Friday, June 13, 2014

Charcoal Restaurant @ The Saujana Hotel

Motorists on Lapangan Terbang Subang Road may have noticed massive billboards in recent months that heralded the pledge of 'a flaming revolution' at The Saujana Hotel. This week, can you hear the people eat? The presumed revolution has finally arrived in the guise of Charcoal, a new hotspot where grilling is meant to be fulfilling.

For paying patrons who may wonder what they can order at Charcoal, here's a wide-ranging look at this fledgling outlet & its sweeping offerings, scarcely one minute's stroll from Saujana's Senja Italian establishment & Kogetsu Japanese restaurant.

From beef, lamb & chicken to fish, prawns, Sri Lankan crabs & scallops laid out on ice, nearly everything at Charcoal is destined for char-grilling; it's a premise that's promising, particularly for customers who cherish smoky tastes & textures.

Start with 'sotong sumbat,' the classic squid stuffed here with spiced minced chicken & served with beautifully flavoursome sambal mangga, sambal cili hijau & chilli garlic sauce. Notably pricey at RM35++ for three pieces, but juicily delicious enough to whet the appetite for much, much more.

Many of Charcoal's recipes are thoughtfully grounded in Asian flavours; this 'Udang Karang Bakar Kerabu Mangga' (RM32+) _ equivalent to grilled Sabah lobster with sour-spicy mango slices, glass noodles & lime-chilli dressing _ could very nearly pass off for traditional kampung cooking. Almost.

Mushrooms stuffed with otak-otak? Gotta love the inventiveness, even if the otak-otak is stodgier than it should be. RM16++.

Meat occupies the place of pride, specifically the signature lamb, spit-roasted whole on a charcoal-fired rotisserie every evening.

Each serving costs RM60++. Admirably enjoyable, boasting more-than-sufficient tenderness & less-than-gamy tastiness.

Naturally, there's beef; our budget prevented us from trying out the more expensive cuts, so we settled for the South Australian Black Angus short ribs (RM60++). Texturally pleasurable, but this needed the BBQ sauce to save it from blandness. Something might have gone amiss with the marination.

We were optimistic about what a RM40++ beef burger might entail. It fell nakedly short in explosiveness of flavour though.

Plenty of side dishes here nevertheless. Including things like potatoes, baked or 'fork-crushed' (see lamb & beef photos above).

Folks who are familiar with The Saujana will know that Peranakan cuisine is sprinkled across some of this hotel's eateries; Charcoal is no exception. Expect to find a very respectable chicken curry with 'buah keluak' here. Again, potentially too pricey at RM38++ (with only two pieces of the black nut), but still scrumptiously authentic.

Charcoal is one of those outlets where it's well worth saving space for dessert. The grilled pineapple, papaya & honeydew with pineapple sorbet (RM20++) extends both the East-West & grilled themes in a memorable manner.

It's always fun when a restaurant surprises us with unexpected presentations: This sure isn't our ancestors' 'serawa durian' (warm durian in paste form with glutinous rice & vanilla ice cream, RM20++).

'Lempeng pisang' receives a crepe-like twist, stuffed with hazelnut chocolate mousse (OK, OK, Nutella). RM20++.

Another intriguing discovery: Charcoal's drinking water comes with charcoal, for presumed health benefits.

Charcoal's range of wine is very respectable; the hotel's own 'wine series' (complete with labels that tout the Saujana brand) includes an Aussie Frankland Estate Merlot that complements the food very well.

Love the sambal & sauces here? Purchase a few bottles of them at lower-than-expected prices on your way out.

Charcoal Restaurant
Saujana Resort, Jalan Lapangan Terbang SAAS, Shah Alam, Selangor
Daily, all day long (last orders at 10pm). Tel: 03-7843-1234

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17 comments:

  1. Fascinating concept, Sean. I am squeamish about squid, but lamb? Oh, yes! :)

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    1. Linda: yeah, it's good to have a place where grilling's taken so seriously ... especially when it comes to meat like lamb! :D

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  2. All charcoal grilled? Ooooo...everything would be so so so nice then? Those sauces are for sale - sure would grab them to try should I ever get the chance. Sambal mangga...another plate of rice, please!

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    1. Suituapui: ya, quite a smoky pleasure, some of these dishes :) and yup, the sauces were super-memorable ... very nicely done indeed :D

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  3. Yes it's pricey...but worth a visit to sample some of the inventiveness with local ingredients...hehe =)

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    1. Ulric: ya, i agree! it's nice to see recipes like otak-otak presented in different shapes. hope you manage to check out this place in the next few months or so :)

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  4. Hmm was there few days back and the Australian chef seems to know what's he's doing. anyhow I expect more tweaks to the recipe/marination after ur feedback here!

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    1. Rebecca: ooo, the chef might be a bit stretched, cos the menu's so wide and so many different dishes have to go out at the same time, since the restaurant gets quite a few occupied tables at dinnertime. but ya, hopefully when you finally manage to have a meal here, you'll enjoy most of the food! :)

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  5. Seems to be hits and misses at the moment, eh? Let's give them some time to sort things out first ;-) KIV for the time being.

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    1. Pureglutton: luckily the hits so far outnumber the misses ... be sure to try the lamb here! :D

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  6. Ooooo I spy quite a long of yummy meat cuts.... it's a pity the short ribs falls short in the taste department. I love braising short ribs for it to absorb all the flavours.

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    1. Baby Sumo: ya, they have the full range of rib-eyes (RM85++ for 220 grams) to tenderloin (RM95++ for 220 grams). the ribs this round did fall below expectations, but hopefully they'll fix the flavour for future customers :)

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  7. I think i'll love the steak but i don't think i'll order mushroom and otak otak thingy LOL

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    1. Ken: heheh, guess it'll be a slab of beef for you ... meanwhile, i like otak-otak, so that definitely was something i needed to order :D

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  8. I think I will order a lot of seafood! But the price not cheap though.

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    1. CK: ya, i actually wanted to try the grilled sri lankan crabs here. they're cooked in recipes like sarawak black pepper, nyonya curry, butter sauce or ginger. but they're also very expensive :)

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