Saturday, September 28, 2013

Noble Mansion Revisited

The first time we patronised the Noble Mansion was during the Chinese New Year festivities early this year. A windfall in the share market by SC brought us back to the restaurant. He decided to host a dinner there and my wife and I were invited along.

To recap on my previous posting, the Noble Mansion is located on the 1st floor of the Plaza @ Jaya 33 along Jalan Semangat, PJ. I don't normally do repeats of the restaurants in my blog. I make an exception for Noble Mansion because of the awesome food we had this time around.

An old friend of mine and his wife from Singapore were trapped in one of these elevators from the car parks, for about 45 minutes during a recent visit. It was an harrowing experience for them.

So it might be advisable to use the stairs instead.

The restaurant was rather quiet on that Friday evening. We had our own private room. And our own dedicated waitress.

The ambiance, table settings and most of all, the company were all ideal for a great meal.

The hors d'oeuvres came in this traditional English cake server. From the top, we had a pork strip wrap with a sweet sauce, a deep fried prawn atop a slice of fried potato with a mayo sauce, and a braised fresh scallop with fried fu chuk (腐竹). 

They were elegantly presented to us like so. They were superb. The flavours were fine and exquisite. They were not the stereotype starters we find in most Chinese meals.

The soup was individually served in sealed bowls. In it were Chinese mushrooms, a small abalone, compoy (柱 - dried scallops) and substantial amount of lean pork. The flavour was absolutely marvellous. It was piping hot. I savoured every single drop.

Next was the soft shell crab. It was deep fried in a batter and served with a light sauce of Chinese wine. The crab was delicious. I have always loved soft shell crabs. This was one of the best.

They call these "goose palms" (鵝掌). They were actually goose web - geese do not have palms. It is really a delicacy - an acquired tasted. Some people are turned off by its looks. The dish arrived in a hot clay pot and was nicely presented to us by the waitress - with Chinese mushroom, sea cucumber (海参) and broccoli. It was delicious. The flavour was light and the web was soft and tender. I had double serving of the web as SK sitting beside me did not fancy the look of it.

This was a big cold water lobster. It was stir fried in a rich garlic sauce. The poor fella was apparently still swimming before it landed on our table. The meat was thus super fresh and succulent. Very well done indeed. But it apparently costed SC a small fortune.

Next was a very innovative dish. It was scrambled egg white with crab meat and pine nuts. It was eaten wrapped in lettuce. This was my first time. As I sampled the dish, I could see why they used only the white of the egg, minus the yolk. The flavour of the crab was distinct which the egg white did not in any way mask; as it perhaps would had the yolk been used. The pine nuts added to overall flavour. Such a simple dish and yet so very good.

The last and perhaps the finale was this roasted half piglet over a very delicious preparation of glutinous rice. I do not know if the piglet had any part in preparation of the rice. Certainly the combination was very original and successful. The rice was soft and delicious. The crispy skin of the piglet was somewhat contrasting but the combination absolutely worked. I enjoyed it totally.

The dessert... Oh what a dessert. Each of us had a dug-out Fuji apple. The flesh of the apple was steamed or boiled with a variety of Chinese dessert ingredients - dry longan, rock sugar, ice fungus, wolf berry, etc. The dessert was served cold inside the hollowed apple. The apple was still fresh and crunchy. It was very refreshing. An "A" for innovation.

This fruit platter was compliments of the house.

Our revisit to Noble Mansion was indefinitely better than our first experience. During our first visit, I wrote that I was not too impressed with the food, and that the service and ambiance were not quite up to that of a fine dining place. Well this time around, things were much better. At the least, we had a nice fabric napkin. The food was original, innovative and pleasant in flavour. I have to say this - they certainly move up a big notch towards fine dining status.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ruchi Spice

My subject in this posting is a nice Indian eating place in Sunway, Subang Jaya. Ruchi Spice Curry House was recommended by one of SP neighbours. They had a neighbourhood makan outing one Sunday afternoon, and SP asked us to go along.

Ruchi apparently means taste. "Tasty Spice" or "Spicy Taste" is located on Jalan PJS 11/28B in Metro Sunway, Subang Jaya, in the commercial area opposite the Sunway Resort hotel.

It is a small one-shop-lot. Like most diners in the Klang Valley, they have smoking and non-smoking (air-conditioned) areas. This was the lunch group that day, occupying most of the non-smoking section.

A food counter in the smoking section had all the food they served. The selection was rather limited.

They had the usual meats and fish. Their Mysore mutton seemed to be the highlight of the day. And it did look very appetising.

The tray of fried chicken looked too oily for my liking.

The fried fish selection was few and lacking variety.

The vegetables looked much better. There was a good selection. Nearly half of their offering was vegetarian.

I didn't manage to get photo shots of all the dishes we ordered. They were immediately snapped up as soon as they arrived on the table. I neither had the time nor the heart to delay the eating just for my pictures. The first shot I got was the curry chicken. The favour was very good - very authentically Indian.

The Mysore mutton was a real treat. The spices in it was wonderful. The meat was tender - not soft or mushy. We could still savour the texture. Certainly the highlight of my lunch.

This was a plate of tofu. Again, the spices in it was wonderful. They made the simple tofu so tasty.

The vegetables tasted as good as they looked. This plate of long beans was fresh and delicious.

So was this humble spinach.

I do not know what exactly this was. It is some sort of gourd. It looked appetising and it tasted likewise.

The deep fried bitter gourd was delightful. Crispy and flavourful, it was the best of the vege selection.

Papadam. No Indian meal is complete without it.

A nice cup of rasam added the kick. I am a big fan of rasam and I know a good rasam from the mediocre. This one was good.

A bit of this, and a bit of that. And my lunch plate looked like this. It was of course eaten with fingers. A yummy indulgence.

After the food, I ordered a cup of susu lembu kopi tarik (fresh milk coffee). It was heavenly. An absolutely perfect ending of a delicious meal.

The use of spices in this restaurant was very complete and flavourful. It was authentically Indian. The boss man was around to greet us and he said the cook is from India. The selection might had been limited. But the food was good. I guess we do not need a large variety for a satisfying meal.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Fat Spoon

Fat Spoon is a nyonya restaurant in Uptown, Damansara Utama in PJ, located several shops away from the Capital Nasi Dagang along Jalan SS21/1A. Crystal apparently got to know about this place and wanted us to try it. So I got SP and the usual family members and we were there for a leisurely weekend dinner.

Everything in this restaurant looked old and worn. The outside smoking area had a couple of tables and chairs that appeared to be discards from some second-hand furniture shops.

The main doors were worn with faded and peeled paint. The welcome decor were several old planks nailed to the the wall.

Inside, the theme was likewise old and simple. Tables and chairs were varied and haphazard. They appeared to have been randomly taken from everywhere to make up the restaurant. It really was not a bad idea. The place looked charmingly rustic and perhaps comparatively cheap to furnish.

I particularly liked this cosy corner. It reminded me of the old days when we made do with whatever we had to furnish our homes. The only difference was the soft lighting. In the old days, we only had fluorescent tubes.

We had one of these kitchen cabinets before our parents could afford a fridge.  The doors had mosquito netting to keep out flies, lizards and cockroaches; and yet airy enough to prolong freshness of food. The latch for the doors was a simple wooden peg with a nail. Simple yet so practical.

These were some kitchen appliances we used to have. The tiffin carrier and thermo flask can be museum pieces now. They certainly brought back lots of childhood memories.

The menu of the restaurant were pasted on pages of these children books. Who can forget Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn? In our primary school days, we also read lots of Enid Blyton - Secret Seven and Famous Five. That evening, we read the menu.

We snapped ourselves back to present day reality. This was their menu blackboard. They now have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And dishes were at prices that could perhaps feed a whole family for a week in our childhood days.

The staff in the restaurant were cheerful and friendly. A charming young lady helped us with the food selection. She was surprised at the number of dishes we ordered and tried to stop us. Until we told her we were a bunch of big eaters.

We then settled down to some Chinese tea.

Our first teaser was this popiah. It wasn't the greatest but we enjoyed it nevertheless. The 2 rolls were certainly not enough for the 6 of us.

Then we munched on some crispy pumpkin fritters. It was very well done. The pumpkin was shredded and deep friend in a batter. This was my first time with pumpkin fritters and I liked it very much. An innovative yum.

This was sayor paku. Very ordinary and not much innovation in this plate. Still, we liked it.

Next was the tamarind prawn. It was a wonderful dish. The flavour was spicy and sourish. I had not had this dish for a long long time. I remembered my late mother used to prepare this. This plate was so very like what she prepared.

This was the ulam omelette. Ulam is a mixture of fresh nyonya spices. This was the first time I had tasted it in an omelette. And I liked it very much. The flavour was slightly tangy and very pleasant.

Perut ikan (literally translated to mean fish stomach) is a very popular nyonya dish. But I am not a great fan of it. I think this recipe is somehow over-rated. It was a mushy mash of I-don't-know-what. It was definitely over-cooked and I didn't know what exactly I was eating. And the flavour was a bit weird.

This simple fried chicken was delicious. I think it was done with just salt and perhaps a tinge of turmeric. The skin was crispy (and sinful) and the meat tender. The portion was too small. I wished we had more of it.

This was another simple dish - a cucumber acar (spicy salad). I really have not much impression of it in my mind now. I guess it wash't too bad.

We shouldn't had order this tofu with minced meat. It was a soupy dish. Quite mundane and ordinary. We could had ordered something more interesting.

The fried sotong (squids) was delightful. The batter was nice and crispy while the squid inside was succulent and not overdone. Again the dish was rather small.

The nasi ulam (rice with fresh spices) was very very good. It was small pot and naturally not enough for 6 people. We had to order a second pot. The ulam provided a really nice aromatic flavour to the rice. I particularly liked the fresh flavour of the bunga kantan (etlingera elatior). 

And the sambal was superb. From the look of its texture, it was obvious they had hand-pounded the sambal in a "tumbuk" and not mashed in a blender. The flavour was perfect.

We shared 3 different desserts. First was sago with a scoop of ice cream. OK but nothing compared to the next 2 to come.

The first of the next 2 was a durian caramel. It was so very very rich. Almost out of the world. It was like a whole musang king (the top durian species in Malaysia) condensed into a small cup. It was sweet. It was smooth. It had a very strong durian flavour. Almost the holy grail for durian lovers.

We waited a long time for this last dessert. It was cempedak (jackfruit) spring rolls. Apparently they ran out of cempedak and went out to buy. We had to wait because one of the reasons Crystal brought us here was to try this dessert. And we were not disappointed. The rolls were served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and they were very good. The fresh cempedak was crunchy when we bit into it. Combined with the crispy roll skin, it made one heck of a dessert.

We had a lot of food that evening - 11 dishes and 3 desserts. No wonder the waitress tried to stop us. But the servings were all quite small. Nyonya servings are normally small. I don't see any reason for that. Anyway, this restaurant is worth a visit. We will definitely be there again. I wonder if they will still serve the durian caramel if it is off season.