Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Shin Haru Tei, Jaya One

The latest hideout for Japanese food fans in Jaya One, Shin Haru Tei is a distinctive destination that tackles two different genres - soulful fare that spans classic ramen and rice bowls, as well as yoshoku-style Western-influenced recipes that embody a more contemporary culinary spirit.

Newly launched this year, Shin Haru Tei remains a well-kept secret, spearheaded by Chef Richie Ng, a Malaysian who has sharpened his skills under Japanese mentors, with 16 years of experience so far in the sultry art of Japanese street cooking (with six years specialising purely in ramen).

If you're seeking a Japanese meal that marries time-honoured traditions with tantalising twists, Shin Haru Tei is worth bookmarking.

Ramen is our painstakingly prepared introduction to Shin Haru Tei, with no shortcuts in crafting its traditional broth, taking 12 hours to boil pork bones, trotters and skin for an authentic base. No milk is added for any artificial creaminess, no MSG is used to up its natural umami - all the goodness of the collagen-rich tonkotsu broth comes purely from the pork.

The top temptation is the Ooki Chashu Ramen, with a chunky slab of pork belly to top the ramen, succulently layered with flesh and fat, marinated in mirin and soy for an unmistakably Japanese sweetness, torched to order, a meaty companion for the thin, smooth noodles in broth that's relatively light-textured but robust-tasting. You can also choose other broths for this, including miso, spicy or Shin Haru Tei's fusion pesto broth (laced with basil for Japanese-Italian fusion fun).

The ramen with the full Ooki Chashu ('ookii' is Japanese for big) clocks in reasonably at RM28.90+, complete with all the other essential accompaniments, including a whole, irresistibly creamy-yolked ajitsuke tamago for the egg enthusiast. If you'd like the Ooki Chashu on its own, it's RM18.90+.

You'll also find eight other ramen recipes available, each priced at RM17.90-RM18.90+, a solid bargain at this time when ramen at many other joints breach the RM30 threshold.

The Tonkotsu is the cornerstone, with the regular rolled chashu, as luscious as we like it, plus the seasoned egg, seaweed, black fungus and spring onions. Other options include Miso, Spicy, Pesto, the Korean-inflected Kimchi, Tan Tan (with minced meat), Abura (with minced meat and onsen egg in slightly spicy broth), and Hiyashi (in cold broth with wasabi) - lots of variety for ramen enthusiasts.

Comfort can also be uncovered in rice bowls, with nine types of donburi now available, all served with miso soup. The Gyu Don is our best bet, with tenderly mellow simmered beef, sweet with onions, layered on the rice with the runniest egg (RM16.90), but the other bowls also sound well worthwhile, from the crowd-pleasing Oyako Don (with chicken and egg) and Karaage Rice (with Japanese fried chicken) to the pork lover's Chashu, Buta Kimchi (pork slices with stir-fried kimchi), Shogayaki (pork slices with ginger sauce) and Kakuni (slow-braised pork belly), plus young-at-heart treats like Cheese Curry Rice and premium indulgences like Una Don (with grilled eel and omelette).

What makes Shin Haru Tei doubly delightful is its newly introduced yoshoku selection, a confident repertoire that would be at home in a modern Tokyo cafe.

If you're a hamburg (hanbagu) hunter, Shin Haru Tei's pork rendition of these ground meat patties is super-satisfying - more flesh, nearly no filler except for egg white - with a beautifully textured bite constructed with a 30 percent fat content to 70 percent meat, with a tangy, tomato-tinged sauce to brighten up the ensemble with a lovely potato salad, tomato, broccoli and other fresh vegetables.

We're equally impressed with Shin Haru Tei's other protein pleasures - the Australian roast beef striploin is as enjoyable as a respected steakhouse's, best savoured medium-rare, buoyant with citrusy yuzu kosho spicy paste for a Japanese flourish, while the Spanish iberico ribs are lip-smacking to the bone, with a firm chew and fragrant char, slicked up by a soy-based sweet sauce that's livelier than Western BBQ glazes.

It's rare to see a Japanese kitchen adept with all these offerings, making Shin Haru Tei a welcome entry to the Klang Valley's food landscape. Many thanks to the team here for having us.


Shin Haru Tei
69-P1, Block D, Jaya One, Jalan Universiti, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Open Monday-Wednesday, 1030am-9pm; Thursday-Sunday, 1130am-9pm. Tel: 03-7931-9733

This post first appeared on eatdrinkkl.com

Mr Nasey: Nasi Ganja & Ipoh Mali Meal Deliveries

With curry-flooded Nasi Ganja as its irresistible temptation, Mr Nasey is a new meal delivery service that channels the 'Ipoh Mali' spirit for fans of fragrant, flavour-packed rice and noodle dishes, perfect for spice-loving Malaysian palates.

We had the opportunity to sample several signatures by Mr Nasey, which currently sends its meals out from Kelana Jaya and Subang, with Desa Pandan and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur to come soon. Its founders have decades of experience in running respected restaurants, so their kitchen is confident and capable.

Start with the Nasi Ganja, Ipoh's take on nasi kandar, best ordered with Ayam Berempah. The hearty pack comes with a side of okra curry, which you can pour over the rice for a fully banjir indulgence. True to its name, the curry is absolutely addictive, mingling with the rice's gravy for kuah campur that's super-satisfying. The fried chicken is interesting too, with a reddish marinade and batter mixed with curry spices - altogether, the ensemble packs plenty of heat and should make you sweat with pleasure, cooled down with crunchy cucumbers. Feel free to make a mess with your meal - it's tastier that way!

The Nasi Ganja Chicken Berempah is priced at RM13.90; if you prefer beef, try the Nasi Ganja Beef Kicap Manis (RM15.90).

Nasi Lemak Ori is set to be another Mr Nasey favourite, rich and robustly aromatic - it can be ordered with the same fried chicken that surfaces as a large, fleshy drumstick (RM13.90), or with Curry Chicken or Petai Prawns. The onion sambal for the Nasi Lemak Ori is sweet and thick; plus, it's also chilli-loaded for a real kick, true to Mr Nasey's tagline, betul-betul meletup!

For a budget-conscious choice, the Super Naslor is your best bet - tenderly steamed rice topped with a fried egg and crispy batter bits, coated in that lovely, creamy sambal. This will be available on Oddle and GrabFood for a special rate of RM4 for the entire month of July (one pack per new user for Oddle).

Alternatively, if you need meaty protein, check out the Nasi Kriuk Kriuk (RM13.90), with fried chicken to complement the crispy bits. Other rice options include Kampung Fried Rice and Supreme Soy Sauce Fried Rice.

Noodle devotees aren't left out, including the Signature Mee Goreng (RM11.90), Mr Nasey's Mee Siam (RM10.90) and Wok-Fried Kway Teow (RM11.90). Beverages are also available.

Many thanks to Mr Nasey for a scrumptious meal. Images courtesy of Mr Nasey.

Find out more about Mr Nasey at: facebook.com/mrnasey
Order on Oddle at: mrnasey.oddle.me

Monday, June 29, 2020

Delectable By Su: Making lemon meringue out of lemons as business climate sours

With Tim Tam cheesecakes, banana bread and praline tarts sitting pretty on the counter, lit by sunshine streaming through floor-to-ceiling glass panels. Delectable By Su's cafe in Glasshouse at Seputeh is not only one of KL's most beautiful dessert parlours but a coveted venue for every sort of event, from family celebrations to formal corporate ceremonies.

While events have evaporated for now, this 11-year-old baking specialist is not packing up its measuring spoons and mixing bowls anytime soon, underscoring the long-term resilience of respected F&B brands that promise perennially popular provisions.

“We’re going to be a business that’s here to stay, by continuously doing what we know is a good product," says founder Huen Su Yin, the 'Su' in Delectable By Su. "Cakes, cookies and gifts are never going out of trend. They just have to be updated according to what our customers want to buy."



Delectable by Su might be best known by casual shoppers for its long-enduring mini cafe and kiosk at The Gardens Mall, but its beating heart since 2015 lies in Glasshouse at Seputeh, home to its central kitchen and main cafe, where customers have high tea sets and hot meals like penne and pies.

The space in Glasshouse - a for-rent property that comfortably fits 400 seated guests - has offered opportunities for Delectable to branch out into events.

“We used to have events every weekend at the cafe, for a maximum of 50 to 60 people. It's a very versatile space. Universities would have meet-and-greets. There'd be florist workshops, photography workshops, for people who rent the space by three-hour slots to teach their own work," Su says.

"On weekdays, we'd do maybe three to five events every week. We had insurance agents, we had leasing companies that came to sit down with their clients.

"The space is for people who want something different from a hotel setting, something more open than a conference room. We have all the requirements like projectors and sound systems, and we also offer nibbles and lunches."

Events aren't Delectable's main engine of revenue, but the steady demand buoyed the brand until March, when clients began cancelling or postponing events indefinitely. Cancellations span the rest of 2020; Delectable has offered to host the events later or let clients use the booking fee for other products, such as cake orders or a running tab for cafe visits.

No events have been held here since March, but enquiries have resumed, mainly for small family gatherings. The cafe now permits a reduced capacity of about 20 persons, but Su says her priority is bolstering Delectable's online store services, which help offset weakened sales in Glasshouse and The Gardens.

"We're encouraging people to buy from our website - delectable.com.my - with free delivery for purchases above RM100 in the Klang Valley. So we have one online system trying to make up for the average sales of three physical shops. We've had people calling us to order cakes, expecting them now or tomorrow morning."

Su initially did deliveries herself in March, but when the Movement Control Order peaked, she had to hire drivers, while ensuring they carefully handled Delectable's beautifully decorated cakes and party boxes of sandwiches and desserts. "We had to adjust a lot of things to make the same amount of income that we usually do.

“With free deliveries, we’ve got a new base of customers from farther away, like Klang, Sungai Buloh and Rawang, who wouldn’t usually buy from us. Now that we have free delivery all around the Klang Valley, we’ve definitely opened up to a bigger market share."


Other demographics are also digging Delectable a bit more. While the brand has long been beloved by mature clients, who treasure its top-tier craftsmanship, Su recently took over its social media accounts herself to post daily updates that target a younger audience to broaden its base. That data-driven effort is paying dividends.

"Now we know for sure we're able to get the younger crowd as well, as long as we make it convenient for them. Before, younger customers chose to get their desserts from newer hipster places. For Delectable, they'd think, 'my mother buys from Delectable.’ Nobody wanted to buy from the shop that their mother buys from."

Su was initially skeptical of her social media skills, but she's now a convert.

"If I post a picture of a carrot cake, tomorrow it’s all orders for carrot cakes. Customers do buy what we ask them to. At first, I wasn't sure what I was doing, but I've also started posting random stuff, videos that remind people of our brand and what we do. We have to move with the times."
 
Still, Delectable won't go online-only, though Su briefly considered that at the MCO's height. Its presence is strong at The Gardens Mall, which yields high foot traffic and draws patrons who might not purchase from a website.

"Now that our shops are open and we’ve counted the eggs in our basket, the eggs are still more in the retail sector. At the end of the day, people still want to see desserts with their own eyes.

"Desserts are all about impulse. Online, customers have more time to deliberate while shopping, so they might only order one item, a cake for someone's birthday or a gift for an occasion. But in the store, customers tend to buy several items - it's a visual thing."

In other dessert developments, the crowd of home bakers who accept orders has surged this year, but Su believes they cater to a different market.

"I feel that customers who buy from home bakers will be the ones who've always bought from them. We try to remain a trusted brand that focuses on corporate sales and consistent customers who want a premium product and professional service."


Without sugarcoating the situation, this isn't the first time Delectable has seen a slowdown, so Su knows the brand can adapt.

“For us, I think the economic slowdown during the main Bersih protest periods was worse. Then, everyone was worried about the government, about what was going to happen to Malaysia. Everyone was in a pessimistic mood; nobody was buying cakes, nobody thought of gifting their friends with cakes. Right now, people are still buying cakes.

"There are lots of food fads out there, but I’m not really fad-driven. The cupcakes, the macarons, the cronuts - these fads have come and gone."

Reporting by EDKL writer Aiman Azri. Interview excerpts were edited for brevity. Images are courtesy of Delectable By Su.

Delectable By Su is one of nearly 250 restaurants and retailers on our online store for vouchers and subscriptions. Shop at eatdrinkkl.com/store

This is the 18th part in our series on how people in Malaysian restaurants, cafes and bars are confronting their current challenges.

Click on titles below to read more:

Posh Cafe KL: Cafes seek to serve their neighbourhoods amid community concerns
Watercolour: Bakeries cling to comforting traditions of bread in troubled times
Classic Fine Foods Malaysia: Distributors tackle shake-up by targeting shoppers at home
Nutz N Boltz: Watering holes strive to stay alive when crowds stay home
Soleil: Fine dining finds unfamiliar footing with casual cuisine deliveries
Baro.cafe: Hidden smiles, hushed conversations hold back cheer in cafes
Playground Coffeery: Caffeine bars see changes brewing for espresso enthusiasts
Burnin' Pit: Delivering BBQ meat means working in a vacuum
Chiu's: A Restaurant Founder's Pandemic Work Diary
Barista blues: A Malaysian cafe's precarious future weighs on its workers


Sunday, June 28, 2020

YEES Yogurt Malaysia, United Point Kepong





Promising the whole-milk richness of a genuinely Australian-born brand, YEES is our best bet for yogurt beverages in Malaysia, with a cavalcade of tempting varieties, from purple rice to pistachio.

YEES' first outpost was unveiled last year in Haymarket, Sydney; since embarking into Malaysia this year, the brand has already conquered numerous neighbourhoods, spanning the Klang Valley to Penang and Perak, stretching the entire peninsula from Kedah to Johor.

The latest offshoot of YEES Yogurt Malaysia launched this month, in Kepong's up-and-coming United Point development, less than a 20-minute drive from areas like TTDI and Desa Sri Hartamas. It's a bright, comfortable space, blessed with plenty of sunshine, showcasing colourful, cheerful flourishes that include a charming kid-and-koala mural.



For yogurt enthusiasts, YEES is the real deal, relying on Bright Cow premium milk for its pure, natural offerings - fermented goodness at its most nourishing.

The yogurt beverages here cater to all generations - sweet and tangy, bursting with luscious textures in every slurp-worthy sip. The flavours showcase beloved ingredients in cool, contemporary fashion, perfect for combating our country's heat and humidity.

All beverages are freshly prepared to order, so you can certainly taste their full punch and vitality.


YEES' selection is extensive, whipping up something for everyone.

The Signature Series is the ideal introduction, beginning with the basic Purple Rice Yogurt (RM13.90, in standard servings of about 500ml that are satisfyingly filling, even as sustenance on its own) - this is mixed with grainy greatness, comprising black and white glutinous rice for a beautiful bite.

If you crave nuttiness, check out the Hazelnut and Pistachio Yogurt (RM16.90), brimming with crunchy bits of top-notch nuts that complement the beverage's lusciousness. We also like the Taro Yogurt (RM16.90), which channels the distinctively earthy nuances of taro, and the Oreo Yogurt (RM13.90), with the flavour of chocolate cookies flowing through the drink.


If the refreshing, rejuvenating qualities of fruits are what you seek, there are also lots to choose from, such as the Honeydew Melon Yogurt (RM13.90), Dragon Fruit Yogurt (RM13.90),  Mango Yogurt (RM14.90) and Avocado Yogurt (RM17.90).

We enjoyed how the gentle subtleties of the fruits shone in each beverage - you can certainly taste ripe melons and mangoes blended with the yogurt, creating a harmonious synergy of ingredients.

While yogurt drinks are definitely not for slimming down, since they remain a high-calorie indulgence, they still offer wholesome values, promoting healthy digestion. They're also free of preservatives, artificial flavourings and genetically modified additives.


Other options include playful pleasures like Sweet Potato Yogurt (RM13.90), as well as a Bird's Nest series for traditional beauty-boosting benefits, with each yogurt beverage infused with 30 grams of Penang-cultivated bird's nest and other nutritious components like cranberries or dates.

As a youthful brand, YEES is particularly popular among patrons in their twenties and thirties, many of whom are happy to linger over drinks for hours in YEES' vibrant venues. The brand strives to cater to all Malaysians, with halal yogurt and other ingredients.

Many thanks to YEES Yogurt Malaysia for having us here.



YEES Yogurt Malaysia
Unit G-28, Ground Floor, Pusat Perdagangan Berpadu (United Point), Jalan Lang Emas, 51200 Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 10am-10pm. Tel: 012-384-2652
For full list of YEES branches across Malaysia: yeesyogurt.com.my/outlets

This post first appeared on eatdrinkkl.com