Archive for Eating Out

Putien, One Utama PJ

One Utama’s old wing is undergoing a facelift and recently, we see quite exciting new establishments opening up. Putien may serve Heng Hwa cuisine but first opened in Singapore. An ex colleague suggested to meet here for dinner and it was a 30 min wait before we got a table. I must admit the crowd gave me high hopes for the dinner I was about to have…

I like the decor of the restaurant. Bright and light, it exudes a very clean and contemporary feel. I only realised how big the restaurant was as we walked further in to our table. The menu had so many beautiful pictures that we wanted to order almost everything! The one thing I really wanted to try, i.e. the deep friend yam & duck was sold out. Ah, just my luck.

The accompanying chilli sauce is worth a mention though. Has quite the zing to it!

We started off with the cold starter of Pork Belly with Garlic 蒜泥白肉 (RM11.90). I wasn’t really wowed by this and for those sensitive to strong “porky taste”, this dish you should definitely steer clear of. The garlicky sauce was probably the saving grace.

The Seaweed with mini shrimp 虾苗拌紫菜(RM8.90) was nice albeit being a tad too salty and briney.

Deep Fried Chicken with Garlic 脆皮蒜香鸡 (RM18.90 for 1/2) was golden and crisp-skinned. The meat was tender and juicy and I am glad it was low on sodium.

Mee Sua is kinda like my comfort food so naturally Putien Mee Sua 妈祖面线 (RM15.90 for S) was one of my choices. Their version has a lot going on with the prawns, clams, egg, peanuts, deep fried seaweed etc. In fact there was so much ingredients I could barely see the noodles itself. It’s very different from what I am used to, but the seafood stock does do wonders for the taste.

The Claypot Fish Soup 砂锅鱼汤 (RM34.90 for S) was also a winning dish with us. Tummy warming and tasty. Brimming with the sweetness of the fish and wolfberries, we enjoyed drinking this.

I felt that the Spinach with Salted Egg & Century Eggs in premium stock 上汤苋菜 (RM24.90 for M) was somewhat average. The gravy was so thick that there wasn’t enough to go around with the pile of greens.

The Iced Abalone 冰镇南日鲍鱼 (RM19.90) was plump and juicy but I probably won’t order it a second time as this was so delicate tasting. I prefer it flavoured from braising.

As an opening promotion, the Heng Hwa Bee Hoon 兴化米粉 was complimentary. As it’s somewhat the signature dish and so many praises have been sung about it, I was rather disappointed with what we were served. It was clumpy and lacked seasoning. I couldn’t taste the stock it was supposedly to have been soaked in. I wonder if a second chance should be given on a return visit.

Overall, I think there are some hits and misses in the menu. Still, there are quite a few items we would like to try, so I reckon some return visits are in order. We had no problems with service and our dishes were served quite promptly but the table next to ours kicked up quite the fuss when one of their dishes was left out. But since they were there earlier I could understand their frustration.

Putien 莆田(www/fb)
G213A Ground Floor, Promenade,
1 Utama Shopping Centre (Old Wing),
Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya
Tel :

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Group Therapy, Singapore.

Happy New Year all! 2011 was a year of changes for me but the one I embraced most of all is going away for short getaways over weekends whenever I could. Even the last weekend of the year was no different. Made the drive down south and was pleasantly surprised to find the roads clear to and fro.

Had our first brunch of the new year at Group Therapy, an upstairs cafe along Duxton Road. I was quite happy we found the place as the ambience and mood of the cafe is what I enjoy. Cozy, intimate and full of character. Being there with company I enjoy, great coffee and unpretentious food was group therapy indeed.

As it was New Year’s they did offer a champagne brunch set but we still ended up ordering ala carte. I read later that their menu changes from time to time.

First sign that greets you on your way up is “Fresh Hot Coffee” and that’s exactly the caffeine kick I was looking for that morning. Beautifully made Latte ($5.50) & Mocha with Lindt dark chocolate buttons ($6.50) were our choices. I found the Mocha a tad lighter than I hoped for. It seemed to lack a certain punch. Maybe I should have gone for a double shot latte instead. But still, frothy and milky.

My choice was the Scrambled eggs with parmesan, mushroom and bratwurst ($18). The scrambled eggs were a wetter than I usually like them, but sandwiched in between the crisp, buttered toasts, it was still comfort food.

The grilled Panini with Ham & Mozzarella Cheese ($16) was served with couscous and potato chips. I liked how the couscous was prepared with both fresh and sundried tomatoes and bits of red cabbage which gave the sweetness to the side dish.

To make the Croque Monsieur even more decadent, the grilled ham & cheese sandwich is topped off with an egg, usually a sunny side up to make a Croque Madame (S17) (apparently due its shape looking like a hat). But my friend wanted scrambled ones on hers instead. Garnished with Kaiware sprouts, this was deliciously cheesy.

To end the meal on a sweet note, we chose the seasonal Caramel Apple Crumble ($8). Very cinnamon-y and chock a block full of apple dices. One thing though, this is served chilled.

Must say, the laidback vibe of the place has won me over. Great place to catch up and hang out with friends. Only question now is, when ah to go back Singapore?

Group Therapy (www/fb)
49 Duxton Road,
Singapore 089513
Opening Hours: Tue-Thu: 11:00-18:00
Fri-Sat: 11:00-23:00
Sun: 09:00-18:00
Closed Mondays.

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Restoran Ka Lok, Sekinchan

Since the last time I wrote about heading down to Sekinchan, I have made a couple of trips there as it’s still an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. And now, with the new Latar highway, getting there is even easier! But prepared for the RM12(!) toll charges to and fro…so it’s either saving money and spending more time on the road or whizzing there and paying for it. Haha.

Utilising another long weekend, 5 of us made a trip there to see if we could be lucky to snap some golden fields. Well, we were a tad early as it was still mostly green with some golden grains. But despite the current rainy season, the sun smiled down on us and gave us gorgeous weather.

So when in Sekinchan, eat like the locals do? Check. My friend wanted me to try this really fresh steamed fish head, she said. But she didn’t mention a single word about the size and when we got there and this hulk of a fish head was placed on our table, everyone fell silent for a bit before nervous laughter ensued. Trust me, it was gigantic! Don’t let the pile of sliced onions fool you. But the fish was very fresh and succulent. Despite our earlier doubts, it was soon polished off. Lucky we had a fella who truly knew how to enjoy the fish head, doing it justice by almost licking the bones clean. Price was based on weight and this portion was at RM75.20.

We also had Steamed Lala at RM12. The shellfish by itself was very fresh though I thought some of it were a tad overcooked as it was a bit tougher to bite.

As per the norm of shark meat dishes here in Sekinchan, the stir fried shark meat(RM15) was cooked in a heavy black bean sauce along with ginger shreds and onion. The meat itself was tender and flavourful and perfect with a bowl of steaming, hot rice.

I have had shark meat in my hometown on many occasions but mostly there were rather coarse in texture and just as I wondered earlier about the smoothness of the shark meat dishes here, was told that baby sharks were used…ouch. But the locals reassure me that these baby sharks are bred and farmed for this purpose and not those caught from the wild which I guess sits better on the conscience just a tad. Other ways to have the shark meat in Sekinchan is to either to have it in soup or porridge.

Restoran Ka Lok 嘉乐茶餐室
372, Site B,
Lorong 6,
45400 Sekinchan,
Tel : 012-6867173
Opening Hours : 6:30am – 3 pm daily

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Mukha Cafe, TTDI

My motto, really.

Sometimes the power of word of mouth is a force to be reckon with. A quick chat with another cafe’s owner on good coffee brought me here to Mukha. Located on the quieter side of TTDI, imo, parking was easier in the evenings and the crowd more relaxed.

Mukha is actually the name of a seaport town in Yemen, and apparently the owners studied there, hence the Arabian influences in the menu. Currently the menu is somewhat limited but they do offer some daily specials so check the board. They also offer shisha for those interested.

Stepping in, I liked what I saw. Black walls doubling as the menu chalkboard, red bricks, wooden furniture etc can only be summed up in one word – cozy. And given the rainy evenings lately, the warm ambience was comforting. And with a coffee table piled with Nat Geo mags and wi fi, could easily spend hours here sipping away at the aromatic cuppas.

Despite their most talked about drinks being the Arabian tea and coffee, Gahwa and Shahi, it was the coffee that called out to me. Between me and my friend, we had the Flat White (RM7) & Long Black(RM5.50). If flat whites are available at any cafe, I would automatically order that to a latte even if both are prepared in the same way, with the only major difference being the ratio of milk to espresso. Satisfying cuppa indeed.

We also shared the Creamy Pumpkin Soup (RM9) which is served with a dollop of sour cream and mint leaves and Arab toasts. The soup is very creamy indeed, but lacking in the sweetness of the pumpkin for me. But the toast when dipped into the creaminess of the soup was comfort food indeed.

The Big Breaky (RM13) with eggs cooked any way, mushrooms, beef bacon, baked beans and Arab toast seems like a good deal.

The Baked Eggs (RM10) takes about 15 minutes to be served so if you’re feeling exceptionally ravenous, do order something else. But the eggs, baked with roasted tomatoes and shredded cheese was cooked perfectly, to the consistency I love. They have the option to add other ingredients, at an add-on charge so I opted for the mushrooms. Tastewise it can be a little bland for some, but nothing a good shake of salt and pepper can’t fix.

The Gulf Rice (RM16) was Mukha’s take on our Briyani rice. I must admit that I wasn’t wowed by the Basmathi rice with chicken cooked in briyani spices & served with papadom. But given the strong competition of briyani restaurants out there, this does pale in comparison in terms of flavour.

The one thing I noticed a lot of patrons ordering was the Steak Sandwich (RM15). When I asked for it, they asked if I wanted to upgrade it to The Lot instead, by adding an egg and beef bacon? Sounds good! Served with sweet potato curls and a yoghurt dip, it was quite delightful to tuck in to this. The sweet potato chips are a tad oilier than I’d like but the steak sandwich does do itself justice. Dare I even say the best thing we had so far in Mukha?

A meal isn’t complete without dessert. And so far we have tried their Affogato(RM6) & Banoffee Pie (RM8.50). Mudcake with ice cream was our initial choice but as it had sold out, we went for the Banoffee Pie which was highly recommended by them. We did like it, as the sweetness of the toffee cuts through the crust. However I’m glad we were sharing as the sweetness was cloying after a while. But still, quite memorable.

The affogato was served with the espresso on the side, which I appreciated. Rich, creamy and strong.

Some of the food may not have hit the spot for us but overall, I love the vibe this cafe exudes. And yes, to return for the coffee and desserts. The baristas are friendly to boot too so that’s another plus.

Mukha Cafe (www/fb)
No. 15, Lorong Rahim Kajai 13
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
60000 Kuala Lumpur
Opening Hours : Mon – Thurs 12pm-10pm, Fri 2pm-12am, Sat 12pm–12am. Closed Sundays.

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Coffee in Love, Sri Hartamas

It was about a fortnight ago when I made an impromptu stop at this cafe as I was driving down the road from Plaza Damas. It has been intriguing reading up on write ups about this place but my biggest worry was the humidity. Luckily for us, the weather was beautiful that day and with the fans whirring away, I barely felt the heat. But then there were the mosquitoes…

They have just opened when we arrived and so we had the entire place to ourselves. There’s always some romanticism about dining in the garden but given our weather, I am always apprehensive of trying to eat outdoors unless there’s proper shade and ventilation. Here, they have tried their level best to create an refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The entire cafe was well shaded by plants and woven roofs etc. They have taken the same concept as many new cafes by recycling old chairs and tables which creates this very whimsical and sustainable environment. What was interesting was probably the splash of colours by the smatterings of decor such as the red watering can, wooden figurines, cushions and even knick knacks of yesteryears.

As they are only 1 or 2 of the co-owners here, self-service and self clean up is practiced here. They encourage you to order at the counter, collect when your hear the bell and then return the tray at the counter as you leave. Currently there don’t serve a full meal, but have some snacks like cupcakes, hot dogs and puffs. I found it interesting that they practiced the old way of keeping money in a tin attached to a pulley. Haha.

As they proudly recommend their Supremo coffee beans which are 100% whole Columbian beans, I decided to order a latte. The beans are mostly the same size, which helps with even roasting to better extract the aroma of the coffee beans.

Served in a mug, my latte was indeed very aromatic and flavourful which I fully appreciated. I find that some establishments serve very milky lattes but this had a nice balance between the espresso and milk.

My companion had the iced version, as it was beginning to warm up. They were also nice enough to supply us with a bottle of cold water, along with 2 jam jars doubling up as glasses.

They only serve light snacks at the moment and have quite an array of fillings for these puffs of which we tried 4 flavours; mushroom & onion, minced beef, mac & cheese and a potato version one. Order any 2 and you get a serving of coleslaw with them. The pastry was similar to that of curry puffs, only with alternative fillings. I would recommend the mushroom and beef one as the other 2 was maybe overloading on carbs a tad.

They also serve a range of homebaked cupcakes. And the range of flavours they offer are mostly complimentary to the distinctive flavours of coffee. We opted for the Guinness one as it seemed the most promising. Lightly infused with stout, the dark chocolate cupcake was quite a delight tastewise though I felt that it was very dense and heavy texturewise.

Generally the pricing is reasonable and they have a coffee and cupcake deal too so it’s a great place to have tea in the early evenings. They also cater for private BBQ dos at the cafe ranging from RM56-70 per pax.

Coffee In Love (www/FB)
c/o Eastern Nursery 132KV,
Jalan 1/70A,
Taman Sri Hartamas,
50480 Kuala Lumpur.
GPS 3.166055,101.663811
Opening times: Tues-Fri, 2pm-7pm; Sat & Sun, 12noon-7pm. Closed Mondays

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Amelie Cafe, Penang.

I first read about this place in an expat magazine. I must admit I was intrigued and when we finally made our way up north to Penang, I went looking for it.

It really is quite hidden as many have already said. Lucky I read earlier that it’s next to the Cheah Kongsi or I would have really missed it as the entrance was somewhat hidden by all the foliage of the potted plants.

There are only about 4-5 tables inside as the set up is really small. Judging from the many reviews I have read, the design of the cafe is ever evolving according to the recyclables they managed to get their hands on. It’s very cosy and whimsical, especially when dressed with all the random knick knacks. I noticed that they have a “no photography” policy but I can understand why especially when photographers tend to linger and loiter and the space is just too tiny to accommodate that. However, I can’t resist stealing some shots with my phone though… oops.

They have a standard drinks menu and some specials according to ingredient availability. So one day it may be banana & plum lassi, another, ice blended coconut and pineapple (ranging from RM10-12) etc. The Latte (RM10) I had was aromatic and creamy, just how I like it. They use illy beans here which always mean a decent cuppa to me.

From the moment we stepped in, the greasy yet inviting smells of bacon frying wafted over so it wasn’t much of a surprise when the Bacon & Cream Cheese Bagel (RM15) caught our eye. Loved the bagel itself and I think I would be contented even if it was just plain cheese.

We also had Linguine Pomodoro with Pork Sausage (RM17). As Pomodoro basically means tomato, this linguine was prepared with the simple ingredients of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic basil etc. It was light and refreshing. I did read somewhere that they made their own pasta too but if I am not mistaken, these were the dried, ready ones as I saw him cooking them from my spot.

We had Panna Cotta with Plum Sauce (RM12) and it had a really firm consistency compared to what I am used to. I did wonder a bit about the plums sauce but when I saw it in its sugary segmented form, it all made sense.

Another dessert I had was the Crepe with frozen mango yoghurt (RM12 ). The crepe was beautifully made. But the mango yoghurt was rather tasteless with a slight hint of tartness. I actually think that the crepes would be perfect with something creamier.

All in all, it’s quite a charming cafe to spend some time at. As only the husband & wife team are preparing and serving by themselves, there’s some waiting time involved during “peak periods” but nothing unbearable. In fact it gave us a a reason to linger!

Amelie Cafe (www)
No 6, Armenian Street,
10200 Penang.
(Next to Cheah Clan Kongsi)
Tel: +6012 496 7838
Opening Hours : 10am-7pm (Closed Mondays)

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Bistro à Table, PJ

The chef, Isadora Chai was being interviewed on radio regarding her playground, this bistro, when a friend heard it. She creates adaptive French cuisine by incorporating local elements to modern French food. It was the brilliant use of ice cream in french onion soup that highly appealed to us, and we found ourselves at the doorsteps of Bistro à Table, after braving Friday night traffic. Situated at the unlikely corner of shoplots in a quieter area of Section 17, parking is a breeze.

The interior is simple but cozy and the dangling lights centerpiece has garnered much interest. But what I liked was probably the drapes that partitioned some tables on the left to give the diners some privacy. Yet I realised I didn’t take a shot of it, haha.

Alas, the menu is one that’s dependent to the current availability of ingredients as well and the french onion soup has outlasted its fifteen minutes of fame. along with the mains and dessert i had in mind too. haha. but well, new items on the menu to try then!

Started with the warm bread…

We then had Irish Oysters with Yuzu Dressing (RM48). The distinctive sharp citrus note of the yuzu fruit with the fresh oyster was indeed a match made in heaven.

I have always remembered Kataifi in sweet variants but lately I have been seeing it featured in dim sum joints with avocado cream filling or even prawn with mango etc. Here at Table, they have come up with Kataifi-wrapped chevre with beet puree (RM28). The kataifi parcel itself I am somewhat impartial to as I tasted more pastry than cheese but i loved the beet puree. Smooth and earthy to taste.

Since I have heard and read so much about the Coddled maple syrup egg with crouton dust & Fleur de Sel (RM16), had to order it and try. Deceptively simple in looks, the soft boiled egg is in fact brimming with the unusual flavour of the runny yolk, maple syrup and crouton dust. Interesting textures and aftertaste.

Their signature main is the Canelloni of seared scallops & school prawns, served with lobster bisque and Indonesian black nut tapenade (RM62). The canelloni looks promising but I found it a tad bland by itself. But the full flavours of the lobster bisque when coupled with the canelloni, creates a more enjoyable experience. But the most intriguing bit for me was probably the buah keluak tapenade. I personally love buah keluak due to its nutty, oily taste that one has to try to understand. Can’t wait to get my hands on some to try to make my own tapenade. Yum!

This is the 8 Hour Duck confit with candied kumquats and puy lentils (RM59). The glistening skin of the duck thigh looked so inviting! Duck confit is actually short cured duck thigh which is then slow cooked in its own fat for the tender, fall-of-the-bones flesh.

I had the Stuffed cured quail with cassis jus (RM68). It was served atop pea mash with a side of beet & ginger, cranberries and truffled mash. As it was a cured quail, it was a tad saltier but once mixed with the jus and mash, it does blend nicely and takes the saltiness down a notch. The truffled mash and pea mash was particularly memorable. It was easily the best mains of the night.

I personally had high hopes for the desserts especially the “finale” of the night after the promising description in the print out that was handed to us earlier. We somehow ended up starting our dessert run with the Chocolate mousse with Milo and hazelnut praline (RM18). It was just that. Smooth chocolate mousse with slightly crunchy but overpowering Milo & hazelnut praline. We could barely remember the mousse as the taste of Milo is so dominant. I do love my Milo, but I can have Milo Dinosaur at a mamak for a fraction of the price. Thumbs up for presentation though. Loved the chocolate leaves.

The earlier mentioned “finale” was this, the Ode to Newton (RM36). I didn’t make any association with apples as the Chef thought we would. But then, it was printed out clearly in the printout that it would be a matter of gravity vs anti gravity. We were probably all waiting for this really elaborate dessert that combined both the soufflé and ice-cream in one so I for one was a tad surprised when we were served 2 separate desserts.

The soufflé represents the anti-gravity which if eaten at the correct speed would see the lemongrass ice hemisphere melt enough to have the cinnamon & nutmeg ice cream plop into the warm ginger beer i.e. gravity. maybe a bit too much physics involved for some, but just think, 2 desserts. Lol.

The incredibly light, fluffy soufflé was probably the best I have had in a long time. So airy that it does defy gravity. Cracking it and pouring in the creme anglaise brought the little satisfaction that one gets when cracking the perfect sugar coat of a creme brulee. It must have been so good coz we finished the soufflé way before the ice-cream dropped. Then as we were chatting away, the ice-cream dropped. And I must admit the sight of the melting ice-cream in the ginger beer was a tad unsightly and reminded me of something that is never meant to be discussed over dinner. Heh.

Our dinner came up to almost RM500 that night which is a pretty penny for dinner. Though there was some that wowed and some that didn’t, i believe what keeps Malaysians coming is the fact that the menu changes according to what’s the best and freshest in the current market. I am especially piqued by Degustation nights but haven’t seen reason to justify the whopping RM330-450+ price tag yet. Until then, keeping an eye on the changing menu…

Bistro à Table (www/fb)
No.6, Jalan 17/54,
46400 Petaling Jaya,
Tel:03-7931 2831 or 014 338 5888
Open : Dinner Tues-Sun. Closed Mondays
Reservations recommended.

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