Cava Restaurant, Jalan Bangkung

Jalan Bangkung in Bangsar houses a row of quality restaurants quietly serving the foodies for a number of years now. But did you know that most of the restaurants are actually owned by the same people? Peter, the man behind Cava (Spanish/Mediterranean), Opus Bistro (Italian), Lucky Bo (Wagyu Steakhouse), Leonardo’s (International) and Bobo KL (Mod European and Piano Lounge) has definitely found a winning formula to keep this part of Bangsar alive, covering a wide variety of cuisines to keep the diners excited and satiated.

 photo 25075228_1600211300025331_7706317134111146498_o.jpg

The Malaysia’s Hottest Bloggers recently had our Christmas Party at Cava, a Spanish Restaurant, supported by Kronenbourg 1664. Spanish cuisine is right up my alley as I love the vibrancy and its spirit of respecting fresh produce, enhanced by just the right amount of spices. The restaurant has a relaxed and casual vibe yet is formal enough for most occasions. One thing for sure, you’ll never run out of drinking options here!

Inspired by the land and sea and its bouncy, Cava sources the freshest ingredients locally, and serves up a great selection of tapas, meat and seafood dishes. Though the restaurant is pork free, your palate will still be kept busy. We had a trio of tapas platter to start our lunch.

 photo 25311276_1600210570025404_5855391833936500150_o.jpg

Boquerones en vinagre: Fresh anchovies marinated in vinegar and olive oil, a slight umaminess balanced by the peppery arugula. We also had the cured version of anchovies which is a lot saltier and goes great with wine. The Pulpo a la Gallega, Galician style octopus has a slight lick of paprika, love the textural contrast between the bouncy octopus and waxy potato.

 photo 25073326_1600210610025400_6694051597263523642_o.jpg

Sopa de Mariscos, Traditional Spanish seafood broth with a dash of pernod is an excellent choice of soup with super fresh seafood cooked just right, and delicious briny broth which is light and tangy. I polished it clean!

 photo 25075191_1600210436692084_1717469137656606350_o_2.jpg
During our meal we also had some Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc for extra merry making!

 photo 25188705_1600209766692151_4591082390506165449_o.jpg

We then moved on to the meat dishes and everyone’s face lit up upon seeing the Baked Suckling Lamb. What a glorious plate of meat! Baked with rosemary herb, this dish is served with mashed potato, vegetables and lamb jus. The lamb comes with just the right amount of fat (read: a lot) and the meat is perfectly tender. Be sure to get those crispy bits too for layers of texture. Not gamey at all, which is important for me. Definitely the crowd favourite!

 photo 25311256_1600209773358817_7038803986547021835_o.jpg

The Slow Braised Oxtail is fabulous too, cooked for hours for extreme tenderness and great depth of flavours in the gravy. I couldn’t help but had a second serving and extra helping of the gravy. So good!

 photo 25182308_1600211586691969_7358650120897499907_o.jpg

A Spanish feast would not be complete without a theatrical serving of Paella. Cava’s Specialty Arroz Negro: Squid ink paella with squid and prawns, comes with garlic aioli for that extra decadence. The rice is a mixture of fluff, crisp (from the bottom) and definitely plenty of umaminess from the Squid Ink. The prawns is very well executed with some part of shell nice and crisp, while keeping the flesh juicy. But I’ve like to draw your attention to the top left corner, because that chili padi pesto is the bomb! Packed with a punch, its so tasty I had to order extra baguette to soak it up. If they bottle this I would buy it for sure!

 photo 25073102_1600210816692046_4917540242501632313_o.jpg

Cava is quite well-known for their Sangria and I can easily see why. The red Sangria is truly delicious with addition of Triple Sec on top of usual concoction of Red wine and fruits.

 photo 25073485_1600211036692024_650054387771833217_o.jpg

Well after all that meat, it’s time to end the feast on a sweet note. And there’s nothing better than a Creme Catalana, Spanish version of Creme Brulee. The delightful sugar crust, light custard which melts upon contact just provided a much needed closure to this hearty meal.

 photo 25075214_1600211866691941_3411099421528142139_o.jpg

Thank you so much for the great hospitality and I hope I’ll be back here soon for another serving of Spanish delights!

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYBODY!

Cava at Bangkung Row
Tel# +603-20936637
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CavaRestaurant
Web: http://www.cava.my
71, Jalan Bangkung,
Bukit Bandaraya,
59100 Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia

Advertisements

Viva El Sabor at Eccucino, Prince Hotel & Residence Kuala Lumpur

I’ve always been fond of Spanish food for its vibrancy, be it colours, spices, and a wide spectrum of delicious ingredients. From delectable small dishes (tapas) to the decadent Paella, not to mention my favourite type of desert: churros; how to say no to such a feast? I don’t know about you but I absolutely cannot. So here’s a good news for you: from now until 9th Nov there is a guest Chef at Eccucino, Prince Hotel & Residence Kuala Lumpur who’s ready to give you an extraordinary gastronomy experience: The Many Flavours of Spain.

Introducing Chef Jordi Gimeno, who came all the way from Barcelona. Chef Jordi has had over 20 years experience of Spanish culinary experience, having worked in many restaurants and organised successful Spanish Food Festivals in other countries; He has also been featured in the Michelin Guide in Catalonia and Sardinia. Safe to say, the dishes he crafted specially for the buffet would be super authentic.

Of course, Eccucino tries to please everyone by having more than just Spanish cuisine. I certainly didn’t mind the cold section of various seafood.

Smoked fish, Oyster dressed with salsa, and behind these an array of sushi and sahimi.

My buffet essentials: Oysters, Smoked Salmon, Sashimi.

See, I’m not that hard to please.

After filling my stomach with the raw seafood, time to check out the tapas!

The Gambas al Ajillo was very popular.
All matters of Spanish omelette.
Croquettes: there are vegetarian version as well as chicken and fish.
Potatoes in all shape and sizes and cooking styles were available too.
Chef Jordi spotted firing up a large pan of Paella.

Moving right along, there are many interesting Spanish dishes and of course I needed to taste all of them!

Squid Ink Calamari Ring on Rice.

Pour over Squid Ink on anything and I’m sold. Though I suppose it’s not the most ideal if you are say… on a date.

More Black Goodness!

For those who are adventurous enough, don’t miss out on the Fiduea, a traditional Catalan noodle dish made with seafood. This one is cooked with squid ink and assorted shellfish, and I love the al dente noodles, absolutely umami with ocean flavour.

Chicken Stew with Prawns

It’s not commonly to see both Poultry and Shellfish in a stew and surprisingly the combination is pretty good! The drumsticks are super tender, and the prawns bouncy and succulent. The broth is just so comforting, it soothed my poor tummy as I didn’t have time at all to eat that day.

Sopa de pescado: Spanish Fish Stew.

Check out the amount of seafood in that piping hot stew! I made sure I took a bit of everything and sip the soup in happiness. Nothing was overcooked and the broth is ever so briny.

Beef Sirloin with Orange, Chili and Garlic

There is no shortage of meat, so pick your favourite. I went for the carving station.

Mmmm come to mama!

The Roast beef was also popular that night, and I was happy to receive a medium rare piece. Great with a side of garlic oil, this was tender with a burst of bovine flavour. My inner carnivore was satisfied.

Of course, one does not go to a Spanish feast without sampling some Paella:

Seafood Paella

Every batch is freshly made on the spot, and disappears as soon as it comes out. So make sure you wait in front of the Chef when he’s cooking it. The rice has obvious hint of saffron, tomato, onion and seafood note. It’s one of the best Paella I’ve had in KL.

Some more main dishes:

Snapper
Lamb, I think.
Butter Chicken
Wok Fried Hor Fun.
There are plenty of desserts to choose from too:
For the sweet tooth.
More desserts.

But of course, I went straight for the churros instead.

Churros, also called Spanish Doughnuts.

We were also entertained by the flamenco dancer accompanied by a guitarist, sure took us away from the hustles and bustles of KL city.

Thank you Prince Hotel & Residence KL for the great hospitality!

The Viva El Sabor promotion at Eccucino is priced at RM98++ per person (Children under 12 free with any paying adult) runs until 9th November 2014 which includes cooking demos (only a few days more!). Sangria and Spanish wines are also available during this promotion period. Do check with the friendly waiters at Eccucino for more information. For additional 30% discount then head on to Prince Hotel’s Facebook page to download a discount coupon.
Eccucino
Lobby floor of Prince Hotel and Residence KL
Jalan Conlay
Kuala Lumpur.
T: +603 2170 8888

Estilo Spanish Tapas Bar & Charcoal Grill, Publika

Publika in Solaris Dutamas is blessed with a wide variety of eating spots and one of my favourite would have to be Estilo, which specialises in Spanish Tapas and doubles as a great drinking spot with their extensive menu of sangrias and wines. It’s part of The Social group which also runs El Meson. Interestingly it’s located just a couple of doors away from The Social.

Estilo has a casual and relaxed ambience and at night it comes alive with pretty colours, though it’s also kept organic with exposed brick walls, and on display are many chalkboards, wine bottles dotting around the place. There are comfortable booths down the back of the restaurants, high tables with bar stools at the middle section and an al-fresco dining sections too.

Interior Shot.

Having dined at this place several moons ago, I was glad to receive an invite along with the Malaysian’s Hottest Bloggers to try out more of their dishes. How can I say no to Paella, right? Since our resident photographer Andy Kho was around, I am using his photos here instead. Let’s get started!

Cubanito (RM20)

Coincidentally I just watched a movie called Chef where the main character quit his restaurant job and started a food truck selling Cuban sandwiches (if you love food you must watch this movie, it will make you hungry), so I was a little excited to try this. Although it’s pork free, the gooey cheese and the smear of mustard makes up for it.

Chef Pedro, Head Chef.

Speaking of Chef, Estilo is headed by Chef Pedro (Who overlooks the all The Bluefire Group’s outlets) who came all the way from Spain. Having trained and worked for over 12 years in busy restaurant kitchens, he is committed not just to preparing excellent food, but serving it, in his own words, “in the most clean and attractive way possible”. Since he joined The Bluefire Group, he has developed some of his traditional hometown recipes into popular local favourites, whilst maintaining the integrity of the original dish. While being careful not to change the traditional recipes too much, he thrives to serve authentic Spanish dishes that will please the Malaysian palate. Gotta love a passionate chef!

Smoked Salmon with Wasabi “Oreo” (RM24)

The presentation of this dish is truly elegant. At first I was a little puzzled seeing the Oreos on the plate, but when Chef mentioned that it’s made with Olives I felt a bit more relieved. Couldn’t really detect much of wasabi but I love the umaminess of the olives, pairing really well with the melt-in-your-mouth salmon.

Beef Carpaccio (Tenderloin) (RM24)

I could never resist a nice plce of Beef Carpaccio: Raw beef pounded to paper thin slices and garnished with manchego, pistachios and capers. The flavour combination is perfect.

Queso de Cabra Crujiente (RM 22)

Next was my favourite dish at Estilo: Goats Cheese baked in Filo Pastry, served with Pumpkin Jam and Caramelised Shallots. Lovers of Goats Cheese will definitely love this, with the unique and slightly pungent aroma mellowed by the sweet jam. The textural play with the melty cheese and crispy pastry is excellent too.

Baby Spinach Salad & Marinated Prawns (RM26)

This salad may look rather busy, but it’s full of delicious things. The caviar added the decadence, while the combination of avocado, prawns and pineapple is surprisingly harmonious, with sweet balsamic reduction to round things off.

Green Vege Salad & Smoked Salmon (RM 28)

The other salad is lovely too, with layers of peas, beans, cucumbers, smoked salmon, rocket (arugula), surrounded by beets and grapes, dressed in mustard dressing. Great to fulfill your daily vegetable quota.

Pulpo a la Parrilla (In-house Special) (RM 48)

The Grilled Smoked Octopus comes with a rather theatrical display of smoke, inducing rounds of “Oohs” and “Aahs” around the table.

Pretty as a picture.

I love the dramatic presentation as well, with a whole tentacle in the middle atop bright orange piquillo sauce and cubes of root vegetables dotting the plate. The Octopus has a lovely smoky flavour and has a good chew. It’s a fun dish for sure.

Paella Ciega (small RM66) (large RM124)

My eyes definitely lit up when I saw the sheer size of the Paella. Interestingly, here the Seafood is serve on the side, not with the rice, perhaps to prevent overcooking. I love the aromatic rice, cooked to perfection with a bit of slightly charred crispy bits at the bottom, and the seafood was pretty fresh too. Definitely a satisfying dish on its own.

Pollo (RM28)

However, it was the grilled spatchcock spring chicken that won my heart, with its intense smoky flavour and juicy flesh. Yum!

We ordered a few extra dishes after main course after scanning the menu, and I am glad we did!
Champiñones (RM 16)

I usually wouldn’t skip ordering Mushrooms in a Tapas place, and here this dish is executed perfectly with the soft mushrooms swimming in a garlic aromatic creamy sauce enriched with wine. So good!

Escargots (RM24)

Those with adventurous palate should try the Escargots. Unlike the usual French take with herbs and butter, this is served with a delicious creamy sauce spiked with leeks. I also think the roast apple is a nice touch. The snails themselves are exquisitely tender too.

Corderos Lamb Costillos (Rack of Lamb) Rm58

While the lovers of lamb would enjoy this, packing a punch of flavours and roast to perfect tenderness.

After 2 rounds of savoury dishes, it was finally time for desserts.

Tarta Manzana (RM 16)

This Caramelised Apple Tart comes heavily doused in caramel, so if you are not much of a sweet tooth you may have to tell the kitchen to be slightly less generous. The combination of cold and hot is superb though.

Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry (RM16)

Since I can’t eat Chocolate, I didn’t try this dessert but according to fellow foodie Sharon, this was nice and smooth, and not overly sweet.

Group photo with the girls.

Thank you Pei Shyen for the lovely meal and we will be sure to return again for that Baked Goats Cheese in Pastry!

We adjourned to The Social after dinner for a few drinks and I was glad to have caught 9Lives (led by well-known local songstress Joy Victor) performing and had the opportunity to jam a song with her. Fun night!

Always fun to jam with fellow musicians.
Estilo Tapas Bar & Charcoal Grill
No 34, Level G2 Block C5,
Publika Solaris Dutamas,
Jln Dutamas 1,
50480, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 6203 9883
Pork Free but Serves Alcohol

Frangipani: New Executive Chef, New Menu with a Spanish flair

*Cough* *cough* Sorry for the lack of recipe post, I’m down with the most annoying thing: dry cough. That’s what happens when I neglect my immune boosters (and also eating out too much, not taking in enough nutrients) and it comes back to bite me firmly on my throat. Needless to say all I have been eating (or drinking) is soup, porridge etc. Nothing interesting to post here. Anyway, I need to get better by tomorrow because it’s not only my big 3-0, I have to perform at night too! So please send your positive thoughts this way. 🙂 Anyway, back to topic:

Frangipani has been on my ‘to-eat’ list for ages, but for some reason we’ve never been able to go. I guess it has come to the point that the stars have to be aligned for Frank and I to be free at the same time. Anyway, an invitation did come at the right time and when I heard that Frangipani has appointed a new executive chef (and thus, a brand new signature menu), I knew I had to check it out. Hails from Malaga, Spain, Chef Manuel Lopez Quinones has worked in many countries as well as his homeland, and most impressive accomplishments includes his stints at 2 Michelin Star “La Broche” in Madrid and 2 Michelin-star “Arola” in Barcelona, under the famed Sergio Arola. Previously spotting a predominantly French menu at Frangipani, now Chef Manuel brings a bit of Spain to the table.

We were most impressed with the beautiful layout of the intimate dining area with a pond in the middle, and the lighting was sufficiently dim to create a romantic ambiance. Without further ado, we were given a menu to choose our dishes from the Signature menu. And I decided to stick to seafood and let the service staff do the wine pairing for me. As Frank is now almost 100% vegetarian, Chef Manuel has kindly designed a vegetarian menu for him, which was pretty cool (turns out his wife is a vegetarian too, so it’s a breeze for him to come up with creative vegetarian dishes). So before I start, let’s just say this will be quite long post!

Once we have finally settled down in our seats, the amuse bouche was first given to us.

Arugula, Smoked Salmon, a touch of cream cheese and alfalfa sprouts.
Arugula, Smoked Salmon, a touch of cream cheese and alfalfa sprouts.

This is such a tasty combination. The arugula lends a peppery and bitter note this which I enjoyed.

Mango salad
Mango salad

Vego option for Frank: Mango Salad with coriander, mint and chili. Refreshing.

Yum!
Yum!

We couldn’t get enough of the yummy butter and fluffy bread. I was trying to figure out the umami specks in the butter: olives? seaweed? Nevertheless it was delicious.

My first course was Sauteed Baby Squid and I love the simple and elegant plating.

Quick Sauteed Baby Squid
Quick Sauteed Baby Squids

Adorned with super finely chopped parsley and chives (impressive knife skill), garlic, extra virgin olive oil with a quenelle of mash on the side and dots of aioli surrounding the baby squid, this was almost too pretty to eat. The herbs and EVOO definitely enhance the flavours of lightly sauteed squids. They were cooked to perfect, tender with just a touch of bite. The mash is on the light side as we were told Chef Manuel doesn’t like to use a lot of cream and butter, which is refreshing actually.

Mixed Leaves salad with Parmesan Crisp and balsamic dressing.
Mixed Leaves salad with Parmesan Crisp and balsamic dressing.

Frank started with this beautiful mountain of salad. The Parmesan crisp was star of this show. I also love the crispness of the leaves against the sweet tangy balsamic dressing. Simple, yet easy to eat (which is actually quite difficult to achieve with salads).

My second course was grilled Hokkaido Scallops presently daintily on 2 rings of Mango salad.

Hokkaido Scallops with Mango Salad
Hokkaido Scallops with Mango Salad

Once again, the presentation is so elegant. Look at the giant sized scallops with beautiful char marks, what a sight to behold. I love the meaty scallops, the texture was dense yet delicate and soft, pairs well with the mango salad which had some coriander, mint and a touch of chili heat. Perfection.

Warm pumpkin with ginger soup
Warm pumpkin with ginger soup

Frank’s pumpkin soup comes with a shaved black truffle (in the middle), drizzle of truffle oil, golden croutons and micro herbs. Smooth and silky, warming and inviting, with good balance of sweet and savoury note. Although being Frank (read: not a big fan of truffles), he thought the soup could actually do without the overpowering truffle oil.

I’ve chosen to go with a fish dish for my main, because I’m still trying to stay off red meat. (Sorry Wagyu Rump, I will give you a chance next time!)

Confit Fillet of Cod with Creamed Organic Corn
Confit Fillet of Cod with Creamed Organic Corn

I love the simplicity of this dish. Black cod is my favourite fish and it was amazingly soft done this way. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever had confit fish before. This was heavenly! Pairing with corn gives it a very clean flavour profile. The assorted sprouts on top, and the lightly charred baby corns provided a contrast to the the texture. Delicious!

Pumpkin Milanese and Flor De Ronda Goats Cheese with Rocket salad and Mixed red fruits
Pumpkin Milanese and Flor De Ronda Goats Cheese with Rocket salad and Mixed red fruits

What a mouthful to read. Pumpkin crumbed and deep fried, with a huge round of cheese, sounds like we hit the cheese jackpot! I had a bite of that Pumpkin Milanese, it’s very lightly flavoured, but rightly so because of that bold cheese on top. Very good pairing and I believe Frank mopped up every crumb.

Pan-seared Foie Gras with Sauteed Apple, Vanilla and Quince Membrillo
Pan-seared Foie Gras with Sauteed Apple, Vanilla and Quince Membrillo

This foie gras dish is not included in Chef’s signature menu but we ordered it anyway because I heard Frangipani does it well. And people have spoken, as this was hands down the best foie gras dish I have tasted so far (in my life, even, since I haven’t actually eaten FG in France). The liver was perfectly charred outside and buttery soft inside, great mouth feel. Pairing it with apple is quite surprising, but it works. I had to google “Membrillo” haha, but it is actually quince ‘paste’ (the orange cube in the pic).

I thought the foie gras was going to be the highlight of the dish as I’m usually not crazy about dessert. Boy did I get it wrong! The desserts are not specified on the menu so when this dessert was presented to me, my eyes lit up instantly.

Toffee of banana and Vanilla ice cream
Toffee of banana and Vanilla ice cream

I love everything about it. The icecream was the first one I went for and I could taste a bit of Creme brûlée in it, perhaps due to the toffee with the banana and the real vanilla beans. The “fritter”, crispy with well caramelised banana inside. It was like Chef read my mind and knew exactly how I want my dessert. I almost had tears in my eyes while enjoying this.

Lemon Panna Cotta, Strawberry, Mint Sauce
Lemon Panna Cotta, Strawberry, Mint Sauce

I didn’t taste the Panna Cotta because Frank had the whole thing to himself (only fair because I wouldn’t let him try my dessert, haha). I did have a drop of that mint sauce though. Strangely, tasted a bit like Sambucca?

Good food, great service, what more can I ask for? The wine never stopped flowing (at least in my perception, I’m a light weight nowadays), and the staff were engaging without being too disruptive. We had a wonderful time! Now we just gotta find another chance to go back.

Frangipani Restaurant & Bar
25 Changkat Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Telephone : +60 3 2144 3001
Email: reservations@frangipani.com.my

Spanish Style Baked Eggs

Spanish style Baked Eggs

Whenever I see baked eggs on a menu, I’d have to order it. I’d even skip the Eggs Benedict for this. Serious. It’s the kind of dish that makes a gloomy day seems so much brighter, the birds sing, and my heart smiles. How does the heart look like when it smiles? Errr….. I prefer not to imagine that. Plus point for being kind to the waistline. That always helps.

I have been having problems naming this particular version of baked eggs. Originally this would probably be a Spanish dish, as I used to cook this with Chorizo Sausages. But I’ve replaced the meat with Cannellini Beans. The fact that it’s usually cooked with Eggplants, Capsicums, Tomatoes, Zucchini and Onions pulls it closer to a Ratatouille with Baked eggs. But I didn’t use the Zucchini this time. It’s not quite Shakshouka either although it does have similar spice profile. Are you dizzy yet?

Regardless of what it’s called, this is a delicious dish perfect for the weekend brunch. Even though we actually had it for dinner. So we’ll stick with Spanish style.

Love the vibrant colours! Most appetizing!

Ingredients:

1 brown onions
1 red capsicum
1 eggplant
1 stalk celery
1 can of canned tomatoes
1 can of Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup White wine
Salt and Pepper
Eggs
1 handful of chopped Parsley
Cayenne Pepper, to taste

Chop all the vegetables into rough dice.

In a large pot, heat a little olive oil and stir in the onions and garlic, cook until soften. Add celery and cook for 1 minute or two. Then add the rest of the vegetables and stir until well combined.

In another pan, dry roast and coriander, paprika and cumin until fragrant, then add to the vegetable pot with tomatoes and wine. Cook for about half an hour, stirring regularly, and season to taste.

Take a cast iron pan (I happen to have a small one perfect for 2 servings, you can even use ramekins too), add just enough vegetable mix to about two-thirds. Crack one or two eggs (or more, if larger serving) into the dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Cook in 200 degree Celsius oven until the eggs are set, which would be around 20 minutes. Sprinkle extra ground black pepper on top.

Serve as it is, or with toasted bread. I like to just dig in, first ‘attacking’ the egg yolks.

Like this.

Another versatile dish where you can add or substitute ingredients at will. We had the rest of the vegetables mix with some grilled Haloumi cheese. Equally delicious.

So tell me, what is your favourite breakfast or brunch dish?