Tuesday, January 31, 2017

4Fingers, Nu Sental

My first meal during my short weekend getaway to KL kick started with a simple meal in KL Sentral while waiting for a friend to pick me up. Traveling alone this time on a 2.5 hour train journey, I have the liberty to draft out my food trail in the next 24 hours while taking a pause and reflecting on whats going on in life recently. Nu Sentral is a good spot to kill your time and have a quick fix as there are some shops which are not found in Ipoh. And here is one of it - 4Fingers Fried Chicken. Having heard of the craze for Kyochon few years back, I always wanted to experience it for myself to understand why Korean fried chicken is the "in" thing. (Well, definitely not because of the mini 'dumpster' provided to dispose the bones as shown above - photo credit to Li Jie)

 Tracing back their origin, the first outlet of 4Fingers commenced operations in Singapore, which some people may label them of a duplicate of Kyochon (which is directly from Korea). Nevertheless, 4Fingers is indeed very visionary and committed in offering something different from the famous fried chicken fast food franchise here - check out their claims in the printscreen above from their website. A quick browsing on the "pioneer" in our shores shows that Kyochon also made similar claims - despite being pricier and a longer wait, the fried chicken are made to order to ensure freshness and crispiness (unlike kept warm in a heated cabinet like some fast food chain) and they also made the claim that Canola oil is used, which is one of the technique to ensure premium quality fried chicken to appease your tastebuds.

The waiting time of 10-15 minutes seems true as per claimed. After ordering at the counter, you will get this "UFO beeper" which lights up when your order is ready (the first time I saw this was at Snowflakes many years ago). Take a sip on your soft drinks - I had my drink upgraded for additional RM2+ to the Yuzu Honey - a citrus fruit from Korea which is a cross between orange and lemon. Ordering is pretty hassle free if you follow their "decision tree"  - choose your main meals - fried chicken, burgers, rice box or salads and have the option to upgrade into a set - with fries and drinks. Then opt for the sauce for your meal - Hot or Soya Garlic. then opt for the seasoning for your fries - seaweed or kimchi. Simple right? Then proceed to get a seat and wait for your order to be ready

The fried chicken arrived as claimed in their website and as described by other food bloggers! The skin is crispy without being too oily. It was as though there was minimal or no battered coating the chicken but through proper control of the temperature, frying time and quality of oil used, they indeed earned the rights to rub it on the face of the mentioned famous fast food brand! The meat within is most and came piping hot, neither undercooked nor overcooked. I opted for the 3 pieces of drumsticks (RM15.90 for ala carte, RM20.90 for the combo - same price for - 3 wings and 3 drumettes ) to have it done in mixed sauce - 2 pieces Hot and 1 piece Soya Garlic. The Soya Garlic is has a pleasant savoury taste but could turn out to be slightly salty to some tastebuds. The Hot was surprisingly not that spicy afterall, as yours truly could bear the heat, as opposed to how spicy some Korean want their food to be. I was been told that the spicy version in Kyochon is one step (or a few level) spicier than the one here. Irregardless of the sauce, the chicken was indeed fresh and succulent and non-greasy crispy skin. Well, yes! They deserve to charge a premium over such detail put in the ingredients and preparation.

The Mixed Seafood - combining shrimps and calamari is priced at RM22.90 for the combo meal. The seafood is more heavily battered compared to the fried chicken. The tempura-like exterior is still light and crispy but I will suggest you to skip this and stick to their chicken instead - or try their rice meal or chicken katsu burger. Nothing special for the fries as they just sprinkle seaweed flakes or kimchi powder to season it. From the first photo above, they have a fusion side dish called Kims-law! Yes, you got it right, its Kimchi+Coleslaw. After tried the famed KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) in Doma Modern Korean Cafe back in Ipoh and also a franchised version in 4Fingers, there is something really different from the generic fried chicken you get from those fast food chain, hawker stalls or pasar malam or even the ones fried by your family members. Will I return again? Probably not as there are many new things to try in KL, but I don't mind having a light snack while waiting to board the ETS train back to Ipoh. :)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Morganfield's, Empire Subang

This is my second visit to Morganfield's. I had my first try in the Pavillion outlet few years back. One thing about dining here is, there is so many things to try and the portion being quite substantial, there is so much I could try back then. And even with an extra headcount this time, I don't think a guy with two ladies could try much items from the menu. This time around, I was at the Empire Subang outlet for dinner.

From the list of appetizers, my friend had her attention caught in the form of Onion Blossom (RM21.90) - breaded onion fried deep fried into the shape of a bouquet of flowers. Served with BBQ infused mayonaise, this is one of the recommended appetizer/beer food to go along with your booze. We had 3 pints of Blanc for RM84.90 to facilitate catching up and heart-to-heart sharing and bonding session :) 

There is room for another appetizer as this item caught my attention - Crispy Russet Potato Boats (RM20.90) - potatoes are halved and stuffed with sauteed mushroom and melted cheese (its a Monterey Jack, cheddar and mozarrella mixture if I am not mistaken) topped with crispy bacon bits and scallions (a.k.a. spring onions, but since we are in an ang moh place, so I also use atas a bit punya term). If the description (coupled with the picture in the menu) already have you salivating, wait till you have a bite - crispy charred potato skin and the next moment you realizing that you are "pulling" gooey cheese between your teeth. This is really good stuff. No wonder it is featured in their Mixed Appetizer platter.

Pork Ragout and Home Made Meat balls spaghetti (RM26.90) was a slight letdown though. Perhaps the spaghetti was far from being al dente and the texture seems to be too soft for my liking. Coupled with the spicy pork gravy, it seems to be slightly messy. The pork meat balls is slightly pinkish at the centre, not too appealing to me. Perhaps the Aglio Oglio was a better bet? Or maybe we should just stick to meat dishes or burgers instead next time

The forte and pride of Morganfield's lies in smoking their stick ribs with hickory wood to give that distinctive aromatic BBQ flavour. Regardless if you opt for their spare ribs (half or full slab) or back ribs (full slab) only, their meat can just fall off the bones with just the slightest sheering from your fork and knife. Or perhaps the better way to enjoy is to unleash the carnivorous instinct within, by using your hands. There have many generic way to BBQ your ribs - peppercorns, Hickory sauce, garlic and of course we opted for the out of the norm Jack Daniel's glaze (RM69.90)! Side dishes can be changed upon request and you can opt for fries, mashed potatoes, onion rings, coleslaw, tortilla chips and garden veggies. The portion for a full slab of baby back ribs can be easily shared by 2 persons (more if you order other main course)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Garvy's in the Park

This is a belated throwback post back in November 2015! Yes, it was more than a year ago. I did not really recall whether I missed out to post this or I accidentally deleted this post as I was filtering to unpublish some of my older post since 2009 in order to remove details of my past personal life. Well, if it wasn't a close friend who enquired about any suggested nice place to celebrate her completion of post-graduate studies with her boyfie, I would not have realized Garvy was not in my blogroll when I tried to search for this post for her reference. Hopefully its not too late though as in the end she decided to reward herself in The Deck Gastrobar, Weil Hotel (even yours truly also haven't dine there before. I need a strong reason to do so)

Coming back to Garvy' in the Park. Situated in the vicinity of BP Lab, Jalan Kampar, the name Garvy was chosen because that's the name of the owner of BP Lab. And the restaurant here is actually divided into two area. The two photos are actually snapshots from their fine dining section... while diners like me who entered with a RM28 Groupon purchase is seated in the cafe area. Yes, just like the photo below...

Well, the cafe area is not too shabby either as the glass walls and warm lighting from the dangling bulbs. There were just two tables that night - another table also dining on the Groupon ticket. I wonder how would they survive having employed 2 French chefs and 1 French restaurant manager to spearhead the operations. It's not like there is a lot of demand for fine dining in Ipoh (probably during special occasions like anniversaries or birthday of your significant other)

Pumpkin Soup - this is probably the first time tasting aerated soup. Unlike the creamy or hearty mushroom soup nor the likes of watery tomato soup, I am captivated by the mouthfeel of  pumpkin foam from every spoon. The soup has good aerated effect that I could hardly slurp it. You won't normally experience this in other restaurants as they incorporate some fine-dining cooking technique on preparing and serving the food.

I forgot what is the name of this dish - It was some Chicken Drumstick cooked in tomato sauce. I did not get to taste it but seems like you get what you pay for right? Hmm...

I apologize for not keeping details on the food till the extent of not remembering this dish is Lamb/Beef Bourguignon. Served with quinoa and stewed vegetables, I feel the meat was like microwaved before serving. Maybe I do not know how to appreciate "fine dining" cuisine or maybe its just lackluster?

The 3 course meal comes with French Toast (The name given in the menu was Pain Perdu, I jokingly told me friend that it was loh bak gou when she commented on my FB post a year ago. I took a nibble and gosh! the bread was so hard!

My fruit crumble came in bigger portion, even as big as the main course. I do not know how to describe it but I recall a very tangy "salsa" like mixed fruit consisting of green apples, strawberries and smothered with a bit of yoghurt? I need to mix it well with the crumbles to balance out the acidity.

I ordered an ala carte Chocolate Lava Cake and it turned out quite tasty but the presentation could be improved. Will I go back again? If one day I am willing the fork out few hundred for their degustation menu, else I will not pay for half hearted food prepared and presented like the photos above. And having few hundred bucks, I think we have more options in Ipoh nowadays which may not be under the fine dining banner but could still deliver much more.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Jack n Grills Cafe and Steak House

Within Bandar Baru Medan Ipoh lies a new kid on the block named Jack n Grills (Photo credits belong to their Facebook fanpage). It replaces the former short-lived Isaac's Kitchen which occupied the iconic Crossover which shifted from Festival Walk. This lot has housed previous many failed short lived food and beverage business while other strong names like Yeolde English and Olivenz managed to stand the test of time (and customer base as well).

Following most cafes serving western chops and steaks, it is a norm that the menu include rice dishes as some people like the elderly could not be satisfied with potato as their carbohydrate fix, be it fries, wedges or mashed. While they omit items such as Nasi Lemak, Fried Rice, Fried Noodles or Tom Yam meehoon like how some cafes tweaked their menu, derivatives from the chicken chop or fried fish fillets are available here. At RM16.90, you here is a serving of Teriyaki Chicken Chop Rice. The chicken thigh is grilled to near perfection while maintaining its juiciness, the skin was slightly charred and aromatic. The teriyaki sauce has a good caramel-like feel, neither being too dilute nor viscous.

Moving on the menu, there is the generic Grilled Chicken Chop with black pepper sauce (RM17.90). The portion of the boneless chicken is similar to the Teriyaki Chicken Chop Rice. Instead you get a serving of fries instead of rice and an egg. The fries is fresh and not soggy at all. The quality of the fries is there as there was some sense of filling and satisfaction upon biting to it, unlike the fast food style fries. As frozen 'traffic lights' vegetables (corn, peas and carrots) is a big no-no to me, I could still accept coleslaw (or those half hearted shredded carrots and purple cabbage with overdose of Thousand Island sauce) like a long-standing steakhouse opposite does it, but I commend Jack n Grills for serving an apple-tomato salsa served with fresh greens drizzled with balsamic vinegar dressing. The pricing might be slightly more expensive than the long-standing cafes in the neighbourhood but you pay for better side dishes and also presentation.

There are few variants of lamb chop available - Red Wine Glaze, Mint Sauce, Black Pepper and yours truly opted for the Dijon Mustard Lamb Shoulder (RM24.90). Despite there are some comments on Facebook stating that the kitchen management is a bit messed up and cause an unnecessary long wait of more than an hour, I find that the food here is quite meticulously prepared. The wedges are still hot and the food is quite well presented. Maybe I was the second table of the day, arriving slightly before 6.30pm on a Saturday. After 7pm, the crowd began to build up and the indoor dining area was almost full. Having a good view at the kitchen, I somehow agree that there could be room for improvement to speed things up. Hopefully they wont compromise quality by grilling the meats beforehand and frying the fries and wedges, just like how a similar cafe across the road is famous of doing it. Feeling like splurging? They have their signature Lamb Racks and also Lamb Shank, if you are okay for paying more than RM40 for that. They have beef steak, pasta and sausage platter as well. Since they serve pork (the cabonara has bacon!), they did not capitalize fully into dishes such as pork ribs, pork knuckle, pork chop, etc. 

Last but not least, this is my Grilled Cheesy Chicken Kebab (RM23.90). Tender cubes of grilled chicken thigh is layered between capsicum, onions, cherry tomatoes, shitake mushroom with alternating layers of melted cheese and smoothered with black pepper sauce. I feel that most of the grilled dishes here are served with black pepper sauce by default and I find the sauce to be quite good (right punch of mild heat from crushed peppercorns) albeit slightly salty to my liking. Drinks are at least RM5 (soft drinks) and fruit juice at RM8+ while beer starts from RM11 onwards. There is no GST or service charge yet so I would say the price is fairly reasonable for the food served.