Sunday, February 27, 2011

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

My makan kaki is back in town. To celebrate his arrival home, I took him to Sage for a meal. The menu last week looked and sounded very good on paper, and in reality, the food was absolutely fabulous!

Chef Daniel working his magic in the kitchen

The first batch of bread served to us was really good. I have no idea what it's called but it had a crunchy crust, and was quite hollow in the centre. I thought last week's bread was good, but this one definitely topped them all.

We both had the Cold Buckwheat Noodles with Smoked Salmon and Flying Fish Roe (Tobiko). It has been a while since we have been served such a visually attractive and colourful dish at Sage, not to mention the flavours were fantastic too. The tobiko provided a wonderful crunchy texture. I was surprised to find an oyster topped on the smoked salmon too. A heavenly start to the meal.

We finished our first plate of bread just before the starter arrived and was looking forward to our next plate. However, it seems that they have ran out of the first type and we were served some pizza bread. An odd choice for a fine dining restaurant, seeing that it was quite a heavy and filling bread to be consumed with our rather dainty lunch.

I was excited about the mains since I have never had duck as a main course during lunch here. The Two Way Preparations of Duck with Foie Gras and Daikon was a substantial dish. The duck confit was tender and juicy, but the star of the dish is the roast duck breast which has been sliced thinly and was extremely flavoursome. It makes a nice change from the usual beef mains that we have had.

For his main course, The Unc had the Pan Fried Japanese Red Snapper with Cuttlefish Tempura, Red Cabbage and Tarabagani sauce. The fish was fresh and sweet, with a nice crisp skin. I offered some of my duck to him and we both conceded that the duck was a far superior choice.

The Green Tea Bavarois with Azuki Beans and Milk Ice-Cream was arguably one of the best desserts we've had in Sage. The bavarois was smooth and delicate and the milk ice-cream was simply delicious. What a superb dessert to end the meal with.

After our meal, we wandered around The Gardens and spotted the AidsAware exhibition at the Concourse area (still being set-up at that time). The exhibition is held from February 24 to March 13, 2011 and features 42 personalities and thousands of others who support the cause. Here's one of 3 Absolut Vodka themed shots unveiled to the public on 24 February.

Absolut Protection AIDSAware

Lunch was absolutely amazing, and having peeked at next week's menu, I daresay we might be popping in again very soon.

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

Service: Good.

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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Restoran Meng Shiang, Taman Cheras, Kuala Lumpur

*This stall has moved to this location.

When we first moved to KL, Restoran Meng Shiang in Taman Cheras was recommended to us as a must-try place, famed for its char siew (BBQ pork) and wantan noodles. I was told that this place serves "the best char siew in Cheras".
The owner's husband learnt how to roast char siew from a Hong Kong chef, and the couple have been selling the roast meat for over 20 years. No artificial colouring or preservatives are used and the secret to the tenderness and taste of the meat lies solely in the marinade ingredients and roasting technique. The husband operates the chicken rice stall, hence one can enjoy the roast meats with rice.*

Wantan mee (RM4.50)

Anyway, back to the wantan mee and char siew. I am a huge lover of wantan mee and the wantan mee here definitely passes the test. But the star of the dish was the char siew as it was tender and totally melt-in-the-mouth! The caramelised skin was so delicious. I don't even like fatty char siew that much, but the one here was so good that I wouldn't mind eating it over and over again.

We also ordered some sui kow (dumplings).

A char siew pau (BBQ pork bun) for our Baby C

On our next visit, we ordered a plate of char siew (RM10) since we just couldn't get enough of it the last time. The char siew here is chopped roughly rather than sliced. Compared to the char siew served with the wantan mee, this plate was a mixture of some lean and fatty char siew. The lean meat was not as good as it doesn't possess the melt-in-your-mouth texture. Next time, I will have to remember to request for the fatty meat only.

Delicious and flavoursome

All gone in under 10 minutes

Needless to say, this is our new favourite place for a char siew fix. Our visits to Meng Shiang have always been impromptu and without a camera, hence it has taken me (only) 7 months since my maiden visit to finally write about this place. It's a shame not to share such a wonderful place.

The restaurant can get very busy on weekends, so you will have to wait a while for the wantan noodles. I usually go during the week and avoid the crowd (still a 15 minute wait) :P

Opening times: 8am til 3pm, or whenever the char siew runs out. Closed on alternate Tuesdays.

Service: Slow but the food is good!

Price: Reasonable.

Location: Restoran Meng Shiang, 1 & 3, Jalan Kas Kas 2, Taman Cheras (Yulek), Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. (Opposite Restoran Hau Kee Seafood)

GPS Coordinates: 3.099839, 101.74144

*Extract from Sunday Metro.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Roast Duck @ Kedai Makanan dan Minuman Yulek, Taman Lensen, Cheras

*This restaurant is now called Restoran 1 Yulek, and occupies only 1 lot at same address.

Over the Chinese New Year celebrations, we had some relatives come from Seremban to visit. Since a lot of restaurants were still closed for the festivities, we decided to cook some bak kut teh as well as get a roast duck from the chicken rice shop at Kedai Makanan dan Minuman Yulek. Just before CNY, the boss informed us that he would be opened from the 3rd day of CNY onwards and would be selling whole roast ducks for RM40 each. We weren't aware that they sold roast ducks here as we've only had the char siew (roast pork), roast chicken and herbal duck. I wasn't too keen on the herbal duck; I felt that it was an acquired taste which I was not used to.

We went to the shop early as we were worried the ducks would sell out quickly. It was a good thing that we did, as they only roast less than 15 ducks per day. I stole a bite before our guests arrived, and I was impressed! The duck was meaty, succulent and flavoursome (well marinated). The skin was nicely roasted and had a melt-in-your-mouth layer of fat underneath. I did not want my 11 diners fighting over one duck, so I sent Hubby out again to get another one! Thankfully, all of our guests liked it as much as I did, so we had 12 extremely satisfied tummies that afternoon.

I found out later that roast ducks usually sell out by 11am, so it is advisable to make a reservation. This is undoubtedly the best duck I've eaten in Cheras.

Note: I have tried the roast duck again on several other ocassions and am happy to report that the quality has been consistently good.
Open from 9am onwards. Closed on Mondays.
Price: A steal at RM40 per duck.
Location: Kedai Makanan dan Minuman Yulek, Jalan 2, Taman Lensen, 56000 Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

GPS Coordinates: 3.073742, 101.74328

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hubby's Birthday Cake: Baked with Love

The all-in-one chocolate cake is by far the most successful cake I have baked. I first made this for my daughter's 2nd birthday party and it proved to be a hit with our guests. Just before Hubby's birthday, I asked him what cake he wanted and he requested for this one.

Moist chocolate cake with thick layers of whipped cream.. what's not to love?

I tweaked the recipe and method very slightly for some things I wasn't too pleased with the first time. The cake turned out much better this time, so I was chuffed to bits! Hubby was also delighted with his birthday cake. Mission accomplished! :)

The original recipe can be found here, and these are the 4 changes you should be aware of:

1. Only base-line the sandwich tins (see Step 1) and not the entire tin or else your cakes will turns out wonky and misshapen at the side.

2. For the ganache icing, I halved the original amount this time (50g butter and 50g dark chocolate) and still found that there was too much icing. Next time, I would use only 30g of each.

3. I used 300g of whipping cream last time, and thought that it would be nicer with more cream. So, this time I used 450g of whipping cream. So so decadent!

Creamy pleasure

4. I placed the cake into the fridge after I sandwiched the cakes with the whipped cream (see Step 8) but before I poured the ganache over. Refridgerate the cake for 1-2 hours, then pour the ganache over. It will be slightly runny at first, but leave it for about 5-10 minutes and you will see that it has hardened slightly and has formed a nice thin layer on the cake.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tanzini, GTower, Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur

We were impressed with our first lunch at Tanzini back in November 2010, so we decided to return again for lunch. Furthermore, I had won a bottle of Cava worth RM300 in a blogger contest held on Tanzini's Facebook page, redeemable during the next dine-in so all the more reason to go.

We had wanted to come during the evening, just for a change of scenery and to catch the illuminated Petronas Twin Towers. However, having young children made it quite difficult for us to get away in the evenings. We were surprised that the set lunch remained unchanged even after 3 months, so that was a no-no for us. So we ordered from the a la carte menu instead.

I found it rather strange that they decided to serve us only 1 piece of bread each (one of each type only) which was rather inconvenient, as this meant we had to keep asking for bread refills. After our starters, they actually decided to clear the bread basket and not return with more breads for us! I have to say the bread was very good though, which was why we asked for more.

Hubby had the Buffalo Milk Mozzarella with Vine Ripened Tomatoes, "Cornetti Beans" and beef Coppa (RM18). We were in agreement that this starter was good value for money seeing that mozzarella is quite costly to buy in the supermarket and the portion given was very generous. The Cornetti beans however were missing from this dish despite being mentioned in the menu.

Delicious sweet tomatoes paired with mozzarella

I ordered the Claypot Fruitti Di Mare (RM26 for entree portion), which had mussels, squid, scallop, clam, organic Baramundi and prawn stewed in a rich tomato broth. I enjoyed this very much as the broth was very sweet and appetizing, whetting my appetite for the next course. This dish can also be ordered as a main course.

During our last visit here, I had the barramundi and it was very good. So Hubby decided to order another barramundi dish off the menu, Sicilian Barramundi (RM38) which is served with a tomato salsa and a side salad. The tomato salsa had a nice spicy kick to it (they were not kidding when they placed a chilli sign next to this dish on the menu) and complimented the fish well.

The word "truffle"prompted me to order the Lobster Truffle Angel Hair dish (RM40 for entree portion). Furthermore it had a "chef's hat" next to it on the menu, so I was confident that I was on to a winner. Unfortunately for me, I was sorely disappointed. Firstly, the homemade pasta was quite rough in texture, undercooked and could not absorb any of the bisque. It was very different from angel hair pasta I've had in the past. The truffle was hidden beneath the pasta, only 3 small slices and it was rubbery and had no earthy scent which truffles usually possess. However the saving grace of this dish was the lobster bisque which was pretty flavoursome. I wished I still had some bread to soak up the lobster bisque from the plate though! The pasta was also accompanied by 3 chunky pieces of lobster which has been marinated in vodka. Please note that the price on the menu and bill for this dish did not match and this was something the staff was aware of before I pointed it out to them yet they did not rectify this.

I found it strange that they used such a large leaf as a garnish

Hugely disappointing pasta

Fortunately, the Tiramisu A Pezzi (RM26) was still as good as I remembered it.

This was the free bottle of Cava worth RM300 that I won. RM300, really? That's quite some mark up as this is widely available in the UK supermarkets for around £5.

Verdict: Tanzini remains an elegant restaurant with great views with potentially good food, however we were not as satisfied with this meal as we were with the last. We would possibly revisit when the menu is revamped. I also hope that Tanzini's management would consider changing their set lunch menu at least once a month.

Opening times: Monday to Saturdays; Lunch 11.30am to 2.30pm; Dinner 6.30pm to 10.30pm. Closed on Sundays.

Service: Fair.

Price: Total bill was RM161.

Location: Trattoria Tanzini, Level 28, GTower, 199 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (GTower is next to Tabung Haji building and Ampang Park LRT station)

Tel: 03- 2168 1899


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Lunch @ Sage Restaurant & Wine Bar, The Gardens Residences, Kuala Lumpur

Our daughter and I woke Baby Sumo up to the sound of "Happy Valentine's Day", followed by "Would you like to go to SAGE for lunch today?"

Sage offers a different Lunch Menu each week and conveniently posts the menu online at the start of each week. To the delight of our tastebuds more often than not the Discover Lunch Menu has more potential hits than misses. This week, we were both unanimous in our menu choices and proceeded to order 2 each of Roasted Foie Gras with Sea Scallops and Black Truffle, Grilled Angus Rib Eye Steak with Mashed Potato and Natural Jus and Warm Chocolate Tartlet with Vanilla Ice Cream.

The alternatives were Poached King Prawn with Celeriac, Rice Wine Vinaigrette, Sea Garoupa Cuit a la Vapeur with Abalone and Sauce Nori Seaweed, and 2 choice Artisanal and Fermier Cheese with Fig Terrine and Homemade Bread.

The bread served at Sage that afternoon had raisins, walnuts and orange peel, an improved variation of their more plain version, enjoyed with Basil dip their signature accompaniment.

Roasted Foie Gras with Sea Scallops and Black Truffle

Foie Gras or Sea Scallops offered individually would probably have been selected by us as the first course. Eating them together was a new experience for us and effectively two dishes for the price of one.

The Foie Gras was firm in appearance, appearances however can be misleading as like all good foie gras this serving was very delicate in texture and the outer later was paper thin exposing luscious liver. I often find it intriguing how many people detest many liver dishes yet thoroughly enjoy foie gras, I myself am one of those people.

Grilled Angus Rib Eye Steak with Mashed Potato and Natural Jus

The Angus Rib Eye Steak was arguably the best meat dish served up by chef Daniel and his crew since we have been visiting this establishment. Cooked medium rare at our request, the meat presented to us was tender and succulent with a boundary layer of fat enveloping the meat which was equally tender and added to the experience and flavour. I personally enjoyed the mustard which was plated with this dish. For me this course was best enjoyed sampling a little of all the components together in each mouthful. Simple yet very tasty.
I guess in all walks of life, it is the signature of a real professional when things look simple when we all know in reality it is not so easy.

Warm Chocolate Tartlet with Caramelized Banana and Vanilla Ice Cream

We fondly discussed possibilities of how this dessert was prepared. The tartlet itself had a perfect appearance matched by two contrasting yet complementary perfect textures. For me, the caramelized banana didn't add much to the dish other than being a filler, however the richness of the chocolate filling and the crisp yet buttery biscuit-like shell combined with the smooth vanilla ice-cream could on this day only be likened to an arrow and the bow of Cupid's weaponary. Chef Daniel and his team had hit the bulls-eye with today's lunch, well done to them.

For the weekly lunch menu, click here. Note that the above menu is available until 18th February 2011.

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

Service: Despite being very busy for lunch on Valentine's, the service was very good.

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


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day! What have you got in store for today?

I woke up this morning and was greeted by a homemade Valentine's card, lovingly made by my daughter and husband. Needless to say, I was touched at this simple but romantic gesture. We do not usually celebrate Valentine's day, but this year, Hubby is bringing me to my favourite restaurant (oh, he understands me so well). This trumps teddy bears, chocolates or flowers.

It takes two to make love work

In the run up to Valentine's day, I have created a "love story" between Doraemon and Hello Kitty on Instagram. I thought I'd share it with you all in this blog of mine.

Doraemon falls in love with the beautiful Hello Kitty and woos this little kitty with some "fish".

In order to express his love to her, he arranged the "fish" in a heart shape. He went down on one knee and asked if she would be his girlfriend.

After days of waiting, Hello Kitty finally said "Yes" on Valentine's Day eve and now they are lovers.

Love is definitely in the air for this cute couple on Valentine's Day. And Doraemon has something special in store for Hello Kitty for Valentine's Day.

It doesn't matter how you spend Valentine's Day today, but remember to tell your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, or lover that you love them.
And also remember that every day should be as special as Valentine's day.

If you liked my Instagram pictures, you can Follow me: @babysumo
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