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Review: Simply Japanese at Utara Coffee House

>> Saturday, May 31, 2014

Overall comment: For a non-Japanese restaurant, Utara Coffee House sure deserves a pat on the back for the job well done in coming up with delicious Japanese dishes at affordable prices!
Halal: Yes

I must say that the Utara Coffee House at Armada Hotel Petaling Jaya is very consistent with the way they prepare their fish dishes. Among the seven (7) ala carte Japanese dishes that they're featuring from 1st May - 30th June 2014, I really enjoyed their Maguro Tempura. Call me a noob to Japanese food, but if my memory didn't fail me, this is my FIRST time having tuna tempura in such a way that I DIDN'T even realize it's tuna if I'm not informed. I would think that it's some red meat like beef/pork (in terms of texture, not look & feel)! *waaahhhhh...halal pork wei....*

Anyway, here are the rest of the dishes, which are also nicely prepared :) You still have ONE more month to try it out!

Gindara Misoyaki (RM28.00++/serving)
Marinated cod fish with miso paste
 I'm a big fan of cod fish. I've learned from a chef friend that there are many variants of the cod fish & some may not even be actual "cod"! I've no idea if this was an 'actual cod', but it still tastes good to me. This fish was marinated & grilled with the miso paste using an infra-light grill. This ensures that the fish is nicely grilled on the outside, yet still moist on the inside. Pan-grilled fish could cause the fish to dry up faster if you want the fish to cook thoroughly. Hmm..learned something new from Chef Chew :)

Namagaki Moriawase (RM22.00++/serving)
Baked oysters with Monoshi/Motoyaki sauce
Oyster fans would love this. Freshly baked oysters with fish roe & ebi sauce (top: Matoyaki sauce, Ebi sauce, & Monoshi sauce). Flavorful sauce for a simple, slurp-into-your-mouth oysters...oolala...

Kijidon Donburi (RM26.00++/serving)
Chicken teriyaki with rice & pickles
This was certainly not love at first sight, but the taste is commendable, no doubt. You'll probably not find such a version of teriyaki chicken anywhere else but here. The whole boneless chicken thigh is firstly pan-grilled before cutting into pieces & stir-fried with Utara Cofee House's version of the teriyaki sauce. The best part of this dish: the chicken pieces seem to be crispy & the sauce isn't as sweet as the usual teriyaki sauce (it's more savory)! Loved it!

Maguro Tempura (RM25.00++/serving)
Deep-fried tuna with basil & layered with teriyaki sauce
My favorite for the night (tuna mooncake? Ahahaha). Check out the color & the texture. When you sink your teeth into the piece of meat, you'll not realize that it's FISH! It's not flaky like those canned tuna, but very firm & moist. Totally irresistable! Oh, don't be fooled by the "raw-looking color". It doesn't taste "raw & bloody" :D The basil & teriyaki sauce compliments the fish very well.

Seafood Maki Roll (RM24.00++/serving)
Sushi roll with seafood & unagi sauce
I've no complaints for this dish. It's a fried sushi roll with seafood & unagi sauce. What more can you ask for, eh? *continues to enjoy eating*

Seirogohan Zen (RM26.00++/serving)
Salmon served with flavored rice
I felt that they could do better with the salmon. Perhaps the slices of salmon was too thin for my liking. Hahaha. Pan-fried salmon with flavored egg rice. Simple, but I feel that it's nothing very "wow".

Shogayaki (RM26.00++/serving)
Stir-fried beef with ginger sauce & steamed rice
The taste & texture of the New Zealand beef was pleasant, but I didn't find this dish special as well. To the very least, it's a good cut that the slices were tender & flavorful.

From my review above, you could say that I'm all out for the Maguro Tempura. I'll go back there just for this dish & probably the Kijidon Donburi. Those are the 2 dishes that I felt most enjoyable :)

What are you waiting for? You have ONE more month to try the dishes out! :D

Utara Coffee House Armada Hotel
Lot 6, Lorong Utara C, Section 52
46200 Petaling Jaya
Selangor Darul Ehsan
For reservations, please call (+603) 7954 6888 ext. 4557
URL: www.armada.com.my
FB: Hotel Armada
Twitter: Hotel Armada

Presentation: * * *1/2
Price: * * *1/2
Environment: * * * 1/2
Taste: * * * 1/2
Service: * * * 1/2


Maguro Tempura!!


Review: "Yam Lay Sek" Promotion at Mandarin Palace

>> Monday, May 26, 2014

Venue: Mandarin Palace Restaurant, Federal Hotel Kuala Lumpur
Overall comment: Extensive variety & of good value, especially if you can really eat!
Halal: No

For just RM40.00++ per adult, enjoy up to 48 different types of dishes at the "Yam Lay Sek" (All You Can Eat) ala carte buffet spread! There are soups, cold dishes, duck, pork, chicken, prawns, fish, vegetables, noodles & even rice dishes to keep your tummies satisfied to the brim. Available for both lunch (12:00pm - 2:30pm) and dinner (6:30pm - 10:30pm) daily, this is definitely one promotion not to be missed! All you need are just a minimum of 2 persons dining together & an empty stomach, waiting to be filled :D

There were 8 of us that night, so we ordered 10 dishes to try out. The"trick" at buffets like this is to order 1. the more expensive items like seafood & 2. your favorites. At least you're paying for what your money's worth & you get to enjoy your favorites at a good price! :)

Pork Rib with Plum Sauce 冰梅骨
This was my favorite among all the dishes that we've ordered for the tasting. The "pork ribs" (near the belly area) were tender & well marinated overnight with plum powder. I enjoyed the fragrant & mildly sweet pork pieces very much. Yums. It actually goes best with rice!

Talapia with Special Sauce 怪味金鳳魚
Surprisingly, this simple dish was the crowd's favorite! It's the aromatic sweet & spicy sauce, coating the deep-fried red Talapia fish that gave this dish a thumbs-up. Chef Yip Boon Ming & his team used a symphony of ingredients such as chili boh, lime juice ("kat chai sui"), assam skin, shallots, garlic, lemongrass & ginger-flower ("bunga kantan") to bring the spicy sauce to the next level. Tastes pretty Thai-inspired, no doubt!

Barbecue Meat of the Day 今日燒味拼
If you enjoy roast cuts, you may want to give Mandarin Palace's bbq meats a try. Their roast duck was quite nice, although I prefer the skin to be more crispy, while the bbq pork didn't make it to my top pick.

Thai Style Jelly Fish 泰式撈蜇花
This was a good appetizer. The dried jellyfish is soaked in warm water & blanched in hot water, before getting seasoned with spices, onions, chili & lime juice. Sweet, sour & spicy!

Stir-fried Vegetables with Nam Yee Sauce 南乳小炒皇
Stir-fried lotus roots often remind me of Chinese New Year. It's an "auspicious" dish, full of symbolic-significance. Mandarin Palace cooked this dish well, with enough of the "nam yu" taste & the lotus roots weren't too soft as well. It still has a nice crisp & crunch. The only things lacking in this dish were toasted almond flakes & fresh water chestnuts! Those are only available on the normal menu.

Shark's Fin Soup with Crab Meat & Shredded Chicken 雞絲蟹肉翅
  I'm not a great fan of shark's fin soup. For one, the way the sharks get killed for their fins is just too cruel. But since it's already served (and usually it's not REAL shark's fins), I'll just go ahead to drink the soup. Mandarin Palace, as a typical Chinese restaurant, has been pretty grounded on their traditional Chinese dishes like this one. The broth is cooked for up to 2 days using ham, chicken & pork to be served as a good stock for the shark's fin soup. My only issue with that night's soup was that it was heavy on the salt :(

Pig's Stomach & Salted Vegetables Soup 鹹菜豬肚湯
 This is my 1st time being served with pig's stomach & salted vegetables soup! The salted fish or even roasted pig's leg with salted vegetables soup are common but pig's stomach....?? Interesting. My cholesterol level is already high, so I didn't dare to indulge much into this soup although as a typical Cantonese girl, I grew up having such soup (and I love it!). The chef on that particular day was somehow very prone to putting more salt than required into his dishes & this was one of the 'victims' :S
Stir-fried Vegetables with Nam Yee Sauce 南乳小炒皇
I'm a great fan of claypot loh shu fun, but I certainly prefer the dark sauce version! The ONLY restaurant that I found VERY yummy for this version was at Restoran Yoke Heng in Seri Kembangan Mandarin Palace's felt like there's a lack in an ingredient. I suspected that it's the deep-fried dried shrimps & probably pork lard. Hahaha. They do have dried shrimps in this dish, but it's either insufficient or just not the type that would bring this dish to the next level.

Salt Baked Grass Prawns 椒鹽鮮草蝦
Taste was pleasing (surprisingly not too salty), but the texture of the prawns felt like it wasn't the live, still-swimming prawns. There are 3 other cooking-styles of prawns to choose from, so you don't need to just stick to this one :)

Yam Pot with Assorted Meat 佛缽又飄香
Good, powdery yams are key to this dish. I'm pleased that Mandarin Palace did a good job in picking the best yam for this dish! The taste is nothing very spectacular as it's a typical Chinese dish, but at least there's nothing to complain about this dish since it uses chicken thigh & a good mix of ingredients. 

Don't miss this opportunity to try out Mandarin Palace's all you can eat ala carte buffet! RM40.00++ per adult or RM28.00++ per child, 7 days a week & available for both lunch & dinner! Do call to make your reservation to avoid disappointment. This promotion has been a hit for the past years, so you won't wanna be turned down by a full house of customers upon arrival ;)

Mandarin Palace Chinese Restaurant
The Federal Hotel Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 2148 8744, direct line to the restaurant
Tel: (+603) 2148 9166 (ext 2202)

Presentation: * * * *
Price: * * * 1/2
Environment: * * * 
Taste: * * *
Service: * * *


Wish I could fit more food into my tummy!


Review: Beijing Roast Duck Review, Si Chuan Dou Hua

>> Monday, May 5, 2014

Overall comment: A good variety of duck dishes - some in really authentic si chuan style! SO SPICY 'til my whole mouth was numb!!
Halal: Pork-free

From 13 May to 15 June 2014, tickle your tastebuds with a variety of roasted duck dishes at the Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant at Parkroyal Hotel Kuala Lumpur. For RM99.00 nett, you'll get a whole roasted duck (Beijing-style), which will be presented to you in 3 styles/dishes that could feed up to 6 persons (it really depends on how much you can eat! If it's men/persons who love duck, I reckon 3-4 persons will finish up all the 3 dishes without sweat).

Chef Foong Koon Sang with the variety of duck dishes

The course starts with the crispy duck skin, wrapped in your not-so-common seaweed (yes, not the pancake) & julienne of cucumbers + spring onions, served with a dollop of sweet sauce (bean sauce/"min si" + oyster sauce). Basically, nothing from the whole duck will go to waste :D

The next course served will be the Duck Bone with Salted Vegetable & Bean Curd Soup. It's a very "homey" soup that usually uses the pig's bone or even salted fish bones as the base. Cleverly balanced with flavors from the preserved sour plum, tomatoes, spring onions, ginger & salted vegetables, the aroma of the soup is taken to the next level with the roasted duck bones. I enjoyed this soup very much! I can just have this with white rice...hahaha...

For the duck meat, you are entitled to select 1 style of dish from the menu as pictured below. The chefs will prepare your choice style - at your command...heehee...

Noodles: Dan Dan Noodles
Among the 3 styles of noodles, this was my favorite, probably because the texture of the noodles is alike 'pan mee'! It is thicker, has more bite & is still very smooth. This thick & "succulent" noodles (I know this adjective shouldn't be used on noodles, but it really is chewy (not like rubber/not like tofu) & soaks up the gravy) comes with a generous serving of minced/diced duck meat, stir-fried with a combination of sauces. Very fragrant. *thumbs up*

Noodles: Crispy Noodles
This noodles dish reminded me of the common "cheong sau meen" (longevity noodles) that we have during birthday celebrations, except that the noodles are crispy. I didn't find this dish very special, but there's nothing much to complain in terms of taste as well ;)

Noodles: Longevity Noodles
I present to you, the all-time birthday favorite, Longevity Noodles! Yup, this version is served with duck meat instead of chicken meat. I'm not a great fan of longevity noodles as it's quite a "single-dimensional" dish; nothing very spectacular in terms of flavors, so this just passed my standards...haha.

Stir-Fried Meat: Sliced Duck Meat with Mangoes & Sweet, Spicy Sauce
This dish was certainly everyone's favorite. It has a lovely dose of sweetness from the Indian mangoes & the fragrant savory from the roast duck. The slight heat/spiciness elevated this simple dish to the next level. *thumbs up*

Stir-Fried Meat: Wok-Fried Duck Meat with Sichuan Spicy Chili
In terms of the non-noodles duck meat, I found this variant REALLY si chuan! It's SOOOOOO spicy that my whole mouth went numb. I couldn't feel anything much after that :( The duck is slightly fried If you're a fan of spicy food, this is really something you must not miss.

Stir-Fried Meat: Stir-Fried Duck Meat with Fragrant Black Pepper Sauce
 After eating just ONE slice of the spicy si chuan wok-fried duck, this was almost 'nothing'...hahaha. You'll need to rest a while before getting to taste the fragrant black pepper sauce on this duck dish again. Yums!

Stir-Fried Meat: Stir-Fried Duck Meat with Young Ginger & Spring Onions
I'm not a great fan of this traditional style of Chinese cooking, but it was executed well. The taste of the fresh spring onions with the slight heat of the ginger did bring out the lovely taste of the roast duck meat.

Flower tea to go with the meal (RM8.00/packet)
I enjoyed the mixture of the flower tea, but I do feel that it was quite costly. Haha. You could order your preference of tea from a special tea menu to go with your meal.

The "sifu" who refills your cup of tea!
I found this REALLY unique! Blurred out the rest of the area so that the only clear part is the tea-pot & the 'sifu' himself...hahaha...soli, takra cantek :P

The whole box-set of tea

We also tried 2 of their desserts after our meal. FYI, the desserts are not part of the RM99.00 duck-meal set.

Dessert: Chilled Honeydew with Sago (RM15.00++/serving)
I didn't order this as I'm not a great fan of this dessert, but I did try a bit from another blogger. I personally prefer to have larger pieces of the honeydew & sago to chew on instead of how Si Chuan Dou Hua serves (as below). The dessert is a tad too sweet for my liking, but I reckon many would find it 'just nice' ;)

Home-Made Fine Beancurd with Wolf Berries (RM12.00++/serving)
Interesting! It's my first time tasting Si Chuan Dou Hua's version of the humble "tau foo fa". The additional wolf berries in the syrup gives the sweet syrup a tinge of berry-sour taste/acidity. You won't be able to taste much of the wolf berries' taste unless you bite into the berries itself. The beancurd itself was pretty smooth. I'm a great fan of "tau foo fa", so this passed my standards...hahaha...

We ended the night with a fortune cookie. Check out what I received...hahaha...so generic!

It was indeed an enjoyable meal for a person who enjoys eating roast duck. Do make your reservations prior to your visit to Si Chuan Dou Hua :) Enjoy!!

Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant
Parkroyal Hotel Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 2782 8303
URL: http://www.sichuandouhua.com
Email: douhua.prkul@parkroyalhotels.com

Presentation: * * * *
Price: * * 1/2
Environment: * * * 1/2
Taste: * * *
Service: * * * 1/2


Si Chuan style is TOO HOT for my liking!

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