Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hoe's in Bandar Puteri Puchong

Hoe's is a small cosy restaurant serving nice western fare on Jalan Puteri 2/6, Bandar Puteri Puchong. My wife first went to this place with her work colleagues and since then we have eaten there a couple of times. Our last visit was when EK and family came over from Sungai Petani. And they loved the food there.

The restaurant occupies a single shop lot. Like most new eating places, they have a outside smoking area. The inside is gayly furbished - blue lightings, pink ceiling, green walls - what a combination. It was almost like a disco. This place is bold in decor.

The wall is covered with framed witty quotations and messages. Even the toilet is not spared. If you were to read every one of them, you would probably be a very wise man or woman.

Service was efficient. The proprietor lady was charming and friendly. But she refused to be photographed. We ordered our food and then settled down with our drinks. I particularly like this lemonade. It was most refreshing.

But I had a problem with their iced lemon tea. It was made from a concentrate. They did not even bother to stir it into the water and ice. If they could not serve the real stuff, the least they could do was to blend the concentrate into the water. I told the proprietor lady so. She was apologetic.

Soup was then served. The mushroom soup was made from fresh mushrooms. Served with some croutons, it was creamy and delicious.

The garlic bread which we had with the soup were additional orders.

We shared this bacon and walnut salad. It was very nice. The walnut made it so. The crunchy nuts and the aroma of the bacon made a really good combination.

The New Zealand green mussels were superb. It was cooked in a rich creamy garlic sauce with various spices. The sauce was  simply delicious. The mussels were fresh and not over-done. The plate was supposed to be served with dipping toasts, only I think they forgot to toast the whole grain bread. But that did not mar our pleasure of this delightful dish. The bread tasted equally good in the sauce.

This was the Spaghetti Alla Carbonara. It was pasta in a rich creamy sauce, topped with crispy bacon and grated parmesan cheese. It looked ordinary, but the flavour was quite good. I think they made the sauce well.

The other pasta dish we ordered was the Spaghetti Marinara. It came with a tiger prawn and a  few mussels in a tomato sauce. The spaghetti was al dente - firm to the bite - and the sauce was rich with tomato and spices. 

The roast pork in this place was really very nice. It was almost like the Chinese Siu Yuk (燒). The skin was delightfully crispy and the meat was succulent and juicy. It was served with mashed potato, cauliflower, beans, carrot and a small portion of corn-on-the-cob. And a bowl of apple sauce. Very very good indeed.

The highlight of the meal was this Combi Platter. It was a big plate enough for 4 people. In it were crispy roast knuckle, grilled lamb chop, barbecued pork ribs, tantalising sausages, and crispy bacon strips. The accompaniments were mashed potato, cauliflower, carrots, beans and a bowl of sauerkraut. It was truly a meat lover's delight. Everything in the platter was yummy good.

Dessert was tiramisu in a champagne glass. 

With coffee...


And coffee.

It was a most satisfying meal in a nice cheerful place. However, I am not sure if it is very well known. I goggled and was surprised not to find any mention of the restaurant. Perhaps places like this are best kept as little secrets to be relished and enjoyed.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Noble (Fine Dining?) Mansion

Are there fine Chinese dining in Malaysia? SP had many times talked about Noble House in Jalan Imbi, KL. This award winning restaurant is apparently among the top Chinese dining places in Malaysia. We had yet to make a visit. Recently the restaurant's parent The Oriental Group opened a new Noble in Petaling Jaya. SP had patronised the place and found it good enough to organise a CNY do for his makan group. Since it was a pay-your-own affair, I felt no obligation about joining in.

The Noble Mansion (大陽城) is located at The Plaza @ Jaya 33 on Jalan Semangat. The Plaza @ Jaya 33 is a brand new building just next to Jaya 33. At the time of our visit, the Noble Mansion was apparently the only establishment that was opened for business.

The restaurant is big occupying almost the whole of the Plaza's first floor. It is grandiosely set up, with black walls and ceiling, and effective lightings to give it a classy aura. The tables were well spaced to afford roominess. However, the acoustics of the place is somewhat lacking for in spite of the space and high ceiling, it was uncomfortably noisy.

They had many private dining rooms complete with karaoke facilities - all very tastefully furbished.

And a large comfortable waiting lounge in case you have to queue for your table.

We could not get a private dining room and had to settle for 2 tables in the main dining hall.

While waiting for the rest to arrive, the restaurant graciously served us "tit bits" to whet our appetite. And it was no mean tit bits. It was a full-blown plate of deep fried mushrooms. The mushrooms were delicious prepared - crispy and aromatic.

It being CNY, the first course of our meal was the naturally the yee-sang (魚生). It was a big serving with salmon and jelly fish.

We tossed for our good fortune. And the yee-sang was pretty good. The ingredients were fresh. The crispies were exactly so.

And then the soup was served. It was individually bowled. In the clear soup were Silkie (black) chicken, Chinese mushroom, pak choy (白菜) and conpoy (乾瑤柱 dried scallop). The soup was super sweet and delicious. It was served piping hot and the aroma was fabulous. Good to the very last drop.

This was the individually served starter. The presentation was credible. It perhaps was how fine dining should be.

In the glass was a serving of fresh scallop in a sweet-sourish sauce. I couldn't tell what the sauce was. The scallop was fresh but not extraordinary

In the scallop shell was a crispy deep fried leave. I thought it was mint but it did not taste like it. Under it was a piece of fish cake - deep fried and cooked in a sweet sauce. I had no problem with the flavour. But come on, we came for "fine dining" and they served us fish cake?

The barbecued pork rib was also fine-diningly presented in a long plate complete with garnish and flower. The meat was well done but not absolutely tender. It was really a very ordinary piece of meat.

And that was the last of individually served dish. And the end of fine dining? The rest of the dishes were centrally served. I had seen this pomfret preparation before. It was in a wedding dinner in a sister restaurant in Oriental Pavilion in Jaya 33. It was a fish cooked in 2 ways. The meat was sautéed in green beans. The skeleton was deep fried to a crisp and mounted vertically on the plate.

I wondered aloud how I could get to the fish head. Before I could finish wondering, a waitress took the skeleton and proceed to scissor it to bite sizes. I actually enjoyed the bones and head more than the meat. Funny coming to a fine dining joint to eat fish bones.

This vegetable dish comprised of broccoli and a kind of tofu wrap. The wrap was a sort of tofu skin. In it was a mixture of mushroom, water chestnut, carrot and I don't know what else. I liked the taste of the wrap. The broccoli was good as well. The dish was quite refreshing.

The final dish was abalone mushroom with choy sum (菜心). By then, I was pretty full and had not much interest in the dish. I picked a few pieces of the mushroom and that was it. The dish was not great. Very very ordinary.

I wanted dessert - something sweet to "wash the mouth". But the others were too full and overruled me. That was the end of the meal. Oh yes, the restaurant provides a free photography service. A guy went around taking pictures of diners. But the prints he later distributed were lousy. The colour was reddish like so...

All in all the meal was so-so. There was no wow factor. Was it fine dining? To me, fine dining must have elements of good food, good presentation, good ambiance and good service. The food quality in Noble Mansion was nothing to shout about. The presentations were ok for the first few dishes. They made an attempt in the individual servings, but later revert to "mass" central dishing. The ambiance of the place was without doubt very conducive but the place was simply too noisy. The service? There was nothing to complain about but they neglected a basic thing like napkins. They did not even provide paper napkins let alone the proper fabric. I think they still have some way to go.