Friday, July 29, 2011

Bubba Gump

This was Crystal's treat to us for a combined Parents Day. And she picked the restaurant. We went to the Bubba Gump at Sunway Pyramid in Subang Jaya for the dinner. The Bubba Gump Shrimp Company is an American chain of restaurants apparently devoted to the Tom Hank's Forrest Gump idiosyncrasy. Bubba (Pvt Benjamin Buford) was Forrest's (Tom Hank) old army friend in the movie.

Outside the U.S., this restaurant chain apparently has only 10 outlets in the Asia Pacific region. Of these, 2 are in Malaysia. The other Malaysian outlet is at The Curve in Bandar Utama, PJ. We had lunch at The Curve outlet many months ago, and our dinner at Sunway was our second experience.

The place was surprisingly crowded in spite of the early hours that we got there. The restaurant has a typical American South outlook using a lot of wood and timber for its decor. There are dining booths and quiet corners, and even an old fashion bar.

We were ushered pass all these and led to a quiet dining room at the back. We were happy at the prospect of a peaceful dinner but sadly that did not last very long as we were soon joined by others. One family was particularly noisy.

The restaurant has an unique and mindless system of calling for service. If you need anything from the waiters, you flip a red "Stop Forrest Stop" car plate on your table...

Otherwise, you display the blue "Run Forrest Run" plate. Apparently, the idea is that if you needed service, Tom Hanks would stop his cross-America run to attend to you. How silly can it get!

There were only 3 of us for dinner. So our orders was somewhat limited. The first dish to arrive at our table was the "Run Across America Sampler". I think the name of this dish was as idiotic as Forrest was in the movie. It was a combo comprising of a generous amount of nachos with a very nice dip, some cold salad shrimps, some deep fried shrimps and some spicy deep fried chicken strips. The various foods in the big plate lined with pseudo newspapers, were really not bad. The shrimps were fresh - not at all "plastic". I particularly liked the dip for the nachos.

Next was "Shrimpin' Dippin' Broth". It was a spicy shrimp soup served in a small pot with slaw, rice and half a loaf of baguette. I found the soup or broth somewhat lacking. As the name implied, I believe we were supposed to dip in the bread. I would expect a dipping broth to be thick and rich. Instead, it turned out to be watery and bland. It was actually quite tasteless when eaten with the bread and rice.

The final (or rather the first) dish we ordered was the "Tossed Chicken Cobb". It was a salad with tomato, Gorgonzola cheese, egg, beef bacon, chicken and avocado, tossed with a raspberry vinaigrette. It should had been our starter dish. But we waited and waited and it did not arrive even when we finished our combo and the broth. We flipped the red plate. A waiter later told us that our salad was delivered to the wrong table. A young lady - supposedly the honcho waiter - came over to apologize. When the salad finally came, my family did not like it. They did not like the raspberry vinaigrette dressing and the avocado. It wasn't great but I was OK with it. Perhaps we should had gone for the traditional Caesar salad. Perhaps that would not had been mis-delivered.

Not everything was dismal. This glass of iced lemon tea was bottomless.

We shared a bread pudding with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Ordinary.

My verdict on the Bubba Gump - Run Forrest Run!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Deli Oasis Fusion Cafe

This small and friendly joint is our favorite neighborhood fusion makan place. When it first opened, we did not take much notice of it. Like a number of eateries in our quiet neighborhood, we did not really expect it to stay opened for very long. But we were grossly wrongly. The place not only remained open but flourished and recently underwent an upgrade and renovation.

The Deli Oasis Fusion Cafe is located on Jalan PJU 1A/20A in Ara Damansara, PJ. Our neighborhood is quiet and isolated and I believe it draws its business from surrounding residents and from workers of the Saujana and Subang airport areas.

The decor of the cafe is simple and tastefully done. It is bright and comfortable, and is indeed a very pleasant place to have a meal.

It is fully wi-fied and they even have electrical outlets at the seats for you to plug your laptop into.

The place offers a fusion of Malay, Chinese, Indian and western fares. And they are all very good. We were impressed the first time we went to the place, and remain impressed ever since.

The pictures below were taken over our many visits there. The quality of some pictures are not very good as they had been impromptu-ly taken with my mobile phone.

Their nasi goreng (fried rice) is very good. You have a choice of various preparations, like this nasi goreng ayam dara which was served with a nice piece of fried chicken.

The nasi goreng kampung (village style fried rice) was also very nice. It had crunchy ikan bilis (anchovies) in it. I also liked the accompanying keropok (fish crackers). However, the prawns in it were not shelled and are quite a mess having to use my fingers on them.

The nasi lemak was delightful. The rice was very aromatic. It was served with a nice separate plate of sambal which really was very considerate. I prefer it this way, rather than messily having sambal all over the rice. You have choices of meat with your nasi lemak - fried chicken, rendang chicken or rendang beef.

The mee bandung daging is one of my favorite. I enjoyed the rich spicy gravy and the nice pieces of beef. I liked it so much that I ordered it on 3 consecutive visits there. Simply delicious.

The soto ayam was another really nice Malay dish. It was served with noodles and a piece of begedil (a Malay potato cutlet). The gravy was rich and tasty. Very authentic indeed.

The mee goreng looked and tasted very nice too.

So was the koay teow goreng.

And the mee goreng mamak.

The gado-gado (Malay style salad) was so-so and somewhat lacking. The sauce was good but somehow it was not complete.

This was the roti jala with a nice bowl of chicken curry. 

I did not expect very much from the satay when I ordered it. But it turned out surprisingly nice. The meat was tender and aromatic, and the sauce like that of the gado-gado was very nice.

You have to try the keropok leko if you are there. They are served piping hot. Very very nice.

The Oasis is basically a Malay establishment. But their Chinese offerings are so authentic. Like this Cantonese style yee mee (伊面). Better than a lot of yee mee in Chinese shops.

And this bowl of porridge. It was delicious. In it was chicken, ikan bilis, kacang (peanuts), salt egg, etc. My wife had this a number of times and she enjoyed it every time.

The beef koay teow, also Cantonese style, was another enjoyable plate of noodles. The gravy was superb.

This bowl was listed as prawn mee in the menu. It definitely was not the Penang Hokkein prawn noodles. It looked good and tasted no bad at all. Very simple and pleasant.

Our daughter had all the western dishes in the following pictures. Starting with the chicken chop, served with a coleslaw, an egg and mushroom sauce.

This was a pasta with a large piece of fried chicken, served with a bowl of sauce. Sorry, this is the best description I can give here. My memory failed me. Besides, I did not eat it.

A plate of fried chicken strips, with french fries, coleslaw and black pepper sauce. Looked very dry. Again, I have no idea how it tasted.

Crispy potato skin stuffed with a cheesy filling, eaten with a salsa sauce. Our dislike was that the potato skin was not that crispy and there still was too much of potato in it. It really was not fantastic.

The apple pie came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a strawberry sauce. I had a bit of it. Not bad at all.

Oh yes. Don't forget the teh tarik. Nice and creamy, and not so sweet. It is better than any mamak shop.

All the above were the making of Chef Abas. He really is a very versatile chef indeed. I tried to take his picture for this blog and up to now, I am still trying. Perhaps he is very camera shy.

Friday, July 15, 2011

CSL Fish Head Revisited

This was my second visit to what I believe to be the original Chan Sow Lin fish head restaurant. Chong Yen (Steam Fish) Food Store used to be located along Jalan Chan Sow Lin 3. But they had to relocate because the land they sat on was apparently repossessed for development. Their previous location was so very rustic and charming. This was how it looked in its heyday. However when we passed it by on this second visit, it was quiet and deserted, and absolutely no development had taken place.

Its new location is on Jalan 2/89C, Off Jalan Chan Sow Lin 4, KL. It is not too far from its former location. Yet it took us quite awhile to locate it because it is off the main road, at the end of a row of shops that is isolated and hidden from view. The restaurant does not even have a signboard, just a couple of banners inconspicuously strung at the entrance of the shop.

The new place is big, spacious and basic. It was very well patronized. In spite of new remote location, the restaurant had apparently retained its clientele. It has 2 makan areas and both were jam packed when we arrived at lunch time. But sadly, it has lost its charm. It is now like any Chinese makan shop. Its old rustic aura is gone.

There was more of us during this second experience. So I was able to order a bit more food. The fish head was of course mandatory. This time, we opted to have it steamed in 2 different styles. One half was steamed in black bean sauce (酱蒸) - the same manner as we had before. It was just as delicious. The carp (松鱼) head was delightfully fresh. The sauce was perfect. Very nice indeed.

The other half was steamed in a light soy sauce, with sprinkling of fried garlic and chili. To me, this second steam was even better than the first. The sauce was light and unlike the the first half in the black bean, I could taste the freshness of the fish. 

We had to have the fresh fish maw which I relished so much on my first visit. This time, the fish maw was served in a separate plate. It comprised 2 types of maws - the processed type and the fresh ones. They were steamed in the same black bean sauce. Both the fish maws were great. But I much preferred the fresh ones. The crunchy texture was wonderfully delicious.

We also had a plate of pak cham kai (白切). It was the ayam kampung (菜园鸡 - free range chicken), with a nice yellowish skin and firm meat. No complains. The chicken was delicious.

This ordinary plate of Hongkong choy sum (香港菜心) completed our meal that day.

As we paid our bill, we talked to the man who collected from us. I am not sure if he was the boss man. He told us the restaurant opens only for lunch - up to 4pm, Monday to Saturday. They are closed on Sundays. He was visibly proud of the new establishment. But I had to differ. I very much preferred his old rustic makan place.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Sanook by the Lake

Nestled at the centre of Petaling Jaya is the relatively new commercial centre of the Plaza Kelana Jaya. It has all the elements to be a successful business centre. It is strategically located on Jalan SS7/13, off the Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP), not far from the MAS Academy. The plaza is very well constructed. There are shops, office lots and provisions for nice restaurants. It also has a big and very pleasant square in the middle. And best of all, it abuts a very nice lake. Talk about good feng shui (风水), I think this place has it all. 

Yet the place was almost deserted. The shops were empty. The car parks were plentiful - still they charged for entry. The water front which is ideal for evening makan makan had only a few restaurants. The central square which should have been hustle and bustle on a weekend evening, looked dismally like this. I wonder what went wrong with the feng shui master.

We arrived there just before sunset and the scene over the lake was stunning. This picture below did not do full justice to the actual view.

We walked along the water front. As mentioned, there were not many restaurants. All of them were al fresco (outdoor) dining, for which the place is ideally suited. And I think almost all of them were western eateries. Two of the restaurants had group functions that evening (what a nice place to have a dinner function!). We picked one that did not. The place we settled in was the Sanook.

Sanook is a very nice eating place indeed. We got a table right at the water edge. It couldn't be more relaxing than this.

They also have a bar on the ground floor and a pub upstairs. At the time of my picture, both drinking spots were empty. Perhaps the night then was still young.

Dinner began with the "Walking Escargots". Perhaps it is so named because the snails were still alive before being cooked? Anyway, they were sauteed in garlic herb butter, and served with focaccia bread. I found the escargots rather overdone. They were somewhat hard and no longer juicy and succulent. But the sauce was good, especially dipped with the focaccia. But then, we ordered the escargot - not the bread.

The snails were followed by the Maharaja Caesar Salad. This was supposed to be a fusion salad with chicken masala in the normal Caesar. But we couldn't tell the difference whether it was masala or otherwise. The salad was good though. It was generous in Parmesan. 

For the main meal, we shared a pasta and a pizza. The pasta was spaghetti carbonara. It was sauteed in a rich cream sauce with mushroom, and topped with bacon strips and a raw egg. The egg made the pasta smooth and delicious. It was a wonderful pasta dish. It looked small, but the dish was deep and there was ample for the 3 of us.

The restaurant is apparently known for its wood fire oven pizza. We opted for "25th December Turkey". Perhaps it was still too early till Christmas, for we were in for a little disappointment. The pizza was not bad really. It had turkey ham, olive, smoked capsicum and 3 types of mushrooms (button, shitake and oyster).  The flavor was good. The mozzarella was adequate. But sadly, the crust was overdone and burnt - to the point of being slightly bitter. We commented this to the waiters and they blamed it to the wood fire. What the heck.. I thought that was their specialty!

Dessert was a tiramisu. It was served in a cocktail glass, topped with a wafer and a strawberry. It was sweet, soft and very flavorful. 

A nice cup of brewed coffee ended a very satisfying meal.

Sanook was great. OK, the meal was not perfect. There were glitches in the escargot and the pizza. But the overall experience - the water front, the fading sunset, the simmering night lights over the water, the al fresco dining in the most relaxing environment - made it a very nice evening out indeed. And we got all these specked in middle of Petaling Jaya!