Saturday, 29 October 2011

Restoran Muar, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Muar is a town about half way between Kuala Lumpur and Johor known for its delicious local variations of Chinese and Malay dishes. Restoran Muar, just off Changkat Bukit Bintang, offers a chance to try some specialities from this region right here KL. I've been dragged to Restoran Muar three times in the last few months by local friends. It's a popular spot on weekends so you might have to wait for a table - not for long though - it's not the type of place for hanging around, just eating and moving on. Honestly I'm quite biased towards healthier dishes so this place didn't have a great chance to begin with the majority of the popular options being fried - crispy fried eggs, fried butter kai lan, chicken fried in a sweet sweet sauce. They were all good, very tasty, not just something I'd regularly order. Restoran Muar is also known for it's assam fish cooked in a spicy sour tamarind sauce with plenty of juice made for slurping up after all the fish is gone. Their cendol is celebrated by my local pals and we haven't been able to leave ever without everyone (except me) ordering one or two rounds - shaved ice, coconut milk, red beans and noodly worm-like green jelly on top. It's really too much for my taste buds to contemplate - the idea of beans mixed with jelly and ice for dessert. I feel obliged to write about this place though as it is obviously pretty good stuff according to KL urbanites and I shouldn't let my bias for leaner cuisine put anyone else off giving this spot a go. The setting is simple and homey, portions are small (but prices are not too bad considering the location) and the food is fresh and flavoursome.  
Restoran Muar
No. 6G Tengkat Tong Shin, 
Off Jalan Bukit Bintang,
50200 Kuala Lumpur,
+603 2144 2072

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Lai Po Heen, Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In the dining scene it's always a good sign when you see a full house and locals lining up to get into a restaurant. This is such the case for Lai Po Heen at the Mandarin Oriental. Hungry families are happy to line up for some of the best dim sum and Cantonese dishes in town. The ambience is lively with upbeat background music, buzzing chatter from diners and sprightly entertainment provided by chefs tossing, turning, flipping and smiling for customers from the glass-walled kitchen. For someone who is new to the wonders of dim sum and having a limited experience with Cantonese cuisine the staff are extremely helpful. Each take their time in answering questions, making suggestions and describing ingredients. I graciously took recommendations and found success in every plate presented. My mouth merrily capitulated to an exhilarating roller coaster ride of texture adventures. Crunchy, chewy, creamy, smooth, course, flaky, velvety, moist, succulent - a contrast was found in every dish. Take the popular dim sum item, Crispy Prawn and Squid Dumplings Coated with Almond Flakes, for example. Brittle  almond flakes encrust a dense and succulent prawn, topped with a moist sweet chili sauce giving a depth of structure that allows a good few chews before completely disappearing in the mouth. The Crispy Yam Dumplings Filled with Minced Chicken and Shrimps are another texture sensation -  a delicate lace like fried encasement surrounds a thicker glutinous inner lining filled with a juicy wet  protein centre. My whole mouth was confused (in a very pleasant way) by a deliberate composition of unexpected textures of a number of selections from the dim sum menu. Other highlights are found in Lai Po Heen's Signature Dishes. Two of memorable note are, the Beef TENDERLoin with Black Pepper, and the Tiger Prawns in a Lemongrass Nonya Style Sauce - lightly fried local prawns in a tangy aromaticly addictive lemon grass sauce - with head Chef Ricky heralding from a long line of culinarians from Malacca this is one outstanding dish not to be missed. While the menu might not be in everyone's ideal price range, Elite card holders receive 50% off when dining in two making a delicious lunch more than reasonably affordable .  

Lai Po Heen
First Floor
Mandarin Oriental
Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 2179 8881

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Little Thai, Ampang, Malaysia

Little Thai has become quite the hangout for expatriates in the Ampang area. Visit any evening between 7 and 9pm and you're likely to come across someone you know. Popular picks are the classic Thai favourites of green chicken curry and mango or papaya salad. The dry green curry fried rice comes well recommended too. Meals are tasty and cheap but service is slow. The lovely chef does it all by herself and makes everything from scratch. You're assured of freshness and on the spot cooking but you might want to choose the time you intend to dine or settle in happily for the evening. You can bring your own wine with no corkage fee, so settling in for the evening could be just the thing to do.

Little Thai
Stalls on corner of Jalan Ampang and Ulu Klang (diagonally opposite Ampang Point and on the other side of Jalan Ampang to Suzi's Corner)
Park at Brussels Beer Cafe and walk up the steps to the stalls. It's the first stall on your left as you enter.
68000 Ampang

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Weissbrau German Bistro & Bar Turns 2!, Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I've been pretty lucky to be an invited guest a number of times at Weissbrau and have always been very happy with the beer and pork offerings. This time was no different as Weissbrau celebrated their second anniversary at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur, with a rockin' band Mad Sally, tasty food and the biggest beers I've ever seen! For more news of what Weissbrau has to offer see here and here and here. :-)

Wiessbrau German Bistro & Bar
Lot 3.05.02 & C3.16.00, Level 3
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
+60 3 2142 0288

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Breakfast at Mosaic, Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Mosaic, all day dining restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental, works with just the same philosophy for breakfast as it does for dinner - focus on quality rather than quantity. While offering both local and international breakfast delights such as Chinese, Indian, Western, European and Japanese cuisine the selections are perhaps not as wide as you might find in some 5 star hotels around the city.  The difference though is smaller offerings mean more focus is put into the standard of each dish. What will keep me coming back for breaky are: the egg station - eggs done to your liking - I could even get my vege egg white omelette made with just a spray of oil and pan fried mushrooms on the side; crusty wholemeal bread; crunchy chef's granola; an assortment of fresh, dried and compoted fruits; bottomless cups of coffee and a rockin' bakery section - ask the cook in the centre of the goodies to whip you up some hot French toast and top it with the mixed berry compote - yum! My dining buddy, who balances out my healthy taste buds, devoured chicken sausages filled with cheese, tender flavourful steaks off the grill, scrambled eggs, some local meat dishes (in particular the well seasoned, juicy chicken from the Indian bar), and steamy dim sum. The modest medley of dim sum is worth a mention as it was enough to whet my appetite to make a reservation for the dim sum restaurant located upstairs for next weekend. If you enjoy people watching and the green KLCC park view it's wise to reserve a window table in advance as this place quickly fills up on the weekend (so much so on my visit that the lobby area was opened up to cater for the large number of patrons).

Ground Floor
Mandarin Oriental
Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 2179 8881

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Good Music and Drinks at Nerofico, Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Despite the above photos, the focus of this post is surprisingly not on food. Dropping into Nerofico late last Friday evening I discovered something just as exciting - great music and drinks in a smoke-free environment. That's correct, there really are entertainment venues living in the 21st century right here in KL. For those of you still dying to puff away, there's a lovely outdoor area where you can smoke until your lungs turn black. Those inside however, can have an awesome evening of fine tunes and delicious drinks in relatively clean air. Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to enjoy the smooth vocals of James Flynn accompanied by a local crew playing a soul fulfilling mix of classic jazz tunes. Musicians change every weekend mixing it up with Latin jazz, swing, soul jazz and a whole host of other sub-genres and fusions. Knowing that your ears will be satisfied, now what about your taste buds? As with the other Nero Group restaurants a decent wine menu featuring Italian specialities is on offer.  My pick  though is the zingy limoncello. Tangy sweet sips of this lemon liqueur are the perfect accompaniment to a toe tapping evening of rhythmic nourishment. In my mind, the only thing better than this is the knowledge that the friendly manager, Michele, will soon be producing his own recipe of limoncello for the bar. He has promised to keep The Yum List posted when the first batch surfaces and I will surely do the hard work of sampling it, so that you will know if it's worth a visit.

Live music Fridays and Saturdays from 10pm
Ground Floor
Wisma Perintis
47 Jalan Dungun
Damansara Heights
50490 Kuala Lumpur
+603 2089 5312

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Peruvian Fusion at La Mar, Lima, Peru

La Mar
For fantastic Peruvian food with flair, go to La Mar. We shared several tasting plates consisting of Peruvian staples; ceviche and causa or mashed potatoes. Ceviche (raw fish) reminds me of yum (thai salad) in that its fresh and cooked in lime juices. Lovely and refreshing. Causa, made here in small servings as each was made from different kinds of potatoes mixed with various Peruvian chillis. Served cold like a rounded potato salad. If you didn't know, Potatoes originate from Peru! Amazing. I love the giant corn you find here. Complimentary were the fried yuca, banana or plantain and potato chips; and fried, salted corn kernels served with Aji (yellow mustard colour) and Rocotto(red) chilli's and Huacatay - (green) which is a Andean herb mixed with Aji chilli. It's flavour is reminiscent to coriander/cilantro. We also had fried calamari, grilled octopus and nikei tuna. 

La Mar
Av La Mar No 770, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
Tel: 511 421 3365 

Pisco Sour in Historic Downtown Lima, PERU

Pisco Sour at Bar Maury at Hotel Maury.
The gentleman who brought the cocktail back into the limelight several decades ago, works here and does make a wonderful drink. He’s a quiet, humble man and very happy to take a picture with you. The bar also has tours telling of the history of the Pisco Sour, originally created as an alternative to the Whisky sour drink. Or try the Algarrobina cocktail, made with pisco, milk and algarrobina syrup giving it a chocolate milk kind of taste. Delicious! Beware of having too many pisco sours. The lime makes it refreshingly easy to drink, but it will hit you later. Love it still. 
Hotel Maury. Ucayali 201, Historic Area, Lima, Peru
Tel: +51 1 4288188 

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The educator in me cannot hide any longer. I'm compelled to share information about food, health and what I think is good for you and our world. So every now and then I'll post some of my favourite books that have helped shine the light on a healthy eating path both for myself, others and the world we share.  The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, was recommended to me a few years ago. Before reading this book I thought I had a pretty good idea of where my food came from. I grew up in a tiny town in country Australia, surrounded mostly by grain and livestock farms. We grew many of our own fruits and vegetables and what we didn't produce our neighbours often did. My father, or someone else in our community, killed our own meat (beef, chicken, lamb, pork). We sometimes got milk and cream from the cows, emu eggs from the wild, yabbies from local dams and catfish from nearby rivers. These ingredients were then all expertly cut, cleaned, packed and stored in vacuum sealed bags, as jams chutneys and preserves in jars, Tuppaware and an assortment of other containers, then shared with neighbours, stored in pantries or packed in enormous freezers for later use. Thinking about the bountiful homestyle country cooking, made with the freshest ingredients, brought to life by the hands of mothers, daughters, wives and sisters, brings back smells, tastes and sights that invoke a nostalgia for childhood and for a feeling that everything is right with the world. Having that background, and as an adult, numerous courses, certificates and continuous education on nutrition combined with a passion for food, I pretty much thought I was well equipped with a deep knowledge of where my food came from. Wrong! Reading The Omnivore's Dilemma opened my eyes to the not-so-innocent world of food industrialization, left me enlightened knowing I had choices, but more importantly eager to know more. The Omnivore's Dilemma traces four meals from field to table. A project that seems so simple to start with will leave you questioning not only how your current meal came to be, but every meal after for a long long time. Michael Pollan is brilliant and this book in particular a must read.


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Eco Oasis, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Eco Oasis is a peaceful haven only seconds away from the bedlam and bustle of busy Bangsar.  A restaurant, shop, spa and host to various events such as cooking and lifestyle courses, this place provides refuge for the mind, body and tummy. Unlike some organic stores around KL, where a superficial knowledge of nutrition prevails and organic is used more as a marketing tool than a way of life, Eco Oasis has a different foundation. German owner, Elke Wollschon knows nutrition, lives it, breathes it, is always expanding her knowledge and thus her offerings at the store. She pledges to "never use anything artificial" such as "preservatives, MSG, microwave, transfats or Teflon coated cookware." This transpires into a fresh menu of mostly plants, whole foods (very few processed items) and a growing raw food menu. Monthly specials and a host of creative concoctions give any health nut plenty to get excited about.

Don't miss the Black Quinoa and Mango Salad (pictured above) - sweet lush mangos, with the nutty taste and texture of quinoa served in a light dressing with a hint of chili  - my idea of a perfect dish. For a light lunch or starter be sure to sample from the Raw menu the Sprouted Buckwheat Bread with the Parsley Nut Cream. That's right, raw. The bread is not cooked, but rather dehydrated maintaining more nutrients and giving it a texture between a dense German bread, such as pumpernickel, and a whole grain crispbread such as Ryvita. Topped with a dairy free spread made of blended nuts, seeds and herbs, this plate is a winning combination. For a guilt-free finish, the mango no-cheese cheesecake is hard to beat - a not too sweet thick mousse like topping on a nutty base. The Raw food menu is lactose, gluten and sugar free. Many of these delicious bits are also available to take home alongside other house made snacks such as flax seed crackers, bread sticks and RAWnola.  Free wifi and a green dining area on the back patio cooled by ceiling fans are just fringe benefits.

Be sure to visit their website to check out directions before you head off to find this place.  It's located in a dead end side street off Jalan Maarof only accessible in the direction coming from Jalan Bangsar, heading towards the Telawi streets. The turn is just before the petrol station - this petrol station is also a favourite spot for taxi drivers to refill with gas so cars are often blocking the entry to the small side street just before it. If this is the case when you arrive drive up the side of them and wave politely.  Someone will let you in to cut across the lane. Once in, there is plenty of street side parking. The bungalow is on the right, number 7. Walk up the narrow steps and you'll find yourself in an organic sanctuary.

Eco Oasis
7 Jalan Riong (off Jalan Maarof)
Bangsar Baru
59100 Kuala Lumpur
+603 2284 2393
GPS: 03,07,643 N, 101,40,479 E

*** Sadly this spot has closed down. Keep your ear out though for workshops and programs offered by the vivacious owner, Elke.