Wednesday, August 27, 2014

J & D Espresso

All day breakfast joints are apparently quite in vogue. This is my 5th western breakfast features after Antipodean, Mr & Ms, Three Little Pigs, and Nutmeg. Last weekend, we were at the Empire Shopping Gallery in Subang Jaya. As we parked our car in the open air parking lots, I noticed this cafe Jibby & Co., which was packed with a breakfast crowd with people queueing outside to go in. Are people really that crazy about western brekkies? Apparently I am. With 5 brekkie features, I have to be.

J & D Espresso is located in the Oasis Business Centre (not to be mistaken with Oasis Square in Ara Damansara), at the T-junction of Lebuh Bandar Utama and Persiaran Tropicana, in Bandar Utama, PJ. The business centre was initially meant to be a food court. They had a big signboard to that effect. However, they apparently did not have enough food vendors. So they took down the signboard and converted it into a business centre.

The place was very quiet and listless. There were a few stores selling I-don't-know-what. Hardly any patrons. The J & D Espresso was the only makan place. It added some life into the otherwise near-dead business centre and put some cars into the car park. Like I mentioned many times, when there is food there is life.

As we walked into the restaurant, we were greeted by a large coffee bar. The sweet young thing there was rather shy to have her picture taken. A couple of baristas were busy with their chores

The dining area was rather small. Every single table was taken up. That bespoke the popularity of western brekkies. Besides all day breakfasts, they served all day lunches, pastas and pizzas.

We started our day with some beverages. The usual latte for my wife.

And the usual long black for me.

Health conscious Crystal stuck to her earl grey without sugar and cream.

This was the French omelette. It was 3 eggs stuffed with mushrooms and cheese, served with salad and herb croutons. You can imagine a 3 eggs omelette would be rather big. It was. A real full breakfast.

The pancake stack was 3 fluffy pancakes, with mixed berries and Anzac crumbs, topped with a fruit compote and salted butter. I have never fancied pancakes for breakfast, But Crystal seemed to like it.

The big Aussie brekkie was a real treat. It was choice of 2 eggs (I opted for sunny side) on toast, a big garlic sausage, pork bacon, baked beans, grilled cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and a crispy croquetas. It was good. In all the brekkie places that I had been to, I had ordered their big breakfasts. This was one of the better ones. I particularly like the sausage and bacon - genuine porky stuffs.

Next stop has to be Jibby & Co in the Empire Shopping Gallery.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Charcoal in Saujana

We were guests of the Saujana Hotel at the Jalan Lapangan Terbang Subang. Six of us from the office were invited to lunch by the hotel. We arrived at the lobby and were greeted by a most pleasant marketing/sale lady.

She showed us around the hotel which had a beautiful resort environment and facilities. We walked through the rooms including some exclusive suites, one of which even had a private gym and spa.

Lunch was at their new dining facility - the Charcoal. The restaurant was a makeover of the old Suria Restaurant, which was one floor below the main lobby. The Charcoal had opened only about a month before our visit.

Another very pleasant lady greeted us at the restaurant.

The made-over Charcoal was basically very much the same as the previous Suria in terms of its lay-out. The furnishing, decor and furnitures might had changed, but they had kept the same dining and service areas. I did not see very much difference between the new and the old. Perhaps it was because I don't frequent the place. The last time I was there was perhaps 5 years ago.

They have several indoor dining areas which were uncrowded with very conducive ambiance.

And a L shape non air-conditioned "veranda" with comfortable and equally conducive sofas. Only, it was rather warm in the dry hot season when we were there. They had some ceiling fans but I doubt they helped much.

I saw major changes in the service area. In the middle was a big BBQ grill where they did the meats. Beside the grill were stacks of firewood - apparently used to fire their grill. That made me wonder. Was this a charcoal (as the name implies) or a firewood place?

On display were various meats for your order. They had steaks, chicken and lamb...

And various seafood including king fish and pomfrets. They all looked very fresh and of good quality.

Beside the giant grill, there was a smaller grill at the counter. The guy manning the grill was busy doing the various meats. So what was the different between the big grill and this small one? At the time we were there, the big grill was left idle. All the BBQing was done on this small grill. 

Besides the meats, there was a very good spread of other goodies. This was the starter/appetiser section with the various mouth-watering Malaysian preparations.

There were also a salad selection for the less adventurous.

Soups and breads.

The entrees were both local and westerns - meats and vegetables for rice and pastas.

And finally desserts. Fruits...

Pastries and cakes, and local kuehs.

My meal that day was this oxtail soup with a sesame bun and butter.

The main meal was a combination of starters, grilled meat, fish, rice and some curried mutton.

Desserts were shared with fellow makan mates.

Ending with a satisfying long black.

The buffet at the Charcoal was a comprehensive spread. The foods offered were fresh and of good quality. The Saujana charges RM99++ per pax for buffet lunch and dinner. The meal I ate that day was definitely worth much less. Fortunately I didn't need to pay for it.

Unless you are a big eater, buffets most often are not very value for money. It is really a 2-way sword. The restaurant prepares more food than required to satisfy its customers. Nobody wants to dine on a depleted buffet spread. The diner, on the other hand pays more than he/she actually eats. So it is wastages all round. I wonder what the restaurants do with the excess food.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Las Carretas Mexican

I betted on Germany, and I got a free dinner. My wife picked Argentina, so it was square one. After the World Cup final, the makan group re-gathered for the 2nd wager dinner. This time around, the winners outnumbered the losers three to one. Germany was a popular choice.

Las Carretas in Subang Jaya is located on Jalan USJ10/1F (Tai Pan). I remembered this restaurant. I was there many years ago. It used to be on Jalan USJ10/1E. It was a small restaurant with limited seating. Several years ago it moved one street away to this more spacious locale. It has 2 floors of dining. Beside this Subang Jaya branch, Las Carretas has outlets in Ampang and Bukit Damansara.

Inside, the restaurant was vibrant and colourful. The owners took pains to furnish the place with multi coloured lights, arts, artefacts and pseudo palm trees to reflect the boisterous Mexican culture.

The well stocked bar at the ground floor which I am sure will not be short on tequila selection.

A staff greeted us at the door, and at the mention of  our reservation, led us to the back and up an interesting flight of stairs to the upper dining floor.

Up there, the scene was no less colourful and flamboyant. It was less crowded and noisy. Definitely a more conducive dining area compared to below.

Our table was next to a colourful wall mural depicting Mexicans dancers and musicians.

Even the cutleries we dined from were no less colourful.

We were the last to arrive and by then, the rest of the dining party had already finished the complimentary tortilla chips. Not to be outdone, I asked for an additional serving. The sweet young waitress willingly obliged. The chips came with a bowl of salsa dip. It was indeed a superb appetiser.

After a short chat, the dishes began to arrive the poppers. These were deep fried battered jalapeño chillis stuffed with cheese. As we bit on the jalapeños, the melted cheese oozed out. The poppers were served with a bowl of capsicum salsa. The dish was interesting but not great. The flowing cheese did not have much of a flavour.

The third appetiser was the nachos. It was a plate of tortilla chips, with minced beef, baked with  cheese, jalapeños chilli, bell pepper relish and enchilada sauce - topped with a scoop of sour cream. It was delicious. I liked the melted cheese on the tortilla chips. The meat added to the flavour.

The first entrée was this charbroiled beef back ribs. It was marinated with jalapeños and chilli, and covered with a rather sweet BBQ sauce which I didn't quite like. The meat was perfectly done. The texture was just right and wasn't too soggy or soft. The meat did not just slip off the rib bone and needed a little effort with the fingers. I like meat this way. The ribs was served with some salad and a jacket potato.

The fajitas is one of the popular Mexican dishes. And we did not miss it. We had a mix of cajun chicken and beef steak, both of which were cut in strips and served in a hot plate. The condiments came in a separate plate - comprising some salads, grated cheese, rice and beans, salsa sauce, sour cream and guacamole (an avocado sauce). All these were wrapped and eaten in tortillas. The fajitas here was not great. I had had much better fajitas. The condiments were not enough. I would had preferred a lot more guacamole. Even the tortilla wraps were limited. At the end of it, there was leftover meats for want of more wraps and condiments.

Our final dish was an added on. It was a tortilla wrap. It basically was a pre-wrapped fajita. The fillings were the same - cajun chicken, rice, beans, topped with guacamole and sour cream and served with some salad and salsa sauce. The cajun chicken in this wrap tasted better than that that came with the fajita.

The meal was great. Again, like the first one in My Elephant, I enjoyed the company more. I am no Mexican gourmet. I had tried a few in the U.S. Somehow I felt the Mexican dishes here lacked authenticity. But that is only to be expected, just as much as I expect getting authentic Malaysian food in Acapulco.

We are already looking forward to the next World Cup.