Thursday, November 6, 2014

Porto Bello @ Damansara Uptown

With a persistent parade of cafes still mushrooming across the suburbs, a new place like Porto Bello faces a tough task trying to stand out, but we appreciate how it aspires to provide some pleasant surprises for visitors.

Porto Bello is warm & welcoming, casual & comfortable, suitable for both lunch & dinner; the kitchen is helmed by Kian Seng, a young chef who returned to Malaysia this year after a lengthy stint in Singapore, where he sharpened his skills at restaurants such as CUT by Wolfgang Puck at Marina Bay Sands.

 Porto Bello's current signature pick might be its namesake - a Portobello mushroom & chicken pie, unique & eye-catching.

Sandwiched between the succulent mushroom & flaky-fresh puff pastry is a thick hidden layer of marinated meat with mildly tangy Oriental flavours. A dish with nicely textured dimensions; the ideal illustration of Porto Bello's food - nothing pretentiously flashy, but pretty easy to enjoy. RM22.

Pasta fans might find pleasure in this spaghetti that seeks to be an Italian-Japanese hybrid, coated in creamy miso sauce, crowned with paper-thin bonito flakes & a sunny-side-up (remember to request a runny yolk if that's your preference). RM13.50.

 Salmon is served with a confident sense of style, a tender seared slab made even more tantalising with vibrant beetroot puree, plus mashed potatoes, leaves & beurre blanc butter sauce. RM29.90.

Porto Bello is also proud of its smoked chicken, prepared with a sweet-savoury, kitchen-made barbecue sauce. Two customers could share this serving of half a fowl with fries for RM29.90 - prices here seem fair, no more than what's necessary to charge.

 Light nibbles are available too for snacking, from fleshy crab cakes with tomato relish & herb aioli (RM10.90) ...

... to a respectable wild mushroom soup with baguette slices (RM8.90), vegetable-based borscht broth (RM6.90), chicken goujons (RM8.90), Swedish-style meatballs (RM9.50 for six pieces) & garlic cheese escargots (RM13.90 for six pieces).

 Save space for sweets; Porto Bello's desserts prove satisfying. We like the chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream (RM13.90), an irreproachable version of this familiar favourite.

Panna cotta with strawberry sauce surfaced on the specials list recently; it's nice enough to keep on the permanent selection, which also features creme brulee & a walnut brownie (RM10.90 each). Our gratitude to Porto Bello for hosting this lunch.

 Your perception of Porto Bello's coffee could hinge on whether you're the type who more often complains or counts your blessings. Customers in the first category might declare that the lattes, cappuccinos & mochas here (RM8.90) are 'nothing to shout about'; folks of the latter persuasion will recognise & enjoy the effort poured into making each well-crafted cup.

Porto Bello
8, Jalan SS 21/58, Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Open Mon-Fri, 11am-10pm; Sat-Sun, 10am-10pm

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30 comments:

  1. I m game for their smoked chicken n fleshy crab cakes =)

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    1. Ulric: sounds like a protein-packed meal! :D

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  2. Oooo the chocolate lava cake looks good. And I love portobello mushrooms too!

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    1. Baby Sumo: that choc lava cake reminded me why the good lava cakes are always worth enjoying ... and yeah, it'll be interesting if they experiment with more recipes with portobello mushrooms :D

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  3. I'll go for their creamy miso pasta with bonito flakes! And yes, i am a fan of portobello mushrooms too :D

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    1. Ken: yay for the portobello fan club! glad u like the look of the pasta too :)

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  4. wah, the food looks really delicious~

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    1. Happy walker: it was a nice lunch! :)

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  5. Mushroom and chicken pie....looks so good, and the salmon looks delicious. The chicken looks good, but I am wondering if it is too salty?

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    1. Linda: that was a fun take on what could otherwise been a run-of-the-mill chicken/mushroom pie. liked the salmon too, and ooo, the chicken was flavoursome but not too salty, though i guess anything with barbecue sauce is generally salty, heh :)

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  6. Gotta KIV this place in case we hop over sometime. Portobello, salmon, mushroom soup...all my girl's favourites...and the desserts, choc lava & panna cotta - yummmmm!!! Would love to try those and the crab cakes! And the chicken looks so sexily inviting....waiting for someone to bite into the thigh. Muahahahahaha!!!!

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    1. Suituapui: ooo, you just listed nearly everything we ate here ... glad the items here caught your fancy, and yeah, it could be a good place for a family meal :D p.s. i think i ate the thigh :P

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  7. Chocolate lava! Haven't had that for long long time. Can I have that and lose weight at the same time? LOL

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    1. CK: heheh, if you have the cake just once, you won't gain that much weight lah :D

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  8. I love the idea of a mushroom replacing pastry or a bun - I'd like to see a portobello mushroom burger where the mushy is the bun and there's a veggie patty in between.

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    1. The Yum List: that sounds like a very satisfying vegetarian burger, and i'd be happy to do away with the run-of-the-mill burger buns too :)

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  9. Loved your play on the words "....cafes still mushrooming...". I too would love the idea of using the Portobello mushroom as the burger patty (but with a meat patty in between) :D OMG, I'd love to stuff my face with crab cakes, salmon, smoked chicken, escargots, panna cotta...what else, what else!! But the beetroot puree looks a bit grainy (from your pic).

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    1. Contact.ewew: heh, thanks :) yeah, there's a long list of temptations here :D ooo, the puree has a nice, 'natural' texture, i think ... not too smooth or over-processed :)

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  10. Always good to know of a place for garlic escargot! And that lava cake oozes seductively...the sign of a good chef.

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    1. YouHadYourLunch: it feels like ages since i last savoured a snail ... and yes to sensual lava cakes! :D

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  11. I almost thought this was the same one in TTDI because both restaurants share the similar names, lol. But they are in no way related, am I correct?

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    1. Waverly: oh ya, no relation between porto romano and porto bello ... though that's an interesting point that you raise, i hadn't even thought of it, heh :)

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  12. The one in TTDI is Porta Romano Charlotte. :)
    Sean, I'm loving the prices here - well prepped food and like u said, not charging more than necessary!

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    1. Rebecca: oh yeah, a respectable mushroom soup for below RM10 and a very good lava cake for around RM15 works for me! :D

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  13. I just came back from this place, the experience is just terrible. I have always follow this blog for advice and guide sadly to say this is the first time it has dissapoint me.

    1. The service is just terrible. We sit at our table for more than 15mins, no one even bother to come to our table and served us. I have to walked to the counter and grab a menu by ourself.

    2. The foreigners that served us cant speak good english, doesnt know the menu and has bad memory. He keep asking us to repeat our order, and it was jsut 1 main course, 1 snack and 2 drinks. Just write it down for pete sake.

    3. We waited for 30mins, no drinks were served. Everytime we ask for our drinks, we were shown the hand sign to wait. Then someone came to our table and told us no coffee. Fine. I order a beer and a warm water for wife. We wait and wait and wait. For almost an hour. I got really thirsty, i walk up to the bar and speak to the lady nicely and tell her that it's ok, i dont mind to bring our drinks to our table, i was really thirsty and i understand that you guys are busy. Instead of feeling grateful she show me 1 kind of face and direct me to my table to seat down quietly. (This is when i got really pissed, but still i kept my cool).

    4. Food came, wrong order. Despite countless of repeating our order.

    5. Main course came, we order a cordon bleu. That chicken is basically soaked in OIL ! Until it overflow and some of it drop to the floor and table. I ask the waitress what that is, she dare tell me it is "SAUCE" !!! and just walk off. Best part is when i cut open the chicken, its not even cooked !!!!

    I really lost my cool this time, i ask for the lady boss to come and show to her the complaints, pay for beer and walk off.

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    1. Pang: I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I've just forwarded your comment to the owners of Porto Bello, and I've asked them for a response. Will get back to you when I hear from them. Thank you for letting me know about this.

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    2. Well at least the beer is cold.

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    3. Pang: porto bello's operators have gotten back to me, and they say the main chef wasn't there, so things seem to have gone wrong. i hope they will be able to make it up to you somehow. one of their operators, eustacia, says you can contact her. her number is 0129231818

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  14. Just back from there too. Have to say it was a really unpleasant experience. The food really a while to arrive.

    The fries were cold, and the porto bello mushroom pie was actually served without the pie! Apparently they had run out, in which case why even bother serving it? The mashed potato which was offered for replacement was equally bad, took a bite and couldn't eat more. The chicken mushroom pasta that my partner ordered was palatable but was really nothing to shout about, tastes more like Chinese stir-fried noodles than pasta, really.

    The staff were polite and offered their apologies but to be objective, on the basis of the food quality, I'll not return or recommend this place. Later found out that my friends had pretty much the same experience as I did as well.

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  15. Pity..no close monitoring brand will be damaged soon

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