Monday, July 28, 2014

My (2nd) Elephant

It was reported that the recent World Cup generated billions of dollars in illegal gambling's throughout the world. This dinner was part of these billions. At an earlier dinner in the midst of the football fever, the conversation inevitably drifted to the World Cup. To make things interesting, we decided on a small wager. A paper was passed round and each of us was to list down the 2 teams that we thought would make to the finals. The losers would buy dinner for the winners. When Germany and Argentina won their respective semi-finals, the group duly re-gathered for the dinner. I wasn't lucky. I predicted Germany and Nederland. 

The restaurant picked was a Thai in Aman Suria, Petaling Jaya. When this place was suggested, I immediately remembered My (Thai) Elephant that I had featured in my blog way back in 2010. That Elephant was in Section 17, PJ. I did not know that the restaurant had prospered and expanded - with branches, not only in Aman Suria but also in Sri Hartamas, K.L. 

The Elephant in Aman Suria occupied 2 shop lots with 2 dining areas. It was simple but tastefully furnished. White, blue and grey was the featured decor. Our reserved table was in the inner sanctum.

When we arrived there, SP had already ordered the dishes. The waiter was still around taking orders for drinks. The popular selection was this pandan juice with lime and mint. It looked very green.

I believed the more refreshing drink was this serai (lemon grass) juice which I opted for. It was cold and fragrant and thirst quenching. The biji selasih (basil seeds) added colour and flavour to it.

We started the meal with this miaeng kum. It was a Thai appetiser comprising various raw ingredients - chilli padi, diced lime, garlic, shallot, peanut, dry shrimp and sesame. It came with a sweet sauce. All these wrapped and eaten in daun kaduk - wild betel leaves.

The papaya salad had shredded unripe papaya with garlic, chilli padi, peanuts and the usual Thai stuffs in a sweet and sour sauce. And if it was not sour enough, they provided a slice of lime. The serving of very small. There were about a dozen of us with a couple of big eaters. Fortunately SP had presence of mind to order double servings for all the dishes.

The seafood tom yam was rather strong - hot, spicy and sour. There were prawns, squids and fish slices.

The waiters dished the 2 servings into small individuals bowls.

Gai tod is a Thai style fried chicken. Again, the serving was dismally small and even the 2 servings were not quite enough to go around. I could taste a strong herby marinade. The flavour was good. Wished there was more.

This was a platter of fish cake, tofu, and fried and fresh spring rolls. I only managed to taste the fish cake and the fried spring roll. I liked them both. But why couldn't they serve at least one piece of each for every diner? Moan.

Without sounding like a broken record, just look at the serving of the grilled squid. I had a bite of it. It was succulent and flavourful. Very nice.

The panaang gai or chicken curry was very nice. Like all Thai curries, it was thick and rich in santan (coconut milk). It went very well with rice.

Steamed siakap (barramundi) in Thai sauce. This was the only decent size serving of the meal. I didn't quite like the dish. Firstly, siakap is not my favourite fish. And the preparation was not fantastic.

This was kia jiao tofu. Kia jiao in Thai means omelet. So this had to be a tofu omelet. Honestly, this was a first for me. I had never heard, let alone tasted a tofu omelet. I did not taste any tofu in it. It was like one thick plain omelet. I guess they blended the tofu into the egg and then fried it into an omelet. I liked it. The texture was soft and nice. I think I will try making this one day. Tofu omelet - quite a novelty, isn't it?

Stir fried kai lan. Very mundane. Still it was a good choice of green.

We had a choice of white of brown rice. I was glad SP opted for the brown. 

With the small servings, I guess we all still had ample stomach space in spite of the many dishes. Each of us ordered our own individual desserts. Their was no suggestion of sharing. I believe this was a cheese cake. It looked like one with a thin layer of crust at the bottom. The reason I wasn't sure was the way they served it, with sticks on each piece of them.

My wife had this cold sago with nangka (jack fruit) and other goodies in it. I had a taste of it. It was very good. The coconut milk was rich and very fresh. The sago was plentiful and the nangka went very well with the whole thing.

The most popular dessert that evening was the red ruby (water chestnut). It was topped with diced mango.

My choice was the Thai classic - mango with glutinous rice. The serving was quite large. The glutinous rice was a mixture of white and brown, which was quite good. But the whole thing was not up to my expectation. The mango was rather soggy and the coconut milk was not quite enough. I wished I had ordered the sago instead.

The dinner was very enjoyable. I liked the company more than the food. And it was not going to end there. During the meal, another piece of paper was passed around to predict the champion. Like the tournament, there again would be winners and losers. And we would re-gather one more time.

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.