Monday, January 31, 2011

Face to Face Noodle House, Taman Segar, Cheras

We have been eating at Sanuki Udon for the past few Sundays since I love the udon there and just can't get enough of it. However, last Sunday Hubby asked if it was okay to have something other than udon for lunch so I suggested Face to Face Noodle House in Taman Segar, Cheras.

The roads were pretty jammed up with cars trying to get to Cheras Leisure Mall, so we considered ourselves for getting a parking space near the restaurant within minutes of arriving. The restaurant is very clean and is divided into the indoors air-conditioned section and the outdoors alfresco section. Since the indoors section was fully occupied, we had no choice but to settle for a table outdoors. The lady boss came over with the menu and recommended their specialties to us, which is the Pan Mee and Sarawak Kolok Mee. We gladly took her recommendation. She was really friendly and took the effort to speak to all her customers, and made sure they were happy with their food. Makes a nice change from the usual (grumpy) pan mee owners.

CNY Decor

After we placed our order, the waiter returned with a jar of their specialty dried chilli and a tray with 4 different types of chilli to complement the different types of pan mee ie. homemade chilli/lime, sambal, chilli padi, and red chillies. The specialty chilli was crunchy, fragrant and rich in prawn flavour. Some other pan mee places serve extra spicy ones which can be too mouth-numbingly hot for me. Since I like it medium hot, the specialty chilli here was just right for me.
Hot stuff

Ice Lemon Tea (RM2.80) and Honey Drink (RM2.80)

The service here is efficient and before long, Hubby's House Specialty Hot & Spicy Dry Pan Mee (RM5.60) arrived. Pan mee is a Malaysian Chinese specialty noodle that is made from kneaded flour. The noodles here are handmade daily and does not contain any preservative and alkaline. The dry pan mee comes with a choice of thick or thin noodles. Hubby opted for the thick noodles, which was served with fried anchovies (ikan bilis), poached egg and minced pork. The smooth, delicious noodles coated with the runny egg reminded me of my favourite udon noodles. A small bowl of soup is also served, which I am sure contains no (or little) MSG.

Another top seller and recommended dish was the Traditional Sarawak Noodles (RM5.60) a.k.a Sarawak Kolok Mee. I felt confident ordering this since the great grandfather of the founder was previously the main noodles supplier for Mee Kolok in Sarawak. The noodles were served with some lean char siew (BBQ pork), minced pork and pork balls. The noodles resemble wantan noodles slightly, but with more spring. I liked the pork balls which were tasty and bouncy.

Add some specialty dried chilli for more oomph.

We also tried the fried wantans (RM4 for 10 pcs), which was served with a sweet Thai Chilli sauce. We really enjoyed these as the skin was crispy with a delicious filling.

Verdict: We loved the food and service here, so we will be back for more.

Other than this outlet, Face to Face has outlets at 14 other locations around KL/PJ/Selangor, Miri, Kuantan and Kampar. For locations of other outlets, please click here. 2 more outlets opening soon in Penang and Sri Petaling.

Opening times: Mon-Fri 11.30am - 9.30pm; Sat - Sun 10.00am - 9.30pm


Service: Good.

Price: Reasonable. Total bill was RM20.80.

Location: Face to Face Noodle House, 10 Jalan Manis 4, Taman Segar, 56100 Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

GPS Coordinates: 3.088772, 101.743237

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sage Restaurant & Wine Bar, The Gardens Residences, Kuala Lumpur

Lunch at Sage always feels special. I love the food here. The service is excellent. Dining with my special someone makes it even more special.

During the Thaipusam break, what better way to spend the holidays than indulge in Sage. We were seated in our favourite corner, where we could observe the open kitchen... I like to call it the "premium spot" as you get lots of natural lighting here and this is where I take some of my best food photos. I love the freshly baked bread.... don't be shy to ask for refills, we're not ;P

Freshly baked bread

Hubby was blown away by his starter of Warm Egg Mollet on Brioche with Parmesan Cheese and Shaved Truffles. The combination of the perfectly cooked egg and truffles was just amazing! I was a little jealous and regretful that I did not order this. Hubby declared this one of the best starters he's had in Sage; the inclusion of black truffles has a huge positive impact on this otherwise simple creation.

Just perfect

I had the Carpaccio of Hiramasa with Baby Cress and Umeboshi Vinaigrette. The flavours were very clean and the hiramasa (kingfish) was very fresh.

For the main course, Hubby had the Mijoté of Wagyu Cheek served with tempura vegetables and white miso sauce. I did not notice this until I actually got home and was editing the photos, but see how the sauce is poured and has taken the shape of a mushroom. To be honest, the first thing that crossed our minds when the dish arrived at our table was how unattractive it looked. Three shades of brown... it sure ain't the prettiest dish we've seen at Sage. But don't be fooled by its appearance as the wagyu cheek was very tender and packed full of flavour. It is nice to be served with a well presented dish, however given the choice of great taste or great appearance, taste wins everytime.

Mijoté of Wagyu Cheek with Vegetables and Sauce White Miso

Totally satisfying... Hubby enjoyed it very much

I had the Steamed Atlantic Seabass topped with sliced abalone, edamame and Nori seaweed sauce. The fish was fresh and flaky. We've had a similar dish here before but with garoupa and the sauce this time was a litte lighter in flavour. The edamame added a nice texture to the dish.

Dessert was the Vichyssoise of Fuji Apple with Cointreau Ice-Cream, which I was excited to see on the menu since I enjoyed it the last time I had it. The second time around, I loved it just as much... wonderfully creamy and refreshing "soup" with poached apple chunks and apple jelly. The Cointreau ice-cream is perfection, making this dessert simply exquisite.

Another delectable lunch at Sage.. ♥

For their weekly lunch menu, click here. Full a la carte menu here.

Opening hours: Lunch:Monday to Friday 12.00pm to 2.00pm; Dinner:Monday to Saturday 6.00pm to 10.30pm. Closed on Sunday.

Price: RM100 nett. 10% off with The Gardens Club card.

Location: Sage Restaurant & Wine Bar, The Gardens Residences, Level 6, The Gardens, Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra, 59200 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: 03-2268 1328

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Char siew & Hakka Noodles @ Toast & Roast, SS2, Petaling Jaya

I am not accustomed to driving long distances for food but have resolved to make more of an effort this year when it comes to hunting down good food. So when Hubby turned around and said that he was craving for some good char siew, we hopped into the car and drove a good 40 minutes (partially due to bad traffic) before we finally got to Toast & Roast in SS2.

When we arrived, the shop was still fairly quiet with only 2 other tables occupied. But it started filling up as soon as we placed our order. Thankfully we were early! The shop is not very big, with only 16 tables but it is very clean and airy which makes lunchtime dining pretty comfortable even without any air-conditioning. They also have an English menu here which makes ordering for "bananas" like me much easier.

Toast & Roast is famed for their char siew (BBQ pork) so it would be silly not to order that while we were here. We ordered a small plate of their Premium Char Siew, which is half fat half lean meat. The char siew is toasted using charcoal, so it has a slightly charred and caramelised outer layer. For a person who usually likes her char siew lean, I was really impressed with the char siew here as the meat was really tender and it literally melted in my mouth. Absolutely delicious!

Toast & Roast Premium Char Siew (RM7 for small, RM70 per kg)

My only grouch would be that the portion was really tiny... next time we would have to order at least a medium portion to share.

We also ordered a small plate of siew yok (roast pork) to try, but sadly the siew yok here failed to impress us. It did not possess the melt-in-your-mouth layer of fat and no crunchy skin either.

Siew Yok (RM80 per kg)

I have been told that Toast & Roast serve decent Hakka Noodles. I have been spoilt with a really good version in Seremban so I was eager to find one of a similar standard in KL. We ordered a large bowl and the portion that came was generous, enough for two adults to share. The springy noodles here are topped with minced pork and also crunchy fish skin for some added texture. I enjoyed the noodles here immensely, I would definitely return here for another bowl of the same.

Hakka Noodle Original (RM4.50 for regular and RM5.50 for large)

I like that they serve the Hakka Noodles with the pickled green chillies, exactly the way we would eat it in Seremban.

The deep fried wantans (RM3.00 for 5 pcs) were also good, as they were served hot. Nice and crunchy.

They are very meticulous with the portions they serve here - as you can see, they weigh every portion of meat before it gets chopped up so everyone gets equal portions.

Specials board

Shop frontage

Verdict: The char siew and Hakka noodles definitely lived up to our expectations. We will definitely be returning for some more.

Opening times: 9am to 4.30pm. Closed on Tuesdays. Please note that the char siew is only available from 10.30am onwards.

Location: Toast & Roast, No. 20, Jalan SS2/72, Petaling Jaya, 47300 Selangor. Click here for map.

Tel: 016-682 2249 (Angie)

E-mail: You can also join their Facebook page here.

GPS Coordinates: 3.127629, 101.627237

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday evening BBQ

It has been a while since we had a BBQ. The weather has been nice and dry for the past few days, so I decided to cook us all a BBQ feast today.

Our grill was purchased locally until the double gas burner we orginally wanted was in stock. However we have used this grill several times now and it definitely gets the job done. The gas version is now available but I don't feel the need to upgrade just yet. We will continue to experiment with this grill.

A trip to the wet market this morning sourced fish, prawns and chicken (we also wanted squid but surprisingly couldn't get any today). We made the chicken marinade at home this morning from scratch, filling our home with a nice aroma.

The fish we grilled today was a Black Snapper. Our initial plan was to get the Black Pomfret (Bawal Hitam) but it was not available in the market today.

The King Prawns were washed,trimmed and skewered on pre-soaked sticks.

The chicken we used for the satay was breast meat. Next time around we will select chicken drumstick as this should result in a more succulent satay. The peanut sauce and the ketupat (Malay rice cakes) were both from packets; the peanut sauce got a mixed response however the ketupat was simple to prepare and was a great success.

You can never go wrong with a salad when eating BBQ. This simple, yet colourful salad was made up of aragula leaves, cherry tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes, with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

The fish was cooked to perfection in about 12-15 minutes, with a little bit of charring to the skin to remind us we were eating from the BBQ today.

The fish was accompanied by a homemade chili/lime dip.

Chicken Satay - DONE !!

Ketupat (Malay rice cakes) and cucumber to accompany the satay.

King Prawns on the grill.

Our daughter enjoying the afternoon sun, while we busily prepared dinner around her.

King Prawns served with garden salad - DONE !!

Chicken Satay with homemade marinade, Ketupat, Corn on the Cob, Grilled Fish, Grilled King Prawns, Garden Salad (Peanut Sauce and Homemade Chili/Lime Dip out of the picture)Yummy :-)

Dessert today was from Jell-O - No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake. We tried this before some months ago and it turned out pretty tasty. We made these last night as individual cakes and had them 2 nights in a row as dessert (1 pack makes 1 cheesecake or 12 bite-size cakes).

Homemade chicken satay
For the satay marinade:
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 stalk lemongrass, root trimmed
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp honey
Salt to taste

1 piece chicken breast meat or 2-3 chicken drumstick, cut into small pieces
12 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour

Ground the marinade ingredients with a pestle and mortar until you get a fine paste. Marinade chicken with the paste for at least 6 hours. Thread the chicken onto the skewers and grill until golden brown. Serve with ketupat, cucumber and onions.

Homemade chilli/lime dip
2 shallots, sliced thinly
2 shallots, diced *
1 garlic, diced *
5-6 cili padi, diced *
1 red chilli, diced *
6 lime
2 tsp brown sugar
Salt to taste

Place ingredients marked with * into a pestle and mortar and ground until you get a paste. Squeeze juices of lime into bowl, add brown sugar and mix until sugar has dissolved. Add the sliced shallots to the bowl and the paste and mix thoroughly. If the sauce is too spicy, you can add a little more sugar. Serve with seafood.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I cooked: Gordon Ramsay Inspired Scallops with Olives, Tomatoes and Herbs

After watching a few episodes of Hell's Kitchen on Youtube, I've seen a fair share of chefs ruin their scallops. That made me ponder, the famous Top Gear catchphrase that Jeremy Clarkson and co. usually go on to regret saying:

How hard can it be?

As it turns out not very. Armed with some fresh scallops and a few looks at Chef Ramsay's videos, I managed to churn out these beauties which looked and tasted spectacular. Perhaps it is the stress and pressure of having to serve a crowd in a fine dining restaurant and live up to Chef Ramsay's standards that caused those failures.

This recipe is great as a starter and you might well consider it for special occasions as it is easy to make and lip-smackingly good. Here's how my culinary experiment went!

Scallops on a bed of olives, tomatoes and herbs
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 5 - 10 minutes
Serves 2

8 scallops
8-10 olives
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8-10 cherry tomatoes
6-8 stalks green/French beans
A handful of herbs (I used parsley, thyme and basil)
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Juice of 1 lemon (optional)

To cook the vegetables:
1. Halve the cherry tomatoes and slice the green beans into 1-inch long stalks.

2. Chop the herbs finely. I made do with whatever herbs I had on me, Chef Ramsay's recipe called for coriander and basil.

3. Put 2-3 tbps of olive oil into a pan and set to medium heat.

4. Add the tomatoes, olives and beans. Season the vegetables with some salt and pepper.

5. Keep aside while preparing scallops.

To prepare scallops:
1. Make sure that the pan is piping hot and put in some olive oil. Leave the olive oil to heat up for a bit before putting in the scallops.

2. Pat dry the scallops and season with salt and pepper. It is alright to put on a little bit more salt as it falls off during cooking. Season only 1 side as u can season the other side while cooking.

3. Place the scallops, seasoned side down, one at a time into the pan. You should hear a nice sizzle indicating that the pan is hot enough. This should nicely seal the juices in the scallop while creating a nice seared outer layer.

4. Season the upper side of the scallops while the other side is cooking. Let the scallops cook for about 1-2 minutes each side, depending on the size of the scallops. If you have a lemon, squeeze some juice onto the scallops as a finishing product to give it a nice zing.

5. Remove scallops and place onto a paper towel to remove access oil. Plate the scallops on the bed of garnish.

Ta-da! Excellent scallops that will leave you desiring for more...

Check out the size of the scallops.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

High Tide, Menara Taipan, Kuala Lumpur

For our wedding anniversary celebration this year, Hubby let me choose the restaurant. I picked High Tide since I have been saving this restaurant for a special ocassion like this.

High Tide won the Time Out KL's Best Seafood restaurant award in 2010. However, in January 2011 the management decided to revamp their menu and introduce non-seafood items to their menu to cater for the diverse palates of its patrons.

As soon as I stepped into the restaurant, I liked it. The interior was bright and airy and oozes class. An 8 metre tropical fish tank sits in the centre of the restaurant and divides the restaurant into smoking and non-smoking sections. A sight to behold.

French Riviera inspired murals by British artist, Imogen Slater

Watching these little fishies had a rather calming effect on us.

Restaurant exterior

Service here was top-notch and left us impressed. The restaurant manager, Carole along with the two other waiters were friendly and attentive, making our dining experience a memorable one.

The plates of food which arrived at our table were works of art, not surprising since Chef Evert Onderbeke was mentored by 2 Michelin star chef, Roger Souvereyns. It was most interesting getting to peek into the semi-open kitchen and see the chef at work. Just by looking, you can tell that the chef puts a lot of care into the preparation of his dishes.

We were first served the delicate amuse bouche of Smoked Eel with Olive Tapenade. We popped them into our mouths and experienced a burst of wonderful flavours.

We were then served some warm bread with salted and unsalted butter. The bread was good; soft pillowy centre with a nice, crusty exterior. Each time we finished our bread, the waiter would, as if by magic, appear by our side, enquiring if we would like another slice.

For starters, I simply had to order the Pan Seared Duck Liver with Rhubarb Compote and Apple. The divine foie gras and luscious rhubarb compote was a magical combination. The sizeable foie had the wonderful melt-in-the-mouth texture with a crisp exterior. Every bite was absolutely delightful. Apart from my starter of foie, we stuck to the seafood items on the menu.

Hubby had the Rocket Salad with Pan Fried Scallops, Tomato Confit and Balsamic Dressing (RM45). He offered me some of his scallops and they were very fresh, plump and juicy.

The seafood choices for the main course was quite limited (only 5 items). However we were more than pleased with our choices. In fact, they exceeded all our expectations and more. The portions were generous but hey, I'm not complaining :) High Tide uses only fresh and sustainably caught ingredients, specially air flown from Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Hubby had the Grilled Yellow Fin Tuna with Vegetable Ratatouille and Linguine (RM62). The waiter recommended the tuna to be cooked medium. The tuna that arrived at our table was lightly seared, with a nice and pink center and slightly caramelised crust. We sometimes find tuna to be mildly flavoured on its own, but the combination of the tuna with the savoury ratatouille was lovely.

I had the Oven Baked Ocean Trout with Leeks Confit and Lemon Beurre Blanc (RM66) served with pommes puree (aka mash potatoes). The fish was perfectly cooked and well-seasoned. A gorgeous, flaky and smooth chunk of fish. The freshness and natural sweetness of the fish shone through and I enjoyed it immensely. The leeks confit paired with the fish was very delicious. I also loved the mini potato crisps, which added a different texture to the dish. There was not a speck left by the time I finished.

I was quite full by now, but I just couldn't say no to desserts. I had the Dark Chocolate Fondant with Pistachio Ice-Cream.. it was so rich and decadent!

Hubby had the Tiramisu with Gingerbread and Tia Maria. This was a rather unique take on tiramisu; instead of Savoiardi fingers, the chef used gingerbread. Hence one gets to taste and smell the lovely spices from the gingerbread. All desserts are priced at RM28.

Simply divine

Petits fours in the form of chocolate brownies and lemon madeleines. Despite its appearance, the chocolate brownies were moist and rich. The madeleines were still warm and light in texture with a wonderful crisp crust. Why does petit four have to be so petite? I want more!

It was definitely a spectacular lunch. The perfect place for our anniversary celebration.

For the full a la carte menu, click here. High Tide no longer serves set lunches or tasting menus.

Verdict: High Tide has all the qualities of a great fine dining restaurant; impeccable service, delicious and beautifully plated food, good quality ingredients and a very nice ambience. I felt like I was dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Open for both lunch and dinner. Closed on Mondays.

Price: Total bill was RM370, which includes a glass of Semillon and coffee. I observed that prices on current menu are more reasonable compared to the older menu.

Parking: Valet parking is available at Menara Taipan for a reasonable fee of RM10. Otherwise, you can park at The Weld and walk over to the restaurant.

Location: High Tide, Ground Floor, Menara Taipan, Jalan Punchak (off Jalan P. Ramlee), 50250 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: 03-2072 4452

GPS Coordinates: 3.152011, 101.706153

*Please note that High Tide has been reopened as Cuisine Gourmet by Nathalie.
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