I had my heart set on steaming hot soup, and not just any soup but one that had that distinct Korean flavour that's always such a thrill. Having spotted a few Korean places in Solaris Mont Kiara before, we decided to just park our car and take a walk to suss out the options. Little Korea won hands down on first impressions - with the smell of meat being barbecued and the slight buzz from diners who were already tucking into dinner despite it being a bit before dinner hour.
Little Korea Korean Restaurant
5-3 7-3 9-3, Jalan Solaris One
Solaris Mont Kiara,
Sure, the sizzle from the barbecue was tantalising but when one's heart is set, one's heart is set. Hot pot it was.
To kickstart the appetite - eight side dishes, and a nice little mix of dishes too.
At the top of my list - light, smooth, comforting steamed egg.
We decided against a kimchi-based hot pot, opting instead for a pork rib hot pot which featured a less spicy broth. When it arrived at our table, in all its bubbling, gurgling glory, we knew that we'd made the right choice. Bordering between soup and stew, our pot came with a generous amount of pork ribs, cabbage, chunks of potatoes and springy bits of golden mushroom.
I'm rather unaccustomed to seeing such huge chunks of pork ribs - despite their size, they were deliciously tender and had a lovely, hearty, porky goodness to it.
I like that Korean restaurants usually cover all bases - our meal ended on a sweet (and refreshing!) note with a serving of fruits and a sweet drink made out of rice ("Barley, but rice," offered our kind waitress).
It's a good thing we decided not to add a serving of Korean-style pancake to our order - the "small" hot pot was more than enough for two, what with the bottomless side dishes. In fact, I reckon that the hot pot could comfortably feed a party of three or four (and yes, by comfortable I mean not leaving the restaurant chiding yourself for thinking that you could handle "just one last bowl of soup").
So yes, steaming hot soup - check. I see myself coming back for more - and how can you not, when a restaurant wishes all its diners "all the best"?
Trial runs and sneak peeks don't come along very often yet there I was, seated at a table at the just-about-to-open Chilli's Grill & Bar in Paradigm Mall, eager to see what the new addition to the Chilli's family had to offer.
While the full menu wasn't available for the trial run, the full range of drinks and most of the crowd favourites, food-wise, were available.
Tender and flavourful, the Southwestern Grilled Lamb
The New York Strip, which got a nod of approval from my dinner buddy.
The El Nino Margarita - such a good-looking cocktail, don't you think?
The Tropical Sunrise Margarita
Chilli's has always been rather popular for their margaritas (oh, those huge servings!) and while both margaritas were satisfying, the El Nino Margarita came out on top for me (so much so, I ended up swapping drinks with my dinner buddy).
For dessert, cheesecake served over strawberry sauce. Smooth creamy cheese, addictive biscuit base (I think I'm going to start extending the biscuit base up to the sides of all my cheesecakes now) - a lovely end to the meal.
The new outlet seems to be off to a good start - service was smooth, the staff friendly and the food up to par. I think it's safe to say that it's going to do its older siblings proud.
Officially opens its doors on Friday, 21st September 2012.
"So, what should we have for lunch?"
We'd set out from Kuala Lumpur for Malacca that sunny Saturday morning, my two Malaccan tour guides and I, and as we discussed lunch on the drive to the historical city, the possibilities seemed endless. I figured, though, that it would be a bit of a crime to not have any Nyonya food while in Malacca, so Nyonya it was.
Perhaps the best thing about spending the weekend with friends who are locals is all that inside food knowledge that they have, the sort that one cannot get from websites and articles. A few quick calls while still en route to the city, and we had our table booked. There was much talk of pongteh - I was excited.
Amy's Heritage Nyonya Cuisine
75, Jalan Melaka Raya 24,
Taman Melaka Raya
I was warned that it would be a bit of a wait for the food as the restaurant is almost always full and it was assumed that all the cooking was indeed done by an Aunty Amy herself. The restaurant was indeed full when we walked in, and we witnessed a few customers who came after us being turned away.
Pie tee, crispy shells filled with a mix of julienned vegetables similar to those generally used to fill popiah rolls. A dab of chilli sauce and you have a lovely (crisp!) start to the meal.
The fish dish that came recommended by the elderly man who took our order, ikan gerang asam. There's nothing like a good sour-spicy balance to get that appetite going. This, to me, had that Nyonya stamp all over it - the clever use of spices and that distinct kick of tanginess.
Chicken pongteh - a comforting chicken, potato and mushroom stew, the sort that makes you drink spoonfuls of gravy at the end of the meal. I was guilty of all that gravy drinking, a testament to the fact that they had managed to get the flavour just right - not too salty, not too strong.
Chap chai, Nyonya-style stir fried mixed vegetables. Having grown up on a healthy dose of Hainanese-style mix vegetables which largely consists of the same ingredients except for the fermented bean paste, I'm always slightly partial to that version. With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed Amy's chap chai as the fermented bean paste (which sometimes pushes dishes over the too-salty cliff) wasn't overly pronounced.
We also tucked into a dish of sweet and sour tofu, pictured above with the chap chai. Light, crisp tofu to offset the other heavier dishes. All that washed down by some pandan-infused Chinese tea, something I'd never come across before until Amy's.
"Make sure you don't rush through everything - Nyonya food is to be enjoyed slowly"
Amy's makes you feel like you're eating in your grandmother's kitchen - the elderly man checks on your table periodically to make sure that all is well, offering little gems of advice just like that one (although that was probably a result of him being slightly appalled at the speed at which we were attacking the food as soon as the dishes hit our table). Sure, there's a bit of a wait, but I suppose that saying, "All good things come to those who wait" had to come from somewhere, right? Another little tip: making a booking is probably wise.
To work off some of our lunch before all the mille crepe eating, we took a stroll down Jonker street, a little trip for the senses.
The tantalising sticky sweet aroma of ting ting tang.
More yummy smells - Nyonya-style pineapple tarts right out of the oven.
A sight for sore eyes - traditional Chinese pastries.
Gorgeous flower teas at tea stall tucked away in a little lane.
Ahh, weekend indulgences.
G23 and 25
"I think nothing beats Nadeje's original mille crepe"
One is greeted by a shiny display of several mille crepe varieties, ranging from mango yogurt to an interesting looking Malaccan one featuring gula Melaka. I didn't think that there would be so many to choose from, but my tour guide's little statement made narrowing down the choices just a little bit easier.
It's an interesting concept, the mille crepe - layers and layers of thin crepe alternate between smooth, fluffy cream and custard (or yogurt or gula Melaka), culminating in something that's quite like a light sponge cake. I have to admit that at first bite, my tastebuds were rather confused, and I promptly forgot that it wasn't really cake that I was digging into at all. My tour guide was right - the original mille crepe at Nadeje is really quite delightful, with a lovely vanilla flavour that really comes through.
The tiramisu mille crepe, with it's gorgeous looking cocoa-coffee top layer. While equally soft and light, the slice could have done with some stronger flavours, both in terms of the coffee and the cheese. Perhaps it really was just a case of the simplicity of the original slice coming out on top.
Nadeje also serves up tarts and a variety of beverages (one really does get a bit spolt for choice on that front). Unfortunately, a mess-up with our drink order resulted in us giving up on waiting for our drinks. Better luck next time, I suppose.
It was the interior, though, that surprised me the most - one gets a choice of enjoying the fresh air out on the terrace, or indulging in the sweet treats at a table right by the display and coffee bar, or even in a more decadently decorated area which features comfy sofas and quirky looking chairs. We were given a little corner right by the window, all to ourselves - ahh, we were a happy trio, lazing around on our quirky seats, glad to be out of the Jonker street heat. And yes, the slices of mille crepe definitely didn't hurt.