Saturday, July 30, 2011

Italian Delights @ Favola, Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur

To make full use of our Starwood Privilege card, our next destination in Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur was their Italian restaurant, Favola. We decided to bring Baby C with us for dinner that evening after checking with the hotel that the restaurant is kids-friendly.

"Favola means fable in Italian and the experience begins as the diner walks through the open galleries into a rustic Italian setting reminiscent of the renaissance era. "


We were greeted warmly at the entrance and led to our table facing the semi open kitchen. I love the decor of the restaurant, classy, and sumptous with beautiful ceilings, mosaic flooring and magnificent chandeliers while still retaining a cosy feel. This would be a great place for both romantic dinners or get togethers with family and friends.

Beautiful mural paintings on the wall

Table for 2

The wall of Venetian masks was beautiful and impressive. We were reminded of the many beautiful sights we encountered during our strolls in Venice in summer 2005.

Dinner menu in the form of a scroll

Other than the restaurant interior, we were also impressed by the service. The waiting staff were efficient and friendly at the same time, making our daughter (and us) feel at ease in the restaurant. We were also equally impressed by the appetizers and main courses that we had that evening. While waiting for our food to arrive, we were served 3 types of bread with 3 dips. Though lovely, the breads served at Prime definitely trumps these.

Freshly baked bread served with 3 dips

Table decor

Since this was our first visit to Favola, to make life simple for ourselves, we decided to order the Chef's antipasti (RM50), a sampler plate of five cold antipasti selected by the chef. We were presented with this mouthwatering assortment of bruschetta, seafood salad, insalata caprese, bresaola and octopus. The portions were quite big, perfect for sharing.

The seafood salad was laden with prawns, squid, mussels, and clams and is slightly spicy from the garlic, chilli-olive oil, lemon juice and parsley seasoning. Another spicy selection was the octopus seasoned with simple garlic, chilli flakes, sea salt and olive oil. Insalata caprese is one of our favorite Italian appetizers, simple but effective; layers of buffalo mozzarella with tomato and basil. The bruschetta was topped with 2 different types of ingredients, tomato salsa and porcini ragout. The bresaola, or shaved dried beef was topped with rocket and laid on a layer cold potato. Overall, we enjoyed this platter and will come back during lunch for their antipasti buffet.

Chef's antipasti

Other than foie gras, another item which I cannot resist if I spot it on a menu is scallops. The seared jumbo sea scallop (RM55) was our favorite of the evening. Succulent, sweet and bouncy, this dish exceeded all our expectations. Even Baby C gave it her stamp of approval, and telling us to tell the chef that she likes it very much and "uncle did a job good cooking this". It certainly made us chuckle when she said that. The scallops were definitely jumbo and was topped with some truffle shavings, which made it all the better. It was served with canellini bean ragout which was flavoursome and hearty.

5 jumbo scallops, Baby C alone had 2... awesome!

The lasagna al forno (RM50) was really good as well. One of Favola's signature dish, the braised wagyu beef cheek (a mixture of beef mince and chunks) was layered between fresh pasta, cheese crust and truffle oil. This is the truly the most decadent lasagna I've eaten.

Decadent lasagna al forno

Since we were unsure how large the portions were, we ordered the previous 3 items to start. By the time we finished the lasagna, we were still hankering for more... we decided to order the Risotto con Cappesante (RM50) which again features scallops since we enjoyed the last scallop dish a lot. The sea scallops were only slightly smaller in size and have been lightly seared to perfection. The risotto was excellent; slightly spicy and not cloyingly rich... Hubby who is not usually a fan of risottos enjoyed this tremendously.

Pan fried sea scallops on leeks, lemon zest, chilli and basil risotto

For desserts, Baby C had the Haagen Daz strawberry ice-cream (RM8 per scoop). Happy smiles from our little one.

The desserts fell short of expectations. I wanted to like the Panna Cotta (RM25) but it was not silky enough to appreciate. However, I did like the presentation of this dish very much, the almond custard cream enclosed within the sugar veil.. very pretty indeed. The Illy Coffee inspired tiramisu (RM30) was a letdown too, seeing it was one of their signature dishes and all I could taste was the mascarpone cheese foam and nothing else.... there was hardly any sponge fingers unless their version does not have any.

Almond custard cream, minestrone of fruit, sugar veil and orange wafer

Illy coffee inspired Tiramisu

The meal was very enjoyable, with excellent food and top notch service. We left the restaurant with smiles, just like the sunny man in the picture below.

For a full set of photos, please visit my Facebook page here.

Opening times: Sunday to Friday: 12.00pm to 2.30pm (Lunch); Monday to Sunday: 6.30pm to 11.00pm (Dinner)

Service: Excellent.

Price: After the 50% discount with the Starwood card, the bill came to RM155.45 for 2 adults 1 child.

Location: Favola, Level 8, Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur, 2 Jalan Stesen Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Directly opposite KL Sentral station and next to KL Hilton)

Tel: 03- 2263 7434

Parking: RM8 for the first 2 hours, RM5 for every subsequent hour.

GPS Coordinates: 3.135685, 101.686524

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Taiwan Fair of Fruits and Vegetables 2011, Jaya Grocer, Empire Shopping Gallery (23 July - 14 August)

Eat your fruits and vegetables to stay healthy.

The WHO recommends eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables per day to lower the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity. In various countries around the world, such as UK and US, there are programs called 5 a day which encourages the consumption of at least five 80g portions of fruits and vegetables each day in line with the WHO's recommendations.

Although there is no such program in Malaysia, in our home we consume a lot of fruits and vegetables each day to stay healthy as they contain various types of fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Euro-Atlantic recently launched their second Taiwan Fair in Jaya Grocer, Empire Shopping Gallery Subang, which promotes quality fruit and vegetable produce from Taiwan. I was introduced to several Taiwan fresh produce such as Taiwan golden mangoes, Kyoho grapes, white bittergourd, guava, carrots, green bamboo shoots, water bamboo shoots, sweet musk melon, President pears, sweet pears and red plums. The highlight of the event was the cutting of 2 giant oblong shaped watermelon weighing about 20kg each by representatives from the Taiwan Trade Centre and District Farmers Association in Taiwan. After the jumbo watermelon cutting ceremony, we were invited to taste some of these fresh produce .... we happily indulged, after all fruits and vegetables are good for you, right?

The cutting ceremony of the jumbo watermelon

The Taiwan Fair is officially launched

You can purchase the jumbo watermelon for RM128/pc.

The Kyoho grapes (RM13.90/pack) were incredibly sweet, with a lovely fragrance and meaty flesh. We just couldn't stop popping these into our mouths! The Kyoho grapes is a slip-skin variety, meaning the skin is easily separated from the fruit. The skin and seeds are not edible since they are bitter, but the flesh is juicy with a high sugar content and moderate acidity.

Baby C gave her stamp of approval to the juicy Sweet Pear (RM13.90/pack), she finished a whole pear on her own.

Did you know that Taiwan is the world's premier grower of guavas? They are able to produce this savoury fruit all twelves months of the year. Guava has a superb nutritional content as they are an excellent source of Vitamin C. I found the Taiwan guava (RM8.90/kg) to be sweet and tender, which does not require too much chewing.

The white bittergourd (RM16.90/kg) , a unique variety from Taiwan is said to possess medicinal properties and can help to improve appetite. One of the most popular ways to consume it is by juicing it and adding honey and lemon. Other ways of cooking it is in stews, steamed or stir fried.

Plums contain various antioxidants which delay the ageing process and high level of dietary fibre. Only the plums in Taiwan are red and best consumed when slightly soft.

There are two types of mangoes sold here, we prefer the Taiwan Apple Mango (RM27.90/kg). Though small in size, it was big on mango flavour, has very little fibres, with an orange-yellow flesh and lusciously sweet. It is rich in carotene, mineral, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. The Taiwan Golden Mangoes is much larger in size and is available for RM14.99/pc.

Taiwan Golden Mango and Taiwan Apple Mango

Taiwan Musk Melon

Water bamboo shoots and green bamboo shoots

Some finger food served to the guests

The Taiwan Fair at Empire Shopping Gallery will run until August 14, 2011. Visit them this weekend (30-31 July) for some free sampling at these outlets.

The Taiwan Fair is also held at Mercato Sri Hartamas from July 23 to August 14. Other supermarkets in the Klang Valley where these Taiwan fruits and vegetables will be available are Jusco in Midvalley and Bandar Utama, Urban Food in SS2 Mall and Carrefour in Tropicana Mall.

Location: Jaya Grocer, Lower Ground Floor, Empire Shopping Gallery, SS16, Jalan SS16/1, 47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.

GPS Coordinates: 3.082033, 101.583200

Sunday, July 24, 2011

2011 Mooncakes @ Chynna, Hilton Kuala Lumpur

I get excited whenever the mooncake season approaches. Last year, I did not get to eat as many mooncakes as I would have liked since I did not want to pile on too much weight while pregnant. Hotels and bakeries have started selling mooncakes since July this year, so I popped downtown this week to get my hands on some mooncakes.

Pretty snow skin mooncakes from Hilton KL

Hilton KL have set up a mooncake booth in the hotel lobby, and have provided several baked mooncakes for sampling. There is a total of 11 mooncake varieties on offer and they are priced at RM18++ per piece, RM70++ for Prestige Box of 4 or RM88++ for Prestige Box of 6. Since I have never tried any mooncakes from Hilton KL before, I opted for the Prestige Box of 6 which includes a variety of 3 baked and 3 snowskin mooncakes. Presented in an exquisite box, I had a fun time photographing all the mooncakes especially the snow skin ones since they come in pretty pastel colours.

Mooncake booth in hotel lobby. You can purchase your mooncakes here or from Chynna restaurant.

Exquisite box

Gorgeous colors

Every year, Hilton KL will introduce a new mooncake. The Flower Drum Song is a famous 1950s novel which depicts the story of a wealthy Chinese refugee who resists modern culture but ultimately finds a balance between embracing the new while still celebrating tradition. Inspired by this story, Chef Chan Teck Woo of Chynna puts a modern take on the classic traditional mooncake and created Flower Drum, a snowskin mooncake with lotus paste and a soft custard egg yolk centre in a pretty purple shade. This was my favorite of the lot, since I love snow skin and I love salted egg yolk. What's different about the centre is that salted egg yolk has been blended with sweet custard creating a lovely creamy texture with a unique savoury/sweet flavour. The lotus paste was very smooth and not too sweet either. Gorgeous in every single way!

Flower Drum

Snow skin lotus paste with soft custard egg yolk

Coming a close second is Blue Moon, the 2008 creation of snow skin Amaretto lotus paste with blueberry cheese Feuillantine. This reminds me of the blueberry cheese tart that we are fond of. This was one of the more difficult ones to cut though without making a mess since the cheese tends to stick to the knife. This was also not too sweet and very smooth.

Snow skin Amaretto lotus paste with blueberry cheese Feuillantine

The Yellow Moon, the signature mooncake from 2010, is filled with violet flower essence and chocolate centre with brandy flavoured lotus paste. As soon as I picked this up, I smelt a wonderful fragrant aroma which also lingered on my fingers for a while after that. The chocolate centre was bittersweet and the brandy was quite evident.

Snow skin violet flower essence & chocolate center with brandy flavoured lotus paste

The baked varieties paled in comparison to the snow skin, though we found them all very pleasant. The Prestige Box of 6 comes with Baked lotus paste with single yolk, Baked white lotus paste and Baked red bean paste with almond flake. Unfortunately, they wrongly labelled one of the boxes and gave us the traditional-style baked with five nuts instead of the lotus paste with single yolk (which would have been our favorite baked one, I would think). Nevertheless, both white lotus paste and red bean paste were smooth and again, not too sweet and goes down well with a cuppa hot green tea. I'm not particularly a fan of five nuts, but I find the version here pretty good.

Tradtional baked variety

Green tea with mooncakes

Baked white lotus paste

Baked red bean paste with almond flake

Traditional-style baked with five nuts

Verdict: The best thing about the mooncakes from Chynna, Hilton KL was that they were not too sweet and were very smooth. I really enjoyed all the snow skin mooncakes, especially Flower Drum.

For full list of mooncakes from Chynna, Hilton KL, click here. Mooncakes are available until 12 September 2011.

Price: RM18++ per piece, RM70++ for Prestige Box of 4 or RM88++ for Prestige Box of 6.

Location: Chynna Restaurant, Hilton Kuala Lumpur, 3 Jalan Stesen Sentral, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tel: 03- 2264 2264

*For full set of photos, please visit my Facebook page here.

*Note: Chynna, Hilton KL mooncakes are also available at the Mooncake Fair at MidValley Megamall KL.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Gokuraku Ramen, Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur

What's your ideal comfort food? For me, it is a bowl of piping hot soup noodles. This week whilst at Mid Valley Megamall, I was drawn to the recently opened Gokuraku Ramen for a hearty lunch.

Ultimate Tonkotsu Ramen

In Japan, different regions have their own specialty based on distinct soup types. At Gokuraku Ramen, you will find the "Horikiri style" ramen, which was discovered by noted Ramen connoisseur Mr. Teruhisa Shimizu. The noodles are freshly made daily with their own ramen-making machine and the broth are simmered for 48 hours to bring out its exquisite taste.

The Ramen Haven

During weekdays between 10am-5pm, they have introduced set meals for lunch, whereby every order from a selection of noodles/rice will entitle you to a free side order to complete your meal. Click here for more details.

Gokuraku Ramen infinity

For his side dish, Hubby opted for a free drink (worth RM4.90) and to complete my set I had the annin tofu (worth RM6.90).

Honey Lemon Tea & Green Tea

While waiting for our food to arrive, we studied the dummy's guide to "an Ultimate Ramen-Dining Experience" that was provided in the menu!

6 steps to an Ultimate Ramen-Dining Experience

There were just so many different types of ramen to choose from but I settled for the Ultimate Tonkotsu Ramen (RM20.90) for the ultimate ramen experience. When the bowl of noodles was placed before me, I was doubtful if I could finish it since the serving size was huge! Actually step 4 in the guide above states that the noodles are best consumed within 7-8 minutes of being served, we commented to each other that there was no way we could consume so much in 8 mins.

I loved the tonkotsu broth and it just got better after each sip. It was really flavoursome and hearty. The noodles were nice and springy, and was topped with char siew, flavoured egg, black fungus, spring onion, leek, bamboo shoot, seaweed and fragrant garlic oil. The only component of this dish I wasn't too keen on was the char siew as it lacked flavour.

Hubby had the Gokuraku Miso Ramen (RM20.90), which is miso in tonkotsu broth noodles topped with cabbage, minced pork and fragrant garlic oil. He too enjoyed the broth immensely, stating it as one of the best noodle broth's he tried. However, he also found that the flavour was lacking in the minced pork.

The ramen here was somewhat different to what I'm used to, but nice nonetheless

For dessert, I had the annin tofu, also known as almond jelly. I really enjoyed this as the jelly was smooth and had the right level of sweetness. The almond flavour was not too overpowering too as is the case with Chinese almond desserts.

Non-halal restaurant

Verdict: We would have liked to try more on this visit, but the noodle portions were really huge and we were full by the time we finished them. We both really liked the flavoursome broth... thumbs up!

Join their Facebook page here.

Opening times: 10am - 10pm.

Service: Good.

Price: Reasonable.

Location: Gokuraku Ramen, S025 - S026, MidValley Megamall, Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra, 59200 Kuala Lumpur. (FOS side)

Tel: 03-5622 5340

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