"Perfect wood oven char"
It was a rainy night and yet we braved the notorious traffic to check out a new restaurant. By the time we arrived, the restaurant was buzzing with a very ‘happy’ happy hour crowd. They had obviously been making full use of the buy 3 free 1 on all beers promotion! Once I got there I found out that the restaurant name doesn't actually refer to the popular American campfire treat but rather from where the name stems from. S'Mores means to want some more! This camp treat was so good that kids couldn’t help but want more. After eating here I too can’t help but to want more.
As I glanced through the menu I could see that it was filled primarily with Italian specialties and a few Japanese and local items. Since it was a rainy night I wanted something soupy to start off with and was recommended the miso udon. We also ordered a Mezzaluna pizza to share as another starter. The miso udon was light and tasty packed with tofu and the noodles had a good chewiness. The pizza was a treat; all crisp and topped with a homemade tomato salsa, artichoke hearts, black olives, mozzarella, and an egg in the middle. The crust had the perfect wood oven char that I absolutely love.
For mains we all shared an assortment of the main dishes, S’mores Chicken, Dreamy Lamb, Spaghetti Carbonara, and the Donburi. The S’mores Chicken is one of the popular dishes here and as soon as I take a bite I can see why. This is a tender piece of grilled chicken thigh stuffed with mushrooms. The mushrooms keep the chicken moist as it cooks resulting in a juicy piece of meat. Too many places dry out their chicken till it feels like you’re chewing on pieces of leather so it’s great to see that here they do it just right.
"Golden brown and piping hot "
Other than our various kuih-muih, nothing seems to go better with afternoon or evening tea as the ubiquitous goreng pisang. There’s something about the synergy of a hot cuppa tea with pieces of battered and deep fried bananas; they just go very well together. We love our goreng pisang. Some people even eat it with fish curry! (Or am I the only one who’s seen this?)
One of the best things about goreng pisang is that you’ll find them everywhere. But here’s the thing: which one to get? I bet, if asked, everyone has his or her own favorite stall and a lot of you will proclaim that your choice ‘it’s the best goreng pisang around’.
Well, no surprise, I have a favorite too, this time to share with everyone.
There is this stall in Taman TTDI Jaya, in front of the mosque (if you’re wondering, yes, it’s at the same mini-bazaar where I found those great BBQ wings in a previous review), which sells what I think is one of, if not the best, goreng pisang around. The stall, attended by a kindly and soft-spoken makcik, sells other stuff like keropok lekor and various kuih, but it’s the fried bananas that bring me back plenty of times.
The makcik and his helper fry them in batches until golden brown and piping hot on the inside. RM1 buys you about 10 of them. The bananas are cut quite small but trust me it’s worth it. I took RM2 worth of them home to enjoy with my family.
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"Eating this was fate..."
On a rather rainy day in PJ, we found ourselves on Federal Highway in a jam. A quick detour brought us to the 222 Foodcourt. I used to come here for late night nasi lemak bungkus but rarely try the other stalls because most of them close shop by nightfall. Maybe because it's fate or because of the rain, the nasi kukus stall from Kelantan still had food at 6pm. First up was a heap of hot Malay-style fried chicken, sizzled in hot oil with curry leaves and spices- ridiculously succulent inside.
"Gosh this is good," exclaimed James, our resident fried chicken enthusiast. Indeed the plate was demolished within seconds. Curious, I walked over to the stall where a heap of hot fried chicken sat wantonly waiting on rattan tray. They also serve nasi kukus here, again normally finished by 3pm but today there was still a bit more left in the pot.
So a nice heap of nasi kukus, followed by a ladle of hot gulai daging tetel- the soft bits of leftover meat that's been cooked for hours in a curry-like broth. A side of sambal to perk up the gulai, a cucumber jelatah and a gorge-worthy portion of fried chicken on the side.
"Crispy fried slices of garlic!"
The menu here features over 200 dishes that blend authentic Japanese recipes with contemporary ingredients and flavours. The chefs here are known to produce personalized Kaiseki (course by course) style sets that fit to each person’s specifications. You can choose to walk in and leave your dining fate up to the chef or you can let him know that you don’t really feel like eating salmon and tuna today and let him work around those restrictions. No two are alike and this is what makes Xenri unique. Each dining experience there can be as different as you’d like it to be, or you can always note down your favourites and ask for those when you visit. There is also the Ala Carte menu on hand if you would rather play it safe.
To get a feel for the favourites we decided to go with the Mini Kaiseki and the Teppanyaki Kaiseki both priced at RM68++. Both Kaisekis start off with a chilled beancurd with marinated scallop along with three kinds of sashimi based on what is the freshest. The bean curd is made in house and is silky and delicious with the light sweet and sour applesauce it is paired with. The marinated scallop tops it off with a lovely bit of chew.
Next up for the Mini Kaiseki is the fried burdock chicken roll. It is my first time trying burdock, which is a type of root meant to be beneficial for all sorts of ailments. This is very popular in Japanese and Chinese cuisine. This roll is a piece of burdock wrapped with chicken and is then breaded and deep-fried. The best way to eat it is to just dip it in a bit of sea salt. Delicious! The Teppanyaki set has a wakame salad with yuzu dressing which is a refreshing pause in the meal. The citrusy yuzu stirs up the appetite and has us craving for more.
"Tender, juicy and full of flavour"
One evening I sent my car for a wash in an empty lot next to the Taman TTDI Jaya Mosque. Just across the street was a shop-lot area, and along the street, I saw various stalls already set up and flocks of people browsing through the delicious morsels on offer. Street food, so to speak.
This mini-bazaar of sorts is present every evening at this place, just opposite the TTDI Jaya Mosque. The mini-bazaar balloons to bigger proportions during Ramadan, but today, late April, there were only a few stalls selling snacks and drinks.
But it was a smoky-sweet aroma that made me cross the street to find an itty-bitty stall that was the source of the wonderful smell. I stopped in front of the stall: it was just a small barbeque grill, with long metal skewers of chicken wings, gizzards and ‘tongkeng’ (bishops nose) hanging inches above the grill, and a large container filled with chicken parts marinating in a mysterious liquid.
The stall had no name, just a sign listing what was one sale, and that was pretty much it; wings, gizzards and tongkeng. A gentleman, who stood diligently preparing the yummy chicken bits for the waiting customers, manned the stall.
I asked for a couple of wings (sorry but I don’t really like gizzards, or chicken butt for that matter) and waited a bit while he prepared them. He nodded curtly and proceeded to pull off two wings from a metal skewer hanging above the grill.
He placed the wings on the wire rack that served as the grill for the chicken to cook through, basting occasionally with the marinade juices. After about 3-5 minutes, he packed them in a generic clear plastic baggie. Now I had to decide if I should wait for my car to finish being washed and go home to enjoy the wings, or to gobble them on the spot.