"The fusion dragon looks and tastes amazing"
First, you see a green neon light and a dark lit place. Then you start wondering is this a pub or a restaurant? As you get closer to the Sushi Groove sign, it will give you the impression that it is such a funky place that you wouldn’t mind trying it out. We walked in with no expectations of how the food would taste like because we were so caught up by the restaurants’ setting: the interior with dark green lights, green plates, green chopsticks, green cups, green sauce dish. Lucky there were no little green people serving us.
The menu gives you a lot of choices with names like Kinky QQ and Flying Geisha. We weren’t too sure on trying those but it rolls off the tongue so cheekily that we can’t help making jokes about it. Later we found out that it’s just a glorified name for tuna rolls or salmon rolls. The younger crowd of course would love this. Since there are so many dishes to choose from and your brain has suddenly switched to “I’m on Planet Green” mode, for first timers take 5 minutes to peruse the menu.
On the cards today are the traditional miso soup, the seaweed salad and Tokyo crispy mushroom omelette for starters. It’s a good deal. All the starters are good. Light but still tasty. The pickled ginger is nice and tasted like “jeruk asam” that you can eat it by itself while waiting for the main dishes. Box sets are served with rice, miso soup and salad. We tried the tempura with beef teriyaki set but unfortunately, we were not too pleased with the outcome. The restaurant did not serve the set with the traditional glutinous rice in most Japanese dishes and the tempura batter was very oily. But we ate on. Our disappointment came to an end when we had fresh salmon sashimi.
"What we like about Gobo"
The key to a good Ramadhan buffet is that there are enough choices of food to make you feel that you have your money’s worth. And yet at the same time, it should not overwhelm the diner. After a day of starvation, a good buffet allows you to peruse leisurely in those final throes of daylight and also arranges the dishes artfully enough to enable easy pickings. Too little food, you get a stampede on you hands, too much and you have wastage as exhausted diners end up sticking to their usual dishes.
Gobo Chit Chat at Traders Hotel has the formula right. We already think they have a pretty groovy dining area with just the right amount of illumination and stations. So as an added bonus, they have a good sized buffet here arranged in a free flow manner that makes you excited and willing to try at least 70% of what’s on offer. The chef emphasises that the focus of this buffet is on quality of the food. We have to agree, seafood here is fresh and noodles are made on order.
At Gobo they have the usual array of Malay dishes like nasi tomato and rending tok (all commendable). There is also a nice juicy lamb resting in a roasting pan and a pan with mixed meats like fried puyuh with roasted onions. They also open up their Thai and Japanese stations. The Thai stations have all manner of fresh salads including a jantung pisang salad, a young mango salad and fresh leaves and shoots intermingled with tart things like sour limes and coriander. The Japanese side offers fresh sushi rolls in a myriad of colours and glistening sashimis kept cold on beds of ice. What we like about Gobo’s buffet is that they go all out on condiments. There is a wide selection of sambal belacan, chutneys, pickles (an entire row), crackers and nibbles to add colour to your meal. You can happily go on for a long time muching your way through this. Good thing you have until 10.30pm to do this.
"The rib eye is a mighty mouthful of fat, tender meat"
You have to let it linger... The trademark of a great meal is how it lingers in your head long after dinner napkins are scrunched and tables are cleared. Days after the memorable lunch at Prime, I am still thinking about those steaks, charred and caramelised on the outside, tender and red on the inside like a maiden’s kiss. You can cut the meat with a fork. There is something primal when faced with a good slab of beef whether hugged by glistening fat or riddled with veins like Grecian marble or; completely alone and proud on the plate for filet mignon lovers.
In recent years more and more people have become aware of steaks. Not just the kind steakhouses dollop on your plate swimming in gravy but the kind where quality of the meat transcends any need for liquid reinforcements. I confess I like my steak bloody. Rare on the inside, sunburnt on the outside although I hardly dare to order it that way in fear of suspect meat. I also like my steak 'as it is' with no gravies just the inside quietly sizzling in its own juices. Perhaps with a side of mash and greens. I like the intimate taste of meat squeaking between my teeth without gravy getting in between us. Which brings me to the point that in Malaysia, there are two camps of steak eaters. Those who like their meat like me (au natural), and those who like it with gravy. This is not a bad thing. Our food culture thrives on gravy to add spices and depth to our rice and noodles. But folks if you came to Prime, try having it the cowboy way because the cuts and quality of beef here is fantastic...
"Forget the sweet milk, you can just eat this on its own"
The Buntong Apom Lady's apom is truly magnificent, browned and crisp at the bottom and the middle, a little gooey textured and slightly bubbly like the surface of a delicious edible moon. Now there's a thought, imagine the moon is not made of green cheese but soft, spongy santan infused apom (us Malaysians might get there a little faster).
Anyway, back to the apom lady. Her apom is so good, I sometimes dream of it on nights when all that can cure hunger pangs is something sourish and sweetish at the same time all realised in a cunning pancake shape. All you want to do when her apom arrives at your table is tear it with your bare hands. Forget the sweet milk, you can just eat this on its own. You can also get an apom telur, where an egg is broken in the middle and served sunny side up. The yolk swims with the santan when it arrives at your table.
And then... there's the pani aram. It's irresistable dubbed baby apoms because it's made from similar ingredients. However it resembles a Malay 'kuih cara' in shape- round discs of browned goodness, it's so scrumptious you can finish an entire plate before you can say 'apom lagi!' The taste of this is a little dense with sweetness of the santan coming through. Imagine it rather like an apom bud, closed and retaining all the intense flavour before flowering into the crisp full grown apom. Pani arams are best eaten with her mighty coconut chutney. All made fresh in the morning. Also crispy and wholesome are her toseis. It's fantastic when you have it with her array of chutneys.
"These curries are probably about 20 years old"
Yaseen is the kind of place where your Penang-born grandfather will come for some nasi kandar. This place has been in Kuala Lumpur for more than twenty years and has continually served good nasi kandar for its loyal fans. If you are familiar with the Nasi Kandar scene in KL, you will know that among the old rustic colonial designed houses along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman hides some of the oldest nasi kandar houses in town.
Nearer to the Coliseum, you have Ibrahimsha. Within the vicinity of Yaseen, you can find Eusoff and Kudu. The new more commercial ones are the likes of Pelita and Kayu. Whilst some of these places can be good, you loose the nice rustic ambience that places like Kudu and Yaseen offers. So, while the Chinese have old charming coffee houses such as Yut Kee's and Sing Seng Nam, the Indian Muslims have Yaseen and Kudu.
Now, why is it called Nasi Kandar you say? Ask any Penangite senior citizen. They will know. The story goes that back during the olden days, indian hawkers used to sell rice to townspeople by balancing a long stick in the middle, with both ends tied to pots of rice and an assortment of curries. The act of balancing a long stick in this manner is called 'kandar' in Malay, hence the name Nasi Kandar. The best nasi kandar houses in Malaysia is still located in Penang. They win hands down. In KL, Yaseen comes close (but still not close enough) to the ones in Penang. But then again Kudu, Eusoff and Ibrahimsha are worthy competitors as well.
"Torpedos erm... put it in a soup and its all good"
If you call yourself the King of Soup, what do you have to do to live up to that reputation? For Sabri Salleh, you have to serve not only the normal mundane Bihun Sup and Sup Daging (Beef Soup), you also have to expand your horizon and get a lot more adventurous. C'mon, there must be other parts of a heifer that people eat than just beef, right? At a small shop in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, occupying only half a lot, you can get ox tongue, tripe, intestines, gearbox, beef strips, tendons, bones and even torpedo to put in your soup stock.
Torpedos are actually the part that looks like a torpedo and can only be found on bulls... hence the name torpedo. Supposedly, it has some kind of an aphrodisiacal power, but is available only on days Sabri can get supplies from his suppliers. So yes, the King of Soup gets very adventurous with his soup offerings. You can actually do your own Fear Factor here if you want. But seriously, how would something like this taste? Let’s find out...
At Raja Sup, you can mix and match. Our rule of thumb is to mix in about 3-4 pieces of meat and two pieces of vegetables. Each piece costs about RM2- RM5 depending on what you pick. Our first experiment is a combination of ox tongue, rump, tripe, ox tail, button and oyster mushrooms. Second bowl has oxtail, rump and cauliflower. The third has intestines, tendons and oxtail. These selections are sent to the back where Sabri has two huge cauldrons of beef stock, and where the final spice ingredients will be added according to the selection. This means that each bowl of soup, whilst having the same soupy base will not taste the same. Nice. You will notice that soups with an intestine majority will have an essence of dried shrimps (belacan) while the oxtail broth will be sourish. It is this tweaking ability that gives Sabri an edge over other soup sellers. You might think that Sabri's soup recipes comes passed down from generations in his family but no, it is all his creation.
Blowing Our Minds… Fruitastic!
Fruitastic! was awarded the prestigous Gourmand World Cookbook Awards prize for the categories, "Best Single Subject Cookbook" and "Best Health and Nutrition”. The book is all about treating fruits as complete meals instead of after meals, and has stuff like Guava Curry and Jackfruit Biriyani. Weird!… More »