Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kuala Lumpur 2016 - Mitsui Outlet Park at KLIA

There is already plenty of shopping at KLIA2 - but now a new shooping option has just opened near the airport. Mitsui Oulet Park is located around 6km from the airport - and there are complimentary regular shutters to the mall.

The design of the mall is quite standard. The mall is 2 storeys with a central atrium and 2 shopping ails.  There are a number of highend brands represented - including Ralph Lauren, Aigner, Zegna, Hackett, Sacoor Brothers, Guess and Porsche Design. Most of these outlets offer off-season items at up to 50% off - but not many beyond 50% mark down, which is a bit disappointing. Nowadays 50% mark-down is the norm even at the city shops.

There are also many food options. Being a Japanese development - Japanese food is quite prominently featured. One which caught my eye was Ramen Bari-Uma - which hails from Hiroshima. Their signature Bari Uma Ramen comes with thick-cut chasu and onsen egg with a thick tonkotsu shoyu broth. While the broth is quite good - it lacked the depth and complexity of very good ramen shops in Japan. The noodles are very nice with a firm texture. The chasu was flavourful and very tender.

I also ordered the gyoza - which was disappointing both in terms of taste and presentation. Stick with the ramen.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Kuala Lumpur 2016 - Ante Kitchen & Bar at One Utama

Ante Kitchen and Bar has built up quite a reputation with KL foodies. Quite a number of KL bloggers have waxed lyrical about their pork chop - so since I was in One Utama it was not to be missed. I went in for an early lunch and the cafe was still relatively quiet. It started to fill up towards the normal lunch hour.

There was a special lunch menu which included the pork chop with a dessert - so that was what I settled on. I also could not resist ordering the salad with pork scratchings.

The salad was a very generous portion. When it came I wished I had a dining companion to share it. The salad and dressing was quite ordinary, but what's not to like about pork scratchings - I polished up every last bit of the scratchings.

The main course of pork chop looked impressive with a generous and think slab of pork. It looked quite pinkish compared to the regular pork chop - but once you bite into it the succulence of the pork is quite wonderful.

Dessert was a simple ice cream.

Ante's reputation for their pork chop is well deserved and I will definitely go back for more.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Kuala Lumpur 2016 - Dashi Dining Saya

There was a good crowd during lunch time at the brand new Isetan food Hall at Lot 10 - but it was not as packed as we would have expected. Maybe people were a bit apprehensive due to the poshness of the venue - thinking that the prices would be very high. Some of the outlets were indeed pricey - but good thing is they have prices to suit every pocket. I decided on an interesting kiosk serving rice dishes with dashi stock - Dashi Dining Saya.

I ordered the  set with soy marinated tuna. It came with a bowl of rice topped with generous slices of tuna, a small serving of chicken cooked in dashi broth, some pickles, side garnishes and a pot of the hot dashi broth. The way to enjoy the rice is to pour the dashi broth into the bowl - you can add as much as you like. The tuna was very fresh and succulent - augmented by the subtle saltiness of the light soy marinate. After enjoying a few slices of the tuna, I poured some dashi into the bowl. With a small amount of stock - the texture was a bit like a risotto. I added more stock and it became like a Chinese porridge. It was fun playing around with the texture by adding the stock. On the whole I really enjoyed the dish and the dashi provided the required umami kick.

The chicken pieces were very tender and falling off the bone - and the broth was more intense with the sweetness of the chicken.

I also ordered a chawan mushi - though the texture was good the taste was a bit disappointing. I expected more then just some mushrooms and a tiny prawn for RM15.

Dashi Dining Saya is an interesting concept and the pricing is surprisingly good value considering the venue. If they continue to maintain the sensible pricing and the quality, they should do very well.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Kuala Lumpur 2016 - Isetan Food Hall at Lot 10

The Isetan Food Hall in the basement used to be one of our favourite spots in KL to get hold of hard-to-find Japanese groceries and reasonably priced sushi and shashimi. Now it is totally unrecognizable. Upon walking in you could be mistaken that you were in the food hall of a high-end departmental store in Tokyo. The large space is filled with round and square island restaurants - each serving a different Japanese cuisine. The most striking are the round kiosks with concentric ringged shelves hanging from the ceiling and holding colourful glass ware. You will even find the renowned chain of Japanese pattiserie Henry Charpentier here - its 3rd outlet outside of Japan.

Those looking for the old supermarket would be disappointed. You can still buy some Japanese ingredients here, and there is a large selection of premium Japanese sweets and snacks - but the focus is mainly on cooked food. 

The Isetan Food Hall at Lot 10 is an exciting addition to the food scene is KL. With such a wide range of Japanese goodies to choose from - this would be one of our regular stops in KL for sure.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Kuala Lumpur 2016 - Isetan The Japan Store at Lot 10

Isetan at Lot 10 was closed for 2 years for a major refurbishment and has recently reopened its doors at the end of October 2016 - and what a transformation it has been. It is no longer a departmental store but a Japanese lifestyle and culinary hub. A collaboration between Isetan Mitsukoshi and Cool Japan - this is one of the first such venues in the World - designed to showcase Japanese culture, fashion and arts. Designed by Tange Associates and Glamourous Co. who were also responsible for Isetan Mitsukoshi's flagship store in Shinjuku Japan - the concept is centred around the four pillars of Japanese aesthetics - iki (cool), miyabi (elegance), sen (sophistication) and so (pure).

The venue is thematically divided by floors. On the ground floor is The Museum - which will showcase both traditional and cutting edge Japanese products of the highest quality. The design is very eye-catching - with circular funnels made of cut-out metal screens which anchor the space.

On the 1st and 2nd Floor are The Studio and The Room - featuring Japanese street fashion, up-and-coming designers, beauty and lifestyle products.

The 4th Floor is called The Cube - and is a bookstore, cafe and event space. There are 12 experience areas where you can experience and learn more about different aspects of Japanese culture. Design-wise this is also the most interesting - mixing traditional Japanese forms with modern design touches. 

The store brings together over 200 Japanese brands - many of which have ventured outside of Japan for the first time. Isetan Japan Store is a truly transportive experience and is a welcome addition to the KL shopping scene.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Kuala Lumpur 2016 - Dinner at The Bounty

Bounty is the all-day-dining restaurant at The Journal Hotel where the breakfast is also served. The breakfast spread while not extensive is of very good quality and fairly enjoyable. But Bounty is not just a cafe - but an ambitious restaurant as well - so we decided to give it a try.

The menu is not very big but whatever is on the menu looks delicious. There is a bit of Italian leaning in most of the dishes with a bit of a Spanish twist. We ordered a few dishes to share. We started with the Porcini Mushroom Soup with Parmesan Espuma. It was really rich and flavourful dish. A great start to our meal.

Our 2nd appetizer was the Stuffed Baby Squid - cuttlefish ragout, rice, squid ink with rum. It didn't look very good smothered in black squid ink - but the taste was exquisite. Another beautiful dish.

For mains we had the Oven Baked Spatchcock - with roasted vegetables and potatoes. The chicken was beautifully marinated and very tender - and the portion was very generous and could be easily shared by 2 persons or more.

The 2nd main course was the Rissoto with Fresh Water Lobster - arborio rice kimchi paste, Italian parsley and paprika. The taste was simply sensational - and this was the dish of the night.

Whoever the chef is - he or she is doing a great job. These are some of the best tasting dishes we have had in KL - even comparing to some high-end restaurants. The kitchen team is obviously very skillful and knows how to coax maximum flavours from the ingredients. Can't wait to go back and try the other items on the menu.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Kuala Lumpur 2016 - The Journal Hotel

Hotels in Kuala Lumpur tend to sprout from the regular chains and not so interesting - so it is good to see more design-oriented offerings cropping up in the city. Wolo Hotel at Bukit Bintant has been one of my favourites since it opened due to its great design and reasonable pricing. Now there is another stylish option also in the Bukit Bintang area - The Journal Hotel.

Located on Jalan Beremi - it is just a stone's throw away from Lot 10. The current traffic mess in the area due to MRT construction makes it a bit tricky to navigate around here, but once the MRT is completed it should be a breeze.

The design of the hotel takes cues from design-centric hotels such as W and Hotel Indigo. On entering the lobby - you could imagine that you were in a W Hotel KL - albeit a mini version.

The design on the 1st floor is equally impressive. Here you will find a bar, meeting rooms and an events hall. The colourful and quirky furniture and decor adds a nice whimsy touch to the whole ensemble.

The rooms are quite generous in size and nicely appointed  - though not up to the same high standards as the common areas. The pricing is for the moment more then reasonable - but probably will creep up in time so take advantage if it while you still can.