Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Shinmapo Korean BBQ, The Gardens Mall, KL

Shinmapo, Korea's No.1 BBQ Restaurant has finally opened its doors in The Gardens Mall last week. Shinmapo has over 500 outlets worldwide, across 11 countries - this outlet in The Gardens Mall is their second outlet in Malaysia, with the first located in SS15 Courtyard.

After anticipating its opening for so long, we were super excited to be invited to their media preview last weekend. Browsing through their menu, we concluded that their prices were fair and similar to other Korean BBQ restaurants around town.

You can choose from their a la carte items, which includes pork, chicken, seafood, side dishes, and Wagyu beef. They also do a few non-BBQ items such as rice, spicy buckwheat noodles, bibimbap, sundubu jjigae, and kimchi jjigae. Other than that, diners can also choose from their Signature BBQ Set which comes with various types of meat, and side dishes. For example, the Signature Set A (for 1-2 pax) is priced at RM88 while Signature Set B (for 2-4 pax) is priced at RM118; both sets come with pork skirt, pork belly, pork collar, mix grilled platter as well as army stew, refillable side dishes, and signature kimchi egg crust. As someone who regularly visits Korean BBQs, I would say that the sets are pretty good value for money.


For the media preview, we got to try the pork belly, pork neck, pork skirt, pork collar, marinated chicken, signature kimchi egg crust, army stew, kimchi pancake, cheese pot and spicy pork belly. They actually offered us more food such as the spicy meat set and volcano fried rice, but we were too stuffed so we had to decline.

After we were seated, the staff brought over 3 types of side dishes (ban chan) as well as 2 salads and lettuce, as well as the condiments for the BBQ (gochujang, sesame oil, and soy chilli). I liked the salad with the spicy dressing and kimchi best. Hubby loved the kimchi seafood pancake (pajeon), with squid and prawns. We also enjoyed the army stew (budae jjigae), which is brought to the boil tableside - very appetizing and delicious.

Army stew

And now for the highlight of the meal - the BBQ meats. At Shinmapo, the meats are cooked on a charcoal grill at your table. The staff starts off by making the signature kimchi egg crust, whereby chopped up kimchi is dotted around the circular pan and egg mixture is poured in. Once the egg is cooked through, she cuts it into a few chunks and it's ready to enjoy!

Meanwhile, she cooks the meat, starting with the original pork belly (RM31), cheese sausage (RM15) and pineapple (RM10). Here, the original pork belly is served as a thick slab, grilled and then cut into smaller bite-sized pieces and neatly arranged at the side for us to enjoy. Loved this a lot! Pineapple is one of the best fruits to put on the grill, sweet and caramelised - yums!

Next up were the original pork skirt meat, marinated pork collar and marinated chicken. Pork skirt (galmaegisal - RM27) is one of the signature premium meats at Shinmapo - apparently there is only 200g of this cut in every full grown pig. Tender and juicy, this cut is definitely worth trying. The pork collar (moksal - RM29) which has been marinated in a sweet-salty sauce, was flavorful and tender. To our surprise, even the marinated chicken was tasty (RM28).

One of our favorite cuts here was the pork neck (RM27). The grilled meat had a tender yet lovely bite to it - so good that it went straight into my mouth as soon as it came off the grill.

We also had the enoki bacon bouquet (RM20) as well as the spicy pork belly (RM31). As opposed to the original pork belly, the spicy version comes in thin strips - as it is marinated, the marinade would burn quicker hence thinner cuts are used to cut down on the cooking time. The spicy marinade was pretty good, though I do prefer the original version better. Shinmapo also offers cheese pot (RM25), whereby you can add grated cheese into the smaller holes on the pan and dip your meats into it once the cheese has melted. OMG so sinful!

We definitely enjoyed our Korean BBQ experience here at Shinmapo, and we especially liked the pork skirt, original pork belly and pork neck. The Unc is coming back soon for his holidays, and we've already made a date to come to Shinmapo for a delicious Korean BBQ meal. Can't wait! :)

Opening times: Mon-Sun 11am to 11pm.

Location: Shinmapo Korean BBQ Restaurant, 3rd Floor, Lot T-216D, The Gardens Mall, Lingkaran Syed Putra, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tel: +60 3 2201 3252


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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Recipe: Cullen Skink (Scottish Fish Soup)

Cullen skink is my favorite Scottish soup, made from smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. Whenever I see it on the menu in the restaurant, I would always order it. Super comforting and especially good on a cold winter's evening.

It is a local speciality from the town of Cullen in Moray, on the north-east coast of Scotland.Skink is an old Scots word for 'soup-stew'. The soup is commonly served as a starter at formal Scottish dinners, though many families in NE Scotland also have it as an everyday dish. Definitely something you can make and serve for Burns Night or the upcoming St Andrew's Day.

I've always wanted to make cullen skink, however smoked haddock is a rarity in KL. In the UK however, you can get this easily, at supermarkets or at the fishmonger. An authentic Cullen skink is made using finnan haddie (ie cold smoked haddock with green wood and peat), however any kind of smoked haddock could be used to make it these days.

The onions are first softened, then potatoes are added and sauteed. The milk and cream gives the soup its creaminess and richness. The smoked fish only needs to heated through slightly, then removed to be cut into chunks. Before serving, I roughly mashed the potatoes - this helps thicken the soup and also gives the soup differing textures. Remember not to season the soup too much, as the smoked haddock itself is quite salty and will help flavour the soup.

Incredibly simple to make and deliciously comforting. Do make a bigger portion so that you will have leftovers, as it tastes even better the next day :)

Recipe Video here - how to make cullen skink (watch in full screen here)

Cullen Skink (Scottish Fish Soup)
Recipe by Baby Sumo
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4-6

1 tbsp olive or cooking oil
400g potatoes, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
1 onion, finely chopped
450g smoked haddock, skinned
300ml boiling water
425ml full cream milk
Freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp double cream (optional)

1. In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, until the onions have softened.

2. Add the potato and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Add the water and milk, then place the fish on top. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove the fish and set aside.

4. Gently simmer the broth at low heat for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Season the broth with some salt and pepper. Do not overseason as the fish is quite salty and will help flavour the broth once it is added back in.

5. Meanwhile, cut the fish into thick chunks, and remove any bones.

6. Add the fish back into the broth and stir in about 3 tablespoonfuls of double cream, if desired. Using a potato masher, gently mash some of the fish and potatoes. Season again with more salt, if required.

7. Serve warm with some crusty bread.

Another brilliant Scottish soup recipe you can check out is Scotch Broth. Click for recipe.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Blog Milestone - 10 Million Page Views Unlocked!

So excited to share this amazing news with you all!

Finally hit 10 million page views on πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

After many hours of blogging and hard work, as well as the constant support from my blog readers, I'm so happy that this day has finally come! πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—

Thank you guys!

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Nikai, Taman Desa, KL - Japanese Izakaya

Taman Desa is quite a food haven these days. One of the newest restaurant openings here is Nikai, owned by Seiji Fujimoto, the same gentleman who owns Sanuki Udon, Maruhi Sakaba, Gerai Makan Japanese BBQ and Lao Jiu Lou within the area.

Nikai, which translates to "upstairs", is located above Lao Jiu Lou and is an izakaya, a Japanese drinking bar whereby you can enjoy drinks with Japanese food. Compared to his other eateries, Nikai exudes a zen, modern feel with lots of stone and wood elements, and has a sushi bar, bar area and main dining area, as well as some private rooms.

Sushi bar

Drinking bar

From the simple one-page menu, diners can choose from koryori course or a la carte items such as sashimi, sushi, side dishes, gohan, or salads. Drinks on offer include beer, sake or shochu. We decided to order two Koryori courses, the Cobra (with three types sashimi - RM35) and the Anaconda (with five types of sashimi - RM55).

Koryori-ya is a style of eating, popular in Tokyo, whereby fresh, seasonal Japanese dishes are served in small plates. Both sets come with five types of daily appetizers, a sashimi platter, as well as sushi. For the Anaconda set, it also comes with an extra fried dish.

Soon after we placed our order, the appetizers arrived. Nothing fancy, however they were all well-prepared and tasted good. We especially liked the goma tofu, with its rich and smooth texture. Other appetizers include ohitashi (Japanese spinach), salmon on pickled vege, pickles and braised daikon with minced chicken.

Goma tofu - rich and smooth

Fried salmon on pickled vegetables - a slight heat from the cili padi in the pickled vege



Braised daikon with minced chicken

The unusual sashimi selection certainly surprised us, as they were not run of the mill types we expected. The Cobra came with marinated salmon cubes, cured mackarel and sea cucumber sashimi, whereas the Anaconda set comes with the three previously mentioned, plus tai and kibinago sashimi. We have eaten cooked sea cucumber many times, but it was certainly our first in sashimi form. The texture was soft, with firm, crunchy edges. Kibinago is a small fish, we were told, and upon googling we found out it was silver-stripe round herring - another first for us. The sashimi was served with grated wasabi, as well as ginger two ways - finely chopped and marinated in shoyu (soy sauce) as well as finely grated with fresh lemon.

Cobra - three types of sashimi

Anaconda - five types of sashimi


The fried dish for the day was deep fried gobo tempura, which was nice and light.

We were also served 3 pieces of sushi, with tuna neck filling... we could see the fatty marbling on the fish and the texture was somewhat like tuna belly. Very enjoyable :)

Overall, we enjoyed our experience here at Nikai - service was polite and efficient, and the meal itself was unique. The portions are quite small, however that is the intended serving portions for koryori. You can always head downstairs for udon, if you're still hungry - a good back-up plan don't you agree?;)

Opening times: Dinner only Tue-Sun 7pm till late, last food orders 11pm. Closed on Mondays.

Service: Good.

Price: Total bill RM94.

Location: Nikai Restaurant, First floor, No. 25A, Jalan Bukit Desa 5, Taman Bukit Desa, 58100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

GPS Coordinates: 3.11074, 101.68479

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