Saturday, July 19, 2014

Nutmeg in Bangsar

Fancy another western brekkie place? Like the others, Crystal brought us here. The Nutmeg is located on the upper ground floor of the Bangsar Village II shopping complex along Jalan Telawi in Bangsar, KL. We were there around 10.00am on a Saturday morning. The shopping complex was still almost devoid of people, but the cafe was well patronised. 

We had a table near the entrance. From our table, this was the shot of the inside of the restaurant.

The crowd was mostly young people. I was rather shy to take photo-shots of the place. An old man moving around to photograph the place would look rather weird in the midst of the many young people. So I sent Crystal in. These were some of the shots she took.

Breakfasts occupied a large part of the menu. They also offered lunches and dinners. Most of the other offerings were pastas. 

Soon after we selected our breakfasts, our coffees started to arrive. Mine was the usual long black. The brewed coffee was strong and aromatic. It was my first beverage of the day and a great boost to the appetite.

My wife had a more pretty latte.

There was a big miscommunication when Crystal ordered her omelet. She asked for a truffled mushroom omelet and then added that she wanted egg white. The waiter mistook her order and brought a normal omelet and an egg white omelet. When the error was pointed out, the waiter quickly took back the normal omelet - no fuss at all.

She supplemented her omelet with a serving of lamb sausage. There were 2 sausages in the serving. This lamb sausage was one of the reasons she brought us to this place. I have to say that it was quite delicious - not bad at all. Only, they did not taste like sausage. They were more like kebabs.

My wife had this baked egg. It was quite an unusual and innovative preparation. It was 2 eggs baked with cheese and tomato, served with toasts. She enjoyed the dish.

My order was the Nutmeg big breakfast. It comprised 2 eggs of choice (mine was scrambled), a lamb sausage, hash potato, baked beans, sautéed mushrooms, roasted tomato and a choice of salmon or salt beef (I chose the beef). I did not like the scrambled egg and I immediately regretted my choice when the dish arrived at our table. The egg was far too mushy for my liking. The salt beef was quite tasteless in spite of its name. The hash potato was not what I had expected. I had wanted hash browns, but they turned out to be normal deep fried potato. And the baked beans tasted a little sourish.

Before we arrived at the Nutmeg, I already knew that I would go for the big breakfast. The reason was simple. I wanted to compare this place to the other places - the Antipodean, Mr & Ms, and Three Little Pigs & The Big Bad Wolf where I had their big breakfasts. I have to say although Nutmeg's big breakfast had a good variety, the quality and flavour was at the bottom of the list. And once again, I missed the real (pork) bacon.

My brekkie adventure will not end here. There is at least one other place that I have yet to visit. It will be soon. We pass by this place often and my wife keeps reminding me. And when I do, I will definitely write about it.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Tony Roma's in Citta Mall

We were bidding farewell to 2 dear colleagues - Razali and Trixie. Ganesh organised a dinner for them and the place he picked was Tony Roma's at the Citta Mall. The mall is quite near to our office. And with the small participating crowd, it gave me a good opportunity to feature a variety of dishes that they offer there.

Tony Roma's took over the location where Gourmandis used to be in the Citta Mall. Gourmandis, unfortunately has closed shop here. The last time I visited Tony Roma's was a long long time ago, probably even before I started this blog. I did not have great expectations of the place. I have learnt not to expect too much from American chain restaurants with experiences in the likes of TGIF, Chicago and Bubba Gump.

The Citta Mall is in Ara Damansara, PJ and is accessible from the Subang airport road (a.k.a Subang airport car park in most times of the day). It is fast becoming a popular hang outs among PJ and Subang Jaya folks as evident by the number of cars there. It used to be that we were spoilt for choice on where to park. Not any more. I believe this is attributed to the large number of eateries there. Where there is food, there will be people.

Tony Roma's in the Citta Mall is quite a big outlet. They have an open alfresco dining area.

And the more popular indoor air-conditioned comfort. In view of the current heat wave, it is difficult to imagine why people would want to dine outdoors.

When I arrived at the restaurant, the waiter was already doing his round taking orders. There were more than 10 of us in the group. As the food arrived at our table, each one graciously offered their dish to me to photograph - for this blog. I managed to take pictures of all the orders. But there was no way I could remember what they all were, least of all the names of the dishes. But I will try. If I cannot remember, just enjoy the visuals.

My first shot was this pasta dish. I think it was the salmon carbonara.

This was grilled salmon with garlic butter scampi. It was served with rice and broccoli. Kevin, who was seated beside me, had this dish. From where I was, I could detect the fishy smell of either the salmon or the shrimps. I don't know if they were absolutely fresh. But Kevin did not complain.

This was the ribeye that Razali ordered. It was served with mashed potato and beans. Razali ordered a medium rare. It turned out to be very well done. The waiter was summoned. No questioned was asked. The waiter took back the steak and later returned with another - medium rare.

I honestly am not sure what this was. I believe it was another steak. But it was topped with some kind of a chilli sauce? Well, somebody ate it.

Three dishes of ribs were ordered that evening. The first was this rack of lamb. There was a choice of 2 side dishes. I have no idea what the side dishes were. Looked like baked beans and scrambled eggs. Nah... cannot be.

This was the "bountiful" beef ribs. I believe Ganesh had this. His choice of side dishes was a jacketed potato and cold slaw.

The final rib dish was this almost unrecognisable black slab of meat. I can only guess that this was another rack of lamb. Was the chef overzealous doing this one?

The shrimp scampi pasta certainly looked very good. I only hope the shrimps were fresh.

I believe this was the mojo chicken, served with rice and vegetables.

And the filet medallions - also with rice and veges.

Finally, my choice was the grilled lamb chops. It was 3 portions of succulent lamb, very nicely grilled in a marinade. The meat was delicious. I opted for french fries and cold slaw. I think I made an excellent choice. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

We ordered 2 portions of triple desserts to share. Each portion comprised a red velvet cake, a mini cheese cake and brownies and ice cream. They told us they ran out of ice cream, and served just the brownies. What a lame excuse. There was a big supermarket Presto just one floor below the restaurant. They could had just ran down and grabbed all the ice creams they wanted. Anyway, the desserts were a total failure. The brownies were like stale bread. Kevin kept reminding me to write how bad the desserts were. And indeed, they were way below par.

The evening was more than just about food. There were brief speeches, a good bye gift and plenty of hugs and photo shots. Perhaps a few tears too.

Good luck Razali and Trixie. Don't forget to come back.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Face to Face Pan Mee

It was a Sunday evening. We had just returned from Sungei Petani and after a long tiring drive, cooking was absolutely not in our agenda. Still we had to eat. This pan mee noodle shop is in our neighbourhood. And on that weary evening, it seemed to be the most apt place to go for a simple meal.

面对面 literally means "noodle facing noodle", but a clever play of words can make it to mean "face to face". And that is the name of this shop.  It is located in the centre of Dataran Ara Damansara, in PJ. This dataran has grown to be a real busy commercial centre in Ara Damansara - with many eateries and shops, and far too many car workshops which illegally hoard parking spaces, making car parking a real nightmare on most times of the day. During lunch time on weekdays, this is not a place to be in.

We have seen and passed by this shop umpteen times but had never bothered to go in. Until that evening. Inside, it was a pleasant respite from the craziness of the locale. The atmosphere was cool and unhurried. It had simple furnishing, comfortable enough to get a quiet meal in a more sane environment.

Pan mee (板面) is the mainstay in the shop's menu. This hand made noodle is unique to Malaysia. Some people are crazy about it, so much so shops like this are now all over the Klang Valley. Not me. I can eat it, but it is not my first choice.

Besides pan mee, the shop also offer other noodles and rice dishes - even char koay teow. They also have a variety of side dishes to choose from.

Many eateries now make their patrons tick and write their orders in printed slips. I guess it saves on labour. I like the idea. I can take my time to browse the menu and select my options without anyone hovering over me to make a decision.

My choice was drink was the good old iced lemon tea. My wife's was a cold honey lemon.

On our table was a host of condiments. There were 3 types of chilli pastes and a sambal. And of course the mandatory soy sauce and pepper.

I had this bowl of dry (kon lo - ) fine pan mee. It came with a poached egg, minced pork, fried ikan bilis and a bowl of soup. It wasn't great. The texture of the noodle was rather soggy and did not have the al dente springiness. The ikan bilis was kind of stale - not totally crunchy - surprising since this was a pan mee shop and their turnover of deep fried ikan bilis should be high enough to ensure constant supply of this good crunchy favourite.

They provided a plate each of chili paste and sambal with the noodles, which were already on the table.

My wife's choice was this bowl of chicken soup mee suai (面线). I had a sip of the soup to check its flavour. Again, it was not great. The soup was kind of murky. 

This bowl of sayur manis soup we ordered was really quite unnecessary. Sayur manis or potato leaves to the Chinese, is the usual soup served with pan mee. The bowl we ordered had an egg in it. The soup was not bad. I liked the flavour of the sayur manis and the egg gave it a smoothening effect. But since my noodles came with a bowl of soup and my wife's bowl was all soup, this was rather redundant.

I thought this side dish of fried sui kow (水饺) was the best of the dishes we ordered that evening. It was piping hot when it arrived at our table. The stuffing was good and the skin was crispy. Sad, we came in for a meal, and it was this crummy side dish that I enjoyed most.

In spite of being in our neighbourhood, I don't think we will be back in this pan mee shop any time soon.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Song Kah, Sungei Petani

We were in Sungei Petani on the last weekend of the recent school holidays to visit the in-laws. Almost everybody from the extended family was there. Dinner that Saturday evening was a little problem. There were 30 odd people and nobody was prepared for do the mass cooking. So it had to eaten out.

The most convenient place to be was a home restaurant which was a short walk from my parents-in-laws' place. It was a home restaurant in every sense of the word. The place was actually a single storey semi-D house in an housing sub-urb of Sungei Petani. I don't know how they managed to set up a restaurant in this locale for it was really a nice respectable housing area. I wondered if the neighbours had complained.

I have been to Song Kah on a previous trip back to S.P. a few months ago. I did not bother to write about it then. But I found the food pretty good then. So this time around, it made it to my blog.

The restaurant is apparently managed by the family living in the house. The 2 young men who took our orders and acted as waiters looked quite alike. So I guessed they were brothers. And they were apparently quite versatile people. At a corner of the restaurant was a counter, making and selling talismans.

And if you have a problem with your computer, you could come here too.

 The drinks they served were mostly home brewed. But the chrysanthemum was far too sweet.

Dinner was rice and dishes.

The first on our table was this sambal brinjal (egg plant). It was actually very tasty. The brinjal was stir fried in a rich mixture of sambal and minced dried shrimps. It was spicy. The brinjal was were cooked and was soft and smooth.

The dark sauce pork was another credible dish. It was lean pork stir fried in a dark soy sauce. The sugar in the dish made it kind of sticky and flavourful. They added in some spices and curry leaves. The final outcome was a very pleasant dish that went wonderfully with our rice.

This was chicken in a hot plate. Below the chicken was a layer of eggs, They fried the eggs on the hot plate and poured the chicken over it. The chicken was spicy but tasted good.

The curry fish was the best of the lot. The fish very fresh and there was plenty of okra, long beans and vege. The flavour of the curry was also very nice. It must had been the curry powder or curry mix they used, for the flavour was quite unlike the ordinary curry we find in most Chinese restaurants. This was more Indian in flavour. Anyway, we were scrapping the bottom for the last spoonfuls.

The fried cabbage was very ordinary.

The final dish was the mantis prawn. It was deep fried and then stir in a mixture of tau chu (醬 - soya paste) and other spices. I felt the mantis prawn was lost in the rich mixture. I couldn't tell it was the crustacean. The flavour was good but I felt it was a waste of nice mantis to be cooked this way.

It was simple good meal. And not that terribly expensive. It gave true meaning to a home cooked meal away from home, in a home.