Saturday, August 8, 2020

La Cour, Puchong

Nashville and Nutella: Pair a burger stuffed with La Cour's take on hot chicken, the spiced Southern-fried speciality of Tennessee's capital (RM24.90), with a milkshake made mildly nutty with everyone's favourite hazelnut cocoa spread (RM15) at this airy, friendly cafe.

La Cour
13, Jalan PPU 2A, Taman Perindustrian Pusat Bandar Puchong, 47100 Puchong, Selangor. Open Tues-Sun, 11am-11pm. Tel: 03-8068-9391

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Canning Heritage, Marc Residence

This modern spin-off from Ipoh's Canning Dim Sum is popping up all over the Klang Valley with colourful, contemporary dim sum. Striking steamed highlights include the Butterfly Pea Flower Dumpling (RM9.80; with shrimp and diced carrots, in skin dyed blue with bunga telang), Abalone Mai (RM12.80; filled with chicken and shrimp, crowned with mini abalone), and the Spicy Chilli Crab Pau (RM8.80; stuffed with a blend of crab and chilli). Kids will like the fried 3 Little Carrots (RM7.80), shaped like plump root vegetables, glutinous to the bite, mixed with carrots and scallions - not too bad for novelty dim sum.

Canning Heritage
A-G-01, Marc Residence, Jalan Pinang, Kuala Lumpur.  Daily
, 10am-10pm. Tel: 03-2781-9068

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Friday, August 7, 2020

XXVI Contemporary Dining, Bangsar

XXVI has a number of recipes worth investigating, fuelled by European fundamentals with East Asian flourishes.

Confit of salmon is beautifully complemented with ingredients that bring lively dynamics to this dish, from ikura to orange and beetroot. The fish is moist and tender but could be more lightly cooked to keep it smoother and lusciously delicate (RM48).

The unagi is similarly a little overdone, so it's firmer than necessary, layered with mild-mannered scrambled eggs, rescued by al dente risotto in subtle tomato sauce, with ohba leaves and kizami nori seaweed for understated Japanese flavours (RM52).

We're always on the lookout for bouillabaisse. XXVI's has the sweet brininess that makes each spoonful of broth enjoyable, crowned with the requisite rouille, with prawns as the star of the bowl; the barramundi and mussels could be fresher (RM58).

The 2015 Tomas Cusine Auzells is an exemplary match for all of the above, especially the bouillabaisse, a bright blended white with Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and more.

It may be worth returning; the pork pot-au-feu, smoked duck leg and dessert of black sesame cheese curd all sound promising.

XXVI Contemporary Dining
26, Jalan Telawi 5, Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur. 

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Thursday, August 6, 2020

Inspire Cafe, GMBB

If avocado is your muse, Inspire Cafe's menu might be motivational for you, paying tribute to the creamy fruit through a trio of temptations - in a big salad bowl (RM12.90), over toast (RM13.90; with tomatoes on sourdough, with mashed potatoes on the side), and with spiral pasta (RM15.90; splashed with lemon juice and olive oil, served with chunky croutons).

Inspire Cafe, Coworking & Events Space
L1-01 & L1-02, GMBB, Jalan Robertson, 50150 Kuala Lumpur. Daily, 9am-6pm. Tel: 03-2035-7100

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Yugo, Desa Sri Hartamas

With a restaurant named Yugo (Japanese for 'fusion'), it's no surprise to see risotto, guacamole and bird's eye chillies on the menu alongside otoro, kanpachi and uni. And we shouldn't be shocked that the results are both appetising and affordable - executive chef Nizam has spent nearly two decades at some of KL's most inventive modern Japanese restaurants, from Ozeki Tokyo to Torii, while Yugo's founder Janis has focused on offering reasonably priced fare in a chic, comfortable setting.

Every creation shimmers with a sense of distinctiveness. Start with duck egg chawanmushi, boasting a bolder depth of flavour than regular steamed egg custard, a creamy indulgence with the pop of ikura, the soy umami of teriyaki sauce and the citrusy herbaceousness of ohba, the Japanese basil (RM15).

For raw salmon to perk up the palate, have it lusciously cubed in a refreshing tartare-style mound layered with lots of avocado, ikura, scallions and a quail yolk, served with crunchy salmon skin instead of toasted bread, slicked with pesto sauce (RM42), or stuffed in sushi rolls with everything from tobiko flying fish roe to sakura denbu codfish flakes (RM15).

A trio of bovine temptations beckons: Beef gyoza is a fun change from the typical chicken or pork variations, its robust flavours mellowed out by zesty yuzu ponzu sauce, with the plumply packed dumplings beautifully plated with edible flowers (RM28); wagyu sliders come with thick, house-minced patties, moist and juicy with caramelised onions and spinach (RM30); while the piece de resistance is sirloin steak, sous-vide smooth, terrifically tender, with a rich, full-bodied taste that evokes aged meat, a carnivorous smash hit even without the two condiments of tongue-tingling cili padi miso and aromatic truffle salt (RM48).

Foie gras with unagi, in a portion for two people, for RM35? Count us in - the triple threat of seared duck liver, eel and tamago makes for a predictably decadent mouthful, with the lovely foie leaving the most pronounced impression.

We're less than a quarter through Yugo's menu, but other interesting highlights include tempura filled with a playful mix of zucchini flowers, truffle paste and cheese (RM35), and crisp-skinned halibut, succulently flaky, with garlic fried rice and Southeast Asian accompaniments of sauteed fiddlehead ferns and punchy green curry, all coming together addictively (RM45).

Yugo's own-baked banana chocolate cake with sultry whisky-and-raisin ice cream makes for an enjoyable ending (RM25). 

Sake starts by the carafe at RM38 and Chilean wine by RM18 glasses. Service sparkles with warmth and enthusiasm.

12, Jalan 27/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur.
Currently open Tuesday-Sunday, 5pm-11pm; will launch lunch service later this month. Tel: 019-322-6063 

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Stammtisch, Bukit Damansara: 2020 Menu

When you step into Stammtisch, you'll spot a shimmering sign on your left, captioned 'Family Und Tradition,' with the word 'Gemütlichkeit' below it, conveying the three tenets that underpin our favourite German restaurant in KL.

The patriarch of the Svrcula family that founded Stammtisch is Munich-born but has lived in Malaysia for four decades, marrying a Sarawakian wife and making a life together here. Their sons run Stammtisch, a German reference to traditional friendly group get-togethers. In the 1800s, inviting someone to a stammtisch was a mark of respect and appreciation; today, this remains a means for social interaction in the countryside and some cities.

That communal cheer permeates Stammtisch's offerings, served in the spirit of Gemütlichkeit, the German equivalent of the Danish hygge, with warmth, cosiness and a sense of belonging as its hallmarks.

When we first visited Stammtisch in November last year, we binged on numerous classic German recipes not often seen in Southeast Asia, but we scarcely scraped the surface of Stammtisch's specialities. Nine months later, we're back for more, a full-fledged feast inspired by centuries of rustically authentic, time-honoured temptations that have fed generations of Germans.

Get off to a sizzling start with Stammtisch's hash belly (RM20), a mouth-watering medley of meat and carbs that the elder Svrcula recalls fondly from younger years in his homeland. This is soulful sustenance that a German grandmother would whip up for her ravenous brood - fuss-free and fulfilling, featuring tender, savoury pork belly slices huddled with succulent bacon, potatoes and leeks, with a light, house-blended apple sauce to gently enliven the ensemble.

Steam full-speed ahead with the Dunkel Beer Mussels (RM35), brimming with fresh mussels stewed in dark lager for delightful depth, brightened with tomatoes and spices for an uplifting sweetness. In the battle between white wine-cooked Belgian moules-frites and its German cousin, this might have the upper hand for a mellow tang that invigorates the mussels.

The Svrcula family are sticklers for quality, so it's no surprise that most of their ingredients are crafted from scratch in their restaurant's kitchen to ensure consistency, from pork patties to pasta-like dough. Many of the dishes work equally well for sharing or for a hearty single-plate meal.

If your most prized part of the burger is the patty, order the Fleischpflanzel (RM38) - Bavarian breaded minced pork, evoking thick, flattened meatballs, crisp to the bite and juicy to their well-textured core, full-flavoured with garlic and herbs. Dip them in German mustard, completed with the essential kartoffeln on the side in the form of pan-fried potatoes.

Stammtisch proves that German cuisine is more wide-ranging than many might realise. While pork knuckles and sausages are all present here, there's much more to a true-blue bierhaus than that - the Maultaschen (RM38) might look like Italian ravioli, but these heftier dumplings are all Deutschland, hailing from the southwestern German region of Swabia, recognised by the European Union as a significant cultural speciality. Stuffed plumply with pork, showered with soft, buttery onions, this is comfort food that we can imagine returning for, over and over again.

Stammtisch also recognises that a country's cuisine can't be confined to its current borders, that a millennium's worth of history has resulted in cooking that links communities stretching from Berlin to Budapest. So while goulash might be more typically linked to Hungary, Germany has its own version too - again, Oma might be pleased with Stammtisch's goulash (RM50), chunky with as much beef as a steak platter, sweet with paprika, served with spaetzle (the gnocchi-like egg noodles that can be found from Switzerland to Slovenia) and blaukraut (the German slow-braised red cabbage that we prefer to fermented sauerkraut).

Paprika pops up as well in the eponymous Chicken Paprikash (RM45), a dish that first earned international fame in the second paragraph of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula. Travelling through the Carpathians to Dracula's castle, Jonathan Harker stopped at a hotel in present-day Romania and wrote in his journal that he "had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good" - he even added a note to get the recipe for his fiancee, Mina. You'll find few restaurants in KL that serve this blood-red recipe, but thanks to Stammtisch, there's no need to travel to Transylvania for a taste of this robustly lusty, greatly gravied chicken.

Whether you favour bread or rice, you won't leave hog-hungry from these princely porcine portions.

Grandma returns one more time for Oma's Meatloaf (RM35), a sandwich stuffed with Germany's mighty meatloaf-like hackbraten, layered with fried sauerkraut, punchy mustard and cheese in crisp toast, made for gigantic appetites, rounded out with fries.

There is one temptation here you won't find in other German restaurants - a nod to a Malaysian Chinese staple, crackly-rind roasted pork belly is paired with aromatically herbed 'ju yu zha' crispy pork lard rice for a Koln-meets-KL indulgence, heaped with sauerkraut and apple cider caramelised onions (RM30; only available till 5pm, so get it for lunch).

Of course, Erdinger, Paulaner and Franziskaner are among the familiar names on Stammtisch's beverage list, but the bar offers delicious alcohol-free takes on cocktails too - sip on mocktails like the Apple Mojito (RM16; with apple juice, soda and mint leaves) and Sangria Berry (RM16; orange juice with pineapple juice, lime juice, frozen fruit and soda).

We're still less than halfway through Stammtisch's menu, with everything from schnitzels to strudels for future visits. Many thanks to Stammtisch for having us.

18-G, Jalan Medan Setia 2, Plaza Damansara, Damansara Heights, 50490 Kuala Lumpur.
Open Mon-Fri, 12pm-11pm; Sat-Sun, 12pm-12am. Tel: 03-2302-1190

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