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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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Samovar Restaurant, Solaris

Ever since group discount websites took the internet by storm, I too have been trying out new places courtesy of these discounts, rarely food deals though coz of one bad experience. This particular deal caught my eye simply because it’s offering “Authentic Russian Cuisine”. The menu looked pretty palatable, not as foreign as I would think. So my friend and I headed off to Solaris looking for this place. The location is a tad hidden to me as I am rarely found in Solaris.

The place was rather empty as it was on a weekday night. They even offer free karaoke which was luckily not being utilised. Haha. Run by a friendly Russian couple from Sochi at the Black Sea region of Russia, Russian food is not the only choice here. They also serve Middle Eastern (that explains the shisha!), Western and even Malaysian fare (hmmm).

Included was this Borscht Soup, a vegetable soup with cabbage, beetroot, carrots, potatoes served with bread. We were a bit surprised that the bread served was our normal white Gardenia bread only. The soup itself is very light, not as hearty as I expected. But the more you drink, the nicer it tastes. But still, it lacks a certain oomph.

The Olivie Salad with potatoes, chicken, egg, cucumber and mayonnaise reminds me of this potato salad recipe I used to make. But without the frozen vegetable medley (peas, diced carrots etc) so in some way this tasted like comfort food to me. They have other salad options though most of it seemed to use pickled vegetables so I feel that’s probably too adventurous for some’s palate.

This was not part of the deal, but ordered the hummus with meat just to try. The hummus was very smooth and I think we enjoyed it with the bread even though for the umpteenth time I wish another bread type was offered.

We got to choose one main course with the voucher and I opted for the Pelmeni – dumplings with minced chicken & mushrooms. Apparently “pelmeni” means ear-shaped bread and the process of making them were once labour-intensive. But now like our curry puffs, there are moulds that help with the making of the dumplings. But irregardless of how it was made, the dumplings were quite yummy. The ground meat was juicy, flavourful and I really liked this.

Topped with melted butter,it was served with a type of tomato puree which is like tapenede in consistency. I found that quite interesting as it added a different dimension to the overall flavour. It does remind me of gyoza or even chinese guo tie but the seasoning used is definitely different as the taste is anything but.

Another main course that we chose was Katletti, chicken cutlets with butter, cheese & rice. The plain rice is not so plain afterall, as I believe it was cooked in some broth as it had some flavour to it. The katletti which resembles croquettes is deep fried and bursting with flavour.

We went back to Samovar a couple of weeks later and tried some other items on the menu which looked fairly interesting.

We started with a healthy dish, Tabouleh which is traditionally made with bulgur but this version only has finely chopped parsley, mint, tomoato, onion with olive oil and lemon juice. Quite fresh and pleasant to start the meal with!

We also had Golubtzi, which is minced meat and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves. This was another “comfort food” to me. Reminded me of our chinese cabbage wraps too.

We also had Chicken Roll which was stuffed and rolled. I thought this was quite yummy as the chicken itself was quite tender and juicy. I think this was easily my favourite dish of the night, apart from the Pelmeni.

I had high hopes for the Manti as I thought it would be somewhat similar to the Pelmeni but this was a bit of a letdown. The dough was a tad too dry and thick.

The owners are really friendly though we could only communicate in limited English. He even gave us a discount on the hummus which wasn’t included in the voucher! I don’t mind coming back for more of the dumplings and trying some other Russian fare as it feels quite homecooked. But considering the area it’s based in, with so many other restaurants as its competition, I can see why it’s so quiet despite the decent food.

And if you’re inclined, feel free to bring your own alcohol as they don’t charge corkage.

Samovar Restaurant
K-01-08, SoHo KL,
No. 2, Jalan Solaris,
Mont Kiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur.
Phone: 016-230 4534

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Ping Pong, London

After a few meals in London, we were starting to crave something Asian so when my boss spotted Ping Pong in Soho, there was no doubt where lunch would be.

The restaurant’s decor is quite chic to be honest, and very much different from usual Chinatown joints with its sleek black accents. But from thereon after, things didn’t quite impress as much anymore. The reception was lukewarm to be honest and our waiter seemed to be quite abrupt and indifferent. I even had problems trying to hail him down to refill my tea’s hot water! But on that note, must commend the supervisor for stepping in to do so.

Our drinks – Lychee & Grape & Flowering Jasmine. Both were very refreshing.

To start, salt & pepper pork crackling. Reminds me of the ones we get in Bali, perfect to go with beer but these were not as crispy as I hoped. Still, an interesting starter.

Shrimp Toast, topped with sesame seeds. Bouncy and crisp.

I can’t really remember what dumpling this is anymore. If i am not mistaken this was probably the spicy hot vegetable dumpling. Still, it looks pretty inviting, hehe.

Soft Shell Crab. Looks good but tasted so-so. The Japs do it better 😛

Translucent chive dumplings with king prawns in them. Beautiful to look at and one of the better tasting ones.

King prawns & scallop sticky rice with carrots and bamboo shoots. Definitely an upgrade from the usual sticky rice parcels we get back home. Quite nice.

Some mixed vegetable spring rolls. A bit smaller than the ones back home but no scrimping on ingredients.

This was something I really wanted to try when I saw it on the menu, a lobster dumpling but it was unavailable so snapped this off the menu instead. Perhaps the lucky ones who tried it can tell me how it was!

Our lunch for 4 came up to about £190 including drinks & VAT. Overall verdict, dim sum was mediocre and overpriced. But if you’re big on presentation and ambience, this is a nice place to be dining at.

Ping Pong (www)
45 Great Marlborough Street
Soho W1F 7JL
Open : Mon-Sat 12pm-12am; Sun 12pm-1030pm

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Ben’s, KLCC

A friend and I were in KLCC to catch a movie, and after checking out Harrods, we stepped out to spot the brand new Ben’s opposite. At first glance, I was thinking that it looks very similar to Plan B in terms of decor. Later I found out that it’s indeed under the same management.

The design overall is very clean, with dark muted tones. The seats by the window are usually taken up quickly as it gives the best view of the park and fountain outside. Menu is pretty extensive too, from salads to sandwiches, pasta, nibbles, desserts etc and the “handwritten” font was quite delightful.

I decided to go for the Grilled Seafood Spaghettini with chilli flakes and wilted spinach. Done aglio olio style, it was quite good, but needed a bit more salt to make it more flavourful. The seafood, mostly prawns and squid had a lingering smoky taste but the noodles were just a tad too oily for me.

My friend ordered the portobello mushroom burger but the waiter heard wrongly and she was served the Roasted Mushroom Ciabatta with 4 colour chips instead. However, it looked good too so she decided to just try that. I was quite happy that they served it with a side of Ben’s house salad with edamame, 7 seeds and a house dressing as I wanted to order that to share initially. But we also wanted dessert, so the “healthy” option was axed. Lol.

The ciabatta was crisp and the mushrooms juicy. The 4 colour chips were actually thinly sliced sweet potato chips. But I did like the house salad as it was slightly tangy and so yummy. I did regret for a second for not ordering it to begin with… hehe.

But our dessert of Mixed berry crumble tart sure made up for it. The tart was heated up so when paired with the vanilla ice-cream, the hot & cold sensation rolling on the tongue was just heavenly. They have quite a long list of desserts but not everything was available when we were there. Still, you’ll be sure to find something that you want to try!

Our meal came up to about RM40 per person including drinks. Most of the mains are around RM20+ so considered mid-range pricing. Service was a bit hesitant but I believe it’s quite the norm with new restaurants.

Suria KLCC
Lot 140 First Floor
Kuala Lumpur City Centre
50088 Kuala Lumpur
Open 10am-11pm daily

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Ichigoichie, SS15

I seldom make my way down this street but recently a Pearl Pork shop (healthy pork/安心肉店) opened there and I was having a look when I spotted this Japanese eatery. The name “一期一会” attracted me instantly and I vowed to drop by as soon as I could.

Japanese eateries have been mushrooming in Subang Jaya recently, and some of these are the smaller, home-cooked types, and has become quite delightful to explore.

The facade and interior of the eatery. Simple but homey. Quite a few tables were occupied by locals, i.e. Japs.

The small appetizer served to us before dinner – pork slices cooked with potatoes, carrots & mushroom slivers. Tasted very much like homecooked stew. Good start.

The signature dish, Ichigo Don (RM28) which is essentially Katsudon with thick pork slabs, onions and egg. The pork cutlets were crispy on the outside and tender & juicy inside. Good stuff!

An interesting dish that we thought we should try, Shake Chazuke (RM16) which is rice and salmon in tea. I think “salmon tea porridge” is the right term here. However I don’t think any of us were ready for such a measly portion, haha. It was supposed to be rice cooked in fish broth and topped with grilled salmon flakes, nori seaweed and spring onions but it tasted more like soy sauce and rice in water… not as impressive as we hoped.

Rice with Japanese eggplants and minced pork (RM18). This I love even though personally I felt it was a tad salty. But the gravy also had bits of chilli flakes in it and had a slight zing to it.

Sandwiches in toasted bread with the thick pork cuts and lots of shredded cabbage. This was pretty good. Probably a tad too much for one person, so it’s something to share.

Yaki Udon, or fried udon.

Last but not least, some sashimi. The squid and roe were alright but the others were simply not fresh enough. Definitely not the place to come for fresh sashimi.

Overall, I would say that this eatery serves very homecooked Japanese fare and most of it is rather decent, and the thick pork cuts will wow any meat lover. Oh and they do lunch delivery around the neighborhood also… starting from 10am, to be delivered by 12pm. However there was one occasion (on a return trip) where the service was super slow that it put off my dining companions. It was only upon leaving that the waitress informed me that they had complications with the stove so I guess I would still give this place a chance.

Ichigoichie 一期一会
10, Jalan SS15/8B,
Subang Jaya.
Tel: 03-5632 0510

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The Cave Couple Cafe, SS2

Note: This place is no longer in operation.

This is a really backdated review (note the X’mas decor) but I only remembered it when I saw it being suggested as a V Day restaurant on kampungboycitygal’s. Despite reading not-so-good reviews about this place, thought the novelty of this concept could still win my heart so proceeded there with 3 other makan kakis. So word has it that the owner fell in love with the unique fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, Turkey and seeked to reproduce his own.

The sleek, mysterious facade of the restaurant does not reveal the stark difference in texture and material until one enters though there’s this rather ugly and phallic looking arch (from the side lah) on the walkway outside which greets all patrons. But ugly arch aside, the transformation of the inside area is truly spectacular as everything from the ceiling to the floor was as per a cave’s. Spotted a bar on the ground floor but was brought to the 3rd floor where the bigger dining hall was. We were told that the first and second floor is reserved for couples as the seating were partitioned booths, or “caves” good enough for 2, and some for 3. 76 caves in total!

But after having a good look at the couples’ cave, was quite glad we weren’t seated at one of them. Apart from the rather tight and claustrophobic side by side seating, there’s only a thin gauze curtain guarding the entrance and in some instances, instead of gazing lovingly at your beloved, you get furtive glances from the couple sitting on the opposite side. Sure, there’s the separating curtain, but it’s sheer and doesn’t hide much. And I rather be sitting face to face with my other half if I was on a date. Oh well, some people prefer cuddling or holding hands while eating, I suppose. But I reckon playing footsie is more fun. Lol. 😛

We were however on the open dining hall on the 3rd floor which has its own bar and live band corner. One thing about being in a “cave” though, acoustics or sound control can be quite an issue and we found the noise levels a tad loud for comfortable chatting.

Taking inspiration from the Turkish influence, they also server some middle Eastern starters such as Lamb Kofta, Hummus, Tahini etc. And I decided to go for the kofta which is served with mint yoghurt. The minced lamb is mixed with chopped onions, garlic, cashew nuts and presumably, spices. Can’t recall what the coleslaw looking pile under the meatballs were anymore but I reckon it’s something raita-ish. I quite like it but the meatball had quite a strong lamb taste towards the end.

But that’s where the Middle Eastern influences end as the majority of the menu consisted of Western and Chinese cuisine. I can understand the western dishes but serving Chinese here seems a bit strange. But still, we decided to try one of everything.

Shared a smoked salmon angel hair pasta and it was mediocre at best. And the salmon tasted strange, as if it has gone off, but is that possible of smoked salmon? Still, we scraped it off and concentrated on the angel hair only. Frankly, I won’t recommend this dish.

We ordered a seafood noodle dish and a stir fried “4 heavenly kings” (四大天王). The seafood noodle dish was forgettable, until I even forgot to snap a shot of it. Would do better to try “Wat Dan Hor” in any dai chow around the area. As for the vegetable dish, instead of the usual combination of lady fingers (okra), winged beans, snake beans and brinjal, they used lady fingers, winged beans, french beans and petai. But I think so long as they are 4 types of vegetables esp. legumes used in this dish, whatever combination works. This was alright even though it was much oilier than I preferred, probably one of the better dishes we had that night.

So the verdict is that novelty can only bring one so far as food is mediocre at best. And considering the prices they charge, I would rather be at some neighboring dai chow scoffing down the same but better tasting, cheaper dishes. For the 4 of us, dinner came up to about RM160 for 3 mains and one starter.

The Cave Couple cafe & Restaurant
16 & 18, Jalan SS2/61,
47300 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-7873 9888/9698
Open: Mon-Thurs, Sun 11am-1am ; Fri & Sat 11am-2am

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Citrus Cafe, Miri

Cafes with free wi-fi are starting to mushroom in Miri and the facade of this Citrus cafe caught my eye as I was driving past so made it a point to lunch here during a meet up with an old friend. As it was still CNY, the deco in the cafe also reflected the festive mood and I especially liked the lantern shape table number stands. I think I was expecting slightly more than the lime green and white accents in interior deco due to the more mysterious facade but still, it was pleasant enough.

While waiting for the food, we kept ourselves busy browsing magazines and catching up. I ordered one of their specialty sundaes, Funky Monkey which was a blend of peanut butter and banana. It was really good! Rich yet not cloying and the ratio of the flavours was very balanced. Definitely recommended.

Was up for something cheesy so ordered the Seafood Baked Rice (RM11.90). Fried rice was topped with squid rings, prawns and crabsticks and baked with a creamy, cheesy sauce. I found the sauce a tad salty and the rice, too mushy but portion was good for the price.

My friend had the Chicken Chop (RM15.90) with mushroom sauce. Presentation was interesting as it seems like they use random stuff they had, and since it was CNY even mandarin oranges were not spared. Haha. The chicken was alright though we both thought the mushroom sauce was not really befitting as it was more of the bolognese variety instead of the creamy one which would have tasted better.

Ended lunch with a sweet note and ordered Brownie Ala Mode (RM6.90) which is presented nicely. But the brownie was too sweet so we didn’t finish that.

Despite the not too stellar food, I think this place is still worth a try considering the friendly waiters and great service, along with variety in the menu. Some of the specialties which we did not manage to try included the seafood breadbowl soup, sampler for 4, pasta, chocolate fondue etc. Sandwiches are also recommended in the other reviews. They also have a set lunch deal at RM7 which is not inclusive of drinks though.

Citrus Cafe * Restaurant
Lot 1199,
Jalan Sylvia,
98000 Miri,

Open Sun – Thurs 11am to 11pm, Fri & Sat 11am to 12am

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