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Review: Asmara Penchala

>> Thursday, December 12, 2013

Overall comment: Lovely ambiance. The venue is great for events like weddings, parties, & reunion dinners. Taste of food is in progress of further improvement.
Halal: Yes

Asmara Penchala, previously known as Bora Asmara & Asmara D'Penchala, has been around for quite some time. I was here once 2 years ago, I think, for a Ramadhan Buffet dinner, when it was still called Bora Asmara. The restaurant was taken over 6 months ago by a new team of dedicated business owners (one of them by the name Jeffrey) & kitchen staffs to make Asmara Penchala a dream venue for diners who are looking for a place with great ambiance & good food as well.

Getting to the restaurant will require some getting-used-to as the restaurant's tucked in the middle of a Malay village area. But you'll be pleasantly greeted with a Balinese-looking restaurant "out of no where" in the village as you drive on...hahaha...

The gazabos

The restaurant's build-up is huge. They have 3 'private gazebos' for those who would prefer a more "exclusive" dining experience with their family & friends. They also have 2 large indoors dining halls in addition to the open areas. Yes, it's a plural!

Open area

Indoor dining halls for private functions 

This review session was to gather feedback from foodies for the kitchen team to further improve on their recipes & presentation. We were served an array of dishes from their menu & off-the-menu, from appetizers to main courses to dessert.

Here's what we had & my personal opinion on the dishes served:

Asmara Punch (off-the-menu)
Watermelon juice, rose cordial & orange drops
We felt that the drink was WAY too sweet & the rose cordial taste was too strong, covering the fresh watermelon taste. The orange drops were an interesting 'bonus', but it just didn't feel like a "punch" drink.

Appetizer: Thai Fish Cakes
Dory fish, chili, lemongrass, spices
The look & feel reminded me of mini burgers, but it was thai fish cakes! Presentation was pretty, but the bread was slightly dry & hard; probably left outside for too long. The fish cake was slightly too heavy in salt, but the taste of lemongrass & chili was quite evident. Simple appetizer, but if the amount of salt is reduced, it would be just right :)

Appetizer: Asmara Kentang Goreng
It may be a good snack, but I don't find anything special with this since it tasted like a typical hash brown (just smaller in size) to me. The chili sauce was also generic & rather sweet. If only they make their own fried potatoes with a special dip, I think that would be more meaningful :)

Main dish: Creamy Butter Prawns
The flavor of the gravy was not too bad as it has the pleasant fragrance of curry leaves & butter/marjerin (I don't think they use butter..hmm..). However, I found the prawn somewhat over-cooked & not very fresh. It was disappointing as I was looking forward to some fresh, crisp prawns with the fragrant sauce.

Main dish: Assam Pedas Ikan Tenggiri - Signature Dish
Overall flavor, if cooked thoroughly was quite tasty. The gravy was spicy, filled with herbs & spices & goes very well with fragrant white rice. However, one of the claypots served had raw aubergines, tomatoes, & really old okras. The fish is decently fresh, so it was still the highlight of the dish. Asmara Penchala really has some quality control to ensure before all their dishes gets out of the kitchen.

Main dish: Lamb Masala
I'm a lamb-lover. Tender lamb shoulders with classic Indian spices makes my day. But depending on which part you get, you may end up with quite a lot of bones to go through before you can get to the meat :S

Nasi Goreng Cina Set (RM19.90/set)
The 1st ingredient in the fried rice that I could taste is the sesame seed oil. Hmm..fragrant, although it feels weird. I'm Chinese & I don't even fry my rice with sesame seed oil...hahaha. Anyway, I have to say that the rice was rather salty and has grains of salt in every nook & cranny, which wasn't a pleasant eating experience. We did provide feedback to Jeffrey to have his chef use fine salt instead of rough/rock salt. Much improvement needed in this set...to the very least, it needs "wok hei"/enough "flame-work"!

Nasi Goreng India Set (RM19.90/set)
This variant of fried rice has a different touch. The rice is fried with some curry powder, kunyit powder, chili powder, curry leaves & Indian spices. Once again, I found the rice very salty!  *sigh* The chef needs to learn to taste his food prior to sending it out of the kitchen.

Nasi Goreng Melayu Set (RM19.90/set)
Hidden behind the rice in this photo is a small serving of rendang tok (beef). I somehow missed out snapping a photo of the actual dish =.=" anyway, I had a difficult time chewing on the beef pieces. Perhaps it's supposed to be this way, or I just had the not-so-nice part of the cow. The fried rice was spicy, but it was also very salty, due to the salt bits & also the ikan bilis. The only "nicer" ingredient in this fried rice is the kangkung...heh. I felt that the 3 different types of fried rice served are very single-dimensional. It lacks fragrance, bite, & a variety of texture.

Grilled Salmon with Pasta Set
I was really disappointed as salmon is a very "oily" fish that's easy & quick to cook. How can this go wrong? :( The grilled salmon was over-cooked & dry. The moisture has somewhat "evaporated" into thin air...the only life-saver was the cheesy white sauce that replaces the usual tartar sauce. Thinking that that's the only disappointment that I've to face, I had to face an even more disappointing pasta - a tasteless pasta. On one hand, the fried rice was overloaded with salt. Some of the salt could just go to the pasta here...hahaha. The mangoes + pineapple salad was a big no-no as it was mixed with of all things, Thai chili sauce. Sigh. I would appreciate if the salad is kept simple with a vinaigrette dressing. I provided much feedback to the boss on this dish, along with some suggestions. Hopefully this dish will be improved.

Dessert: Sago Gula Melaka with Vanilla Ice-Cream
The actual presentation (photo below) & taste of this dessert was far better than the ones we were given as 'testers'. Our mini-version was overly sweet & it was "warm". I thought such desserts are served with ice-shavings or to the very least cold, but Asmara Penchala's version is served with vanilla ice-cream.

Apart from the dishes above, Asmara Penchala will be starting their lunch business with lunch sets for 2 persons from RM48.00+. You'll get rice, assam pedas ikan tenggiri, ulam kampung, telur masin (salted egg), & dessert for 2 pax.

Wedding packages are also offered here. For a minimum of 1000 persons, the package starts from RM35.00/pax for lunch or RM60.00/pax for dinner, for an all-inclusive package i.e. food, decoration, sound system...etc.

Candle-light dinner is also available for 2 pax  at RM220.00+ inclusive of F&B

Asmara Penchala has a lovely ambiance for gatherings & meals, but I would love to see great improvement in the food served. It'll be a fantastic "package" to have a place that offers not just lovely ambiance, but good food as well.

Asmara Penchala
2933, Jalan Sungai Penchala
Kampung Sungai Penchala
60000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 7726 0964
Business hours: Every Tuesdays - Sundays 11:30a.m. - 3:00p.m., 6:00p.m. - 12:00a.m.
FB: Asmara Penchala

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Looking forward to much improvement in their food,


Sherry October 18, 2014 at 7:50 PM  

looks nice, no go there before.


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