Friday, August 14, 2020

The Swimming Cow, Damansara Kim

For fans of sous vide cooking, spanning steaks to fowl and fish, wade on over to The Swimming Cow: Take a seat at the counter to watch your protein surface from its vacuum-sealed bag after hours of low-temperature cooking in a water bath.

The sous vide chicken thigh roulade is served cordon bleu-style, rolled and layered with turkey ham and cheddar cheese, crisp to the breaded bite, smooth and tender to the chew, rounded out with a refreshing pickle slaw and fragrant truffle fries (RM35).

The other poultry pleasure is the pan-seared duck breast, full-bodied in both taste and texture, complete with cauliflower puree and orange reduction for our favourite sous vide speciality at The Swimming Cow (RM45).

We have mixed sentiments about the salmon with truffled mash, sauteed asparagus and garlic lemon butter sauce (RM45) and the Australian wagyu MB4/5 beef with garlic confit, sea salt flakes, Sarawak pepper and mustard (RM135 for about 260 grams), since our cuts lacked succulence and were too heavily seasoned. Issues like those could nonetheless be easily fixed.

The Swimming Cow
29, Jalan SS20/11, Damansara Kim, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. 
Open daily for dinner by reservations starting August 18. Tel: 012-206-6599

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De.Wan 1958 by Chef Wan: BOSS MY Unity Menu brings Malaysian flavours to the fore

For Malaysians who love the rich flavours and comforting textures that mark our country's cuisine,  De.Wan 1958 by Chef Wan is teaming up with BOSS for an exclusive MY Unity Menu that brings together local favourites raised to elevated heights from 15 August to 16 September.

The menu comprises two components - a dine-in or delivery feast of classic Malay, Chinese and Indian specialities, as well as a tiffin set for takeaway or delivery.

The initiative includes collaborations with local artists as well as support for Malaysia's leading food bank to curb food wastage - 10% of the proceeds from this menu will be donated to The Lost Food Project, co-funded between BOSS and De.Wan 1958.

Order now at or contact 010-2070-383 to enjoy priority bookings. Dine-in reservations must be made at least three days in advance.

We had a preview of the dishes for the MY Unity Set Menu, curated by Datuk Dr. Chef Wan himself - an extravaganza of temptations that beautifully illustrate the sweeping range of Malaysian recipes.

With every order of this menu, customers receive a limited-edition MY Unity tiffin illustrated by Malaysian talent Tiffany Choong, celebrating the country's diverse flora and fauna, including the Malayan tiger to raise awareness for its protection.

This menu, for dine-in and delivery, is sufficient for three to four persons, priced at RM398++. 

We started with the cucur udang, a street staple that De.Wan 1958 makes exceptionally delicious with large tiger prawns deep-fried with sweet corn, shallots, chives and bean sprouts. Dunk in a thickly textured, satay-like sauce of peanuts and red chillies for a crunchy-creamy delight.

The Szechuan salad whets the appetite well - lotus roots zestily tossed with spring onions and coriander leaves in a lively dressing of black peppercorns, soy sauce, honey, vinegar sesame oil and sesame seeds. Guaranteed to perk the palate with its fresh, revitalising dynamics.

The main courses are all marvellous, so it's difficult to choose a favourite. If you like fish, the sea bass with superior sauce is a delicately delicious representative of Chinese steamed cooking; for fans of robust recipes, the daging rusa rendang is a punchy pleasure that would be fit for the most lavish Malay kenduri; if the spice road is up your alley, the udang kari masala should captivate your senses with an aromatic Indian medley of flavours. 

The sea bass, venison and prawns are all fleshy and succulent, prepared to pure perfection, complemented by fibre in the form of stir-fried broccoli and mushrooms, as well as rice in a choice of nasi bunga telang, nasi telur, or nasi putih. A trio of desserts also showcase the best of culinary traditions - som-som, gulab jamun, and red bean pancakes.

Alternatively, customers can purchase a three-course meal for one person at RM129++, for takeaway or delivery, comprising the Szechuan salad, daging rusa rendang, rice and desserts. This also includes the limited-edition tiffin.

Customers will also receive a RM100 BOSS Voucher with every order of the BOSS x De.Wan Exclusive menu.

If you love the tiffin carrier and you’d like to gift it to a friend or family member, you can purchase a small carrier on its own for only RM80+ or a regular-sized one for RM90+ - perfect as a nostalgic keepsake to store, transport and serve home-cooked meals.

Many thanks to De.Wan 1958 for this preview of the BOSS My Unity Menu.

De.Wan 1958 by Chef Wan
Lot 2-2, Level 2, The LINC KL, Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 11am-230pm, 6pm-9pm. Tel: 010-207-0383
Order at

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Nam Heong Concubine Lane Homey Chef: Ipoh-inspired classics to cook at home

Siew mai inspired by the trolleys of Ipoh's dim sum joints; prawn mee bursting with savoury flavours, requiring barely 15 minutes to make: Nam Heong's new Concubine Lane Homey Chef range of 21 dishes to cook at home brings the classic taste of Ipoh to your family, convenient for contemporary customers.

Home-cooked siew mai is as easy as ABC with Concubine Lane Homey Chef: Remove the package from the freezer, steam the siew mai with boiling water for 10-12 minutes, and defrost the accompanying chilli sauce and sweet sauce in hot water for one minute. Voila - your complete siew mai meal is ready to eat (RM17.50 for nine pieces). Plus, this is no ordinary siew mai but a respected Ipoh-sourced recipe that Nam Heong takes pride in, true to the spirit of the city's famed Concubine Lane and its old-school food offerings.

Crispy prawn rolls - the quintessential dim sum appetiser - are even quicker to reach the table, needing only 5-6 hassle-free minutes of frying. Many of these dishes have less than five steps for preparation, so even amateur home cooks like us should find the process simple and straightforward.

For main meals, many possibilities are available. Mighty Prawn Mee (RM7.60) can be at your fingertips, anytime at home, day or night, in as much time as it takes to read this feature. Boil 400ml of water, add in the spicy Prawn Mee Paste (made with dried prawns and prawn oil) and meat slices, add in noodles and cook for 3-4 minutes for a punchy bowl that'll transport you to crustacean paradise in the comfort of your own home.

If you like familiar dai chow favourites, try the Classic Sweet & Sour Chicken (RM10.50), which can be fried in hot oil or baked in the oven till golden-brown. Alternatively, indulge in the hearty Ipoh Flaming Curry Pork Meat Slices (RM14.80), to be simmered in a pot in low flame for 15 minutes for you to savour its aromatic curry, blended with 10 different spices.

Other Nam Heong Concubine Lane Homey Chef temptations comprise:
Braised Mixed Vegetables (RM10)
Ipoh Authentic Kung Po Chicken (RM10.50)
Ipoh Sticky Marmite Chicken (RM10.50)
Ipoh-Style Hakka Pork Belly (RM14.80)
Ipoh Black Vinegar Pork Knuckles (RM17.50)
Cantonese-Style Roasted Char Siew (RM22.90)
Chicken Glutinous Rice (RM10.90, two pieces)
Golden Lava Bun (RM13, six pieces)
Steamed BBQ Chicken Bun (RM13, four pieces)
Prawn Siew Mai (RM17.50, nine pieces)
Pork Curry Wanton Mee (RM9.80)

Legendary Assam Laksa (RM9.80)

Nam Heong Concubine Lane Homey Chef is now available on multiple platforms. Get 15% off when you order online via LazadaShopee, or Mecan Trade.

Or enjoy 10% off when purchasing at any of the Nam Heong branches.

Many thanks to Nam Heong for this sampling of Concubine Lane Homey Chef's specialities.

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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Loo Loo Casual Dining, Sri Hartamas

Rib eye steaks that cost south of RM50; lamb leg for under RM40; tiger prawn bisque pasta that's less than RM30; a beautiful honey-themed sponge dessert for below RM20 - Loo Loo Casual Dining lives up to a promise of serving delightfully distinctive creations by a chef who's returning to Malaysia after nearly a decade of working in modern European restaurants in Singapore, Bali and Manila.

Loo Loo's food takes inspiration from the meticulous, intricate efforts that fuel fine dining - but without the skyrocketing prices that propel top-flight restaurants. Head chef William and his co-founder Nicole (both share the surname Loo) harness the full potential of everyday ingredients in imaginative ways to make this one of 2020's most worthwhile new restaurants.

In the past 10 years, William has trained under internationally respected chefs, including three whom he singles out for inspiring his philosophies - French chef Stephane (who has worked at New York's Daniel, among others), Italian Giuliano (who teaches his proteges how to prepare true Italian pasta without setting foot in Italy), and Canadian Kevin (whose resume includes El Bulli and Arzak in Spain). His work at Loo Loo brings his personal experiences under those chefs to full bloom.

The perfect appetite-whetter is this cold somen (RM16): Firm, thin noodles surrounded by naturally invigorating ingredients - a fresh, plumply tender prawn for gentle crustacean sweetness, tobiko and crab stick strips to bolster the flavours of the sea, buoyed by julienned cucumbers for crunch, ponzu sauce for citrusy acidity, and sesame seed oil for earthiness. A lovely interplay of lively, well-balanced wholesomeness from the waters and the land.

One of William's culinary icons is American restaurateur David Chang, so it's no surprise that Loo Loo offers its own take on the revered Momofuku's ultra-comforting steamed buns - but without pork. Multiple slices of hoisin-glazed smoked duck furnish the lusciously savoury punch in this modern, moreish Asian marvel, thickly layered with quick-pickled cucumbers, chillies, scallions and aioli for eat-it-while-it's-hot ecstasy (RM12 for two).

If you love pasta, make it a point to try Loo Loo's tiger prawn pasta (RM22), which might look pretty simple but requires two days of painstaking preparation. The secret is in the bisque-like sauce, crafted with the kitchen's own prawn essence - it takes a day to make the chicken stock that forms a full-bodied base for this sauce, then a second day to infuse the richness of prawn shells and heads for a beautiful brininess. We slurped up every strand of the durum wheat spaghetti, fully al dente, coated in the precious prawn sauce, with two large prawns to round it all out. Loo Loo might not be an Italian restaurant, but this pasta is pure pleasure, equal to that of any respected pasta purveyor in KL, reminding us to cherish eateries that eschew the bolognese/carbonara/aglio olio stereotypes.

We're a little less enthused by the charred miso butterfish, onion-infused dashi, bok choy and crispy tofu (RM32) - it's visually alluring in its arrangement, with the kitchen doing justice to every component, including the Japanese-inflected, soulful umami of the miso marinade and the sweet-savoury broth. But the butterfish itself isn't our favourite produce for both taste and texture; the chef has acknowledged that he'd like to use halibut, but that would hike the price significantly higher.

Redemption rests in Loo Loo's playful reinterpretation of the Caesar salad - crowned with sous-vide chicken breast, slow-cooked to a smooth succulence akin to thigh meat, drizzled with dragon fruit sauce, cushioned with romaine hearts turned into leafy cups for hard-boiled eggs and ikan bilis in two ways - crushed into a breadcrumb-like crispness and blended into an anchovy dressing. It's a substantial portion that even two can share for only RM22 - ideal for carb-shunning fitness enthusiasts since the crushed anchovies make this crouton-free.

Lamb lovers, try Loo Loo's shawarma-style lamb leg, marinated for a day with the aromatic ras el hanout cardamom-and-cinnamon spice mix that's popular in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, then slow-roasted for six hours, sliced and torched, robust in the unmistakable, no-holds-barred flavour of lamb. The juicy meat is served in the fashion of deconstructed kebabs, rolled amid a landscape of parsley-green breadcrumbs, oven-dried tomato sauce, onion jam, and cucumber stuffed with mint yogurt, representing a journey through North Africa and the Middle East on a single plate (RM38).

Need more red meat? Loo Loo's Australian grain-fed beef (RM46 for about 200 grams) meets the medium-rare mark for sinking your teeth into a rib eye steak with plenty of protein-packed flavour, firm to the bite and supple to the chew. Even the accompaniments aren't an afterthought - sprightly green beans, a lip-smacking spring onion aioli, and crackly skin-on potatoes that took three days to prepare, boiled and frozen on the first day, fried and dried on the second day for a pronounced crust, and fried again to order on the third day.

While William isn't a pastry chef, his desserts are definitely a delight. Loo Loo's Honey 3 Ways (RM18) is a must - fresh honey sponge cake, with gelato in honey and milk flavours, plus some toasty honeyed brown butter sauce, rounded out with Earl Grey cream, pear puree and caramelised sunflower seeds. This plate has everything, the contrasts between hot and cold, crunchy and creamy, with all the natural, nectarous nuances that you'd desire from a honey-focused dessert.

We're also in lust with the souffle (RM16), made with 70% dark chocolate, gluten-free without a pastry flour base, alluringly airy but still compelling in its deep cacao decadence. This is paired with hazelnut gelato for a coupling that evokes Ferrero Rocher chocolate-and-hazelnut treats. For souffle addicts, get your fix here.

Even the beverages are more meticulously made than typical - the limeade features melted lime juice cubes (RM8), while the hot chocolate is fragrant and fulfilling with Valrhona bittersweet dark chocolate, cocoa and gula Melaka (RM12).

All in all, Loo Loo Casual Dining is off to a very promising culinary start despite these difficult times. Thanks to these passionate founders who've fine-tuned their craft for having us here.
Loo Loo Casual Dining

B2-7, Block B, Plaza Damas 3, Jalan Sri Hartamas 1, Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur. 
Open Wednesday-Monday, 12pm-10pm. Tel: 011-2729-7311

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