Sunday, 25 November 2012

Kura @ One World Hotel, PJ

Kura at One World Hotel is under the same group as Sushi Zanmai, Rakuzen and many other beloved Japanese restaurants. I love the layout of Kura's interior - it totally embodies the ninja-esque aspect of Japanese culture. Once you step in, the wait staff brings you through what looks like a labyrinth. There are many nooks and crannies for private and more secluded dining, beautifully hidden from view from the main passage by the use of bamboo partitions and plants.
Its layout reflects the name's kanji which means something like "the place of hidden treasures".
Things that greet you on arrival
For the appetiser, we were served a bowl of delightful salad with lots of lettuce and cherry tomatoes blanketed by creamy crab and roe salad dressing. Needless to say, we finished everything to the last bit =)
Yakizakana Zen
The Yakizakana Zen comes with the subject itself, sashimi, chawanmushi, rice, miso soup, pickles, a side dish of  simmered radish and chicken and fruits.
Thick slabs of fresh and juicy tuna, salmon and yellowtail sashimi are served with a misshapen dollop of wasabi.
The yakizakana is slathered with a sweetish sauce and grilled to perfection. With a squeeze of lemon and some grated radish, the juicy fish which still retains its oils is heavenly. JS could not decide if Kura's or Tenjin's yakizakana is better.
Sakura Chirashidon Zen
I had my usual Sakura Chirashidon Zen which came with a Chirashidon, miso soup, chawanmushi, pickles, the same side dish of simmered radish and chicken as well as fruits. 
The Chirashidon is packed with fresh sashimi atop a bed of vinegared sushi rice. The sashimi were of really good quality and extremely fresh with generous portions - just look at the amount of salmon roe! I thought there wasn't sufficient vinegar in the rice but that's the only complaint I have.
If you noticed I did not elaborate much on the taste of the food, it is because everything is identical to Rakuzen and who has not eaten at Rakuzen before? The only difference here is price, better quality food, additional side dish, bigger portions and posher ambience. The price at Kura is only slightly higher than Rakuzen so if you do not wish to splurge yet prefer Japanese setting in a hotel, Kura is the place to go. They've also got two very unique bento sets which I hope to try and once I do, I'll post it up on the blog =)

PawPoints: 5 Paws
Pawket: Cheese
Level 1, One World Hotel
First Avenue, Off Dataran Bandar Utama
Bandar Utama
Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03 7726 9660
Daily: 11.30am - 3pm, 6pm - 11pm

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Wahaca @ Chandos Place, London

I don't know why but I just have a thing for Mexican food. I love all their wraps and the funky names of each dish...they just sound so trendy and hippie-ish. Imagine my delight when I found out about an average-priced joint in London!
Wahaca is a really popular restaurant so do be sure to make a reservation. It was lucky that we arrived there early as there was already a short queue. There's a waiting area where you get to chill and get some booze while you're waiting or you can fiddle around with the many knick-knacks on the counter.
Complimentary door gifts
There were tons of these mini-packets for patrons to take home with them...can you guess what they contain? Inside each packet are a few chilli seeds for you to grow in a small pot and harvest for your very own Mexican home-cooking. Such a cool idea huh? By the way, the restaurant is located underground which I find really unique.
Chile sauces
They've got two types of sauces to go with the food - one is a searingly hot chile de arbol sauce and the other a fiery habanero chile sauce. Whoa scary stuff! Well it might be for the locals but definitely not for us South East Asians haha. These searingly hot and fiery sauces were just a tiny bit spicy to say the least but they complemented the dishes very well =)
Hibiscus Water (GBP 1.75)
The Hibiscus Water is a very refreshing drink made from cranberry flavoured Mexican flower juice, whatever Mexican flower is =P It is a very good thirst quencher and tasted somewhat like a concentrated Ribena =)
Chicken Tinga Tacos (GBP 3.95)
GBP 3.95 for a plate of 3 tacos is not bad at all. This chicken tacos is coated in a smoky tomato sauce and a splash of extra hot chipotle adobo and crema and sprinkled with cilantro. The mini flour tortillas were seasoned just right and the extra hot sauce really does lend a bit of kick to the flavourful filling. One of the best I've tried.
Close-up of the taco
Chorizo and Potato Quesadillas (GBP 3.95)
The Chorizo and Potato Quesadillas is much cheesier than Fresca's and very yummy. I couldn't taste much chorizo though but I like the crisp texture of the quesadillas contrasting with the warm, comforting and mushy-in-a-good-way hash.
See the filling?
We wanted to order an additional Burrito considering the size of the dishes but they were so busy and we couldn't order for a certain duration to allow the cook to, I don't know, stock up and start cooking from scratch again (everything is freshly made apparently). By the time they were ready to take orders, we had to rush off for the next item in our itinerary or risk delaying the schedule (I run like clockwork =P). So, bad point there but the place was literally packed to the rafters.
Do give it a try if you're in London as I'm always of the opinion that Western food somehow tastes much better in Western countries (no-brainer huh?). Incidentally, if you're not willing to splurge on an air ticket, there is a cookbook called Wahaca that is written by the owner so you can replicate the dishes in your very own kitchen! I was tempted to get it when I saw the book in a bookstore there but it was priced at GBP 20+ and I thought it too expensive.
PawPoints: 4 Paws
T: London Charing Cross
66 Chandos Place
Covent Garden
Tel: +44 0207 240 1883
Mon - Sat: 12pm - 11pm
Sun: 12pm - 10.30pm

Monday, 12 November 2012

Garfunkel's Restaurant @ Edinburgh, Scotland

We were surprised to find Garfunkel's in Scotland as we saw posters all over London proclaiming its "Any 2 for £11 Breakfast" promotion (they now seem to have a different breakfast deal). We thought breakfast at £6.50 per person is a steal. In any case, its homepage states that it has outlets in Edinburgh and Bath too so if you're in one of these cities, you can just hop in for nice, warm and affordable British fare.
Garfunkel's caters for breakfast, lunch and dinner and after perusing the separate menus for each meal, I quite regretted not having more proper British dishes for each meal since it will be a while before I return T_T You can preview their drool-worthy offerings here.
Breakfast Menu

Garfunkel's Legendary "Full House" Breakfast (GBP 12.50 for 2)
The "Any 2 for £11 Breakfast" deal mentioned above was only valid for all breakfast choices except for the Garfunkel's Legendary "Full House" Breakfast which requires an additional £1.50 top-up for the meal deal. Still, the total price wasn't too bad with such a huge portion and bear in mind, the above picture shows the portion for 1 person. 
The legendary plate came filled to the brim with TWO rashers of bacon, a pork and leek sausage, fried egg, half a grilled tomato, baked beans, a grilled large flat mushroom, TWO hash browns and black pudding <big grin> Well now that I'm quoting the items from the menu and looking at the picture above, I seem to have been shortchanged a hash brown hmmpf.
Well, fried egg and baked beans are usual everyday items and these were done very well. The grilled tomato was perfectly done with a nice slightly crisp skin and insides that were slightly mushy but did not spill over when cut. The bacon was good, very meaty with the layer of fat just seared nicely whereas the sausage was grilled to a crisp and really juicy. The black pudding was addictive and crisp but the mushroom was a tad too salty. I love the super crispy hash brown with fluffy potato insides.
It was rather windy in Edinburgh but it felt so good chowing down a plate of big Scottish breakfast with a steaming cup of hot tea while dining outside the restaurant alfresco style with the (strong) breeze whipping about your face. I highly recommend Garfunkel's as a relatively cheap alternative to good British fare. Wish I had found out about its existence sooner though.

PawPoints: 4 Paws
Garfunkel's Restaurant
130 High Street
Tel: +44 0131 220 4445
Daily: 8am - 11pm

Monday, 5 November 2012

Empress of Sichuan @ Chinatown, London

I have been craving Sichuan food of late and searching high and low for it in KL. The only ones I found are hawker-stall like restaurants in Pudu which seems kind of dodgy and some Chinese Muslim restaurant in either Kota Damansara or one of the nearby similarly-named areas. One authentic restaurant I found was Si Chuan Dou Hua at Federal Hotel but that is a pricey option. Anyone has any good recommendations?
Anyway London has quite a number of Sichuan restaurants within its Chinatown and after googling a bit, I settled on Empress of Sichuan. It is also quite pricey but I thought of splurging on this =)
Shop Front
Spicy Fragrant with Dried Chillies and Pepper (GBP 13 )
I love this dish! The chicken cubes are so tender and fragrant with the chilli oil and stir-fried peppers. Quite oily, mildly spicy (for Malaysian tastebuds) and extremely addictive when eaten with rice. I would highly recommend this d^_^b
Closer shot of the dish in all its fiery colours
Beef Slices in Extremely Spicy Soup (GBP 13.50)
Wanted to order another vegetable dish but it didn't seem worth it to pay so much for a tofu dish so being the greedy siblings we were, we opted for a beef dish. When it arrived at the table, we were shocked at its size - a huge bowl of sliced beef in what looked more like chilli oil than soup =.= The beef slices were really really tender and thin and they were really generous with the portion - we probably ate more than 10 slices each. If I remember correctly, there was also cabbage in the soup. My brother actually ladled the soup over his rice but I refrained from doing so due to the amount of oil to soup ratio. This is quite spicy and my brother enjoyed it but I think I prefer the chicken dish.
Long Green Beans with Minced Pork (GBP 9.20)
This is a non-spicy dish and good for counterbalancing all the chilli oil. I love this dish too as there was lots of wok hei in it. It's really addictive and I even finished it till the last bit when my brother could no longer take another bite. Highly recommended, this one.
Complimentary dessert
They gave us a complimentary dessert of layered red bean jelly. Not too sweet so it was just nice.
If you don't mind the slightly exorbitant price, Empress of Sichuan is a really good place to try out Sichuan food.
PawPoints: 4 Paws
Empress of Sichuan
T: Leicester Square
6 Lisle St
Tel: +44 0207 734 8128
Mon - Wed: 12pm - 10.45pm
Thu - Sun: 12pm - 11.15pm