Monday, November 30, 2009

Purnell's Restaurant, Birmingham

After hearing me harp on about how great Michelin restaurants were, The Unc was eager to dine in one too when he visited me in December 2007. When I read that Glynn Purnell, former Head Chef of Jessica's, (the other 1 Michelin-star restaurant in Birmingham) has opened his own restaurant in Birmingham in July 2007, I knew that this was one restaurant I wanted to dine in although it didn't have a Michelin-star at that time.

Purnell's is situated in a Victorian redbrick and terracotta building, a short walk away from Colmore Row and Cathedral Square. The restaurant is tastefully decorated, cream leather chairs and gorgeous snapshots of Birmingham city centre adorn the walls; the AA describes Purnell's as a “chic and contemporary yet intimate fine-dining restaurant located in one of Birmingham city centre’s finest conservation areas.”

All of us ordered the 7-course tasting menu for the full gastronomic experience. Hubby and The Unc took it a step further and ordered the wine degustation. Different wines and spirits are paired with each course, so altogether 7 glasses of different wines! Warm bread and butter served while we await with hungry stomachs.

First to arrive was the amuse bouche, Veloute of green lentils and olive oil served in a dainty cup over a grey slate. The veloute had a nice velvety texture.

When the first course arrived, the waiter said "This may seem odd, but you are about to be served breakfast'. Purnell is well-known for his innovative cooking and we are about to experience it. Poached egg yolk served on a smoked haddock milk foam with cornflakes and curry oil. Looks like a fried egg? However, the "egg white" is actually smoked haddock foam. The combination may sound strange but it actually works, and tastes fantastic. This has to be the poshest egg dish I've eaten.

There is usually a story behind every dish at Purnell's. This dish was inspired by his mum who would poach haddock in milk "until it almost fell apart" and then, in the fishy pan of boiled milk, poach an egg, which naturally ended up tasting mainly of haddock. Cornflakes was something he used to have handy in his pocket to snack on around the house.

Second course - Goat's cheese royal and pineapple on sticks, served with watercress puree and pineapple syrup. The goat's cheese was soft and went well with the sweet, fruity pineapple.

Third course - Salad of Cornish Crab, apple, celeriac, smoked paprika honeycomb and seaweed. The presentation was exquisite and the combinations work beautifully together to create a lovely dish.

Fourth course - Brill cooked in coconut milk with Indian red lentils, served with carrots cooked in cumin and toffee. The fish was cooked to perfection and was complemented well by the Oriental spices. As a child, Purnell often went for baltis with his family. Obviously his experiences of the Asian cuisine has had an influence on the creation of this particular dish, which incorporates spices and lentils which can be found in the markets in Birmingham.

Fifth course - Wild venison rolled in liquorice charcoal, served with tamarind and liquorice purées, two textures of black rice, green beans, roquet and salsify. For me, this dish looks too dark on the plate and could have used a little colour. The venison was nicely cooked but I am not a huge fan of liquorice. The textures however worked wonderfully together. Hubby declared this the best dish of the night for him.

Sixth course - Blackberry parfait, bay leaf custard, apple sorbet with crumbled pine nuts and caramelised apple. Sweet and delicious.

Last course- I can't believe we are at our last and final course already. We are served Warm dark chocolate mousse with mango leather, black olive and passion fruit rice pudding topped with a mango sorbet. The mango leather is inspired by the chewy strawberry lances. The mango sorbet was refreshing and I love the rich dark chocolate mousse. The better dessert of the two.

To end our meal, we were served coffee/tea and petit fours, which included chocolate-covered peanut butter lollipop, vanilla marshmallows and blackcurrant jelly.

I really enjoyed my meal in Purnell's; great food with two of my favorite people. A very memorable meal indeed. Purnell's is definitely one of Birmingham's finest restaurants.

Recently I read that Purnell's Restaurant in Birmingham has won the prestigious AA Restaurant of the Year for England. This award recognises restaurants that “provide cuisine of a truly excellent standard, as well as demonstrating innovation and ambience, and providing a high standard of service and hospitality.” Earlier in January 2009, Glynn Purnell also won a Michelin star. This came as no surprise to me -after our memorable dinner here, I told my Hubby and The Unc that this chef was one to watch and I predicted that he would achieve a Michelin star in 1 year!

Someday, I would love to return to Purnell's and try his signature Burnt English custard which won him top dessert in The Great British Menu Series 3.

Service: Very good!

Price: £65.00 for the tasting menu plus £40.00 for the wine degustation. Lunch menu - 2 course (£21.00) & 3 course (£25.00).

Food: Great food presentation! His innovative style of cooking is a wonderful surprise for diners. Modern British cooking! 1 Michelin star restaurant.

Location: Purnell's, 55 Cornwall Street, Birmingham B3 2DH.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Japanese Brunch @ Royale Bintang Seremban

Recently, we saw a huge banner advertising 'Japanese Brunch available at Royale Bintang Seremban on Sundays'. Since it is brunch, one would expect the buffet to start before 12 noon.. but upon checking their website, we discovered that the Japanese Brunch is available from 12-4pm.

So, we went for their Japanese Brunch one Sunday. After seeing the crowd at the Japanese Buffet in Yuri, Klana Resort, I was expecting a huge crowd here too but there were only perhaps 40 people the whole afternoon. The Japanese Brunch is served at Asiatique, their all day dining restaurant.

Chawanmushi is one of my favorite appetizers, however the chawanmushi here is very disappointing. Served in bowls and left to cool in the open is not a good idea.

Cold soba

Raw oysters

An assortment of cold starters
Tier 1- crabstick salad, Tier 2 - chuka idako (baby octopus), Tier 3- chuka wakame (seaweed salad)
Octopus (tako), grilled unagi and crabsticks (not so nice-octopus has a very chewy texture)

Salmon and tuna sashimi (very fresh - good!)

Assortment of sushi

Ebi sushi

Salmon sushi (the salmon sashimi is nicer; meatier and tastier)

Steamed salmon in teriyaki sauce

Black pepper grilled chicken (yakitori) - this is nice.

Grilled fish - quite salty and lots of tiny bones

Udon - tasty

Tempura - I prefer the tempura at Yuri, freshly cooked with a light batter. The batter here has gone soggy as it has been left out for too long.

At least they had a teppanyaki counter.

You can order either beef, squid, or chicken and it will be cooked on the spot for you.

Sizzling hot!

The final result.. beef teppanyaki... very tender beef!

Make your own ais kacang

My favorite section... desserts!


Tiramisu - not bad

This reminds me of the cheese cake from Jusco.

Marble cheese cake - this is yum!

Meringues - so bad for you, but so nice!

More Cakes

Someone asked if I was a photographer because I went around snapping all the food pictures. *lol*

Note: Although the Japanese Brunch was supposed to run til 4pm, due to low numbers they informed us that they were stopping service at 2.30pm. Not so good for people who turned up at 2pm!

Read more about the Royale Bintang buffets here.

Comfort: Seating wise, Asiatique is much more spacious.

Food: Overall, the food quality is not as good compared to the Japanese Buffet at Yuri. Yuri's food is more authentic, because it is afterall a Japanese Restaurant. And, if we didn't have Adelphi Gold card, then it is cheaper to go to Yuri.

Price: RM55 nett per person.

Location: The Royale Bintang Resort & Spa Seremban, Jalan Dato' A.S. Dawood, 70100 Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.
Tel: 06-7666 666

Monday, November 23, 2009

Madam Kwan's Restaurant @ Mid Valley Megamall

The Unc suggested a meal at Madam Kwan's Restaurant on his last trip back to Malaysia and ever since that visit, we have been back here a few times as the food has been consistently good.

The restaurant is always bustling with people, but the food service here is very prompt. You will be served a complimentary glass of water while waiting for your food to arrive.
Teh tarik (RM5.60)

Hubby and GP both ordered the Nasi Bojari (RM21.50), one of the restaurant's signature dishes. Apparently, Nasi Bojari originates from Indonesia and is meant for royalty. A very huge portion which the men welcome. This dish comes with tricolor bojari rice, a piece of fried chicken leg, assam prawns, beef rendang, cucumbers, tomato and half a boiled egg. Everything on this dish tastes great!

Fuji ordered the Nasi Lemak (RM14.90), which is another specialty from this restaurant. Fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk, served with curry chicken, sambal ikan bilis (anchovies condiment), chicken floss, cucumber, half a boiled egg, and acar (pickled vegetables). The sambal was very nice, not too spicy. However, Fuji found that the curry chicken did not taste as nice as the beef rendang from the Nasi Bojari.

Having eaten the Nasi Bojari here on my last visit here, I found the dish slightly too large for me. So today, I ordered a plate of Beef Rendang (RM13.60) and Bojari Rice (RM2.50). The shredded beef was tender and flavoursome, as good as I remembered it.

However, the same could not be said of the assam laksa. I ordered this on my past visit and I was deeply disappointed by the taste of the soup (way too sour). I prefer the assam laksa from Little Penang, the soup there is much more flavoursome.

We have also tried the cendol and ais kacang here, they are quite good but a little too pricey.
Ais kacang

Service: Service here is prompt.
Price: Depends on what you compare it with. Expect to pay RM100 for 4 persons.
Location: Madam Kwan's Restaurant, F-052, 1st Floor, Mid Valley Megamall, Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra, 59200 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2287 2297
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