Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kuala Lumpur 2011 - Dinner at The Market Hall

The brains behind The Market Hall are the same people who run the successful chain of casual cafes - The Apartment. They also run Italiannies and TGIF. The Market Hall is their latest venture located on Level 6 at The Pavilion, and is right next door to a pub called Bedroom - also part of their empire.

The main idea behind The Market Place is “from the farm to the table”. They source the freshest local produce and bring them straight from the farms to the diners in the restaurant. Even the beef is locally sourced.

I can never resist ordering duck confit salad if I see it on the menu. Ever since I had it at Delicious many years ago, I’ve been hooked on this dish. It can be so good when done right. Their version here was unfortunately not as good as Delicious or even Ben’s. Trying to create a more Asian version of the salad, the chef’s had left the flavours too mild and there wasn’t enough acidity to balance the richness of the duck. The ingredients were however very fresh.

I decided to order their Venetian Steak which is a large T-Bone cooked medium rare. It looked big, but was cut a bit too thin and didn’t not have the usual indulgence factor associated with a large T-Bone steak. The meat was tender but not very flavourful. They were a bit stingy with the sauce, as a bit more sauce would have helped to compensate for the lack of robust flavour of the meat.

The design of the Market Hall is typical industrial chic - epoxy flooring, rustic wooden tables and mostly bare ceiling. It looks stylish and yet cosy - not a bad place for a casual dinner. The concept of offering the freshest ingredients and cooking them very simply is a good one - but they need to be more careful with their sourcing to ensure good flavours. I hope to go back and try their other dishes which hopefully would be better then this first experience.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Kuala Lumpur 2011 - Sunday Brunch at Westin KL

Westin is one of our favourite hotels in KL, and they also happen to have great F&B outlets. We had wanted to go to EEST for lunch, but it was completely booked out - being a Sunday. We settled for the Sunday Brunch at the coffee house instead - and were not at all disappointed.

The Living Room - as the coffee house is called, is a really stylish venue.

The buffet spread was really impressive. Presentation was top notch, and all the dishes looked really appetizing. There was simply too many choices. We wish we didn’t have to rush to the airport after lunch.

The dessert section. Irresistable for the sweet tooth.

If you are ever stuck in KL on a Sunday and can't decide where to go for lunch, head over to The Westin for the Sunday Brunch. It is one of the best in town.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kuala Lumpur 2011 - Dinner at Celadon Royal Thai Cuisine

Having had our share of Western food in our recent KL trip, we decided to go Thai one of the evenings. Celadon Royal Thai Cuisine is at the top floor of Pavilion KL. This restaurant has been around for a while and is still popular, but this was the first time we tried it.

The decor of the restaurant is quite simple and effective. A few well chosen Thai artifacts in a mostly white colour scheme, and some nice furniture complete the cosy interior. There are 2 dining section - the main area just after the lobby, and small cosy corner on the side.

We weren't feeling very adventurous so decided to order the usual favourites. Stirfried Water Spinach - with garlic and fish sauce. Simple and nice.

Pomelo Salad with Tempura Prawns. A slightly different take on the typical salad. The dressing is very light and refreshing.

Green Curry Chicken. Served with some dried fish chips on the side which are very savoury and addictive.

Seafood Soufle (Hor Mok Talay) - a Northern Thai dish that is very delicious when done right. The normal version is thicker with a terrine-like consistency. Here it is more watery like a thick soup. While the flavours are good - the texture of the original version is more interesting.

Steamed prawns with rice vermicelli. This was the least successful of the dishes. The prawns were overcooked, and the vermicelli a bit too dry.

Being at the Pavilion, we didn't expect the pricing to be cheap. Our meal for 2 came up to around RM 150 - which is what you expect to pay at most KL restaurants nowadays.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kuala Lumpur 2011 - Lunch at Al Amar Express

Al Amar at The Pavilion KL is often touted as the best middle-eastern restaurant in KL. I have never tried it as you normally need a large group to enjoy middle-eastern food. They have started an express version of their restaurant offering lighter fare - Al Amar Express. The outlet is located on Jalan Bukit Bintang - right in front of the relaunched Fahrenheit (Used to be KL Plaza). The great thing about eating here is that you won't get bored waiting for the food, as you can people-watch to your heart's content - this is one of the busiest patch of pavement in KL.

They are very generous with their pita bread. Every table gets a whole pile.

The menu is a more concise version of their restaurant fare. I decided to go for the set lunch which came with appetizers and a main course. The appetizer has 3 main items - a hummus (chickpeas dip), a salad, and a selection of pastries. They were all quite good.

The main course was a grilled beef wrap. The beef was tender and flavourful, and the wrap was grilled till crispy outside.

Al Amar Express is a great concept as you can just drop in for a light snack or a more substantial meal. It is fast, convenient, enjoyable and quite affordable by KL standards.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kuala Lumpur 2011 - Lunch at Ben's Cafe

Ben’s is a new chain of cafes operated by the people behind the BIG Group who also operates T Forty Two, Plan B, Canoodling and Ricetaurant. All their outlets have a concept that is a bit different from the run-of-the-mill cafes in the city. However Ben’s seems to take it’s cue very literally from Delicious - one of the most successful chain of casual restaurants in KL. The menu at Ben’s will give you a sense of de ja vu if you have frequented Delicious often. There are the salads, sandwiches, burgers, pasta. And then there are the cakes.

We ordered a few items from the menu to share - frankly speaking a bit too much for 2 persons. Duck confit salad with pomelo, Fisherman’s Catch - which is a fish burger with fries, Shepard’s Pie, and Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

The fish burger was especially good - very fresh and tasty fish fillet - still tender and juicy with a crispy breaded crust.

The duck confit salad was very good - tasty strips of duck meat with pomelo, lychees, pineapple and peanuts. Nice balance of tastes.

The Shepard’s Pie had good flavours but was a bit filling.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich - good but we were a bit too full to enjoy it.

Despite having ordered too much for lunch, we couldn’t resist trying the cakes. We ordered a Red Velvet Cake and a Chocolate Tart. Both were really good - and the chocolate tart is a must-have for chocolate lovers. It came with a glass of cold milk. You will need it, as the cake is so rich !

Ben's now has two outlets in KL. We visited the one at Suria KLCC. The other outlet is at The Pavilion. Judging from the crowd, both outlets are doing very well.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kuala Lumpur 2011 - Buffet Dinner at Warisan Cafe

Warisan Cafe is the coffee house at Royale Chulan Hotel on Jalan Conlay - not far from the Pavilion Shopping Mall. It is a corner of KL I seldom venture into, if not for a credit card promotion. If you have a CIMB Visa Card, you get 50% discount for 2 persons dining at the cafe - quite an enticing deal.

Royale Chulan is quite a new hotel but it seems to be relatively low key in its operation. There hasn't been much promotion, and not many people know about it. The design is derived from the traditional Malay house - here it is applied to a highrise hotel building in a salmon colour. The design and colour certainly stands out from the rest of the buildings in the area.

Warisan Cafe is located at the lobby level. It is a huge cafe - easily accommodating up to 200 people. But while we were there, there were only 4 or 5 tables occupied. Ironically there was a Borneo food promotion and they were serving Sarawakian dishes like Ayam Pansuh (chicken cooked in bamboo), Ayam Masak Merah (red-cooked chicken), umai (raw fish salad), etc.

The Kerabu (Malaysian Salads) section was very impressive. There was quite a large selection, and all looked very nicely prepared and appetizing.

The dessert section also looked impressive, however taste-wise did not quite match the looks.

The local kuihs were much better.

It is always a bit sad to see efforts go to waste. At Warisan Cafe - they did try to put up a good show. The buffet spread was huge and impressive. Some of the food wasn't up to the mark, bit it was a reasonable effort. Hopefully they will do better in time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kuala Lumpur 2011 - Starhill Shopping Mall

The Starhill Shopping Mall is like a chameleon - always undergoing some kind of transformation. The owner - the YTL Group - is certainly rich enough to be able to carry on with this experimentation. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. The food hall at the basement - the Feast Village, was a great success and still is one of the more interesting F&B concepts in KL. The rest of the shopping centre is perhaps too posh for a majority of Malaysians.

The lastest incarnation of Starhill is also the most interesting architecturally. What was once the outdoor bar at the front entrance has been replaced by a prismatic sculpture which also houses the flagship store of Sephora - one of 2 in KL. The rest of the podium is also being redone with this same skin. Hopefully they will do something to the Marriot Hotel Tower which looks quite dated by now.

The outdoor bar at the main entrance is now replaced by this ultra-modern building.