQ
No 42 Jalan 28/70A
Desa Sri Hartamas
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2856 0828

Monday, 27 August 2018

#ewew cooks Vegetables & Tomato Soup

After making Cottage Pie, I still had quite a lot of tomato puree left which I needed to use as soon as possible since the instruction on the bottle mentioned to keep refrigerated once opened and finish in two days.

So, what better way to use up a lot of it then to make a healthy Vegetables & Tomato Soup.  I've made Borsch Soup before (but with a different brand of tomato paste) and this is almost similar, only thing is that this version is meat-free (and by that I mean there's no meat in the soup) but not totally meat-free (as the stock is still made from chicken bones).


1 medium carrot, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1/2 a red capsicum, diced
2 stalks of Chinese coriander, chopped

For the stock:
1 chicken carcass (you can also use chicken off cuts)
1 litre water
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)


Besides chopping up all the vegetables, you need to make a chicken stock (you could substitute with water if you're too lazy to make the stock).  Wash the chicken pieces thoroughly and remove any visible fats on the carcass.

You can make the stock in one of two ways.  Blanch the chicken carcass (that has been chopped into large pieces) with hot water for about a minute.  Remove the chicken pieces and put them into 1 litre of cold water (season with salt to taste) and bring to a boil.  Simmer on medium-low heat (uncovered, if you're using a small pan, like me) for about 30 minutes.

I would switch off the heat, put the lid back on and let the stock steep in the chicken bones for the next half to one hour (or until I'm ready to make the soup as I always make my stock ahead of time).  But if you don't have the luxury of time, then discard the chicken pieces and use the stock immediately.  The resulting stock will be a delicious, clear chicken broth that's ideal for making clear soups.

The other method would be to saute the chicken pieces in a hot pan first with some olive oil until they're browned.  I sometimes use leftover chicken off cuts for this purpose (nothing goes to waste).

Then add the chicken pieces to the water to make your stock (don't forget to season with salt).  I always under-season my stock base as I can always tweak it when I build my layers of flavour later.  The stock should reduce to about 700 - 800ml after 30 minutes of simmering.

The resulting stock will not be as clear as the first method but I chose to do it this way (for this recipe) as I believe it adds depth of flavour to the soup base.  Plus, since this is a tomato-based soup, it doesn't require the stock to be clear.


Put in all the vegetables at once (season with 1/2 tsp salt and a pinch of freshly cracked black pepper) and saute them in olive oil for about 5 minutes.

You don't need to brown the vegetables, just sweat the onions and soften the vegetables slightly over medium-low heat.

It's ok if the vegetables aren't soft enough at this point as the boiling process later will render them softer. Add the chopped coriander (or parsley if you like) right at the end.  I prefer coriander as it's readily available at the wet market + it gives the soup the added fragrance that I like.

Into the stock, add all the sauteed vegetables and simmer for another 10 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.  Season with another 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of black pepper.

To that, add 1 cup of tomato puree (an additional 1/2 cup if you like your soup thicker with a more intense tomato flavour) and simmer for a further 10 minutes until all the vegetables have totally soften.  Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Finish with a sprinkling of black pepper and the Vegetables & Tomato Soup is ready to serve.  If you want a 100% vegetarian soup, you can...just substitute the chicken stock with water.

I grew up not liking tomatoes, so tomato soup isn't something you'd see me eating (or drinking) all that much but it's beginning to grow on me these days.

But I prefer having a home-cooked one as some I've ordered at restaurants tend to be overly tart.  Once you find the tomato puree that suits your taste buds, you can control and tweak the tartness to your liking.

Especially now that I've found a tomato puree that I like...which resulted in a tomato soup that I thought was rather successful.

I love how soft the vegetables were and that pinch of black pepper was much needed to bring out the flavours of the soup.

And the good thing about this soup is that it keeps really well in the freezer.  The vegetables will get even softer when reheated.  That's the reason why I make extras, so that I can have something in a jiffy when I'm feeling peckish.

Just imagine reheating a bowl of this Vegetables & Tomato Soup...and drinking this warm and comforting soup, while curled up in front of the TV with your favourite show on, in the cool environment of your air-conditioned living room...ah, bliss I tell you! ;)

Serves 3 - 4

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