Monday, December 31, 2012

Ril's Restaurant & Bar @ Telawi, Bangsar

A year after first making its mark in Chinatown, Ril's has unveiled its second branch, bringing stylish soulfulness to a two-level restaurant & bar in Bangsar.

Ril's street-level fine-dining eatery captures a sense of classic elegance long lacking in Telawi, while the curtain-cloaked bar upstairs boasts sexy theatricality that forms a luxurious backdrop for bartender Danny Winter's flamboyant concoctions.

The a la carte food menu here wasn't available in time for our visit, but since Ril's recently bagged Time Out KL's "Best For Meat" 2012 accolade, expect to bite into succulent steaks like the ones we've savored at Ril's original steakhouse outlet.
Entries for Ril's @ Chinatown's Warehouse: Sept. 30, 2011Oct. 4, 2011 & Nov. 13, 2011.

Other Ril's stalwarts that might find favor in Bangsar: sweet potato & corn croquette with spicy beetroot compote, lemon creme fraiche & fried quail egg, as well as crispy chicken stewed with white wine & served with potato pancake.

Ril's seafood specialties: prawn cocktail with revamped marie-rose sauce, scallops served sweet, sour & salty, plus lobster tails with truffled macaroni & cheese.

Tuna steak, prepared medium rare, alongside a tomato & red onion salad tossed in red wine & parsley vinaigrette. Rest assured there'll also be fresh entries on Bangsar's menu not found at the Chinatown outlet.

Signature touches like this staircase to the bar ensure this branch remains unmistakably Ril's.

Plan your next rendezvous here: Ril's Bar could be a game-changer for this neighborhood, a shadowy, breathtakingly beautiful hideaway complete with Chesterfield sofas, timbered ceilings, marble-topped bar, smiling servers in bow ties & even a stuffed parrot somewhere.

Cocktails curated with candy floss or swirling with smoke will be available by this coming week; the best time to sip them might be on Fridays & Saturdays, when live jazz performed by the likes of Karen Nunis Blackstone will cast its spell on customers.

Chief bartender Winter can whip up cocktails to suit personal preferences; try this mix of tequila, lime, agave nectar & raspberry compote for something sweetly fruity.

Classic cocktails with charisma: New York Sour & The Old Fashioned.

Ril's was meant to open in early December, but it's been beset by everything from plumbing problems to a nighttime burglary. Let's hope smoother sailing lies ahead; this could turn into one of Bangsar's brightest stars for years to come.

Ril's currently opens only in the evening but will start serving lunch very soon (knock on wood!).

Ril's Bangsar,
30, Jalan Telawi 5, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2201-3846
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Sunday, December 30, 2012

F4 Fish Head & Brother Yat @ Subang

Deep within factory-filled Subang, two warehouse-like restaurants have cultivated loyal followings.

First up, F4 Fish Head, where the specialty is self-explanatory. We like it steamed with ginger, served satisfyingly fresh & surprisingly fleshy.

Herbal chicken, a tender winner at this breezy outlet that's more comfortable than expected.

Salted egg yolk squid, the tastiest version we've had in ages. Fabulous flavor, slightly sweet.

A crowd-pleasing classic: Pork belly with salted fish in claypot, steaming-hot & savory.

Seafood tofu, recommended for folks who like this soft instead of firm.

Sweet potato leaves, as good as it gets. Total cost: RM140, a reasonable bill to foot.

Scarcely a thirty-second drive from F4, here's Brother Yat, a more modestly sized eatery.

Brother Yat's beer-cooked "sauna prawns" are the signature recipe here.

Succulent & remarkably flavorsome, costing below RM50 per half-kilogram.

Pork knuckle in "Mongolian" brown gravy. Meaty where it must be, comprising plenty of parts that cater to both fat-seeking & crispness-craving customers.

Tea-smoked chicken. Not bad, but in the battle of the fowl, we think F4's herbal one triumphs.

In the clash of seafood tofu though, Brother Yat's fried one might prove the victor.

Stir-fried veggies with some crunchy, root-like fibers. Addictive, almost.

Spinach soup & two-style kai lan to wrap up a meal that merits its RM160 price tag.

F4 Fish Head @ Subang

Brother Yat @ Subang

F4 Fish Head & Brother Yat,
Jalan Subang 4, Subang Jaya.
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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Kaihomaru & Kazu Sushi

Returning to Kaihomaru at Bukit Bintang and checking out Kazu Sushi at Viva Mall.
 Earlier entry on Kaihomaru: December 27, 2011.

With much more in the ocean than salmon and tuna, it's nice to visit a Japanese outlet serving seafood recipes that are relatively uncommon in KL, like baby squid preserved in soy sauce. Squishy stuff, not for the squeamish.

Marinated squid guts with pan-fried boiled potatoes. Waste no part of the cephalopod _ not even the ickiest bits, memorably slimy and intensely briny.

Shirasu with white radish. Baby anchovies, soft ones with a bit of a 'wet dog' taste.

"Mozuku" seaweed, a key export of Okinawa. How to describe this? Maybe it's like the Chinese black moss ('fatt choy'), except that it's vinegared in this preparation.

Fleeing the sea for awhile and heading for the hills: Japanese mountain yam with a mound of wasabi. Crisp but somewhat flavorless.

Drowning in a watery grave of sake. Goodbye, cruel world!

For food that's less unusual, moving on to Kazu Sushi, which fulfills the basic requirements for a casual Japanese eatery in a suburban mall _ nothing more, nothing less.

Avocado hand rolls, made to order. Fresh and well-filled at about RM3 apiece.

Conveyor-belt sushi is also available, topped with everything from seaweed ...

... to the various colors of fish roe _ black, red and a few other shades in between.

 Grilled eel reverse roll. Competently prepared, but not necessarily memorable.

Maki of chopped tuna with cili padi. Fiery, but not that fearsome.

Sake makes it all worthwhile. Somewhat, anyway. 


Kazu Sushi.

The Federal Hotel, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2144-3088
Last orders at 10:30 p.m.
Kazu Sushi,
Viva Mall, Kuala Lumpur.
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:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Bait @ Telawi, Bangsar

We've fallen hook, line & sinker for seafood specialist Bait, which surfaced this week in Telawi, becoming a big fish in Bangsar's pond of palate-pleasuring practitioners.

O Oysters, come & walk with us! With apologies to Lewis Carroll, we might not be walruses, but we're nonetheless infatuated with the briny brilliance of these freshly shucked Dutch Creuses & Northwestern Irish Pacific mollusks (RM8++ each, minimum order of six).

Seared tiger prawns, sliced mangoes & coriander leaves, a sweetly succulent salad (RM24++) that's far from shrimp-sized for flavor. We'd be delighted to discover prawns like these lurking behind every rock, no matter what their proverbial agenda might be.

We hesitated about ordering the soft-shell crab with cucumber, orange wedges & chili mayo (RM23++). But who knew a recipe that sounds so run-of-the-mill could taste so remarkable? Mighty meaty crustaceans, complemented creatively with citric pulpiness.

Happy as a clam: Steamed little-neck ones (RM16++) with bacon, garlic, thyme & white wine.

Deep-fried baby calamari with salted egg, black pepper & lime tarragon aioli (RM25+). Crisply addictive, but some Chinese eateries still do this better.

For beer buffs: Lager-steamed mussels with mustard, chorizo slices & oregano (RM25++).

Finally, we wade into fishier waters: thumbs up for the butter-poached salmon (RM30++), though  it might be an acquired taste, the aqua-equivalent of steak prepared rare.

Fish & chips (RM24++). Mixed emotions here; the beer-battered John Dory's brilliant, with fragrant steam flowing freely from the flaky fish as we crack open the crunchy exterior, but the shoestring fries leave about as much impression as an amoeba in a lake.

Not totally lovin' it: Pan-seared barramundi (RM30++), moisture-challenged, but it gets by with a little help from its friends: corn kernels, parsley mashed potatoes & baby carrots.

There might be plenty of fish in the sea, but Bait only offers four for now: this one might be the consensus favorite _ rock cod with sauteed button mushrooms, baby spinach, potato cubes & brown shrimp.

Peanut Butter Alert! Bait features no desserts, but customers can take a two-minute stroll to Milk And Butter, where the sweets list occupies a place of pride on the menu.
Main entry on Milk And Butter: December 26.

Peanut butter ice cream with chocolate waffle & bananas. We might not swim the deepest ocean for this, but we'd certainly attempt a not-too-shallow pool.

Back to Bait for booze: no fewer than five Campari-based cocktails & six Pimm's ones are available. Try the Old Pal (a pleasurably potent mix of Campari, Wild Turkey whiskey, vermouth) & Pimm's Deuce (Pimm's No. 1, orange juice, cranberry juice, orange wheel, strawberries).

Organic wine: Emiliana Sauvignon Blanc & Merlot, both Chilean. Wine addicts, note there's an impressive range here priced at below RM100 per bottle.

 Varieties by the glass cost RM20++. Bait must be run by folks who want wine to be affordable.

For lemon lovers: tangy house-made lemonade & sparkling San Pellegrino's Limonata.

Housekeeping notes: Bait currently opens only for dinner, but will serve lunch eventually. It replaces the now-closed Madam Kwan's, sandwiched between El Meson & The Smokehouse.

Bait is a smallish restaurant, so be wise & make reservations.

Last but not least: The black-attired service team here ranks among Bangsar's best. Thank you for taking the extra effort, in terms of smiles, attentiveness & genuine consideration.

Bait Restaurant @ Bangsar,
65, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2201-8187
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: