Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Opium @ Changkat Bukit Bintang

In a setting that harkens back to Oriental opium dens of yore (with a bed & lamps, but no pipes), Changkat Bukit Bintang's latest hotspot surfaces without a whiff of smoky sleaze so far but with a wealth of fusion food & curiously addictive cocktails.

The menu's a mishmash, with Wagyu beef rendang (accompanied by steamed lotus-leaf buns, RM38++) sharing space with other East-meets-West creations including tuna sashimi pizza, five-spice duck with cranberry jus & prawn curry spaghettini.

What lies beneath the lids? Opium's selection showcases snacks galore, from crispy popiah-skin samosas stuffed with three cheeses & raisins (paired with apricot chutney, RM18++) to regular old-fashioned dim sum. Opium is a no-pork establishment, so the siu mai features a mix of chicken, prawns & mushrooms (RM12++).

 Intriguing desserts include the banana fritters topped with strands of aged cheddar, coupled with banana ice cream. The combination works well enough to leave a positive impression.

Something cool & refreshing for these heat-ravaged evenings: Shaved ice mixed with (deep breath!) grass jelly, water chestnuts, basil seeds, peanuts, corn, mung bean paste, coconut milk, gula melaka & coconut ice cream. RM18++.

What makes Opium worth visiting: Cocktails, crafted in relatively novel presentations that underscore the restaurant's theme. 'Traders Vic Heads East'  (RM32++) comprises spiced rum with mangosteen (subtle), orange curacao & Dutch almond syrup; other options boast names like Forbidden City, Genghis' Poison Chalice, Tea Trader & Shanghailander.

 Peking Man (vodka, puer tea, longan, lime juice, orange bitters, egg white) & Mojito with a five-spice twist. We'd like to try the ASEAN Daiquiri (with calamansi, asam boi & kaffir lime leaves) & Red Lantern Margarita (with pomegranate seeds) someday.

 Even the wine is served in a memorable fashion that's elegant & evocative. Service is pleasant too, a hallmark of the Changkat watering holes run by Werner Kuhn of El Cerdo, The Steakhouse & Dining In The Dark.

 Many of the outlets at Changkat thrive on alfresco areas, bustling on weekend nights; Opium is no exception.

 A lion dance to celebrate Opium's launch, fitting in well with the Far Eastern flavour here. This address has housed a series of ever-changing eateries in recent years, including Werner's & Ten On Changkat. In this era of no sure bets, Opium has its work cut out to satisfy a steady flow of customers & show more longevity.


Opium: Eat Drink Man Woman
50, Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
Daily, 4pm-1am (2am on Fridays & Saturdays). Tel: 03-2142-5670


Check out the latest edition of Eat Drink KL: 100 Favourites, featuring 100 recommended restaurants for July-September 2014, including more than 20 new entries for this quarter. 
This eBook is available to read or download at this link: http://eatdrinkkl.publ.com/2014C 
Link expires Sept 30, 2014; see blog entries after that date for new link.

Stay up to date: The Eat Drink KL newsletter is sent by email to subscribers every Monday; it's the Klang Valley's foremost weekly round-up of new restaurant openings (even before they're featured on this blog), F&B promotions & other tasty tidbits.
Subscribe to Eat Drink KL Weekly for free via this following link: 
Note to subscribers on Gmail: The newsletter will be in the Promotions folder of your inbox.

Sausages to sambal. Muffins to marshmallows. Peanut butter to mango chutney. Cornflake ice cream to honey aloe yogurt. Lavender-laced lemonades to lychee-&-guava juices.
Eat Drink KL: Small Businesses, Huge Flavours is the first eBook to help customers navigate the diversity of independent F&B entrepreneurs who bake & boil in their own kitchens, offering some of Malaysia's finest, most fascinating food products.
This resource will be continuously updated with new listings: www.eatdrinkkl.publ.com/businesses
Check out EAT DRINK, a new F&B website jointly run by The Expat Group (TEG) & Eat Drink KL. This website features all of our up-to-date reviews, plus exclusive weekly articles & a searchable database on restaurants in KL & Selangor: EatDrink.my

Monday, July 21, 2014

Robata Monkey @ Jaya One

Firing up our F&B scene, this white-hot new restaurant transports the unique art of rustic Japanese slow-grilling into Jaya One, serving a smorgasbord of succulent seafood with smoky, savoury subtleties.


Robata Monkey focuses on 'robatayaki,' cooking with 'bincho-tan' traditional oak charcoal that burns cleanly to ensure the restaurant's assortment of fish, flown in from the Land of Rising Sun, retains as much moisture & purity of flavour as possible.


Robata Monkey is starting this week with a selection of fish; we heartily recommend the Pacific saury (sanma), beautifully juicy & persuasively tasty. It's a terrific representative of the best of robatayaki, a centuries-old heritage of Japanese fishermen. RM15.


Bigger, meatier fish is available too; choose from Robata Monkey's Instagram-worthy counter where rows of fish dangle above, wet-market-style. The mackerel (saba, RM45), which features a ravishingly caramelised exterior, is sufficient for two to share.


Hokke mackerel, marinated & air-dried right here, another treat for fans of fish prepared in an authentically Japanese fashion. Robata Monkey expects to expand its seafood selection in the weeks ahead; expect prawns & even octopus to surface soon.


Robata Monkey offers more than barbecued seafood. We absolutely adore the oysters; the Irish Nugget & Canadian oysters (RM25 & RM18 for three respectively) are both brilliant. Pleasurably creamy & perfectly briny. 


Also delicious: Miso-braised saba (RM25), umami-rich comfort food that might prove perfect for rainy evenings.


Robata Monkey is part of the family of restaurants that includes BangoyaKissaten & Lammeeya, but this is the first member that serves no pork. But like Bangoya, it serves 'kushiyaki' skewer-grilled fare too, including monkey-approved bananas wrapped in smoked duck (RM10).

There's a sushi bar as well, so customers can indulge in bowls of rice crowned with the likes of salmon sashimi & roe ...

... or with tuna, or the classic 'chirashi' mixed fish variety. Cha-soba is offered too for carb-craving customers.

Sashimi? Worth ordering; the raw fish tastes fresh & is elegantly presented, meeting the benchmark for Japanese eateries.

Or have it fried: the Japanese whiting (kisu) tempura, delicate & flaky, does justice to this fish.

Vegetable-lovers can have their fill of nourishment here, with everything from bonito-&-seaweed-topped bitter gourd salad (RM8) ...

... to tempura eggplant & 'kakiage' mixed fare. Robata Monkey might specialise in robata, but it's actually a fully well-rounded Japanese restaurant.

Snacking is encouraged at Robata Monkey: try the fried gingko nuts, ideal for rousing the appetite.

Dessert is also satisfying, a refreshing ensemble of green tea ice cream, mochi, azuki beans & gula melaka.

The food alone makes Robata Monkey worth recommending, but the beverages are also noteworthy. The restaurant offers 'Curious Monkey' tasting flights for liquor, including ranges of wine, sake & beer. For the latter, the 'Paulaner brothers' selection (Robata Monkey specialises in Paulaner varieties) showcases a trilogy of three delectably distinctive types.

A Perfect Pair flight, featuring Sayuri & Junmai Ginjo sake, both very different from run-of-the-mill sake, with intriguing notes that persist on the palate. RM16 for two cups.

Half Moon Yuzu, Ginger & Ume-Shu Shochu, also excellent for a night out drinking with friends.

We like the Hopf ice-conditioned wheat beer too, crisp & complex, easy to consume. RM18.

Canned 'cocktails' (Sawa-Sawa & Highball), for comforting convenience.

Calpis soda to wrap up a very enjoyable evening here; four hours can fly by swiftly & smoothly at Robata Monkey.

Robata Monkey is a spacious, colourful restaurant with a lot of personal touches, including a wall full of its co-owner's photographs, taken at the Tsukiji fish market.

Wondering why there's a monkey in the outlet's name? It's basically meant to be a reference to the playfulness of this place.

Robata Monkey
L-12A-G, Palm Square, Jaya One, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Currently daily for dinner. Will open for lunch probably after Raya.

Check out the latest edition of Eat Drink KL: 100 Favourites, featuring 100 recommended restaurants for July-September 2014, including more than 20 new entries for this quarter. 
This eBook is available to read or download at this link: http://eatdrinkkl.publ.com/2014C 
Link expires Sept 30, 2014; see blog entries after that date for new link.

Stay up to date: The Eat Drink KL newsletter is sent by email to subscribers every Monday; it's the Klang Valley's foremost weekly round-up of new restaurant openings (even before they're featured on this blog), F&B promotions & other tasty tidbits.
Subscribe to Eat Drink KL Weekly for free via this following link: 
Note to subscribers on Gmail: The newsletter will be in the Promotions folder of your inbox.

Sausages to sambal. Muffins to marshmallows. Peanut butter to mango chutney. Cornflake ice cream to honey aloe yogurt. Lavender-laced lemonades to lychee-&-guava juices.
Eat Drink KL: Small Businesses, Huge Flavours is the first eBook to help customers navigate the diversity of independent F&B entrepreneurs who bake & boil in their own kitchens, offering some of Malaysia's finest, most fascinating food products.
This resource will be continuously updated with new listings: www.eatdrinkkl.publ.com/businesses

Check out EAT DRINK, a new F&B website jointly run by The Expat Group (TEG) & Eat Drink KL. This website features all of our up-to-date reviews, plus exclusive weekly articles & a searchable database on restaurants in KL & Selangor: EatDrink.my

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Doors Cafe @ Taman OUG & Map's @ Bandar Sunway

Two thoughtfully crafted new cafes have burst into the suburban spotlight this weekend, both worth hunting out on a leisurely Sunday afternoon: Doors, the handiwork of Joavnne & Cody at Overseas Union Garden ...

... & Map's, helmed by Mark & Pris at Bandar Sunway (if Mark, not pictured here, looks familiar to visitors, we'll explain why).

First up: Doors, which marks the maiden sighting of a contemporary coffee bar in the OUG neighbourhood (expect another, a new branch of Butter + Beans, to follow nearby within weeks). Doors Kuala Lumpur is linked (through family ties) to Doors Music + Tapas in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, though this outpost will focus on coffee, art & music.

The coffee factor's self-explanatory (Doors' house blend, the result of weeks of experimentation, currently comprises El Salvador & Colombian beans; filter coffee will be available later). The art might allude to murals conceived by local talents, while music by Malaysian indie acts can eventually be enjoyed at a 'headphone' counter that'll be set up here.

Doors is still a work in progress; the kitchen will only start serving hot food next month, so most customers will have to settle for beverages such as this sticky-toffee smoothie for now (refreshing enough for a scorching Saturday). But it's a hideout with plenty of promise & positive vibes (Joavnne is very friendly).

Home-baked cakes are nonetheless available; we recommend the matcha azuki cheesecake (RM10), a creamy slice with finely balanced flavours of green tea & red bean.

Next up: Map's, where the main man is Mark Chong, formerly of That Latte Place, which had to leave its Persiaran Ritchie venue in Ampang this year (tenancy issues). Mark's team has resettled at Map's (a company name) on a Sunway shop-house street & plans to reopen That Latte Place at Cheras' Ikon Connaught later this year.

Map's is a cosy, cheerful place run by a welcoming crew, serving good food at fair prices. Pork enthusiasts will be especially ecstatic here: The menu is practically devoted to porcine pleasures, from a savoury, slow-braised pulled pork sandwich (Grandma's recipe, reputedly) with lightly fried peanuts, fluffy house-made bread, cheese & lovely, rustic roast potatoes (RM18) ...

... to pancakes layered with pork bacon strips, more roasted potatoes & a sunny-side-up, paired with maple syrup (RM15). Comfort cooking; it lifted our spirits a little, & we're thankful enough for that.

No cookie-cutter offerings at Map's; there's only one cake available here this weekend, but it's a memorably distinctive one, made in-house: Japanese cotton cheesecake, textured with dessicated coconut, topped with gula melaka (but not saccharine).

Even the affogato rises above the run-of-the-mill, thanks to Map's own-made vanilla bean ice cream, more flavoursome than expected. Map's takes the extra effort to make a lot of ingredients in its own kitchen, including pork burger patties, meatballs & brioche buns.

Coffee, a distinctive Guatemalan-Brazilian blend. Ultimately this place deserves a spot on our increasingly crowded cafe map.

Check out the board that dominates one of Map's walls; the owners here have a warmly inspiring passion & sense of humour.

 Doors Cafe
51, Jalan Hujan, Overseas Union Garden, Kuala Lumpur.
Currently 10am-10pm daily, but will determine a day to close each week eventually

 Butter + Beans At OUG
53, Jalan Hujan Rahmat 3, Taman OUG, Kuala Lumpur
Opening next month, maybe 

Map's Cook Bake Froth
9, Jalan PJS 11/2, Bandar Sunway, Subang, Petaling Jaya (whichever. same street as Sunway Pyramid; pass the mall & make a left turn less than 100 metres later into a shop-house row)
Open Wednesday-Monday, 830am-6pm

Check out the latest edition of Eat Drink KL: 100 Favourites, featuring 100 recommended restaurants for July-September 2014, including more than 20 new entries for this quarter. 
This eBook is available to read or download at this link: http://eatdrinkkl.publ.com/2014C 
Link expires Sept 30, 2014; see blog entries after that date for new link.

Stay up to date: The Eat Drink KL newsletter is sent by email to subscribers every Monday; it's the Klang Valley's foremost weekly round-up of new restaurant openings (even before they're featured on this blog), F&B promotions & other tasty tidbits.
Subscribe to Eat Drink KL Weekly for free via this following link: 
Note to subscribers on Gmail: The newsletter will be in the Promotions folder of your inbox.

Sausages to sambal. Muffins to marshmallows. Peanut butter to mango chutney. Cornflake ice cream to honey aloe yogurt. Lavender-laced lemonades to lychee-&-guava juices.
Eat Drink KL: Small Businesses, Huge Flavours is the first eBook to help customers navigate the diversity of independent F&B entrepreneurs who bake & boil in their own kitchens, offering some of Malaysia's finest, most fascinating food products.
This resource will be continuously updated with new listings: www.eatdrinkkl.publ.com/businesses

Check out EAT DRINK, a new F&B website jointly run by The Expat Group (TEG) & Eat Drink KL. This website features all of our up-to-date reviews, plus exclusive weekly articles & a searchable database on restaurants in KL & Selangor: EatDrink.my