Eat Drink KL: February 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dirty Nelly's

Damansara Jaya isn't renowned for its watering holes, so a hip new neighborhood hangout like Dirty Nelly's stands a stellar shot at mopping the floor with its competitors.

The pub grub at this porcine paradise tastes terrific and is perfectly priced, with mains costing about RM25. Specialties include the classic English favorite of grilled gammon steak _ a smoky slice of hog thigh with caramelized pineapples & an unapologetically creamy fried duck's egg.

Angels & devils on horseback _ pitted prunes wrapped in streaky bacon & sprinkled with cayenne pepper. Also delectable; the luscious prunes simply melt in the mouth, making them seem somewhat like sweetened pork fat.

Poor Man's Pate _ pork pate sealed under clarified butter & served with red onion marmalade. Despite its name, this turned out be really rich, boasting a soft, smooth texture _ almost akin to margarine _ and intensely gamy flavor.

Wild boar pie. Lots of succulent bits of savory meat, buried beneath a buttery cloud of steaming-hot mashed potatoes. Preferable to a pastry pie, for sure.

Lynch Moussas Merlot (2004). Only one type of wine offered, but it's a keeper.

This place gets packed by 9pm (even when we were here on a regular Wednesday night earlier this month), so it might be best to book a table.

Dirty Nelly's,
27, SS 22/19, Damansara Jaya, Petaling Jaya.
Tel: 03-7731-3719

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ozeki Tokyo

One of my longtime favorite haunts in KL, though my visits here have become infrequent in recent years as Japanese restaurants run rampant across the city.

Ozeki features one of the most extensive menus ever, with a remarkable range of both traditional recipes and avant-garde delicacies that make repeat visits essential.

The nigiri sushi platter is worth a splurge, comprising a top-notch harvest from the ocean, including sea urchin, clams, shrimp and all the fish we could want.

Futomaki, stuffed with 16 ingredients. A jaw-dropping creation, mouth-wateringly tasty. Recommended for anyone who complains that other restaurants are too stingy with their maki roll ingredients.

Battera sushi (Osaka-style pressed sushi with marinated mackerel). A throwback to how sushi was prepared in parts of Japan decades ago. Might not be for everyone though; the mackerel tastes pretty fishy and vinegary, with a whole lotta rice in each piece.

Pan-fried grilled Kobe beef roll. Succulent meat, several notches above regular beef.

Of course, customers can order fresh-tasting raw fish without rice. Highlights include mekajiki toro sashimi (big-eyed tuna) & bachimaguro akami (regular tuna).

Yuzu sorbet _ a refreshing treat, laced with tiny bits of citrus fruit _ & chocolate chili ice cream (too much spice overwhelmed the chocolate flavor).

Ozeki Tokyo Cuisine,
Menara TA One, Jalan P Ramlee.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Imbi Palace

This cavernous restaurant has carved a real reputation among fans of Chinese fare.

There's something for everyone here. The fish maw with minced pork tasted homemade, in the best sense of the word. Health-conscious customers might be happy to hear that Imbi Palace's food seems to be laced with very little salt (even though everything remains sufficiently flavorsome).

Braised goose webs in abalone sauce. Suck it up and stop squirming; this was bony, of course, but succulent (in the slimiest fashion possible).

Stuffed dace fish, nicely presented. The stuffing was superb _ juicy and subtly flavorsome, like the finest kind of fish cake.

Steamed tiger prawns. Utterly unmemorable; the lowlight of an otherwise fab meal.

Frogs with fried ginger. Tender, chunky meat, lightly battered and seemingly greaseless, with a finger-lickin'-good addictiveness.

Lap mei fan. A hearty helping that hit the right notes (though one could quibble that the goose liver sausages _ while delicious _ weren't as amazingly aromatic as The Han Room's).

Deakin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia). Richly rounded.

Imbi Palace,
Jalan Barat, Kuala Lumpur.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ben's @ Pavilion

Launched this week at Pavilion, Ben's marks another milestone for the BIG family, which already includes Plan B, T Forty Two, Canoodling & For Goodness' Sake at Bangsar Village.

Ben's replaces The C. Club on this mall's sixth floor. It looks completely refurbished, though it retains the al fresco terrace where customers can sip cocktails overlooking Bukit Bintang.

The menu seems extensive enough to excite everyone from an 80-year-old grandmother to a kindergarten student. We were in the mood for something relatively healthy, so the "deconstructed Thai beef salad" proved irresistible, featuring tender, meaty slices of grilled beef with a cornucopia of nuts, basil leaves & shallots.

Portions here are whopping. This platter comprised luxuriously succulent chunks of ox tongue, resting on a bed of crisp watercress and soft, smooth potatoes with dill mayo.

Tenimenti Prosecco & Beach Bummer '85 (vodka, orange, guava syrup, apple juice).

Peanut Butter & Jam Smoothie and Scarlet Citrus (vodka, mint, apple, blood orange syrup).

Prices won't bruise the wallet too badly; a filling meal with drinks can be had for RM30-50.

Ben's (Another Bright Idea by BIG),
Level 6, Pavilion Shopping Mall,
Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Hanare: Round Five. Earlier entries: Feb. 2, Feb. 6, Feb. 8 & Feb 10.

Fugu tataki. Pufferfish, briefly seared and seasoned with ginger. Having happily survived to tell this tale, we can attest that Hanare's fugu is firm, fresh and flavorsome. Worth risking death to devour? Well, the peril wasn't all that palpable.

Fried fugu. Double the danger, double the fun! Fleshy fish, thinly blanketed in greaseless batter. Absolutely addictive (way better than fish & chips, at any rate).

Fugu soup, the sole letdown in our trio of pufferfish recipes. Bland broth, bony fish. Each fugu dish costs about 80 ringgit (note: they're not listed on the a la carte menu).

Inaniwa udon. Silky smooth noodles, served nearly icy cold.

The udon is paired with nuclear-hot chicken soup. Dunk 'em in for a tasty treat. Simple and savory; as comfortingly traditional as Japanese cuisine gets.

The fun of visiting Hanare over and over again rests in trying ingredients cooked in different styles. We sampled the steamed cod milt several weeks ago, so we wanted to check out another preparation this time. The kitchen obliged, and voila! This shirako tempura was equally enjoyable, with a beautifully crisp coating.

A generous serving of grilled tuna belly. Succulence squared.

Simmered snapper head with root veggies. A knockout; the flesh was achingly moist and subtly sweet, but we especially enjoyed the gooey, gelatinous eye.

The amberjack fillet, on the other hand, seemed a bit dry and overcooked.

Miso soup. The ultimate in umami.

Grilled Wagyu beef helped restore order to our universe, with its bold, intense flavor and mouthwatering tenderness. Pretty much perfect.

Seafood porridge, packed with prawns & fish Not what we expected, but we liked it. Thick and creamy, with a consistency akin to risotto but the mild taste of congee.

Hatsukuru Karakuchi. A bottle a day does not keep the doctor away.

Ground Floor, The Intermark,
Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2164-2133

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Smoke & Fire

A few steps away from Sage and Gsix, this spacious club underscores Mid Valley's valiant struggle to nurture a nightlife.

Customers can groove indoors to a band that warbles '80s hits _ or better yet, linger outside at an alfresco area that's less crowded and noisy.

A wide-ranging snack menu here includes duck breast skewers. Chunky but chewy.

Baby octopus skewer. Not too rubbery, but stick to the Japanese outlets for superior versions.

Hot tapas include grilled sardines with olive oil. A bit too salty to appreciate.

Pizza Margherita, topped simply with cheese, tomato & fresh basil. A surefire stomach-filler, but less satisfying than what many Italian restaurants offer.

Vietnamese seafood spring rolls. With supper served until 1.30 a.m., this might be a worthwhile option for anyone who wants to munch in the mall after a late movie.

Chicken porridge. Wrapping up on a positive note: creamy and not too bland.

Lychee Bellini & Gapplelito (apple juice) champagne cocktails.

Brandy Alexander & Around The World.

Smoke & Fire,
The Gardens, Mid Valley.