Thursday, October 19, 2017

New Chef, New Menu: Stoked @ Medan Damansara

By The EDKL Creative Team

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Malaysian sizzle meets Nordic cool: Farm-to-oven restaurant Stoked welcomes a new head chef, Toraik ‘T.C.’ Chua, one of KL’s most proficient young culinary talents, fresh off a 14-month stint that concluded last year at Copenhagen’s Noma.

T.C. worked with Stoked’s sister outlet, Flint, in June 2017 on a series of pop-up dinners that stamped him as a local presence to watch. The collaboration worked so well, T.C. is now formally shepherding Stoked’s kitchen, infusing the menu with lessons from Noma in synergistic harmony with Stoked’s largely locavore principles.

The heart and soul of Stoked remain its focus on fresh, forthright produce, sourced primarily from within our national borders, prepared with care and conscientiousness. T.C. continues to champion those values, with a personal passion for foraging through forests and farms, scouring for herbs and speaking with harvesters.

You’ll be ushered into the meal with T.C.’s regularly changing selection of amuse-bouche, most recently constructed around kitchen-made chips with roe and dehydrated watermelon. Stoked’s sourdough bread also makes for a memorable prelude to the meal, baked with an established starter that T.C. secured in Denmark, in a thoroughly satisfying nod to the crackly-crust, tender-crumb sourdough that he savoured in Copenhagen’s Mirabelle bakery, paired with pistachio butter for a nifty nuttiness.

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The selection of starters is where T.C. showcases the singularity of his work and experience - the Beef Tartare Nordic-Style (RM48) tuned up our curiosity and turned out to be a true standout. The beef is aged and smoked for a compellingly nuanced depth of flavour, dyed with beetroot for an unconventionally rich hue. Instead of being served simply with a side of toast, the tartare is laced with crumbled rye morsels, enhanced further with hints of truffle, horseradish and caviar - not our archetypal tartare at all, more elaborate in preparation but emphatically enjoyable for that.

It’s worth scrambling to Stoked sheerly for the tartare, but the other starters we sampled each succeeded too in balancing a purity of produce with refinement of technique - from seafood (grilled squid with cauliflower puree, jicama and mussel foam; RM48) to poultry (smoked spring chicken with daikon risotto and spicy herbs; RM44), T.C. and his team convey a clear-eyed vision of translating honest ingredients into remarkably rounded recipes, relying on unwavering skill and imagination.

From time to time, T.C. might also offer off-menu seasonal items like girolles that augment the deliciousness of the steamed egg custard with zucchini and crispy shrimp in smoked fish broth (RM42).

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Through it all, the kitchen fans the embers of Stoked’s charcoal-and-firewood-fuelled core. The main events are still the grilled protein galore - all so good, they’re brushed with only the most delicate of embellishments.

If you love fish, the whole Malabar red snapper (RM132 for about 800g) is a portrait of perfection, proving that the Stoked team are artists in their own right. This is fish cooked to its ideal, where every slice of flesh articulates everything a fine catch should taste of.

Breast of lamb is a less typical cut, but it begs to be lustily devoured here too, sturdy in its fundamental flavour, supple in its final texture (RM85).

As part of the Vintry family of restaurants, Stoked has never been a slouch for wine pairings - we eased into our meal with the bright Galician sprightliness of the Lagar De Cervera Albarino 2016, a citrusy companion, before effortlessly embracing the dark Gallic sophistication of the Vieux Telegraphe Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape 2014, a ripe-cherry charmer. Satisfyingly heady.

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Massive appetites will be rewarded with a monumental accomplishment - Stoked’s Dry-Aged Stanbroke Wagyu Tomahawk Marble Score 7 (RM 660 for 1kg+, likely sufficient for four patrons) is every ounce the epitome of a piece de resistance, a magnum opus of meat in its uncaged, primal glory.

For beef of this calibre, justice is done and served - the steak is dry-aged for several weeks in wagyu fat, locking in a full-fleshed umami that’s indomitably bovine, scorched in Stoked’s signature Bertha oven to seal the smooth succulence, crusted in a ragingly good char. Even after thirty minutes of eating this, we never tired of it, but to ensure an engaging experience, a trio of salts - Hawaiian lava, English sea, and smoked English - are set at your disposal on the table.

With the hallmark of a consummate chef, even the sides aren’t an afterthought - at any dinner, the Grilled Local Greens (RM18) and Grilled Baby Corn (RM18) would be high points in their own right, the former featuring Malaysian-cultivated rocket and cress with a beguilingly complex dressing that channels notes of nori, shiitake and porcini, the latter made crackly with crispy rice and savoury with parmesan. Great enough to eat on their own.

Desserts don’t let the dinner down - the elderflower yoghurt with coconut crumble, sweet potato puree and coconut ice cream (RM 25) and apple medley with sago, kaffir lime oil and yoghurt sorbet (RM 25) are luscious, nectarous and deserving of a full-blown swoon.

This was one of our favourite meals of the year - and we never even got to the king prawn mi-cuit with mango kerabu or the Iberico collar with tomato sofrito and peach beurre blanc. Stoked is really hitting its stride.

Many thanks to the team here for having us.

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Stoked Restaurant & Bar
120-122, Jalan Kasah, Bukit Damansara, Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur.
Open Wed-Mon, 12pm-11pm. Tel: 03-2096-1645



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Sama Sama Samosas

Samosas may seem simple, but these popular snacks have a rich culinary heritage that can be traced back to before the tenth century, originating in the Middle East before being introduced by traders to India and beyond.

We recently sampled Sama Sama Samosas, a Malaysian brand founded by Aishah Hanif, relying on a family recipe by her Yemeni mother-in-law. Sama Sama calls these authentic Arabian samosas, blending the influences of both Yemen and Saudi Arabia, infusing the filling of minced beef or chicken with a special mix of spices and seasonings that taste pretty distinctive - lingeringly savoury, with a mildly fiery sharpness, altogether absolutely delicious.

We found these fresh samosas easy and fuss-free to fry, resulting in a golden exterior that's gorgeously crunchy, with an impeccable proportion of skin and stuffing, with hints of onions, garlic and long beans for nuanced flavours. Certainly some of the tastiest samosas we've tried, especially if you love crispy indulgences.

Sama Sama Samosas can be reached on facebook.com/SamaSamaSamosa or 017-3096067 - the samosas cost RM25 for 20 pieces at a full weight of about 600 grams, easily sufficient for six to seven people for a snack.

Many thanks to Sama Sama Samosas for this treat.


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, F&B promotions & other tasty tidbits. Subscribe to Eat Drink KL Weekly for free via this following link: https://confirmsubscription.com/h/d/5106C196432BB23D

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Cafe Sacher @ Vienna


Vienna's Cafe Sacher, located in a nearly 150-year-old hotel, has long reaped fame for its Sacher Torte, a creamy-dreamy fantasy come true for chocolate dessert lovers. But you can indulge in a complete meal here - the tafelspitz (boiled beef with root vegetables, roast potatoes, & apple horseradish & chive sauce) is a worthwhile savoury prelude to the sweet main event.