"This is a gem of a place"
I must admit this find is a goldmine. I could never imagine finding such a charming place away from the busy and chaotic traffic (just 5 minutes away from the old airport). Tucked in an upscale condo, Chuka Cafe (non-halal) appears to be well patronized by the Japanese expats in the area. And if they are here, then this place must definitely be doing something right to please their very picky palate. Thus we must be on to a good thing right? Well, let's find out....
When we arrived, almost all the tables were taken with the clientele consisting mostly of... you guessed it, Japanese! Even the menus arrived in 2 versions - Japanese or English. The cafe overlooks the condo's swimming pool. So there's a nice, serene ambiance to it, though the place looks fairly basic and simple. Reminds me of those little humble roadside/ryokan inns you drop by for a bite, reminiscent of Japanese serials.
Service was efficient and very helpful. Just voice your preference to the waitress and she will recommend what to order. We did, and the stuff she named was not even listed in the menu! Methinks you can even request the chef to prepare something you concocted in your head, and they will try their best to comply. True to Japanese hospitality!
Food came pretty quick. First up was our Tofu salad. It was chock-full of ham, tomatoes, tofu, cucumber and lettuce. A typical salad with a Japanese/Asian twist to it. The dressing was piquant and gave a tasty tang to the salad. Tofu cubes were soft and smooth. The lettuce came with a dash of wasabi for that extra kick to your tastebuds! Definitely a healthy way to kickstart our meal.
"Yut Kee serves Hainanese classics from your childhood"
When you enter Yut Kee, it's like a blast from the past. Think round marble tables with rickety chairs. Old fashioned wooden shutter windows and winding wooden staircase. The wall is adorned with a simple hand-written menu while an old portrait of the founder hangs over the counter. Casually dressed waiters run round the shop like clockwork ferrying dishes fresh from the kitchen to the hungry customers' tables.
Yut Kee is a traditional kopitiam situated smack in old KL that's a legendary institution for Hainanese style western or local fare. Historically, many of the colonialist families in Malaya hired Hainanese chefs for their homes. This was where they were exposed to Western cuisine and then adapted them to our local ingredients and cooking style. Until this day, the Hainanese are still well known for their versatile cooking prowess, most notably chicken rice, noodles and Malaysianised Western food.
Arriving at 11.30am, the place was packed with patrons waiting for their turn. We got our seats immediately though we shared the table with another couple. First to arrive was the soft-boiled eggs. I remember taking this during my schooldays. My granny will use this yellow plastic contraption and the eggs always came out perfect each time. Soft and smooth white with yolks cooked just right, Yut Kee's no exception. From the texture and the way it moves on the saucer, I know it's super fresh and top quality. With a dash of pepper and soy sauce, simply slurp it from the saucer til it's all gone. It slides down your throat and sits warmly in my tummy. Wonderful comfort food this is!
"The Kumi sauce is tastebud ambrosia"
This charming basement restaurant is a breath of fresh air (Hawaiian to be exact) from all the other stoic Japanese eateries in town. The lighting is lowered to comfortable levels giving Wasabi's modern looking restaurant a good ambience at night. It's menu is quirky and full of local ingredients, Wasabi (it's founder migrated to Hawaii and started the restaurant there) embraces the spirit of Japanese cooking using the freshest produce and what's indigenous to the country it's in. That's why it has unique items like Papaya Motoyaki, sauteed seafood in half papaya shells a refreshing dish.
You MUST try the Kumi's No. 1-an orgasm in your mouth folks! The secret is the Kumi sauce which is tastebud ambrosia. We then had some rolls which is delicious. Rainbow rolls are sushi inside out with the rice rolled in sashimi. The super California rolls are lightly fried giving a slight crunch on the inside.
"Ayam Pop, hot and succulent"
This humble looking restaurant has many selections of nasi padang 'lauks'. Situated near the Kampung Baru Mosque, this is s good place for a quick Padang fix. From the ulams to the meaty curries and delicious dendeng, this place will definitely have something for you. Vegetable-wise, ulam lovers will like Warung Garuda. They have a good selection of ulams, most of them cooked in different styles of lemak. The pucuk ubi masak lemak is one of the many delicious lauks you can have with the rice. Do also try the thin beef dendeng fried with chili, garlic and onions for some extra flavour with the pucuk ubi.
"You'll end up drinking all the soup down"
Volegum in Tamil means world. Best in the Volegum used to be a catch phrase we used to describe our favorite pork mee stall in OUG. This was coined by a cheeky IT colleague of mine, who probably had too much time on his hands. Lunch time in this coffee shop is packed to the brim with people trying to get at the pork mee. The owner of the pork mee stall Ang as he calls himself spent 30 years in a Japanese restaurant before retiring in 98. His pork mee has been around since 1982. He uses a lot of what he learned in Chikuyo Tei ( his former restaurant, now in Istana- it's actually the first Japanese restaurant in KL) in cooking the Pork Mee. So what we are eating is actually pork mee steeped in Japanese cooking style. He uses Yamasa as his preferred soya sauce because he says it's the best he's come across. So his noodles has some udon like elements in it.
"Dining in a villa in a city"
Standing five floors above the city streets, come here for the Wood Oven Baked Fillet of Cod and the Rack of Lamb with Mint Crust. Combined with the great ambience from the beautifully designed interior, what else could you ask for? Here's the low down...
You get to dine in a nice cozy little Villa in the middle of KL. The interiors looks like a creative cross of Italian and Roman design with its beautifully painted ceilings and the dimly lit settings. Just alluring to romantics and private conversations alike. Villa Danieli has a good range of appetizers, soups and pizzas but we just can't wait to tell you about the rack of lamb and the cod.
Before that, one should try the Maltagliati here. Maltagliati means 'badly cut' which mostly refers to the randomly cut pasta in the servings or perhaps soups. Villa Danieli's version comes served with lobster ragout, fresh tomatoes and pesto sauce. Has a nice flavorful taste which is delightfully enhanced with generous bits of lobsters.
The succulent and flavourful Roasted Rack of lamb with mint crust is one of the chef's specialty. It's one of our favourites as well. The hauntingly flavourful tender lamb has the rosemary sauce enticing us even more and also comes served with roasted potatoes. It's a superb cut. The lamb called us for seconds and we took the call in for that second experience....juicy, tender and succulent...
"Get four things right and your chicken rice will rock"
This place has been selling Halal Chinese chicken rice for more than twenty years. The taste of the chicken rice reflects the experience that these people have in preparing the dish.
A well prepared and delicious chicken rice can be determined by four factors. Its rice, chilli, chicken and soya sauce. Get this four things right, and you get great chicken rice. Most stalls or restaurants we go to for chicken rice fail either one or two of these factors. Hainanese Chicken Rice passed all four brilliantly. Congratulations!