Eat Drink KL: January 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011


Third visit to Casbah this month; it's a testament to this restaurant's consistent excellence that all the different people who've eaten here with me have been impressed by the food.
For earlier entries on Casbah, click: January 11 & January 25.

Stirato (Italian grilled bread). For anyone who's leery of belly-busting pizzas, here's an alternative, with no heavy toppings needed or desired. Thinly stretched, comfortingly warm and crisp, every bite of this bread released the captivating fragrance of rosemary, tomatoes & olive oil; even a Tuscan countryside baker working with local produce might be proud.

Lebanese "patata harra" with labneh (strained yogurt). This might bear the deceptive appearance of ordinary potato wedges, but KFC's pales tragically in comparison. Piping-hot, fluffy and fried-to-order, with heady hints of garlic and a lemony scent of sumac. Let's thank heaven that potato famines are a thing of the past.

Spanakopita. Phyllo pastry, packed with feta cheese and spinach. Those of us in KL can savor this Greek delicacy at only two places: here and Giovino at Changkat Bukit Bintang.

Gazpacho trio (white with almonds, red with tomatoes, yellow with bell peppers). I rarely find versions of this cold Spanish raw soup that I enjoy, but I loved (LOVED!) this. Creamy like a milkshake but delicately flavored; perfect for reviving the spirit after a wearisome week.

Sambousek. Petite parcels of potent pleasure, stuffed with savory shanklish (a rich-textured, clean-tasting Turkish sheep's milk cheese, rather reminiscent of ricotta).

A Moroccan traditional favorite of Chicken Moghrabieh. Only chicken breast is used, but it's expertly cooked to mouthwatering tenderness. Let the meat linger on your tongue to relish its complex marinade of cinnamon and cumin. This rustic recipe comes with "Lebanese couscous" _ steamed, pea-sized balls of semolina dough.

Manchego, Idiazabal & Valdeon cheese with quince jelly. A welcome change from the typical Italian and French cheese platters at other outlets.

Barramundi with white beans, artichokes & clams. Comfort food for devotees of oceanic delights; firm yet juicy chunks of fish, exotically spiced with dukkah, an Egyptian blend of hazelnuts, sesame, mint, caraway & pepper.

Moroccan tagine of lamb merguez sausages. A hearty, slow-cooked stew, with North African couscous, almonds & dried apricots; the sausages might be slightly too salty or gamy for some, but that's a matter of preference.

Turrons. Honeyed nougat confections, with a paste-like stickiness. Supposed to be mainly a Yuletide treat in Spain, but it's Christmas all year round at Casbah.

Yogurt sorbet & stewed apricots. A tangy, seemingly guilt-free substitute for Baskin-Robbins (but by no means inferior or any less luscious).

Baklava. Boasted a freshly-made feel and aromatic nuttiness that are often absent in KL's other Arabian pastries. Crisp, flaky and not overwhelmingly sweet.

Churros (fried dough fritters with spiced chocolate). Astonishingly light and grease-free.

Yiaourtopita (lemon pound cake with Greek yogurt). Dense, but marvelously moist.

Luxury Margarita (sauza hornitos repasado tequila, fresh lime, cointreau, pomegranate foam) & Guava Cosmo (belvedere vodka, fresh lime, pink guava, cranberry).
Thanks to Cheryl of the Mandarin Oriental for hosting this particular feast.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Up & Up

First off, nope, the service team here assured us that Up & Up in Puchong has no ties to the well-known restaurant of the same name in Ipoh.

Basic Chinese cuisine is the name of the game here, mainly food that can be prepared at home. This chicken in a bucket was a sight to behold, with everything from the head to the claw thrown into the pot. Tender meat, soaked in soup that tasted healthy and nutritious.

Braised pork knuckle. Succulent stuff, particularly the lovely skin.

Steamed fish head. Firm, fresh and fleshy, but with lots of thin, tiny bones.

Steamed pork. Boasted a nice savoriness, thanks to a judicious infusion of salted fish.

Pork slices with yam. Always, always, always a pleasure.

Steamed egg. Smooth and lusciously silky.

Crisp veggies to round off a simple but satisfactory dinner.

Up & Up Restaurant,
26, Jalan Puteri 1/5, Bandar Puteri Puchong.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


When we first visited this outlet in March 2010, Canoodling was still called "It's A Noodle Bar." Its subsequent name change came with an expanded menu that seems to be a real crowd-pleaser.

Canoodle Oodle of Noodles. A Greyhound Thailand-inspired recipe, featuring steamed silken rice noodle sheets with iceberg lettuce, coriander, marinated minced chicken in dark soy & spicy garlic sauce _ all to be assembled in little parcels in a DIY-fashion. Food that's both fun for the fingers and titillating for the taste buds.

Hong Kong yee mee with braised duck leg & wood ear fungus in duck soy. Springy noodles, aromatic meat. For about RM10 per bowl, the noodles here are the most reasonably priced treats in this mall.

Pan Mee _ handmade noodles with light soy sauce, anchovies & poached egg. Served with dry chili & fish ball soup. Addictive; the ravishingly runny yolk makes all the difference.

Hakkasan Noodles, inspired by Hakkasan London. Stir-fried glass noodles with cod, dace fish, fermented soybeans & bitter gourd. Sounded like a potentially bland dish and looked like a small serving, but this turned out to be both filling and fulfilling.

Pasta Pad Thai _ linguine stir-fried with prawns, squid, egg & bean sprouts, garnished with coriander & peanuts. A creative twist that thoroughly succeeded.

Charcoal noodles with Thai red curry, lychee & crispy duck leg confit. Let's face it: there's nothing really bad to say about the noodles here. This was another winner, thanks to the creamy, fantastically fragrant curry.

Dan Dan Mein _ noodles tossed in Szechuan sauce with minced chicken, curly cucumber & peanuts. A fun fusion of flavors _ meaty, nutty and mildly spicy.

Desserts are worth sampling, though the tau foo fah is one of the mediocre ones.

Sweet potato soup with peanut tong yuen dumplings.

Gandum Cha Cha, with candied winter melon, walnuts & sesame seeds.

Kishu Umeshu & Tamba-Yamanami rice shochu.

Bouchard Chablis (Burgany) & Chateau Pey La Tours Reserve (Bordeaux).

Pandan tea.

A umeshu-sake sparkling combo. Mild and fruity.

Suntory Whisky Royal (12 years) & Hibiki.

Bangsar Village.

Friday, January 28, 2011


France, Part VIII: A stylish sixth-floor cafe at Centre Pompidou's art museum.

Georges claims to provide some of the best panoramic views of Paris _ a boast that seems plausible, considering the sweeping scenes from these tables.

We stopped here to replenish our sugar levels after an afternoon of staring at strange sculptures and eccentric exhibits. This massive macaron worked wonderfully _ a crisp creation, with fresh, plump raspberries and a sweet, creamy filling.

The mille-feuille also made us go ga-ga, thanks to its luxurious layers of strawberries and whipped cream (or should we call it icing?).

This vanilla bourbon ice cream was equally delightful _ no less than what should be expected from an alcoholic dessert. Lusciously thick and velvety.

The perfect perk-me-up: Chateau Sahuc-les Tour Sauternes, Espresso & Cosmo.