Saturday, December 19, 2009

Eating in Kuala Lumpur - Dinner at Sage

Ever since I heard about Sage, I've been wanting to try it. The resident chef at Sage is Takashi Kimura of Cilantro fame. Cilantro is often rated as one of the best fine dining restaurants in KL - serving Japanese influenced French cuisine, or is it the other way round ? It's been closed for nearly a year, undergoing some major renovations. Sage is it's sister restaurant at the Garden Residences - a brand new high end condominium at The Gardens Shopping Centre.

Having read up about Sage on several blogs, I kind of knew a bit about the food here. The emphasis is on sourcing the best and freshest ingredients from all over the world, and treating them with a light touch to bring out the best flavours. With a Japanese chef at the helm, this minimalist and perfectionist approach to food is to be expected.

For a good restaurant, the service is just as important as the food, and Sage has some of the best staff in a KL restaurant. They are elegant, efficient, and knowledgeable. Quite difficult to pull off in service-challenged KL.I went for the Set Dinner Menu - which is 5 courses for RM 180.00 nett without wine. Quite reasonable for a restaurant of this calibre.

The first course was an oyster shooter. The oyster was very fresh, one of the best I've had in KL.

The oyster was followed by a grilled Japanese Mackerel with rockets. Again, the freshness of the fish was incredible - the dish was so simple, and yet so satisfying.

The 3rd course was Seared Foie Gras with Tempura French Beans and Avocado. Words can't really describe this - down right best foie gras I've had. So decadent, the flavour was so good I didn't want it to finish. And paired perfectly with the tempura too.

The main course was a seafood risotto with king prawn and scallops. This was topped with some dried shrimps, giving the essentially Italian dish an Asian touch. Again, I was in flavour heaven - the risotto was so richly flavoured with the essence of prawns and seafood, every mouthful was shear delight. And the prawn and scallops were cooked to perfection - they were cooked through and yet remained just right. I believed they were cooked sous vide as the flavour was all retained in the flesh.

Dessert was a chocolate tart with mocha ice cream. Another perfectly executed delight.

Complimentary macaroons to finish off the meal.

Chef Kimura at the open kitchen.

This one of the best dinner experiences I've had in KL so far. Great ambience, good service and food that makes you hunger for more. No wonder it made Time Out KL's Top Fine Dining Restaurant List. Next visit, I will go for the tasting menu.

Eating in Kuala Lumpur - Lunch at Prime Steakhouse

If you want the best steak in Kuala Lumpur, chances are most KL foodies will point you to Prime which is located at Le Meridien Hotel. This is a premium steakhouse with a large selection of prime beef from all over the world. For wine lovers, they also have a largish wine collection.

The design of the restaurant is a mix of modern and old world opulence. It is quite warm and cosy, with a predominance of warm wood tones on the floor and ceiling. A good piece of steak could could easily set you back RM 200.00 here. I decided to go for the more affordable Prime Weekly Set Lunch - which is RM 85.00++ for 3 courses.

2 types of bread served before the main meal - with 3 types of butter. Nice.

The Appetizer was a "Rendang Style" slow braised Wagyu Beef Cheek with Potato Galette and Young Mango Slaw. Needless to say, the meat was extremely flavourful and tender after the "Rendang" treatment. The Young Mango Slaw gave the dish some added tanginess to cut through the richness and spice.

The main course was a Charcoal Grilled NZ Grass Fed Beef Medallion with Pearl Semolina and Beef Bacon Risotto Style, Wilted Greens and Porcini Sauce. The meat was sublimely tender - and had a gaminess which is quite different from grain fed beef, a bit unexpected but delicious just the same. The Pearl Semolina was also surprisingly tasty even tough it had beef bacon instead of real bacon.

For dessert I chose the Lemon Meringue Pie which was served with a Mango Yoghurt Ice Cream and Wild Berries Coulis. The meringue was more like a foam which had been slightly scorched. I would have preferred a more traditional meringue texture. The lemon tart was good though.

Coffee and cookies after dessert.

Prime has been included in Time Out KL's 2009 Best Fine Dining Restaurants List. The quality of the food speaks for itself, with prices to match. The Set Lunches are very good value though, and they do not skimp on the quality. Highly recommended for steak lovers.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Kuala Lumpur - Petaling Street Part II

Besides the countless number of stalls which are the main draw here, Petaling Street is also a food haven. There are lots of coffee shops and street stalls selling all kinds of local favourites like beef noodles, curry rice, char kuih tiaw, rice parcels, etc. Venture into some of the side lanes and you may come across some hidden gems.

There are lots of fruit sellers here, and what they have are generally better then those at the supermarkets, cheaper too.

Roasted chestnuts has been an old favourite at Petaling Street. The smell of freshly roasting chestnuts is quite intoxicating.

It is quite fun to eat under the stars on a cool tropical evening. The food is generally cheap and delicious, 'cause you are not paying for the air-cond.

This beef noodle stall has been here for ages.

A "bak chang" stall - glutinous rice parcels steamed in lotus leaf.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kuala Lumpur - Petaling Street Part I

If you are a tourist visiting Kuala Lumpur, no doubt you would have heard about Petaling Street. Its one of our infamous tourist traps, located at the KL Chinatown. I haven't been there for years, and recently decided to make a visit to see what its like now.

The Chinese name for Petaling Street - "Chee Cheong Kai", is derived from its history as a centre of production for tapioca flour in KL. Walking around, you can still see the history and heritage of the area in the old buildings. However they are unfortunately overwhelmed by the street bazaars that have taken over several main streets in Chinatown. The main Petaling Street is now a pedestrianized mall which is covered by a transparent roof providing some shelter from the elements.

The street itself is now completely occupied by small stalls selling all kinds of stuff - cigarette lighters, t-shirts, caps, fake handbags, sunglasses, CDs, DVDs - you name it and they've got it here. Part of the fun of visiting Petaling Street is to wonder through this maze of petty traders, and to see the endless range of products on sale. I didn't actually buy anything, but it was fun watching the crowd trying to drive a bargain and getting a bit dazed by the sheer choice of mostly cheap knock-offs on offer here.

Even an aspiring belly dancer will be very happy here.

The range of things you can get here is truly mind-blowing.
Petaling Street is definitely a KL experience you don't want to miss - not necessarily for the shopping but for its historical ambience which still exists here and there, and for its prowess as a magnet which can draw people from all over the world.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kuala Lumpur - Christmas is Coming to town !

Shopping centres always get the Christmas Spirit before anyone else. Here in Malaysia, they have been getting the Christmas Spirit since October. Go into any of the endless number of malls in Kuala Lumpur, and you can't miss the yuletide music, decorations and all the other paraphernalia. It is interesting that in Tropical countries we like to pour on the winter wonderland theme. It's a way for us to escape the heat I guess, and to dream about that holiday to a place far far away, where it actually snows. What is a Christmas without snow ? Strange thing is, those in cold countries dream about a Christmas in the Tropics !