Rendez-vous New Menu with Chef Benjamin

If you ask me to list my Top 5 current favourite restaurant in Klang Valley, Rendez-vous would definitely on the list. It’s not just that I’m a Francophile, as mentioned in my previous post of the very same restaurant; but there’s a new face in Rendez-vous kitchen and the whole menu has been given a much needed overhaul to reflect the modern take on bistro-style French Dining. Introducing Chef Benjamin Reiles, a young Chef with quite an impressive resume, having refined his skills at prestigious places like Michelin Three Star Le Pré Catelan in Paris and Brasserie des Beaux Arts in Toulouse.

Rendez-vous itself is quite an inviting space, with great service and relaxed vibe casual enough for family outing, yet formal enough for a date. Another bonus? It features a large bar and the wine list will keep any wine enthusiast happy.

 photo P1220200.jpg
A mojito to kick off the lovely evening. I always appreciate the effort that goes into this so this was enjoyed very slowly.

 photo P1220181.jpg
Rather surprised to be receiving a Lamb Samosa as our Amuse Bouche. But definitely not going to complain as it’s filled with delicious morsel of lamb cooked for hours.

 photo P1220195.jpg

Our first starter was “Escargots a la Bourguignonne” (RM28), featuring some Snails with parsley and garlic butter sauce in vol au vent. The snails are kept tender while the pastry soaked up that delicious butter sauce. And it’s mandatory to soak up that sauce with these freshly baked baguette.

 photo P1220197.jpg

Probably the best bread we’ve ever eaten at a restaurant, make sure you do save some stomach space to eat this with everything. I think Kevin had the whole basket that night. Heh.

 photo P1220211.jpg

“Soupe de poissons” (RM24). The Fish soup here is served in front of us. So first we get a bowl with all the pretty components sans the liquid.

 photo P1220216.jpg

The soup has a great balance of tang, sweetness and briny umaminess. Something I wouldn’t mind slurping on time and time again.

 photo P1220218.jpg

To sweeten the deal, we were also served a spoonful of Lobster nectar. Talk about a decandent treat!

 photo P1220221.jpg

It’s also aptly paired with a 2013 Chardonnay from South Africa.

 photo P1220208.jpg

The sardines are not on the menu but I enjoyed the tender flesh and the citrus pearls that came with it. It also came with a saffron tinted puree (Cauliflower, it seems) which goes very well with the briny fish.

 photo P1220261.jpg

The mains here are divided into fish, poulty and red meat and we were treated to one of each. First the “Filet de loup de mer” (RM58), Seabass filet, creamy carrot puree and avruga caviar, citrus vinaigrette. For a main the seabass seems to be on a smaller side in comparison to the condiments given. Probably why it’s a little bit on the dry side, but I do love the carrot puree with the surprise addition of floral passion fruit.

 photo P1220245.jpg

One thing of note too the price here is rather reasonable and even with wine pairing, it won’t break your bank.

 photo P1220248.jpg

The poultry dish “Poulet façon cocotte” (RM36) comes as a form of stuffed chicken, mash potato and creamy mushroom. The chicken is so tender and juicy and the mash potato gets full approval from me. Love the presentation too.

 photo P1220264.jpg
Paired with a very nice glass of Pinot Grigio.

Well we move on to the red meat and it’s non other than a traditional Beef Stew.

 photo P1220227.jpg
“Boeuf Bourguignon” (RM59). Here the beef is braised for at least 8 hours in a red wine sauce. The sauce has a great depth of flavours, however I find some pieces of meat to be on the dry side, perhaps exposing to air for a little long. Nonetheless a good version of Beef Bourguignon I don’t mind having again.

 photo P1220241.jpg

A hearty red to go with this dish. We are not much of Red wine drinker but found this pretty drinkable. I know it’s a terrible word to use for something like this, but there are some reds we just can’t tolerate so yeah.

Well, as usual with any food review session we had to cough up some extra space in our tummies and all that food and wine seriously had us waving white flags. But I would not say no to Lemon Meringue.

 photo P1220274.jpg
“Tarte au citron meringue” (RM17). Lemon tart here comes with h hard and soft meringue. You get the best of both world in terms of the meringue. Love the pillowy soft, freshly torched clouds of meringue, while there’s also little crunchy for textural contrast. The lemon curd is wonderfully tart, the way I like it. Yum.

 photo P1220268.jpg

“Crêpe Suzette” (RM28). The traditional French pancake is given the usual theatrical twist being flamed on the table with Grand Marnier. Nice way to finish a meal. Even nicer with a glass of crisp Prosecco.

 photo P1220272.jpg

We went home with heavy tummies but very satisfied appetite. Thank you for hosting us!

If you pay very close attention to the interior you might notice a little doorway marked “Upstage Lounge“, aptly located upstairs of Rendezvous. And this is yet another great venue for live music and occasionally stand up comedy. They hosted quite a few international acts, while many local talents have also graced the stage. Comedians the likes of Papi Zak, Kavin Jay and Prakash Daniel have also performed there. So do check out their facebook page or website for any upcoming shows. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll see me there too.

 

Rendez-vous Traditional French Restaurant
100 Lorong Maarof, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.
Open for lunch & dinner daily
Mon-Sun:
12:00 – 15:00
18:00 – 00:00
Tel: 03-2202-0206
https://www.facebook.com/rendezvousbangsar

 

 

Advertisements

Topshelf, TTDI (Revisit)

Time really waits for no man. I remember saying to myself following my first visit to Topshelf that we definitely want to come back again. Who would have thought that one year could pass by so quickly? Chef Christopher Yee has kindly extended an invitation for us to sample the new menu, and I was not about to say no to good French food! Although it did take me almost 2 months to schedule this in due to frequent sickness (I really need to buck up and get healthy, have recently just recovered from Dengue fever…. more on that later perhaps).

Topshelf is blessed with a proximity to many well-known pubs/bars in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, though it’s situated at the quieter side of the shophouses. The ambiance can be quite romantic at night though remains casual enough for all kinds of customers. The menu here is kept tight for better quality control, offering mostly French favourites along with some Italian influences. The new menu now includes Pork, which is good news for the Porcine lovers.

On the night we visited, Truffles happen to be in season so we were lucky enough to be treated to this beauty:

Truffles, Poached Eggs on Red Wine Braised Puy Lentils.

Look at the generous shavings of Truffles! The alluring aroma tickled our noses as this dish hit the table and of course I couldn’t wait to poke at the egg.

#YolkPorn!

What a sight to behold! And this tasted as good as it looks, of course. The lentils fully soaked up the full bodied red wine sauce and the overflowing egg yolk adds to the richness, while the truffles just complete the whole gastronomic experience. I loved the simplicity of it too, as nothing is overwhelming in flavour profile.

Hand Dived Scallop (RM30), Braised Leeks, Miso Eggplant

I love the presentation of this dish. A single scallop sitting atop an Eggplant round, a bed of braised leek, complete with white wine jus. The scallop has a beautiful sear on it while remaining lovely and soft in the middle, just the way it should be. The sweetness goes well with the umaminess of miso on the eggplant, while the braised leeks have been cooked enough for its natural sweetness to be released too. While the Truffle dish was the bf’s favourite, this was my highlight of the night.

Orange Quail (RM27), Bacon Hash, Poached Egg.

I don’t often order poultry at restaurants though this was a great choice by Chef Chris. The dainty quail is roasted to a perfect golden brown, nesting on a bed of fried leeks. On the side is a bacon potato hash and a poached egg. It’s obvious that the dish has been given a lot of thoughts. Before digging in, another YolkPorn is warranted. The bf obviously saw this dish in a different light and took a rather obscene photo which is inappropriate for this blog (let me just tell you a ‘kangkang’ quail can be a little porn-ish)…. so I’ll spare you the pain…

Ooooooo sexy!

The marinade for the quail is subtle but complementing. I highly recommend putting bits of everything together and savour at once. The juicy quail flesh, slight crispy bacon and potato, crunchy fried leeks, and luscious egg… just an explosion of flavours and texture.

Whole Baked Snapper

It’s rare to see whole fish presented in an non-Asian restaurant, but of course we live in Malaysia, which allows us to experiment with different presentations. For me, I always feel that serving a whole fish is pretty impressive, not to mention celebratory. Here we have a whole red snapper (locally sourced), baked with Provencal vegetables in a white wine bouillon. Once again it’s a simple dish with super clean flavours, and you’ll need the fish to be super fresh for it to be good. Did it pass our test? Flying colours. I love the light broth with a hint of wine.

Iberico Loin (RM56)

The Iberico Loin features a thick piece of pork loin cooked to just right (a hint of pink in the middle), served with mash and sauteed vegetables. It was decent at best, the loin has a nice bite to it while the vegetables remains sweet and crunchy, though not as impressive as the previous dishes.

Chocolate & Coffee Cremeux (RM19)

I forgot to inform Chef I don’t eat chocolate (not that I don’t love it, but it’s to protect my voice) so this amazing looking Chocolate & Coffee Cremeux came to our table, not that we would complain. Made with 70% noir dark chocolate,the dark bittersweet chocolate and coffee cream had a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt (because salt and chocolate is a match made in food heaven), complete with berries and a touch of olive oil. I love the sweet and savoury combo, and despite my ban on chocolate I finished a good portion of this (coughing afterwards, but worth it).

Thank you Chef Christopher Yee for you fabulous food! And hopefully we’ll return sooner this time.
TOPSHELF
61, Lorong Rahim Kajai 13,
Taman Tun Dr. Ismail,
60000, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-7727 7277
Website: www.topshelf.com.my
Facebook: www.facebook.com/topshelf.kl

Rendez-vous, Traditional French Dining in Bangsar

Klang Valley is definitely not short of French restaurants; whether you are after a date, or a casual family outing, there will be one to suit your need. When it comes to European cuisines, I have to admit I’ve always had a soft spot for the French. It might be an irrational one (blame it on movies like Julie & Julia, The Hundred Foot Journey & Ratatouille), but to me there is something romantic about the way the produce is handled, and the way the dishes are presented. Authenticity plays a big part in French dining experience too, and most of the times, keeping it traditional can be a winning formula.

Introducing Rendez-Vous, a French restaurant & bar situated in the heart of Bangsar, with a concept to serve affordable authentic French cuisine. It’s relatively new (anything less than 1 year is new to me anyway), but already attracted loyal fans in the form of French expats and the Francophiles alike. Chef Florian Nigen has over 30 years of experience running a restaurant back in France (Bretagne, to be precise), and together with co-owner & manager Arnaud Chappert (formerly of Maison Francaise) put their heart into creating a memorable dining experience for the guests.

While you might not be instantly transported to France walking in this restaurant, it does have a relaxed and laid-back ambience not unlike those of European countries. We left everything on Chef Flo’s capable hands while sipping their signature cocktails.

Lychee Martini for me. How did they know I love Lychee Martini? This is delightful with a nice kick.
Mojito for Frank. He approves.
This is non-alcoholic. But delicious! Available as part of the lunch menu.

Amuse bouche came in a form of sliced baguette topped with some blue cheese and pear.

Frank inhaled these.

My attention was promptly distracted by this glorious serving of Foie Gras Terrine, however.

Semi Cooked Foie Gras Terrine with Salad and Fig Compote RM42++

I suspect this is the real reason why I love French cuisine. I guess you either love liver or hate it; and for me this is the utmost decadent gastronomical experience. Buttery, creamy, smooth, with ever-slightly metallic taste; paired with fluffy french bread and topped with tiny bit of fig compote. My life is complete. Ok, not quite but at least it made me a very happy girl. Since Frank doesn’t touch meat, let alone offals, all the more for me! Cholesterol? Waddat?

Salmon a’ la Bordelaise (New)

Rendez-vous is changing up their menu and this was one of the new items. Instead of going the common pairing of Salmon and lemon butter sauce as per the old menu, this one is given a new life with a Bordelaise sauce, made with Red wine, shallots, butter and other herbs. The shallots give this sauce a pleasant sweetness, and I like how the Salmon is cooked to just underdone, the texture is perfectly tender. Surprised to see carrot in the mash too (also giving the mash an extra earthy sweetness). Overall the dish is on the sweet side (which I am not complaining), almost like having dessert as main, hah!

Pork Tenderloin with French Cepes Mushrooms Sauce (RM36)

The Pork Tenderloin I was told, is one of their signature dish and Chef Flo has managed to upgrade it by changing the cooking method. Can you tell from the picture? Yes, it is indeed Sous-vide cooked, for 5 hours no less, to achieve the texture he wants. It is then paired with the ultra rich creamy mushroom sauce. While I found the tenderloin exquisitely tender, the sauce was a little too cloying for me.

Check out the perfectly pink flesh! It’s cooked through by the way.

As for the sides, Frank finished the mash potato before I could taste any, but if an Irishman approves of the potato, you know that it’s good. Afterall, potato is in the Top 3 of their food list, no. 1 being beer.

Cheese Platter RM36++ (Reblochon, Camembert, Fourme d’Ambert, Emmental)

You know that Chef is serious about his cheese looking at this platter. I love the touch of a mini cleaver (maybe I am just naturally wacky). My favourite here is the Reblochon, which smears beautifully on the bread and has a nutty taste. The most pungent would be the Fourme d’Ambert, one of the oldest cheeses in France. A little goes a long way, this one.

Tarte Tatin RM12++

The apple tarte tatin comes with large chunks of apple and a small tart base, both of which soaked in caramel. While I enjoy the tender apple, I felt the tart base could do with longer amount of cooking to crisp up a bit more. However, this is divine when paired with ice cream.

Thank you Rendez-vous for your hospitality! No doubt we will be back as I want more of that Foie Gras and also eyeing a few more things on the menu for next order.

Rendez-vous also offers monthly wine pairing dinner as well as Sunday brunch where the kids get a special table with fun activities (what a great idea).

Rendez-vous Traditional French Restaurant
100 Lorong Maarof, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.
Open for lunch & dinner daily
Tel: 03-2202-0206
https://www.facebook.com/rendezvousbangsar

Maison Francaise: A Revisit

Following a pleasant visit to Maison Francaise back in 2013 (geez how time flies), I didn’t hesitate before accepting another invitation to dine at the romantic mansion again. Chef Thierry Le Baut has recently taken over the kitchen and needless to say has brought some changes to the menu. Let’s take a look at the food, shall we?

Amuse Bouche: Cauliflower Puree, Pickled Cauliflower and Carrot, Tomato Puree.

If the amuse bouche is any indication, the dishes here is still kept relatively clean and definitely caters to the gluten-free market. I have mentioned more than a couple of times how much I love cauliflower and this definitely perked up my day. The puree is kept cold, and the pickled vegetables was a nice touch.

Goat Cheese Basket, Tapenade quenelle, Honey dressing RM68++

Frank is usually meatless during food review, and that day was no exception. However, I think he got all the nicer dishes, take a look at this Goat Cheese Basket, for example.

Pretty as a picture.

The distinct pungent goat cheese goes exceptionally well with the crispy tuille. And the umami olive tapenade completes the dish. Though it was almost a shame to dismantle the dish.

Red Snapper Carpaccio, Tomato and Schallotstartare, Rocket Salad Sandwich RM59++

My Red Snapper Carpaccio was also elegantly presented.

Food art at its best.

Served with a tomato and shallot “tartare”, and mini rocket sandwich, this dish is pretty pleasant. The fish is adequately seasoned and since I like rocket, I didn’t mind the bread. Although taste wise, it lacks the wow factor; a case of beauty over substance.

Brick Roasted with Thyme Oil, Artichoke and Oyster Mushroom Risotto, served with Season Vegetables RM65++

Apart from the amusing name (brick? I know someone who should be eating brick, hmmph), this dish is very well executed. The risotto is sufficiently creamy, and infused with the delightful taste of mushrooms. The vegetables maintained a slight crunch to add a textural contrast.

Hake Fillet, French extra fine Pea Cream, Wasabi foam and Sauteed Mushrooms. RM95++

The Hake Fillet I received though, was mediocre at best. The fish was slightly overcooked hence became a little bit dry (I think you can even tell from the picture), but the saving grace is the Pea cream, obviously cooked with fish/seafood stock for that extra briny taste. I didn’t care much for the wasabi foam, which tasted pretty bland to me. I hope this is just an off day though.

Apple tart, Creamy sabayon, Chocolate Mousse, Apple Sorbet RM35++

The dessert comes in a form of a tart covered with chocolate mousse, and when you take a stab, the creamy sabayon oozes out of the tart. I wasn’t sure if the tart was supposed to be a little soggy (perhaps been sitting for a while?), but the chocolate mousse pairs well with the sabayon. The apple tart comes in deconstructed form and I enjoyed the crumbs. However the apple sorbet didn’t do much for me.

This visit is a little bit hit and miss. I guess if I do go back, I will opt for non fish dishes to gauge for myself. Frank was pleased with his meal in general, so that’s good news for all your vegetarians out there.

Maison Francaise
5 Jalan Changkat Kia Peng
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel No: 032144-1474
Fax No: 032181-2664
E Mail: info@maisonfrancaise.com.my
Monday to Sunday: 11.00am – 11.30pm

Monte’s by LYN, Bangsar Shopping Center

Even though Bangsar Shopping Center is relatively close to me, I don’t often choose to dine there. But this is probably going to change soon after my visit to Monte’s, a restaurant that’s been serving quality Western cuisine for over a decade now. It’s been under my radar until I was invited to a special birthday dinner; needless to say, I was quite impressed with what they had to offer.

The restaurant itself is spacious with a relaxed homely vibe, with touches of greenery and rustic brick walls, almost reminds me of a winery too. There are separate dining areas to suit different needs, and also a more private area which we were allocated.

Oh by the way, that birthday person is Tim Chew, founder of Malaysia’s Hottest Bloggers community, also someone who’s been consistently supportive especially when it comes to my blogging journey. Thank you for being an awesome boss! (There I said something nice about you, I don’t ask for much, RM100 ok?) We were hosted by Lyn, who has recently taken over the management of the restaurant and is such a bubbly personality too.

Hi Tim!

I arrived at the restaurant nice and early because being the rockstar I am, I had to rush to play a gig after. But it didn’t stop me from indulging in some sparkling and of course their delectable food. Though I did miss out on some of the courses, I shall let the pictures speak for themselves then.

Escargots 1/2 dozen RM19

After surveying the menu, the starter I most wanted to try was of course these amazing looking Escargots. Baked & basted in Chablis ‘n’ Garlic sauce, they are as decadent as they sound. I love the rich, creamy sauce; punchy with the garlic, perfect to mop up with some toasted bread. Priced at only RM19, this is probably the best value for money too.

Juicy Seared Sea Scallops 1/2 dozen RM39

The Seared Scallops is another great choice too. Here the scallops are cooked to perfection, and served with a delightful sweet potato mash, drizzled with tarragon butter and balsamic reduction. Fabulous dish and I could easily polish the whole plate if I want to.

Nachos RM19

Can’t go wrong with nachos, especially when they are generous with cheese. Here we had a mixture of chicken and vegetarian toppings and both were great in terms of flavour combination.

Taking a moment to pose for a picture.

Yeah… it was Lyn’s idea to get bunny ears for the girls. I like her already.

Cod RM56

I ordered a Grilled Cod Fillet for my main and it comes with sauteed potatoes, salad and lemon soy sauce. I like how they have good dishes to cater for people on different diet needs. Despite the simplicity of the dish it’s rather satisfying, as the cod is nice and tender, seasoned well, made even more delicious with a squeeze of lemon. They also have another Cod with which is paired with Ratatouille and I think I will try that one next.

Here are the dishes that I didn’t get to try:

Seafood Salad (A mix of mini octopus, prawns, smoked salmon & caviar on a bed of fresh garden greens) RM29
Smoked Duck Salad (Tossed salad with sundried tomato and basil) RM28
Fresh Oxtail Soup (Thick, savory, hot & spicy to whet your appetite) RM18
Ribeye (Prepared in Monte’s way to retain its taste, simply grilled and served with seasonal vegetables) RM63
Braised Lamb Shank (Served with mashed potato & stewed mushrooms) RM35

Monte’s is also great for Private dining, with option to customize your menu to suit your budget. I know I will be returning to try the dishes I missed out last time (especially that Oxtail soup). Thank you for your hospitality, Lyn!

Of course, an obligatory group pic! Dress from Zalora, by the way.

Photo credit to Andy Kho and Tim Chew.

Monte’s Restaurants and Wine Bar
Lot F 112, Level 1, Bangsar Shopping Center
Jalan Maarof, 59000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (603) 2094 1112/3
Fax: (603) 2094 1113
Opening Hours:
Monday – Sunday, 11.30 am till 11 pm
https://www.facebook.com/montesbylyn/
http://www.montesrestaurant.com.my/

Topshelf, TTDI

Taman Tun Dr Ismail is well known for its many watering holes (including the infamous Sid’s, of course) and hipster coffee joints. But behind the busy Lorong Rahim Kajai 14, there is a lovely French restaurant called Topshelf, run by Chef Christopher and Hairenna, a friendly duo who is passionate about food and hospitality. I have been to Topshelf once but as I was also performing that night for a private even, I didn’t get to try a range of their food. Although I must say that the Duck Confit I had that night was pretty lovely. So it was nice to receive an invitation to try more of their dishes.

The interior is minimalistic and clean, which reflects Chef Yee’s taste for an efficient kitchen. The steel table tops may prove a little tricky for food photography, but adds an industrial feel to the decor. Chef Yee  has an extensive background in the F&B industry, having trained in Europe for years. He likes to keep his menu tight as to better manage the quality of each dishes offered. There are a few signature dishes and I was delighted to be recommended the Chicken Liver Pate, one of my favourite French thing.

Chicken Liver Pate (RM23)

Oh, just look at that glorious layer of duck fat! The Pate is paired with some toasted baguette, olive tapenade and the all essential pickles. Chef Yee said this is his favourite and I concur.

Delicious!

The smooth and velvety texture won my heart, and the creamy distinctive liver taste was addictive. Complete with the tart pickles, I too can enjoy this dish everyday. In fact I finished this (not the bread though) whole pot on my own and left wanting more.

To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of the traditional Salad Niçoise because I detest dry and flakey tuna (most of them came from canned variety… eurrgh). But top the salad with lightly seared Tuna with delightful dark pink centre and I am sold. Topshelf keep their salad light and fresh with generous serving of Tuna, Raw Green Beans, Mesclun leaves, Quail Eggs, Roma Tomatoes, and the Umami Olives; finished with a basic dressing that doesn’t overwhelm the ingredients. This is great choice for those on Paleo diet.

Salad Nicoise (RM26)

I have seen Topshelf’s Escargot appearing in a few blogs and generally good things were said. It’s kept fairly traditional with herbs, garlic and butter and baked to perfect chewiness. I would probably prefer for it to have more herbs and strong taste though.

Escargot (RM25)

You need a special utensil to dig the flesh out and the texture is similar to that of an mussel. Frank stared in disgust, but I gobbled all of them up. But then again Frank is the kind of person who refers Prawns and Crabs as Sea Insects/Cockroaches. Charming.

Mmm snail… do you dare?

The vegetarian gets the Pesto Capellini, which comes as a glistening mountain topped with generous spoon of fresh pesto, complete with pine nuts, shavings of Parmesan and the aromatic Truffle Oil. The pasta is cooked to al dente, and it was a relatively light dish owing to the herbaceous nature.

Pesto Capelini (RM28)

His other dish however is the total opposite. The Gratin Potatoes came bubbling hot with generous amount of rich garlic cream and gruyere. I could smell the cheese from where I sat too. And though the taste is excellent, some of the potatoes were a little undercooked which was a disappointment.

Gratin Potatoes (RM22)

For some reason I have been seeing things cooked in paper bag too often these days. But that’s not a complaint at all. In fact I really liked the Halibut baked in paper. Halibut is quite similar to Cod with smooth and tender flesh when cooked right. Here the delicate piece of fish is accompanied by my other favourite French thing: Ratatouille. Complete with another heavenly match: fennel; and finished with lemon and fresh herbs. The fish is perfectly cooked and I was a happy girl. This was once again a great choice for the Paleo eaters.

Halibut en Papillote (RM41_

Naturally, we finished our meal with desserts. Frank had the Tiramisu and that was pretty decent. I would say it’s textbook execution.

Tiramisu (RM25)

My Apple Tarte Tatin came with pieces of well-caramelised apple tinted with Cinnamon. The pastry was sufficiently flakey but I thought it could do with a few more minutes of baking. The Ice cream is of course made in house, and the combination of hot and cold is very pleasant to the palate.

Apple Tarte Tatin

No doubt I will be returning to Topshelf whenever I feel like a no-frill French meal. The friendly atmosphere and polite service makes a delightful dining experience one will remember.

Topshelf
No. 61 Lorong Rahim Kajai 13
Taman Tun Dr. Ismail
60000 Kuala Lumpur
Business Hour: 4:00 p.m. till 11:00 p.m.
Tel: 03-7727 7277
Website: http://topshelf.com.my/

Café Café, French Fare at Its Best

After residing in London for years, Ben Yeong and Toto Ooi returned to Malaysia 12 years ago and opened Café Café. Back then, fine-dining restaurants in Klang Valley were few and far in between. That was to change. Café Café is as romantic as it gets, with a combination of old world charm and a cool Bohemian vibe. Its location may not be the most ideal, but it soon became talk of the town. Tucked away at the corner of Jalan Maharajalela, it has the magic to take you away from the hustle and bustle of the streets.

This French inspired gem is tastefully decorated with crystals hanging from the tall ceiling, gorgeous chandeliers, trinkets and Bric-à-brac dotting through the shelves and filling the corners. The closely placed tables convey a sense of intimacy, complete with dim-lighting for the perfect ambience of a classic candle-lit dinner. 

Even though the menu here has evolved over time, their signature dishes are left untouched, thankfully. Each dish has been carefully crafted to ensure consistency, using top quality ingredients. While the offerings are classically French, there’s a contemporary touch with less cluttered plates and lighter options for the weight-concerned.

Nut Crusted Fried Brie

If you love cheese, try their Fried Brie. With its Golden nut crust (made of Hazelnuts, Almonds and Walnuts with a touch of thyme), it’s truly a sight to behold and a treat for tastebuds. Cut to reveal a creamy soft centre and drizzle with passionfruit and mango coulis. The flavours are complex, and the aroma lingers. This is a perfect dish to whet your appetite.

Pan Fried Foie Gras

Do not leave Café Café without trying their Pan Fried Foie Gras. Here, the delicious duck liver is served with Apple Compote, Poached Pear and Balsamic Vinaigrette. Cooking a perfect piece of Foie Gras takes skill and Café Café has a winning formula with this dish. Each piece is a decadent experience, with exquisite crispy exterior and its fat melting away in your mouth, coating your tongue in a wash of flavours. Pairing with sweet and tangy fruits is essential to cut through the buttery richness of the liver. I had this every time I visit (4th so far) and it’s always magical.

Chicken Morel

You can opt for a lighter main dish if you feel guilty after the starters, with the Chicken Morel. The Baked Chicken Breast is served with Morel Mushrooms and Cepes. Precision is the key here, as the Chicken breast is cooked for exactly 11 minutes in the oven to be just right: tender, juicy, and tasty with minimal seasoning. The rich earthy mushrooms provide plenty of umaniness. Do remember to scoop up all the delicious juices on your plate.

Grass-Fed Black Angus Tenderloin

The ultimate French dining experience inevitably involves red meat, and here there are quite a few options, from the superbly comforting Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek to Grass-Fed Black Angus Tenderloin cooked to your preferred doneness. Simply served with Stir Fired Leek and Onion and a lone charcoal grilled tomato, the tenderloin wins in its robust beefy flavour, good enough to enjoy without any condiments.

Let’s admire the beauty again.

One more piece of good news: Grass-fed beef is not only tastier than Grain-fed; it’s also better for the planet, and better for your health, with its higher Omega-3 content.

Creme Brulee with Espresso

Be sure to leave some space for desserts here. Go for the classic Crème Brulee, one of the best desserts on Earth, consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. Here it’s infused with Vanilla Beans from Madagascar and served with a shot of Espresso, an idea borrowed from the Italian Affogato. Indeed, the pairing of creamy aromatic custard and bitterness of coffee is a match made in heaven.

Cafe Café had my heart 6 years ago, and it’s always great to discover a restaurant that has the special something that draws you back time after time, and it’s nice to see a quality establishment lasting in what is a very fickle market. Of course, the prices here might make it a more suitable choice for special occasions for most of us. Service has remained consistent and the staff are attentive, knowledgeable and polite. Cafe Café has stood the test of time, and it’s one of a very select group of KL restaurants that can dare to call itself ‘fine dining’ and for people who appreciate beautiful food it deserves a visit.

CAFÉ CAFÉ
175, Jalan Maharajalela
50150 Kuala Lumpur
03-2145 8141
Opening hours:
6pm–midnight, daily

This review was published on The Malay Mail on 28th February 2014.

KL’s Little Paris: Maison Francaise

P10203972If you have been following my social media updates, you might have noticed that I have started writing articles for The Malay Mail’s Weekend Runner. Who would have known a little food blogging could have gotten me here? I have many people to thank, and you know who you are. Meanwhile, here’s the full article if you haven’t got a copy of Weekend Runner.

Tucked away in the hill of Changkat Kia Peng, just a stone’s throw away from KLCC, a beautiful abandoned mansion converted into a chic French House, thanks to the vision of  owner Sainy Chun. This establishment is truly an urban gem. A little representation of Paris in the middle of Kuala Lumpur.

It’s all about details at Maison Francaise, and we are not even talking about the food yet. Blessed with plenty of natural light, the decor is classical French while relatively minimalist, with a monochrome colour theme, fresh roses on the dining tables, elegant chandeliers, and French accordian music in the background. There is also a pool area downstairs which is only open for functions and events. Looking out the windows or balcony, a sea of green with partial view of  the sparkling Twin Towers is a sight for sore eyes.

Lovely!
Lovely!

Headed by Chef Franck Lamache, whose accomplishments include his stints at the 3 Star Michelin, Crillion hotelin, Paris (Les Embassedeurs), Alain Ducasse and Le Taillevent to name a few, you can expect nothing but well-executed authentic French cuisine here. Yet, contrary to what we know about French cuisine, Chef Franck focuses on light, refined and healthy cooking style, hence we can enjoy our meal without worrying too much about our waistlines.

Monk Fish Mousse with Tomato Coulis
Monk Fish Mousse with Tomato Coulis

Service staff are well-mannered and attentive, without being disruptive, making the dining experience such a pleasure. They were truly on top of their game. Now to the food. Amuse Bouche came in a form of light and airy Monk Fish mousse accompanied by tangy tomato coulis, showcasing Chef Franck’s delicate touch with seafood, while the vegetarian Amuse Bouche played safe with several mouthfuls of earthy mushroom soup, elevated by a touch of truffle oil.

Amuse Bouche: Mushroom Soup
Amuse Bouche: Mushroom Soup

With increasing numbers of health conscious diners, it’s always reassuring to know that there are more than just salads for the vegetarians. The vegetables terrine with kalamata olives and goats cheese struck a chord with my vegetarian lunch company (Frank) with its vibrant colours and classic provencal flavours.

Vegetable terrine, Kalamata Olives, Goat Cheese.
Vegetable terrine, Kalamata Olives, Goat Cheese.

The terrine consists of delicate layer of red capsicum, zucchini and tomato, pairing extremely well with the aromatic chopped olives, peppery arugula, and the rich goats cheese.

Homemade smoked fish platter, salmon, herring, sea bass  with  cucumber salad  and champagne vinegar
Homemade smoked fish platter, salmon, herring, sea bass with cucumber salad and champagne vinegar

The Smoked fish platter is one of the signature dishes at Maison Francaise. Arranged beautifully on a black slate, it was almost too beautiful to eat, a masterpiece actually. Smoked inhouse, the paper thin slices of fish were delicate and less salty than store-bought variety, although the co-star of the show was the refreshing and delightful cucumber salad.

Vegetarian Risotto
Vegetarian Risotto

Vegetarian Risotto is not actually on the menu but can be requested. Topped with a parsley pesto and supported by tomato coulis, the creamy grains were comforting, to say the least. Simplicity at its best.

Pan Roasted Black Cod, Lobster Bisque, Mash Potatoes and Pesto
Pan Roasted Black Cod, Lobster Bisque, Mash Potatoes

It’s not easy to do justice to black cod as it’s such a delicate ingredient. Chef Franck kept it simple by pan frying and finishing in the oven, then pairing the fish with well thought out accompaniments: Heady Lobster Bisque, Quenelle of mash with mushrooms, Vibrant Pesto, Slightly crunchy vegetables for textural contrast. Crispy skin and buttery flesh, the black cod was textbook perfect.

Dessert Platter
Dessert Platter: Cannelés de Bordeaux, Madeleines, Raspberry tart, Roasted Fig with Aprocot Sorbet.

Maison Francaise offers very affordable High Tea daily from 1pm-5pm. So instead of dessert proper, we got to sample a variety of teatime treats and the Canele de Bordeaux was a clear favourite with a caramelised shell, fluffy interior and custardy centre. Also superb was the roasted figs, lemon madeleines and the refreshing apricot sorbet.

Whether it’s a romantic date for two, a girly hangout in the afternoon, a business lunch, even a wedding dinner, Maison Francaise has it covered. More than its good look, it has the potential to become one of the best French restaurants in Klang Valley.

Maison Francaise
5 Jalan Changkat Kia Peng
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel No: 032144-1474
Fax No: 032181-2664
E Mail: info@maisonfrancaise.com.my
Monday to Sunday: 11.00am – 11.30pm (last order)

Croisette Cafe Bangsar: Set Menu Promotion

I’ve had wanted to visit Croisette Cafe for the longest time ever since I’ve read CK‘s reviews with really pretty pictures and authentic sounding repertoire. When the invitation came to me for the new July Set Menu review, I saw it as a great opportunity to finally try it out. This quaint little cafe is run by a husband (Chef)/wife team and have really established their fan base in the Klang Valley. The night we visited (it was a Tuesday night), the cafe was fully booked! That’s always a good sign, isn’t it?

I have to apologize for the photo quality as dim lighting is my nemesis. I promise I will use my next paycheck to upgrade my camera. Well, one thing for sure is I will be returning for lunch soon with Frank (better lighting!)

The new Set Menu is available in July and is priced at RM74.00 per person. You can to choose 1 starter, 1 main dish and 1 dessert with the option of adding 2 glasses of wine/2 cans of beer for RM108.00. Pretty good deal, I think. They will also throw in an amuse bouche which can vary according to availability of the day.

Amuse Bouche: Duck Rillette
Amuse Bouche: Duck Rillette

Our amuse bouche came in a form of cute little Duck rillette on crostinis. Tender duck (I believed plucked from the confit duck) that’s quite salty in nature, but the baby gherkin and tomato provided much needed piquancy to cut through the richness. The cripsy crostini provided a much needed lovely textural contrast. This definitely set the tone for the rest of the evening (as amuse bouche should).

 Salmon & Tuna Tartare, Capsicums Brunoise & Cucumber Jelly
Salmon & Tuna Tartare, Capsicums Brunoise & Cucumber Jelly

I accidentally deleted the close up photo of this dish, but I can tell you this was probably my favourite dish of the night. It’s rather complex but everything went together so well. We have the diced pieces of raw salmon and tuna (can’t you tell I love my raw food?), a cucumber jelly salad that is slightly creamy, topped with some Ikura (Salmon roe) that is quite briny, followed by the tiny cubes of dried capsicum and bits of cooked egg yolk. The mini blini were perfect to mop all that ingredients up. Very well-executed, I must say.

Nissarde Salad with Tuna & Anchovies
Nissarde Salad with Tuna & Anchovies

I’m not a huge fan of cooked tuna so this dish didn’t do much for me. I did enjoy the rest of the ingredients though. Contrary to what I said in my last post about dressing, I actually think that this is a little on the dry side and a nice citrusy dressing could help bring it together.

Prawn Bisque, Saffron Scented, Croutons & Rouille
Prawn Bisque, Saffron Scented, Croutons & Rouille

I’ve heard that Chef Pierre Mc is very skilled at making soup and this was everything I imagined it to me: delicate, silky with quite distinct prawn taste.  The little blob you see in the soup is the rouille; infused with saffron and garlic, it’s perfect to soak up that lovely flavours of the bisque. By the way, that was just a tasting portion, if you order this you will get the full size bowl.

Baked Mussels Stuffed with Herbs Butter
Baked Mussels Stuffed with Herbs Butter

This dish reminds me very much of baked escargots. Usually I would not care for mussels, but using the herb butter has made this so much more palatable. Then again, simple flavours always work, especially when you put butter into the equation. Yum. I actually went for another one despite this being shared among the 4  of us.

Bouillabaisse ‘Croisette Style’ with Prawn Bisque
Bouillabaisse ‘Croisette Style’ with Prawn Bisque

The only time I have tried Bouillabaisse was in Vue De Monde and it was such a spectacular theatrical experience (if you have been to Vue De Monde you would know). So that is going to be really hard to beat. Luckily for Croisette as they have produced this really homely yet extravagant version. That prawn should be qualified as a lobster! This is a treasure pot for seafood lover as you’ll be able to find prawns, hearty pieces of fish, scallops, mussels and squid, accompanied with plenty of potato to soak up that ocean flavour. I got the prawn head and it had such intense flavour I think my brain got a bit intoxicated.

Duck Confit, Potato Sarladaise & Mesclun Salad
Duck Confit, Potato Sarladaise & Mesclun Salad

I usually wouldn’t dare to order Duck Confit anywhere as many places don’t do them well. You are meant to cook the duck on low heat in duck fat very slowly to keep it moist and tender, then quickly seared to render the fat and add the crispiness to the skin. If I may say so, a highly technical dish. I think Croisette does a fairly decent version with good robust flavours in the meat and lovely crispy skin. However, I still feel the meat is slightly on the dry side for me. The duck fat potatoes however, were really the highlight of this dish. Wonderful aroma with parsley and garlic, I couldn’t stop getting extra pieces.

Sea Bass Fillet, Red Capsicum Coulis & Celeriac Puree
Sea Bass Fillet, Red Capsicum Coulis & Celeriac Puree

Doesn’t this plating remind you of Elmo? I was having a bit of quiet chuckle when I saw that. Nevertheless, I liked the fresh flavour of Sea Bass, cooked to perfection. The celeriac puree went really well too. However, I didn’t quite like the red capsicum coulis, I think it actually overwhelmed my tastebud a little, considering the delicate nature of the fish.

Beef Rib Eye, Cepes Mushroom Sauce & Potato Gratin
Beef Rib Eye, Cepes Mushroom Sauce & Potato Gratin

A glorious piece of red meat arrived on our table and I was glad to see that it was my favourite cut: the rib eye. Cooked perfectly rare (muahahahaha I like my steak still mooing), it was tender with the ever-so-slight char-grilled flavour. The Cepes mushroom sauce was creamy and earthy, however I think it could use a bit more salt as the beef was almost just au naturale in taste. The potato gratin was cooked perfectly, though also faced the same problem with the jus: salt level.

Croisette Cafe is known for their extravagant desserts and I sure wasn’t disappointed when this was placed in front of us:

 Chocolate Parfait, Confit Orange Rinds Inclusion & Bergamot Sauce
Chocolate Parfait, Confit Orange Rinds Inclusion & Bergamot Sauce

This was hands down one of the best Chocolate Parfait I’ve tried in Kuala Lumpur. Velvety, intense bittersweet cocoa flavour cut through by the confit orange rind and a touch of Grand Marnier liquor. You know when you close your eyes and say “ooohhhh….”, this was exactly that.

Cake Passion Indulgence
Cake Passion Indulgence

Naturally, being a lover of all fruity desserts, this was clearly my favourite dessert of the night. Constructed from chocolate layer, white chocolate mousse, followed by passion fruit crème brulee. It has the right balance of sweet and sour, with the aromatic passion fruit. Superb!

Nougat Glace (Iced Nougat) with Fruits & Nuts Nougatine, Grand Marnier Scented
Nougat Glace (Iced Nougat) with Fruits & Nuts Nougatine, Grand Marnier Scented

My first experience with Iced Nougat and I must say it was an interesting one. The fruits and nuts made this feel really Christmassy, with once again the scent of Grand Marnier. Just like nougat, except in ice cream form. I felt that this was a bit on the rich side though.

Apple Tart on Thin Crust
Apple Tart on Thin Crust

Having done a few apple tarts myself, this was different as the apple slices were still crunchy and the crust is almost a bit too thin (hence burns quicker). While the flavours were good, I felt that maybe a dollop of cream would have improved this.

All in all, it was a nice introduction to this lovely cafe; Michelle and Chef Pierre Mc’s warm hospitality certainly made this a pleasant dining experience. I would be glad to return to sample more of their dishes.

Croisette Cafe
Level 3, North Block Cascadium Condo
28, Jalan Penaga Bukit Bandaraya
59100, Bangsar Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 016 330 4477 / 014 665 7944
Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Sunday  11.45am to 9.45pm
Closed on Monday
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Croisettecafe

Hosting with PlateCulture: My Very Own Supper Club!

Picture this: One fine day, I’m consulting patients in my private clinic. After the last patient has left, I drove to my own restaurant where I’ll watch over my team of fabulous Chefs putting together beautiful dishes and if I feel like it, I put on the apron and make a few dishes too. When the dinner guests are deep into their conversations and hopefully enjoying the food, my band appears and we performed a few tunes together.

Ok, that might be a little too idealistic and knowing me, I’d probably be running around like a headless chook juggling all of these. But that won’t be far off from my dream. As of now, I’ve taken yet another step forward and the time has come for me to start hosting dinners (and brunches) at my place.

Being a host can be so much fun!
Do you think I pass as a good host?

PlateCulture is an exciting new platform to connect all foodies alike. Without the need to actually own a restaurant, home cooks can now open their dining rooms for guests. I feel that it’s quite safe to do this via an agency (if you will) like this because it provides an extra safety net for us. As a guest, you’ll be able to communicate with the hosts prior to booking to specify any dietary requirements or even request dishes (at least with me you can).

There are 2 types of menu available for my dining room: Food I grew up eating (Chinese, Malaysian) and Western food in general (Brunch, Dinner). Now let’s talk about the Chinese food first.

Chinese feast
Teochew Steamed Fish, Braised Pork Belly (Tau You Bak), Stir fried Eggplant in Garlic sauce.

Most of the Chinese recipes come from my grandmother and my mother, with strong Teochew and Foochow (and Sarawakian) influence. Depending on the number of guests the number of dishes will vary. You will be able to request dishes like Sarawak Laksa too. Vegetarian option is possible but I don’t do ‘mock meat’ dishes.

Would you eat the fish eyes?
Would you eat the fish eyes?

Guests are allowed to bring wine or beer to the dinner, but responsible drinking is very much encouraged.

Not the healthiest but the collagen is good for you. Hehe
Not the healthiest but the collagen is good for you. Hehe

To improve your dining experience, it’s advisable that you let me know if there’s anything you won’t be comfortable eating, as well as your tolerance for spice. All dishes are for sharing and only brown rice will be served.

Introducing the Weekend Brunch menu:

Weekend Brunch dishes
Weekend Brunch dishes

I like sleeping in during weekends (although with this project I might have to do less of that) and hate it when the brunch places stop serving breakfast items after certain time (2pm-3pm for most places as far as I’m aware). At my place, you can have breakfast anytime of the day! Woke up after 4pm? No problem. But be sure to book ahead so I have the ingredients to prepare your dishes.

Baked egg with bacon, capsicum and zucchini. The combination might change based on availability.
Baked egg with bacon, capsicum and zucchini. The combination might change based on availability.

Expect dishes that you can find in most Melbourne cafés: Baked eggs, Smashed Avocado on toast (homemade), Quiches, other egg dishes. If you want a more substantial meal though, you can also choose to book for dinner where I’ll be cooking a 3 course dinner for you. The main course can be anything from Salmon to Beef Stew. Once again, it will help if I know what you normal like to eat.

Lemon and Herbs baked Salmon with my famous mash.
Lemon and Herbs baked Salmon with my famous mash.

Remember the cheesecake in jars? Here’s another version:

Rosewater Cheesecake with Strawberry Jam
Rosewater Cheesecake with Strawberry Jam

Desserts are only available on dinner menu (applicable to Chinese and Western), and they will usually be healthier compared to store bought because I prefer to use less salt. After all, I’m not exactly a fat chef so you won’t need to feel too guilty after dining at my place.

Verified by PlateCulture!
Verified by PlateCulture!

Many have actually asked for the recipe for the cheesecake so here it is!

Rosewater Cheesecake with Strawberry Jam
60g of Marie Biscuits (about 9 pieces)
50g Butter, melted 250g Philadelphia Cream Cheese
100ml Thickened Cream
2 drops of Rosewater
Half a pod of Vanilla Beans, scrapped
1/4 Cup Sugar (more if you prefer sweeter, taste before you chill it)
30-40ml Hot Water
Half a packet of Gelatine, about one teaspoon
1 punnet Strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
Juice of half a lemon

Crush the biscuits in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin, and then pour in the melted butter and mix well. Lay a couple of spoonfuls into individual jars and lightly press down.

Add cream cheese, cream, rosewater, vanilla beans, sugar in the blend and blend until smooth. Sprinkle gelatine in a bowl of hot water and mix well with a fork. Add to the cheese mixture and blend for a few more seconds. Pour the mixture into the jar evenly and chill for at least 3-4 hours.

To make the strawberry jam, hulled and cut the strawberries into halves or quarters depending on size, add to a saucepan with sugar and lemon juice. Cook on medium heat until the liquid turned into gel form (it will form a coat on the back of your spoon). Let cool completely and chill in the fridge until ready to use. Assemble just before serving.

My Chinese dinner menu is priced very reasonably at RM30 per head, and so is the Weekend Brunch menu. The Western dinner is RM50 per head (you can book this through the Weekend Brunch link). Click on the direct links to book your spots. Minimum 2 pax.

Looking forward to having you over for dinner! 

PlateCulture
http://www.plateculture.com
http://www.facebook.com/PlateCulture

Photocredit to: www.afnanomar.com

Meanwhile, do check out all the interesting listings on the site. I heard that the Lithuanian feast is good!