Thursday, 31 May 2012

Malaccan Sweets, Lobby Lounge, The Majestic Malacca, Malaysia

 Majestic Malacca Welcome Drink – watermelon, banana, peanut, coconut milk
 Jam Drops – coloured icing atop a butter biscuit
 Buah Kana – bitter preserved olive
 Peanut Cookies
 Savoury Bar Snacks - Peas and Peanuts
Preserved sour plum – apparently a craving for many pregnant ladies and good mixed with apple juice. 
Famous Malacca chewy coconut sweet - perfect for six year olds wanting a loose tooth to come out.

Sweet tooths delight in time passed at the Lobby Lounge of The Majestic Malacca. Guests are welcome to take a nibble from huge jars of bite size local confection at any time of day - another thoughtful touch flaunting YTL hotels' reputation for meritorious service and its practice of honouring the local culture.

Previous posts on The Majestic Malacca:  hotel, lunch, dinner, spa

The Majestic Malacca
188 Jalan Bunga Raya
75100 Malacca
+6 03 2783 1000

Best Mixologist in Town? Chris Kinne @ Paradiso, Publika

Is Chris the best mixologist in town? See our opinion later in the week.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Naab, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The street entrance to calm admist chaos

Complimentary fresh lemon drink cools and soothes as you take your first breathe away from bustling Bukit Bintang
Typical Persian drinks - both refreshing and neither too sweet. On the left, Dough, a traditional Iranian cooler, a blend of fresh yoghurt with water and mint, blended with the purpose of relaxing the drinker, RM9.90. On the right, Sekanjebin, another authentic drink made of mint, syrup, apple cider and shredded cucumber, reviving, RM9.90.
I feel it's almost compulsory to start a Middle Eastern meal with some dips and bread - suited for sharing and opening up conversation. Mirza Ghasemi (left) – a traditional appetizer consisting of smoked eggplants with cooked tomatoes, garlic and fried egg, RM13.90. Kashk O Bademjan (right), whey & eggplant – a tasty authentic appetizer made with blended sautéed eggplants topped with Kash (aged dried yoghurt) and a zing of friend garlic, onions and mint, RM12.90. (Bottom) - Thick and creamy house made Yoghurt, RM 9.90.

Bread for dipping
Lamb Koobideh Kebab – BBQ minced lamb glazed to perfection. Bakhtiari Kebab – beef and chicken.
 Saffron and long grain rice. We learned the 'correct' way to eat this rice is to take a scoop, drizzle the butter over the top then mix it altogether.
Shirazi Salad – diced tomato, cucumber, onion and herbs RM9.90
 Ghormeh Sabzi Stew – a beloved Persian dish made of large pieces of lamb, freshly diced seasonal herbs, fried and cooked with red kidney beans RM28.90. Don't mistake the dried lemon pieces for meat - they are worth a try, but scoop out the insides leaving the peel to assay a slightly sour filling. 
Finish with strong Iranian tea and sweet soft Baklava - Naab style with syrup, rose water, nuts and cardamon. Take a cube of sugar, put it in your mouth and move it over to the side of your cheek. As you sip the tea allow the hot liquid to pass on the side of the sugar cube as much or as little as needed to get your preferred sweetness. The same is done with the Baklava. Take a spoon and hold the bite in your mouth as you sip on the tea. The strength of the tea and sweetness of the dessert balance each other out.

Stepping off bustling boisterous Bukit Bintang, Naab restaurant possesses a calming contrast to the outside cacophonous chaos. By design, attention is given to the four elements of nature - sun, sky, water and soil – but without any purposeful consideration of the architecture, guests feel at home with nature. A combination of modernity and tradition accords both comfort and culture. The roof is supported by exposed wooden beams just as are traditional Persian homes. Stained glass and gentle background music without lyrics have all been given thoughtful contemplation, forming an ambience that is subtle and purposes to subliminally unruffle your mind. Naab means pure and unique in Persian and this is the experience that is attempted to be composed. With close to 50! Middle Eastern restaurants in the heart of KL, I was curious to find out what distinguishes Naab from the rest. Ambience - tick! 

Once seated and calming, allowing the surroundings to work their magic, guests are served a fresh house made lemon drink. Smiling waiters soon return with the menu and a willingness to answer even our most seemingly obvious questions, (no eye rolling, foot tapping or long sighs involved). With orders taken you're left with, "Food for the Soul", inspirational stories printed on laminated sheets to ponder while you wait. Food came out hot and fast with all starters arriving at the same time. As our dips diminished waiters checked that all was well and inquired if we would like some time before the main  or if we would like it straight after the starter. An electronic communication system on the table where you could press for "bill", "assistance" or "beverage" meant that throughout the meal staff where just a buzz away. Service - tick!

Persia, once a large empire covering an expanse of the Middle East, has left its influence in the form of language and food in modern day Persia, Iran. Persian, Iranian - the two are used interchangeably to characterize the fare at Naab. Described as balanced, dishes are not over flavoured, not spicy, not oily, not too salty, nor too sour. This gentleness in style makes the cuisine agreeable to just about any palate. Equilibrium in taste and aroma is achieved through the use of many herbs. Texture and temperature are similarly important. Saffron, detected in many dishes, is thought to make you happy, and joyous we were by the time we finished assaying the menu. I've always been a fan of Middle Eastern dips and bread and Naab did not disappoint. Their house made yoghurt and eggplant based appetizers were so pleasing to my taste buds that I would be happy ending the meal there. Fresh salads, juicy kebabs, and an incredibly flavourful Ghormeh Sabzi Stew are worth extending your journey though beyond the first few pages of the menu. Taking the meal to completion, Naab's own version of Baklava and their strong Iranian tea are a flawless conclusion. Food - tick!

If Persia evokes thoughts of mystery, romance and magic carpets, Naab inspires memories of calm, hospitality and mouth watering food.

Reason to visit: calm amongst chaos on noisy Bukit Bintang, traditional Persian food

130 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
+603 2143 3949

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Red Fashion Night @ Garibar - The Yum List readers all invited

Canapes and cocktails by Garibar from 8 - 10pm. Email for reservations.

The Spa Village, The Majestic Malacca, Malaysia

The infinity pool and gym area
The relaxation room where you're invited to do just that before and after treatments with cold towels, hot tea and refreshing snacks.
Enormous treatment rooms give a feeling of spaciousness and peace. All are equipped with rain and hand held showers, and this couples room even includes a bathtub.

The Spa Village at The Majestic Malacca go far beyond my dreams and expectations of an exemplary spa experience - professional therapists, quality products, capacious, and classy decor - no detail is left unattended. While The Spa Village is owned and managed by YTL hotels, each area cleverly embraces the surrounding culture to provide a unique experience based on local expertise and traditions. The healing rituals of the Baba-Nyonya - Malay Chinese - are honoured in Malacca. The essence of the location is not only captured in the therapies but also in the architecture where you will find the original style has been maintained with features of wooden floors, heritage hues, traditional furniture and ornate porcelain tiles. Even staff apparel and accessories for storing products and presenting refreshments are themed accordingly. This homage to the local culture entitles guests to an exclusive encounter, unable to be rivaled in a different location.

My experience began with a preappointment earlier in the day where I exchanged information with staff about my diet, sleep and clothing preferences. This determined my body type and led to recommendations towards warming or cooling treatments, explanations of each and selection of such. Aspring to make use of the pre-treatment facilities I arrived 30 minutes before my actual appointment. Warm smiles by the staff and whiffs of soothing scents greeted my entrance. I was soon shown to a luxurious changing area with private locker, shower, bathroom and accessories I could only wish I had in my own bathroom, to strip off the outside world and prepare for renewal. Once gowned, I headed to the Peranakan Chinese day beds and bathed in the muffled sun rays allowed by the floor to ceiling windows and sheer curtains. Purveyed with cold scented towels, hot tea and refreshments my mind began to hush and my body decelerate. 

Drawing on the 12 step Peranakan wedding preparation for ladies, all guests receive a complimentary half hour hair ritual which involves washing, scalp massage and combing with a wooden comb (later presented as a keepsake). On each of twelve days leading up to the marriage ceremony, Nyonya ladies are traditionally pampered and beautified which involves a different ritual every day. Integrating cultural routines into treatments further accentuates the one-of-a-kind attention at Spa Village. Feeling invigorated and refreshed, it was then time to be shepherded to the private treatment quarters.

Spacious is an understatement. Each room has two treatment beds, a lounge, washing area, toilet, shower, dressing room and closet. Larger than some apartments I've viewed, these expanses are a far cry from some of the claustrophobia-inducing chambers I've experienced in KL. The decision of which locally blended oil to use, with their own corresponding medicinal properties, was left up to my nose. My therapist then explained the treatments I had chosen, checked for understanding and questions and got me prepared for my Yoghurt Guava Leaves Body Scrub. Leaving me laundered and lustrous dead skin cells were scrubbed away and toxins extracted with the natural antibiotic attributes of the yoghurt and guava leaves. Upmost care was taken by the therapist throughout to ensure my comfort and seek feedback. After a thorough rinse down in the high powered shower I was then ready to be pampered further with a Balinese Massage. Varying in tempo of acupressure, rolling motions, long strokes and percussion this kneading was the ultimate tranquilizer. A soothing pot of herbal fruit tea, some pickled vegetables and time on the couch ended my treatment. 

Returning full circle to the relaxation lounge my biggest worry was, "When can I next return?"

Reason to visit:  a unique, but world class, Peranakan spa experience

Spa Village
Majestic Malacca
188 Jalan Bunga Raya Pantai
75100 Malacca
+603 2783 1000

Monday, 28 May 2012

Chef Zul @ Bijan Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Chef Zul of Bijan Restaurant talks about Malay cuisine and his favourite dishes at Bijan Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur.

Bijan Restaurant
3 Jalan Ceylon
Changkat Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 2031 3575

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Andre Bondar, Mitolo Wine Dinner, Bijan Restaurant, Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Bijan Restaurant in Changkat Bukit Bintang is well appreciated by those who enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, as it is one of a rare few authentic Malay kitchens where this is possible. A recent visit from wine maker, Andre Bondar of Mitolo Wines, inspired a wine dinner pairing some rich South Australian reds with a line up of local tastes. Guests were elated with the outcome and The Yum List got a few minutes to chat with Andre.

Bijan Restaurant
3 Jalan Ceylon
Changkat Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 2031 3575

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Salon Du Chocolat, Publika, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Salon Du Chocolat in Publika, Solaris Dutamas sells sweet temptations from Turkey including chocolates, traditional Turkish desserts, dried fruit and confectionary. Abundant with nuts, fruits and not too much sugar you could almost be fooled into thinking that they're healthy for you - nourishing for the mind and taste buds at least. Both hubby and I enjoyed the not overly sugary confections such as the Pistachio Turkish Delight and the Mulberry and Lemon creams coated with dark chocolate. The Pistachio Croquant Topped with a thin layer of organic rose petals is crunchy as you'd expect a brittle to be with the additions of a mellow taste of pistachio and the subtleness of rose. The Apricot Chew with pistachios and Dark Chocolate with Crushed Coffee Beans are just as worthy of the calories too. Intricately handcrafted boxes can turn these beauties into a special gift.

Reason to visit:  Pistachio Croquant with Rose Petals, delightful chocolates that are rich enough to be fulfilling in small doses but not overly sweet

Salon Du Chocolat
Lot 26 & 27, Level G2
Jalan Dutamas 1
Solaris Dutamas
50480 Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 6211 2300

Friday, 25 May 2012

Famous Seremban Favourites Restaurant, Sunway Mas, PJ, Malaysia

Char Siew

Wanton Dumplings in Soup        Sui Kao Dumplings in Soup

Wanton Mee
Hakka Mee

A weekend food adventure with some local friends found us up bright and early on a Sunday morning.  The promise of the city's "best Hakka Mee" reduced the moans and groans of having to subject ourselves to the outer world before noon. The effort to get out the door and across the other side of town was justified as we just managed to squeeze into Famous Seremban Favourites Restaurant early enough to secure a table. With a reputation for excellent food the place was packed. We overheard guests' disappointment, who had placed their orders later than ours, as they were told, "Sorry, all sold out today." Noodles are made on site and they are particularly applauded for their Hakka Mee - slightly overweight noodles topped with minced pork, simple, uncomplicated, but alluring until the last drop. Another crowd pleaser, that usually runs out not long after noon, is their Char Siew - tender and juicy - just as scrumptious as that found at Soo Kee in Ampang but a with a slightly honeyed finish.

Reason to visit:  Hakka Mee, Char Siew

Famous Seremban Favourites Restaurant
78-1 (Ground Floor) Jalan PJU 1/3B
Sunway Mas Commercial Centre
47301 Petaling Jaya
Selangor, Malaysia
+6 017 279 8582

Thursday, 24 May 2012

New Chef @ Villa Danieli, Sheraton Imperial, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Villa Danieli, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Italian, best restaurant
Chef Alessandro working hard and happily in the kitchen
Villa Danieli, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Italian, best restaurant
Warm Bread  - charcoal, ciabatta
Villa Danieli, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Italian, best restaurant
Scamorza Alla Griglia con Crudaiola di Verdure – crispy seared Scamorza cheese with vegetable marinade
Villa Danieli, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Italian, best restaurant
Alici Marinate alla Mediterranea – Fresh sardines marinated with garlic parsley pesto and citrus olive oil, served with Mediterranean vegetable salad and shellfish bisque gelatine
Villa Danieli, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Italian, best restaurant
Vitello Tonnato al Tartufo Nero - Sea salt flakes tuna tartar with low temperature roasted veal carpaccio, tuna sauce foam and black truffle flakes
Villa Danieli, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Italian, best restaurant
Pasta Platter - Linguine ai Quattro Pomodori (Linguine with tomato sauce, oven roasted Roma tomatoes, tomato concasse and tomato seeds coulisse), Taglioloni Gamberi e Funghi Porcini (Tagliolini with pan fried tiger prawns and porcini mushroom with garlic and basil, shellfish bisque sauce), Mezzelune di Patate, Ricotta e Limone in Salsa di Spigola all’ Acquapazza (Half-moon ravioli of potatoes, ricotta and lemon served with sea bass and cherry tomato crazy water sauce)
Villa Danieli, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Italian, best restaurant, wine
House white - Villa Maria New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Villa Danieli, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Italian, best restaurant
Merluzzo all Mediterranea con Purea di Ceci all’ Oilo – cod fish medallion pan seared then stewed with berry capper, Taggiasca olives and tomato shellfish sauce, mashed chick peas with olive oil
Villa Danieli, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Italian, best restaurant
Filetto di Manzo all Rossini, Salsa al Marsala e Miele, Purea di Zucca all Olio e Verdure Saltate – beef tenderloin with pan seared foi gras, honey Marsala beef jus, mashed pumpkin and vegetables
Villa Danieli, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Italian, best restaurant
Costata di Rombo con le sue Pancetta Croccanti e Tartar di Melanzane e Zucchini – brill fish t-bone with its crunchy belly, eggplant confit tossed with crispy blanched zucchini and Mediterranean seasoning
Villa Danieli, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Italian, best restaurant, dessert
Gelato al Parmigiano, Asparagi Glassati al Miele e Tarufo Nero – parmesan cheese ice cream, honey glazed asparagus and black truffle + Cheese Cake di Ricotta in Salsa al Limone con Zeste Candite e Composta di Fragile – ricotta cheese cake with lemon sauce and candied zest, fresh strawberry compote
Villa Danieli, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Italian, best restaurant, dessert
Tiramisu – The literal translation of “tiramisu” is Pull Me Up - a dessert which is supposed to give you a twist of energy after the meal, thanks to the caffeine and protein contained in the light cheese mousse

Entering Villa Danieli you could be fooled into thinking that you've arrived to a warm Tuscan villa in the countryside. Heat smolders from the wood fired brick oven, the chef's play in the open kitchen and robust pillars support the roof and the character. Look up to see a busy mural painted by Mindy Lehrman Cameron depicting a cheerful dining scene, and cast your gaze downwards to notice a blend of carpeted, wooden and tiled floors. The scene is further realized with hand painted ceramic table tops and an approachable bar area perfect for aperitif. Completing the picture, is 100% Italian, new chef Alessandro Graziosi.

Chef Alessandro, most recently from Le Meridien Khao Lak Thailand, originally hails from the north of Italy. He brings to the Sheraton Imperial a devotion to his hometown's regional cuisine inspired by growing up in the kitchens of his mother and grandmothers, but also a fondness of food from all over the country, even crossing the borders to capture some mediterranean influences. He is appreciative of his new position in Malaysia, especially as it means having access to quality ingredients. With a new chef, comes a new menu and we were fortunate enough to have a sampling of some of the redesigned fare last week. 

Fresh herbs, hand made pasta and grilled meats seem to be one reliable predictor of an Italian restaurant's authenticity. All three you'll find featured at Villa Danieli, alongside a wood fired oven and uncomplicated food preparation, another two credibility indicators. We sampled four different starters of which I am still drooling over the Pan Seared Scamorza and Tuna Tartar, while hubby starts salivating with any mention of the Mediterranean Sardines. The Mediterranean Cod Fish on a base of mashed chick peas won my tongue's first prize and hubby's pick was the tender full flavoured Beef Tenderloin with honey Marsala jus. We were both enamored with the Ricotta Cheesecake with its citrusy sauce and crunchy encasing, while the Parmesan Cheese Ice Cream left us speechless. The cold temperature and smooth texture of this unexpected dessert are the first sensations you experience, predisposing you to the belief that you're about to indulge in a typical sorbet. Then, without warning, an aftertaste of parmesan cheese fills the mouth disorienting your taste buds. Honeyed asparagus and black truffle add to the assault with savoury and pungent tastes crawling up the sides of your cheeks. Reactions were opposite at our table and only a movie camera could adeptly record the reception. All faces began the same, with a bewildered look as they tried to understand what was happening. The outcome however ranged from puzzled, to unpleasant, to smiles, to happy surprise. Prices resemble other similar caliber hotels with starters ranging between RM38 and RM68, Soups RM24 – RM52, Pizza Pasta & Risotto  RM38 – RM65, Mains RM72 – RM108 and Desserts RM35 – RM42. If you're a holder of the Starwood Privilege card though you get a generous 50% discount when dining in a pair.

Reason to visit: impression that you're feasting in an Italian countryside villa without the cost of the airfare, Ricotta Cheesecake, Beef Tenderloin, Cod Medallion, Seared Scamorza Cheese starter, Starwood service, 50% discount if you hold a Starwood Privilege card

Villa Danieli
Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 2717 9900
Open weekdays for lunch & Monday to Saturday for dinner.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Delucca, Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Italian, best restaurant, Delucca, Changkat Bukit Bintang
Gorgonzola with Mostarda and Walnut Crostini - Smooth creamy gorgonzola, pear compote, crusty bread - must try!!!
Italian, best restaurant, Delucca, Changkat Bukit Bintang
Chargrilled Baby Octopus with Fennel and Orange Salad – tender, charcoaly, fruity
Italian, best restaurant, Delucca, Changkat Bukit Bintang
Burratina Cheese Salad – black beans, spinach greens, pearl cherry tomatoes, supple delicate Burratina cheese draping the top
Italian, best restaurant, Delucca, Changkat Bukit Bintang
Hand Rolled Agnolotti filled with beef
Italian, best restaurant, Delucca, Changkat Bukit Bintang
Home made Tagliatelle with Milk Raised Lamb Ragu and finely chopped pistachios
Italian, best restaurant, Delucca, Changkat Bukit Bintang
Duck Confit with apple compote and rosemary sprig served on chopping board with lemon – chef's favourite
Italian, best restaurant, Delucca, Changkat Bukit Bintang, dessertItalian, best restaurant, Delucca, Changkat Bukit Bintang, house wine
Traditional Tiramisu and the Italian house red

*** Sadly Delucca has recently closed. :-(
Alongside a new chef and refurbishments this past December, the whole concept of Delucca has been reconceived.  The new space is more intimate and the decor features soft lighting and tiles. The sleek rectangular bar is the centrepiece and draws guests in to congregrate and socialize. Creative dividers give privacy while still allowing a feel of spaciousness. A focus on service arises to the forefront with the word 'consistency' repeatedly heard from return diners. The reinvention of Delucca though has one distinguishing characteristic radiating above the others - it's all about the food.  Much time was invested in looking for a chef that could understand the desired concept of authentic Italian cuisine where quality ingredients are at the heart of all that matters.  Chef Afiq, with a recent two year sojourn in Florence fit the bill. 

Chef Afiq describes his food as straight forward and rustic. He relies on traditional wood burning and grilling and allows no modern type of cooker in his kitchen. Paying much attention to quality ingredients he keeps things simple, as he learned in Italy, to rejoice in the inherent traits of food in its natural state. A fresh food ideology is at play and this time round Delucca is taking things slowly, gradually building up their menu to create high caliber and consistency. Chef Afiq takes pride in maintaining authenticity and sees his job as educating customers in pure Italian tastes and textures rather than localizing recipes. The restaurant is pork free. Hand made fresh pastas, the crostini and duck confit are all highlights.  

Classic Italian wines such as Chianti and Pinot Grigio are on hand and a respectable house wine is set at a reasonable price. The bartender is known for his Lychee Martinis and an assortment of other liquor is also at one's disposal. Wine is served in appropriate glasses with chilled vessels for the white. My preferred way to launch an Italian evening is with either a light fresh Pinot Grigio or dry Prosecco. With not too much fragrance, the white wine makes a great opener as it doesn't complicate your palate before the meal, while the sparkling is crisp and palate cleansing. Happy Hours run from 3 - 8pm and make an attractive alternative to traffic. 

Reason to visit:  Gorgonzola Crostini, Duck Confit, handmade pastas, Happy Hours

Delucca, The Italian Restaurant
Open 6 days for lunch and dinner with parking readily available in the lot underneath. 
One Residency
Ground floor - Office Tower,
No. 1 Jalan Nagasari, off Jalan Raja Chulan
Kuala Lumpur 50200