Thursday, April 25, 2019

Kooky Cream, The Hub SS2

Most dessert parlours refresh you with their sweet indulgences; this one revives your spirit from the second you step inside.

Kooky Cream's specialities include an intriguing range of 'Ice Ice Baby' bowls - shaved ice topped with wobbly panna cotta in various flavours; Let's Cha Cha, for example, is for Japanese tea devotees, showcasing hojicha ice with matcha panna cotta (RM19; sufficient for two to share). Cakes and beverages are also reasonably well-executed; wash down a French vanilla mille crepe with cold-brewed tea laced with lavender and osmanthus.

Kooky Cream
Lot A-G-02, The Hub SS2, 19 Sentral, Jalan Harapan, Seksyen 19, 46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. 
Open daily, mainly in the evening and night for current soft-launch operations.


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D by Dirty, Taman Tun Dr Ismail

This new whisky bar offers a solid selection of snacks - try the butterscotch sliders with bacon (RM28.80), or other meaty temptations like sticky rice with pork rendang, spiced chicken gizzard and smoked duck bruschetta - to pair with its spirits. No gripes about the Famous Grouse or the Naked Grouse (RM18.80 per glass) if you're bar-hopping in the neighbourhood.

D by Dirty TTDI
110B, Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. Open Wednesday-Sunday, 7pm-3am.


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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Semenyih Eco Thai Restaurant

By Aiman Azri


A cool breeze blows gently through the trees, but the lake beside us remains soothingly still and serene. Nearby, a group of youths gear up excitedly for an afternoon of wall climbing. We're less than an hour's drive from KL on this sunny Thursday afternoon, but it feels like we're on vacation, waiting to feast on a fresh lunch of Thai cooking.

This is our first time at the Semenyih Eco Venture Resort, even though it's been around for nearly five years now. A peaceful space that nonetheless brims with plenty of potential activities, this rustic resort houses a restaurant that prides itself on cuisine prepared by a northern Thai chef, a convenient choice if you're visiting the resort for a leisurely stay or a lively paintball session.

But the restaurant itself is worth the journey from anywhere in the Klang Valley, promising both a memorable setting and a mouthwatering menu.

Customers have a choice of dining in the shade outdoors, enveloped in nature's sense of wide-open freedom, with a beautiful mural that illustrates Malaysia's cultural vibrancy, or in air-conditioned comfort inside, surrounded by families and friends occupying a multitude of colourful banquet tables.

Eco Thai Restaurant's sweeping repertoire strives for authenticity, featuring familiar favourites that'll hit the spot for fans of Thai fare - from hot-and-sour crabs to fresh squid in curry, steamed clams with lemon to chicken in green curry, chicken feet salad to pineapple fried rice to claypot prawns with glass noodles, there's certainly no lack of crowd-rousing recipes that reflect the unmistakable spicy-tangy notes of our northern neighbour's gastronomic pleasures.

Patrons can order a la carte or opt for a set package that provides excellent value for money. We sampled four dishes, sufficient for a total of four persons, for a very reasonable RM95, surprisingly more affordable than what might be expected at a resort.

This specific set showcases no fewer than three well-portioned, well-executed starters to share - the Thai Mango Salad yields a juicy crunch, balanced between sweet and tart, garnished with peanuts, anchovies and shallots galore for a nuanced appetite-whetter; the Fried Aubergines with Dried Shrimp are a testament to the satisfying lusciousness of quality eggplants, with a pleasant jolt of umami from the shrimp in each mouthful; and the Pandan Chicken is a no-fuss staple of chunks of bone-free chicken with a subtly smoky, alluringly aromatic marinade.

The star might be the main course of is the Tom Yum Tilapia - the fish can be served steamed or fried, fulfillingly fleshy and flaky, with the right level of tenderness that does justice to the tilapia. For tom yum enthusiasts, keep this place in mind - the hot soup is lightly milky, lovably tongue-tingling and thoroughly tasty; thankfully, the set includes four bowls of steamed rice to soak up the soup in all its nuanced flavours. A true taste of Thailand, 500 kilometres south of the border.

Also noteworthy is the restaurant's Gaharu Tea - the resort cultivates its own agarwood trees, harvesting the leaves to prepare this very special tea that's indulgently smooth and irresistibly fragrant, with an earthy flavour that sets it apart from regular teas. For tea devotees, this is a distinctive tea to try, with a traditional local flourish that reputedly has a host of potent benefits, from detoxification to supporting deeper sleep. At roughly RM3.50 per person for a refillable pot, we'd happily sip many cups of this.

Consider coupling your exploration of Eco Thai Restaurant with a short stay at Semenyih Eco Venture Resort, a tranquil getaway that helps to revive the soul away from the claustrophobia of the city. Even one night spent here might do wonders for the spirit - imagine blissfully waking up a few grassy steps from the lake, with bird calls summoning you from your slumber.

The resort boasts a variety of villas, cabins, huts and containers to accommodate everyone from newlyweds to families to team-building communities - we love how each type of accommodation is cheerfully styled, evoking everything from English Tudor to Malaysian kampung homes; some of them even have a porch where you can fish by the lake. Check out www.semenyihecoventure.com for more details.

Even if you're not checking into the resort, you'll find plenty of activities here to burn some calories before or after your meal at Eco Thai Restaurant. From wall climbing to obstacle courses, ATV adventures to flying fox thrills, kayaking to jungle trekking, paintball shooting to swimming in a sizable pool, visitors could easily spend hours here. Entrance to the recreation area is RM5 for independent visitors; most activities cost an additional RM30 per person for each session, while pool access is RM10 per hour. Most activities run from 8:30am through 6pm, but special timings can be accommodated by advance request. See www.facebook.com/semenyihecoventureresort for more.

All in all, both the restaurant and the resort live up to their mission of being a one-stop destination for good vibes and wholesome fun, worth bookmarking for everyone seeking a memorable reprieve from office commitments and traffic crawls. Many thanks to the team here for having us.

Semenyih Eco Thai Restaurant
Semenyih Eco Venture Resort, Lot Tanah PT 1351, Jalan Sg Lalang, 43500 Semenyih.
Daily, 11am-11pm. Tel: 017-673-6358 / 012-218-6839 or Email: ecothairesto@gmail.com