"Curries are richly spiced"
Just off Jalan Tun Razak lies a small colonial mansion serving one of the best biriyanis in town. The dish is served Bombay style where the meat is cooked together with a secret concoction of Indian spices, chillies and different varieties of onions The taste is just simply divine. As we tried more items, we found them all good. Let's start from the top shall we?..
If you are at Bombay Palace, don't miss the Roomali Roti which is kind of a mix between roti canai and capati, Kashmiri Naan, Garlic Kulcha and a host of curried items such as Murgh Makhni (Butter Chicken), Tawa Gosht (Lamb Curry) and of course, the biriyani. The way Bombay Palace makes their curries can be described as full of flavour and creamy. The curries are not too hot, richly spiced and really pampers the tastebuds with good food. Best to dip some Roomali Roti into one of these curries, lap in some meat pieces and just enjoy the strong flavours Northern Indian cuisine has to offer.The Kashmiri Naan is an innovative bread stiffed with dry fruits and nuts and goes well with the butter chicken curry. This deliciously flavoured curry is cooked in butter with a tomato based creamy curry sauce. Don't discount the Garlic Kulcha (bread stuffed with sauteed mildly spiced garlic) either. This is best dipped with some tender lamb cubes cooked with tomato, onions and other spices in a tawa skillet. .
"Food is just flavourful without overpowering"
I'm taking you and a couple of friends of mine to venture forth into the realms of Jalan Ampang for another taste of Italian cuisine. The spot this time is La Risata- a suburban Italian cafe and restaurant in the heart of Jalan Ampang (also a sister outlet behind Victoria Station in Jln. Damansara). Tucked away at the back row of the double-storey shophouses along Jln. Ampang near the Middle Ring Road-Jln. Ampang flyover, it was surprisingly quiet and cosy despite the hustle and bustle on the main street. The brick oven at the entrance was engaging but could prove a little warm to the dining area when in use for baking the deliciously looking thin-crusted pizzas. The patrons were a good mix of nationalities (among their patrons include ambassadors, CEOs and also couple of Foodsters) and ages. Dinner is dressed-down and relaxed.
La Risata have got a great line of dinner menus ranging from pizza to pasta. For starters, we were introduced to La Parmigiana E Melanzane or baked aubergine with mozzarella, parmesan and grilled mushrooms with garlic for starters. We were hesitant on the aubergine in the beginning but the first bite had us clamoring for more. It was akin to a vegetarian lasagna. Yummy! The thought of it still brings about a growl in my stomach.
Next up, we have the Zuppa Di Pesce (House Speciality Seafood Soup). The tomato-based soup has a clear taste of the tomato puree used and can prove bland to taste buds which are more accustomed to savoury fare. Coupled with generous sprinklings of cili padi, garlic and parsley the soup obviously did clear justice to accentuate the freshness of the seafood in it. The chef decided to give us a little treat by throwing in generous helpings of large prawns, oysters, calamaris and loads of mussels.
With the soup 'done in' 5 minutes. we started with pizza Napoli (topped only with anchovies, tomatoes and mozzarella) and the house specialty, Ravioli di Pesce (ravioli pasta filled with fresh pieces of fish and immersed in a creamy salmon sauce, YUM!!!). The pizza was thin (almost biscuit-like) and crunchy and was lightly-flavoured by its toppings. The wheat used was fresh and clearly discernible above the stronger flavour and taste of the anchovies and mozzarella. Baked on top of a wood fire oven, this is quite superb! Although the wood fire is not pine (the best wood to bake pizza is pine), this is definitely worth a try as it is pure and simple.
The ravioli can prove a little creamy to the uninitiated but for aficionados of carbonara and alfredo sauces, the orange cream salmon sauce can only be described as divine. Neither too sweet nor salty, the salmon sauce complimented the fish-filled ravioli pieces perfectly. We actually found ourselves picking up our pre-starter bread bits to literally 'wipe' the plate clean of the salmon sauce and straight into our waiting chompers. YUM again!!!
"Nothing like wantan noodles in the morning"
At Berjaya you can get Wonton, Curry Mee and Mee Soup deliciously prepared and affordable. Everytime I am there, there's always people. It's good. It's been around for more than twenty years, shifted a couple of times but the last few years, Berjaya Restaurant parked itself at Jalan Telawi. They also sell nasi padang.
What's so good about Berjaya? Many many many things. To start with, you have to try the Beef Dendeng. This is a magical dish made out of sliced beef, chili, garlic and onions. The ingredients are simple but the secret is in the way it is fried at Berjaya. The beef is tender and spicy at the same time. Just the right amount of garlic and onions.
"I want extra siham puh-leeze..."
Chinese food have been known to be one of the best cuisines in the world. So today, we are is taking you to Tony's. Tony's have been widely renowned for his Char Koay Teow for years! His standards have been said to be at par or even better than some Char Koay Teow joints in town which makes this one of my favourite places. The chef is a Chinese Muslim (or so rumour has it...) so even my Muslim friends can try a proper Char Koay Teow, original Chinese style!
You have to try the Koay Teow Kerang (Cockles). Although the taste is sometimes not very consistent, most of the time Tony's managed to fry the koay teow just nice. The koay teow is not too soggy and the mix of soya sauce, garlic and other ingredients are perfectly balanced. For the cockles, its not too overcooked and not too raw. If its too overcooked, it gets rubbery. If its too raw, you get to visit your favourite toilet more than once that night. Tony also throws other ingredients such as pieces of chicken, fishcakes and prawns in the char koay teow so you get an interesting variety of taste with every bite.
You should also try their mee hoon soup which comes with generous helpings of fishballs. Not their main dish but still delicious if you want something lighter than Char Koay Teow. Feeling full after the Char Koay Teow? Not us. We scouted around and found an excellent companion that goes well with our meal. Tauhu Bakar and Sotong Kangkung! Available at a stall nearb Tony's.
"Don't burn your tongue on the hot thighs"
Where could you find really great Nasi Bojari and Assam Fish Head in a modern looking 'kopitiam like restaurant' with air conditioning and really nice decor? We've found one in Bangsar. It's called Madam Kwan's and by half past eight every night it's jam packed with patrons.
Madam Kwan's has going from strength to strength with the immensely popular KLCC branch and another branch in Mid Valley. The formula has always been to keep local favourites good like nasi lemak, nasi bojari and assam prawns. They have the typical local favourites and over the years, Madam Kwan has personally refined her recipes to appeal not only to local palates but international ones as well. And yes! there is a Madam Kwan. Quite a nice madam too. One of the reason why the food is consistently good is that she personally mixes the spicy paste before passing it to her assistants to cook. Word around town is that she's such a good cook that if a dish is missing a particular ingredient, she does not say that "there's something missing, lah!". She will identify what is the missing ingredient and repair the dish by adding the right amount of it! That's what I call experience.
Nasi Bojari is a type of Indonesian coloured rice that comes with assam prawns, beef rendang and deep fried chicken drumsticks. It's quite good and may have been known to get addicted to this. The nasi has a nice aromatic taste that goes especially well with the deep fried chicken. It's also worth mentioning that Madam Kwan has perfected a very good frying technique for their chicken thighs. Its crispy on the outside but on the inside.... mmmmmm ... still has the nice clear juice flowing out from it when the thigh is cut open. You need a very special equipment to fry chicken this good and I think they've got it.
"People can form mobs to get a table here"
The original pioneers of the Fatty Crab is no other than Uncle Fatty and his wife Madam Ang. The name Fatty came about because Uncle Fatty was at a loss at what to name his shop, so his friends suggested Fatty. Fatty Crab has been around since 1972 so that's 40 odd years of crab cooking tradition. Though seventy plus years old Madam Ang comes religiously to supervise the family business, it is unfortunate that Uncle Fatty passed away before his business became prosperous. Now, it's still a family business where the children give up their careers for the family business. The cooks are all within the family. They keep that chilli crab recipe close to their chests indeed. Only way to get the recipe is marry in.
"The cod fillet is superb"
Toh Yuen is still a popular spot for weekend dim sum. Their dim sum buffets are also famous. They have about forty different dim sum selections on top of their vast selection of Chinese cuisines ranging from appetizers to live seafood. It's divided into several categories from the Steam Basket, Out Of The Wok, Savouries, Sweet Sensations to Pan-fried Favourites.
For appetizers, we tried their Norwegian salmon roll. It's deep fried salmon fillet in taro paste. The paste is crunchy on the outside but on the inside, the paste beautifully protects the fragile salmon from being overcooked thus retaining its juices. For dim sum, we tried several varieties. Here are some of our favourites. The Baked Pineapple Buns is sweet but very nice. Not only is the filling deliciously sweet, but I also like the way they prepare the buns in this one. Not too flaky, not too hard, it melts in your mouth. We also had the usual Siu Mai (chicken dumpling) and Har Kau (steamed prawn dumpling) which came in the typical steam bamboo case.