Eat Drink KL: November 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Having Ichiran Ramen in Malaysia

Malaysians are spoiled for choice when it comes to Japanese food. With well-known names like Ippudo and Sushi Saito finding a foothold here and thousands of Malaysians flying each week to Tokyo, Osaka and Sapporo, Japanese brands have had no trouble making their way into our hearts, minds and stomachs.

Many enthusiasts would have heard of Ichiran Ramen, which has swelled from a simple ramen stall in Fukuoka in the 1960s into one of Japan’s largest chains for tonkotsu ramen, boasting over 65 offshoots, including in Hong Kong and New York.

Ichiran even has a line of instant noodles that customers can take home - available internationally on sites like Amazon, but alas, not currently shipping to Malaysia. Thankfully, the people who travel between Kuala Lumpur and Japan are not hard to come by.

We had a taste of Ichiran recently, right here in KL. The Ichiran Ramen Curly Noodles box set was courtesy of BuyTheWay, a cool platform that connects customers with travellers who can purchase products from other countries for them.

This is a nice way to enjoy what makes Ichiran one of the most pleasing tonkotsu ramens. While the noodles are very much similar to the typical instant variety, we can prepare them precisely to our preference of firmness, similar to how a physical Ichiran branch also allows you to select a choice of noodle texture.

The broth is truly the star - slightly sharp, slightly spicy, with a well-balanced depth of flavour that should satisfy tonkotsu broth devotees. A perfect companion for the cold, wet evenings of this monsoon season.

BuyTheWay is now offering RM10 rebates to ALL users who send the following exclusive promotional code EDKLBUYTHEWAY10 and their registered email via Whatsapp to +60108977928 - verified users will then receive a RM10 rebate once they have paid for their requests. Offer is limited to the first 100 users who submit the code.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Siu G Jai @ Taman Desa

Siu yuk satay is the novelty here - skewers of crunchy, meaty roast pork, complemented by a spicy peanut dipping sauce, onions and cucumbers. At RM13 for three sticks, it might be worth sampling for curious customers who enjoy eccentric experimentation. Purists might not be as enthusiastic, but Siu G Jai still deserves appreciation for coming up with something that's somewhat out of the box.

Roast pork dominates the selection, currently available only for lunch. There's siu yuk with garlic fried rice (RM15; add RM2 for a fried egg) daily, plus specials on selected days like curry chee cheong fun with siu yok (RM12). Note that the roast pork here tilts toward a dense, firm bite.

Siu G Jai
12, Jalan 1/109E, Desa Business Park, Taman Desa, Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 1130am-3pm. Tel: 012-292-2257

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C Wine & Bites @ Damansara Kim

Created by a wine lover, for wine lovers, this cosy den brings the cellars of De Toren, Dominio Romano and more to an intimate corner of Damansara Kim. C Wine & Bites' founder C.K. is a former accountant who swapped undertaking audits for understanding the world of wines, a passion made clear from the moment you step into this venue, filled with wine maps, barrels and shelves of bottles that C.K. has personally brought in, including boutique labels less often seen in the Klang Valley.

Browsing is one of C Wine & Bites' simple pleasures - everything is lined up in an orderly fashion, with Old World wines on one side and New on the other, systematically categorised further by country and price range. 

You'll start with the Australian and New Zealand vintages, before venturing into the vineyards of South Africa (hunt for The Goose, by Limpopo-born golfer-turned-vintner Retief Goosen), Chile (check out the TerraMater estate's An'yuzhual range, of which no more than 8,000 bottles are reputedly produced per year) and Argentina (the Casarena Icono 2012 may stand out, awarded 95 points by Robert Parker).

The rest of the selection remains engaging, with Lebanese (Chateau Musar) and Portuguese (Padre Pedro) wines sharing space with Italian, French and Spanish ones. C.K. handles the import of these himself, so it's well worth noting that prices here are significantly lower - by as much as one-third - compared to what you'll pay for the same bottles elsewhere in Malaysia.

Misha's Vineyard, in New Zealand's Central Otago region, is a prime example of how C.K. strives to spotlight labels that have a relatively low profile but plenty of personality. 

Misha's offerings (crafted by NZ winemaker Olly Masters) bear names like The High Note, The Soloist and The Starlet - a nod to the mother of label co-founder Misha Wilkinson's mother, who was an opera performer. 

Dress Circle is a Pinot Gris of graceful vivaciousness, meant to sing with notes of baked pear and brown sugar. Verismo heralds a Pinot Noir that's supple and sensuous, harmoniously layering crushed cherries with cedar spice, while the creamy finish of The Cadenza brings the curtain down with a Gewurztraminer's Old World charm, buoyed by the aroma of apricot.

The range at C Wine & Bites enables versatile experiences; you can, for example, spend a single session sweeping through the communes of Bordeaux, from Chateau Haut-Vigneau's lushly structured 2014 Pessac-Leognan to the rounded spiciness of Chateau Phelan-Segur's 2013 La Croix Bonis. It's easy to imagine spending many blissful evenings here, exploring and making fresh discoveries.

The 'Bites' component is represented by the efforts of a small but skilfully resourceful kitchen. The focus is on solid produce, prepared with well-tuned minimalism - while Iberico pork is now rampant across the city, not all cuts are created equal, and C Wine & Bites relies on the better ones, turned into skewers that satisfy for both flavour and juiciness (RM43).

The food menu might not be extensive, but there's enough to make for a complete meal, from munch-worthy snacks like spiced chicken wings (RM20 for four pieces) to warm bruschetta blanketed with sun-dried tomatoes and melted cheddar or tenderly roasted king mushrooms and truffle oil (RM15 for six slices) to protein-powered sharing platters of elegantly succulent Norwegian salmon (RM38), lamb rack (RM53; pre-ordering required) and beef striploin (RM79; pre-ordering required). And any feast bolstered by wine is best wrapped up with a sturdy selection of cheese.

Many thanks to the C Wine & Bites team for having us here.

C Wine & Bites
4A, First Floor, Jalan SS 20/10, Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Open Tues-Sun, 6pm-12am. Tel: 012-893-0000

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:

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Gelataria Naturale & Gelataria Caffetteria @ Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia loves its gelato, for good reason: Gelataria Naturale's 'slow ice cream' is truly something else, made with Bulgarian milk, local eggs, cream & unrefined sugar. Soft, super-smooth, beautifully flavoured - sample a double scoop of pistachio & almond.

 Gelataria Caffetteria's offerings are more mainstream, but it's still well worth indulging in Italian flavours like cannoli & ricotta.