Monday, 28 November 2011

Luk Yu Tea House, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Local buddies might say I'm crazy to pay 26RM for noodles in Malaysia.  These ones were really good though! Luk Yu Tea House in Starhill Gallery serves some mighty fine Chinese cuisine. What's more, it's air conditioned, clean and beautiful. Yes, I probably could get something just as tasty on a street corner, but then I might have to share the scene with rats, smelly drains and car fumes. This experience was much nicer. The service staff were fantastic too. They made suggestions, told us the house specialities, advised on the spiciness of various plates and and even told us when they thought we had ordered enough. The pictures above show mushroom soup, seasonal veges in oyster sauce, seafood noodles and Japanese udon noodles with black pepper prawns. Everything was fresh, tender and super tasty. If you have an American Express Platinum card you get a 50% discount when dining as a couple. So those 26RM noodles, that suddenly become 13RM, in the same friendly environment, start to look even better :-)

Luk Yu Tea House
LG5 Feast Floor
Starhill Gallery
181 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 2782 3850

Sunday, 27 November 2011

RAW Coffee at Food Haven, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Raw Coffee Bar at Food Haven is the perfect place to fulfill your caffeine needs. Raw coffee along with their associated machines and baristas seem to be one of the best things to hit the KL coffee scene this year. Located in numerous outlets around Ampang you can get a coffee worth leaving the house for. What's more - it's almost local (Indonesia) and organic to boot. Regular milk, skim, soy all available. It's enough to make you smile larger than usual on a Sunday morning.

Food Haven
12 Jalan Ampang Hilir
55000 Kuala Lumpur
+603- 42523100

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Flying & Feasting with airVenture

This dynamic duo of scientists, captains, pilots, engineers, 'give me a machine and I'll pull it apart, put it back together again and make it faster' crew, Sam and James Gibbs, have been making me drool for about a year now with stories of the best steamboat/ bbq/ grill in the Klang Valley.  I've been begging to go along with them and the only way they would take me to their secret hideout was to go through the initiation ceremony of strapping a fan to my back and taking flight.  Well, not just a fan... there's a kite too :-)  It's not as bad as it sounds, actually it's probably the most awesome afternoon I've spent in Malaysia! Paramotoring, as it's properly called, could be the greatest fun, freeing and exhilarating experience I've had with a machine (alright I do get 'exhilarating' every day when I get behind the wheel and take to the roads in KL but 'fun' definitely does not enter my mind when dodging mad motorists - many other <f> words do though). Take a trip with airVenture and in just an hour you've escaped cement city and arrived to unhurried kampong life.  The drive to the take-off paddock winds you through green palm oil plantations, colourful homes where neighbours hang out on verandahs chatting and watching the birds fly by, and lands you in an empty field surrounded by a river heading out to the sea on one side and wetlands on the other.  A fresh cool breeze greets you as you arrive to the club house (the lone tree in the middle of the field) to begin preparation for an afternoon of invigoration.

The extremely knowledgeable Aussie, James Gibbs of airVenture, is the instructor. With a long resume of worldly flying experiences in just about every craft that takes flight imaginable you are in very capable hands. (Actually it's crossed my mind that James could probably make a flying machine out of leaves and twigs and transverse the globe without a glitch.) The first step to paramotoring is the Basic Introductory Training course, which, for 150RM, is a bargain and ideal way to test out if you have what it takes to complete the full flying course which can be achieved in 3 - 5 days. Learning to kite - controlling the sail to stay in the air while standing on the ground with the strings strapped to your back - is a liberating experience in itself and a very important precursor to getting off the ground. For first timers James will take you up in a tandem buggy so that you feel what it's like to be airborne. When flying solo though you literally run along the ground with the propellor on your back blowing at full power until lift off. Apparently people become so enamored with the freedom of this sport that many purchase their own paramotor and circulate the globe ascending into the blue wherever it takes their fancy. James says that for the cost of a pilot's course you can be trained to paramotor and have your own equipment. Keeping an "aeroplane in the boot of your car" sure does sound convenient. Of course I didn't get out of the experience quite as gently as what most people would. I had the "special" treatment saved only for family and friends. I got to see how skilled this master pilot really is with the death spiral and other tummy tickling moves. Which, as James assures me, was not an attempt to make me pee my pants, but merely a demonstration of what students can eventually learn to do.

So having successfully completed my aerial initiation (no change of underwear necessary) they finally they took me to their much talked about nook for some fantastically filling food and fun. Eighty Eight Steamboat BBQ Buffet Restaurant is actually a three-in-one cooking experience where you can steam, bbq and/ or grill your selections to your own liking. For only 26 RM you can cook and eat away till your belly's content and that of your dining buddies too. A wide variety of seasoned meats and seafood is available for choosing as well as plenty of fresh vegetables, noodles and sauces to flavour your dinner. Outdoor or open indoor seating, enormous round tables and plenty of cold beer make it a perfect place to pass a few hours with friends and family. 

Unit G-3-11A, Taipan Damansara
Jalan PJU A/3M, Ara Damansara
47500 Petaling Jaya
Selangor, Malaysia
+603 7842 6884
Skype: jamesgibbs

Eighty Eight Steamboat BBQ Buffet Restaurant
(I forgot to get their card so you'll either have to google it, or pass through the flying initiation yourself!)

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Nero Vivo, Changkat Bukit Bintang, Malaysia

Nerovivo is one of my all time favourite Italian spots in KL. The original of the Nero trio, I'm always happy with the variety of dishes on the menu and quality of produce. I love the chic interior and outdoor seating areas, sleek bar and comfy waiting area. You can tell training of staff is a priority as they really do try to be informative, friendly and attentive. I highly recommend asking your waitperson for their suggestions before ordering. They have always steered me in the right direction. Besides a talented chef and investment in good quality ingredients, I think one of the secrets between exceptional Italian cuisine and average food is in the olive oil. It's in just about every dish so it better be good. At Nerovivo, it's great. The evening these photos were taken we ate: beef carpaccio - sliced so thinly it dissolved in your mouth without having to chew - topped with parmesan, rocket and balsamic dressing; wild rocket salad - FRESH wild rocket with caramelized onions, sesame seeds, wafer thin radish slices, oven roasted tomatoes with a slightly sweet dressing (winner!); cappelletti stuffed with spinach and ricotta in a sage and butter sauce - sage  & butter unbeatable combo and; lamb rouget parppardelle - flavourful tender pieces of lamb tossed with fat house made pasta.  If you have a sweet tooth be sure to try the tiramisu - Nerovivo has a reputation for making one of the best you can find in town.

3a Jalan Ceylon
Changkat Bukit Bintang
50250 Kuala Lumpur
+603 2070 3120

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Veg Fish Farm Thai Restaurant, Ampang, Malaysia

The Thai Veg Fish Fam is a great place to take visitors and a quick getaway from the city. Nestled in the hills of Hulu Langat, the restaurant is surrounded by a green valley of farms and jungle. Afloat on a small natural lake sits the bamboo seating area and even in the middle of the day you feel comfortable with a light breeze sauntering off the cool water. The first journey getting there can be a bit tricky if you're not familiar with the area, but seems so easy once you've been. Head out of town on Jalan Ampang, past Ampang Point, past Ampang Waterfront all the way to a traffic light for an intersection with Jalan Taman Putra (same street as Carrefour). Turn right into this street. Keep going straight until you get to the second traffic light for Jalan Ulu Langkat Ampang - the road that leads you to the Look Out Point. Head up a windy ascent continuing about 1km past the Look Out Point and you will see a small sign for the Veg Fish Farm on your right. Since my first few visits the owners have created a new entry road making for a much smoother ride than the previous bumpy dirt track. The Look Out Point by the way has a spectacular view of KL and would be perfect if you planned to be there around sunset either after a late lunch or before dinner on your way to the restaurant. Fresh local produce is used by the Veg Fish Farm Thai Restaurant to create delicious Thai dishes of which much is grown on an onsite farm. Some is also available for purchase to take home. You won't find any fresher fish around either as you'll see it's kept in and netted out of the pond just before cooking. Picks not to be missed are the salt crusted talapia, fresh stir fried seasonal vegetables, tom yum soup and (no Thai meal is complete without) mango sticky rice, which they do a mighty fine job of with generous servings of both rice and mango.  

Veg Fish Farm Thai Restaurant
KM4, Jalan Ampang - Hulu Langat
68000 Ampang, Selangor
Eugene Ng 019 2606 493
Bua Chan 010 2111 519
William 012 2868 193
Open 7 days a week, 11am - 11:30pm

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

And the winners are... Winners of the Malaysian International Gourmet Festival 2011

The Malaysian International Gourmet Festival 2011 ended with a beach party and awards ceremony at Sunway Lagoon. Martin Reyes rocked the night with live Latin music and toe tapping tunes, while guests spun salsa and merengue in the sand.  Stalls of tasty local food and plenty of drinks helped to energize and lubricate the celebration. For the month of October, close to 30 fine dining restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, served up their best dishes highlighting the growing gourmet cuisine scene in Malaysia. After a month of hard work tasting, savouring and expanding waist lines, judges and diners voted on, and awarded prizes to, restaurants in over 25 categories. According to the judges, here are just a few of the award winning spots you must experience while in KL.  And the winners are:  

Most outstanding cuisine:  Imperial Rama/Olive, Genting
Most outstanding overall dining experience:  Lafite, Shangri-La
Golden Cauldron Award for best all round restaurant 2011:  Chalet, Equatorial

Fine cuisine awards went to individual restaurants for the best of each course selected from their festival menu:
Canapes/Pre-Dinner:  Lafite
Appetizers:  Imperial Rama – Alaskan King Crab with Smoked Duck
Soup:  Chalet – Bouquet of Cappuccino of Morels with Caramel Pear Skewer
Starter:  Cuisine Gourmet by Nathalie – Blue Lobster Mille-Feuilee with a touch of caviar
Entrée:  Lafite – Butter Poached Boston Lobster
Main:  Mandarin Grill – Slow Cooked ‘Sous-Vide Style’ Wagyu Beef Cheeks, Summer Truffles, Celeriac Roots & Horseradish Foam
Desserts:  Senja – Chef Giovanni’s Tiramisu

And for fun, you'll need to know this especially if you like chatting up chefs - the title of Chef  Congeniality went to Daniel Sheen of The Olive, Genting-  those Aussies - personality plus! :-)

Visit the MIGF website for a full list of this year's winners.

Lively Latin music can be booked with Martin Reyes via email: or

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Ecogreen, TTDI, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Ecogreen can get busy over the lunch period so if there's a crowd and you're in a hurry this is not the place to be. Service can definitely be improved in both speed and accuracy but organizations attempting to be socially responsible should be supported - the food is really good and the market well stocked  - so give them feedback on the service for a chance to improve and go eat some scrumptious environmentally sustainable meals. Fresh organic produce and simple dishes are the main reasons to visit this cafe. A sleek inviting contemporary design and an organic grocers are the cream cheese on your carrot cake (which, by the way, is something not to be missed). Ecogreen offers quite an extensive menu brimming with healthy meals. Lui cha is one such nutrient packed powerhouse - a bowl of brown rice, mixed greens and raw nuts topped with a hot green soup makes one of the most nourishing dishes you'll ever have. While not for everyone's taste buds (hubby turned his nose up) the well-being zealots will be in wholesome euphoria. The fish laksa is a winner in my books and, as mentioned already, you can't go past the carrot walnut cake for a sweet ending.  

Organic Shop and Life Cafe
125 & 127 Jalan Aminuddin Baki
Taman Tun Dr. Ismail
60000 KL
+603 7725 8388

Friday, 11 November 2011

The Food Revolution by John Robbins

The Food Revolution, by John Robbins, is another eye opening book that has further driven me down the path of eating more like a herbivore and less like a carnivore. We each have a responsibility to ourselves, our world community and this earth to make informed consumer decisions. One of the biggest impacts we can have on our own health and that of our earth is choosing what goes into our mouths everyday. It is astounding to consider that the majority of people who spend a great deal of their time and income on eating often know more about the latest brand of car, phone or what's on at the movies than where their food comes from or the impact every bite has on ourselves and the earth around us. John Robbins provides easy to follow, well-written information and shows you how to distinguish food facts from fiction. Everyone living in the 21st century should read this book.          

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Taman Tun Market, TTDI, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This is the guy to buy your pork from.  Tell him what you want to make and he will tell you which cut you need.  

 Fresh tofu - very good.

 Get your baking supplies from here.  Much cheaper than the supermarket and they have everything!

Here's the spot from where to get your chicken.  Cut however you like and you can even get free range organic chooks.

Fresh, fresh fruit.  Venezuelans, carribenos - the store in front of this one sells plantains and yuka!

 The spice lady will make your own mixes from scratch.  Especially great are her Thai curries.  Buy some curry paste here and pair with fresh coconut milk from the stall in front.  Yum!

Buy your fish from this guy!  He'll tell you what's fresh, debone, descale, fillet - whatever you want.

Here's your butcher.  Australian beef - much cheaper than supermarkets and cut/ ground to order.
 Yes, you can get fresh flowers too.

More fresh herbs and veges.

This undercover market is open most days and is a cleaner and cooler alternative to many wet markets around town.  The bonus is it's open until after midday so there's no need to get up at some ungodly hour on the weekend to get fresh produce. There's undercover or open air parking for a minimal fee - free on Sundays - and easy to get to too. If you're coming from the Sprint Highway, take the TTDI exit and follow Jalan Datuk Sulaiman all the way to the end, make a right hand turn after the last set of lights and you'll see a multistory building with a reddish brown roof and lots of cars entering and exiting.

Open 7 days, 7:30am - 12:30pm
Taman Tun Market
Jalan Wan Kadir
Kuala Lumpur