Eat Drink KL: January 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lavinier @ Solaris Dutamas

Replacing The Pink Sage at Solaris Dutamas (farewell, fluffy pancakes!), Lavinier promises a staggering selection of intriguing Yugoslav recipes. But some pledges are not so easily fulfilled, since not everything on this outlet's multiple-page menu is always available.

Polenta with extra virgin olive oil, cheese, fried egg & boiled spinach. It's honest cooking here, with few frills & no pretensions. That might not necessarily translate into wholly satisfying food, but we imagine it's what we'd find if we ever roam Croatia & Slovenia.

Burek _ a meaty Bosnian pie stuffed with minced lamb, onions & spices. Prices are low compared to KL's other Croatian eatery, the more elegant Dubrovnik nearby at Solaris Mont Kiara. This pie cost under RM10, but even Lavanier's most expensive items barely surpass RM30.

Scampi & mussels in Buzara sauce (a Croatian blend of wine, garlic & tomato paste). Business at Lavinier is rarely bustling, which means that food might end up being stored for too long. Nearly all the seafood in this bowl tasted a few days past their prime.

Double lamb patties with feta cheese in Sarajevo flat bread. A nice change from regular burgers; the thin bread, softer & lighter than pita, is much tastier than buns. Served with ajvar _ a thick but delicately flavored sauce made of paprika, peppers & olive oil that's superior to ketchup.

Dalmatina Pizza, topped with lamb bacon, smoked salmon, olives, fresh tomatoes & mozzarella. Lamb & salmon in one pizza? Sounds like something special, but the ingredients overwhelm each other with intense savoriness. A hearty pizza, nevertheless, for the hopelessly hungry.

Turkish coffee & chai tea latte.

Margarita & Bailey's. Lavinier's cocktail list looks impressive, but barely 10 percent of the beverages seems to be actually available.

Wine is nevertheless offered by both the bottle & the glass.

Lavinier Coffee & Bistro @ Solaris Dutamas,
A4-UG1-1, Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur.
Last orders at 10:30pm daily.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ramen Taiko & Takehana

Searching for pork can feel like a hassle in Mont Kiara, but these two outlets are worth the hunt on evenings when chicken, beef & fish aren't enough.

First up, Ramen Taiko, tucked inside Mont Kiara Shoplex. The restaurant has long cultivated a faithful following in this neighborhood, but it feels more popular than ever now, following a recent refurbishment & revamp of its menu.

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen, bristling with a wealth of chashu slices, egg, bamboo shoots, fish cakes, corn & spring onions. Not as satisfyingly aromatic as what Pavilion's Hokkaido Santouka & Fahrenheit 88's Marutama serve, but it'll still muster at least a 'B' in our book.

Comfort food is what the crowds crave here. Something disarmingly simple & decisively rustic _ such as stewed duck with rice _ fits that bill perfectly.

Pumpkin croquettes, creamy & naturally sweet. Ramen Taiko's expanded menu includes sashimi, makis & more, ensuring that customers won't run out of things to try. Prices are marginally lower compared to chains like Rakuzen.

Oh, there are complimentary starters too. Pray for tamago stuffed with unagi.

Ozeki Hana-Awaka, a sparkling sake with sugary overtones.

Just across the road, Takehana occupies a discreet corner of Plaza Mont Kiara.

Meat that's reminiscent of char siew _ reasonably tender, but not richly caramelized.

Takehana's equivalent of siew yok. Fleshy & fatty, sweating in savory gravy.

Fluffy crab omelet in sweet-&-sour sauce. Could have been the handiwork of a Chinese kitchen.

Pork liver with chives. Stinkier than expected. Hold your breath while eating this!

Coming full circle, we end this entry with more porky noodles: Wakamai Miso Ramen _ hot, hearty & heartwarming. But unfortunately, unlike Ramen Taiko, Takehana serves ordinary hard-boiled eggs instead of seasoned ones.

Sake makes the earth move under our feet (we feel the sky tumbling down).

Ramen Taiko,
Mont Kiara Shoplex, Kuala Lumpur.
Open daily for lunch & dinner.
Tel: 03-2096-1822

Plaza Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spasso Milano @ Pavilion

Returning to Spasso Milano's relocated branch for more porky revelry.
Earlier entry on Spasso @ Pavilion: January 15.
Entries on Spasso @ Ampang (pork-free): Dec. 3, 2010 & Dec. 8, 2010.

Prosciutto di parma with buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, basil & pesto mayo on grilled panini. Warm, thin & toasty, this is a richly tasty substitute for bulky sandwiches. Customers can choose from a wealth of fillings, ranging from a butcher's cornucopia of cold cuts (bresaola, pancetta, speck & more) to assorted mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini & Provolone cheese.

Saffron risotto with pan-fried Italian sausages. Fragrantly scented rice, pungently savory meat. Confident cuisine, showcasing sheer simplicity.

OK, it's not all about the hog here. One of our favorite Spasso recipes is chicken saltimbocca _ hearty fillets of surprisingly juicy meat (fowl instead of the traditional veal), its flavor rounded by a blend of sage, rosemary, beef salami & Taleggio cheese in white wine sauce.

The Tallegio cheese in the saltimbocca had us craving some more stinky sensations. Perhaps the best Italian place for fromageophiles is Bangsar Village's Garibaldi, which has some of the city's most thoughtfully constructed cheese platters.

Everything from Parmigiano with pear & balsamic vinegar reduction to Robiola Bresciana _ melted raw cow's milk cheese _ on bread croutons with hazelnuts is available here.

A tasting combo of Garibaldi's cheeses. We can never remember what's what, but there's Robiola 3 Latti (baked one-month-aged cow, sheep & goat milk cheese), alongside other varieties flavored with truffles, garlic & pepper, some supposedly cultivated near European lakes.

Getting bubbly at Spasso.

Blushing a deep red at Spasso.

Spasso Milano,
Level Six, Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2148-0688

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Robot Sushi

This 1 Utama outlet seems to have changed its moniker & management several times over the years; we prefer one of its former names, SushiGroove.

Hits and misses abound on the menu. The Fusion Dragon Maki, featuring salmon torched with shrimp tempura, beef & mango, is respectably presented, but the beef could be more succulent, while the fruit feels overpoweringly tart.

Sweet Sakura Roll, with tamago, cucumber, tempura bits & sakura denbu (pink fish flakes). Sounds promising, but tastes blandly forgettable.

Avatar Roll: tuna, avocado & cream cheese topped with eel, tobiko & teriyaki sauce. The only satisfying choice among these three makis, thanks to the flavorsome eel & its inspired pairing with other creamy components.

Saving the best for last: Japanese bibimbap. Pure pleasure for carb addicts _ a hearty heap of fragrant fried rice, bathed in an umami-rich blend of bonito flakes, chicken & raw egg.

Two types of sparkling sake izeko: honey ginger & tsuya meku jelly. Fairly unique, but too pricey at RM40+ each. Think of them as premium cocktails, perhaps.

Robot Sushi,
1 Utama.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pork Victorious @ Verona Trattoria

When Verona Trattoria opened last month, pork was a no-show. But the call of the hog is unconquerable; now, the savory scent of porcine entrees permeates this outlet.
Earlier entries on Verona Trattoria: December 29 & January 3.

Parma ham, usually served here with rock melon, but the kitchen ran out that evening & rested the prosciutto on a simple salad instead. Great to get the gustatory juices going.

Spaghetti aglio olio with fried pork belly. A minimal-fuss recipe, nicely executed. Pasta & protein make for perfect partners.

Roasted pork loin with orange sauce. Not the most tender cut, but ideal for a low-fat meal. Could even work for Chinese New Year festivities, thanks to the citrus twist.

Braised pork ribs, a sacrament of succulence, drenched in deliciously meaty gravy. With so many contenders jostling for the accolade of the Klang Valley's best ribs, Verona Trattoria's can't win, but it's in the Top 50.

Can't take pork? No fear; hop next door to Bistro a Table for Chef Isadora's latest.

Tian of char-grilled prawns _ big, bouncy crustaceans, with pomegranate for a tannic tang & avocado for a velveteen-rich creaminess.

Veal sweetbread with poached duck egg salad. We love sweetbread & we adore egg, but we very rarely experience the two together. A heavenly combo.

Baked onion with black autumn truffles, organic egg & Gruyere cheese. A robust, rustic recipe, employing ingredients with a soil-bound power to harness the rich flavors of nature.

Wrapping up with wine, finally available at Verona Trattoria at prices starting from RM80.

Verona Trattoria & Bistro a Table,
Section 17, Petaling Jaya.