Monday, October 6, 2014

village park nasi lemak

"breakfast, lunch, dinner;
'creamy' rice, spicy sambal;

village park restaurant nasi lemak

this place needs no introduction. 
the proof is in the constant crowd inside and outside the restaurant throughout the day although i can only really vouch for weekend mornings. 

in fact, it is one of the top searches for the argubly best nasi lemak in klang valley. 

i've got to admit that i was a little very late to the party and yes, i finally had my plateful a few weeks ago to try for myself what draws the malaysian crowd back for many years. trust me, malaysians are huge on nasi lemak - they take the art of this delicious local favorite very seriously!

i was lucky on both visits - i managed to get a table in under five minutes, granted you have to be a little quick to snap up a table as diners leave. or perhaps be willing to share the table with strangers - a necessitated communal dining experience, if you will ;)

although village park restaurant seems synonymous to nasi lemak, there are other offerings as well ranging from noodles, kaya-butter toasts and rice with dishes for your choosing. but why not try their most popular signature dish especially if it was my first time there. and yes, this entry will be dedicated to just that one dish.

15 - 20 minutes of after watching many plates of nasi lemak whizzed past us (and not without me staring at the staff expectantly, hoping it was ours), it was finally here - the moment of truth. village park is famous for its nasi lemak but their speciality lies in the nasi lemak ayam goreng (rm 9) or literally translated 'fatty rice with fried chicken'. for variety sake, we also tried the rendang daging ('beef rendang') (rm 8.50) rendition.

all the fixin's made their appearances - the chili sambal, the fragrant rice, half a hard boiled egg, a handful of crunchy fresh ground nuts and cripsy, salty anchovies, a couple slices of fresh cucumber and of course the huge piece of dark meat, leg quarter, all strewn almost in an organized haphazard manner.

one of the main stars that makes it nasi lemak is the chili sambal (chili paste with blended onion). my personal preference is a fiery spiciness balanced with the slight sweetness mingled with the onions. unfortunately, village park's had a milder disposition that was decent but not memorable. it was one that i didn't find myself reaching for with every spoonful of rice.

speaking of which, the essence of a great nasi lemak is the rice itself, which only a handful has mastered that skill in the many different nasi lemaks i've tried. soft, fluffy yet you can taste each grain of rice with the fragrance of pandan and ginger whispering its presence softly in the midst the subtle creaminess of the coconut milk, finished with salt to bring out its flavors. the rice was yummy that i would have happily wolfed down the rice on its own although i wouldn't have mind a bit more decadence of the coconut milk.

the signature of the nasi lemak ayam goreng - a generous portion of the leg quarter, fried in secret blend of spices. warm, succulent and juicy meat encased in a golden brown shell of a skin seasoned and marinated generously with spices which i detected notes of tumeric, garlic, ginger and perhaps lemongrass.

i loved the little, runaway, savory crispy bits of batter that gave it that occasional punch of salty in between bites of the mildly seasoned meat.  yum.

the beef rendang was definitely overshadowed by the fried chicken. while the flavors had the makings of a great rendang, my mom thought the kaffir lime leaves would have elevated the fragrance and added another dimension of mild tangy-ness to the dish. on the other hand, i thought the parts of the beef pieces were a tad chewy, overcooked and borderline dry. sad face.

the plain nasi lemak had most of the foundation right while the fried chicken takes it to another level. the serving size is huge that it held me over breakfast and lunch. [#protip] if you are a smaller eater, one option is to share one piece of chicken (rm6) between two plates of plain nasi lemak (rm3) oh, take away here also means queueing up in the very long line to get your orders and then moving into another line at the payment counter. so be prepared to wait even if you were here to get a to go meal.

my parents opined village park restaurant serves above average nasi lemak but they've had better and my parents has had their fair share of nasi lemak. i'd concur with them since there were some room for improvement but so far this is one of the better ones i've tasted. (my next project is to try out the nasi lemak my parents love!) however, there was probably added msg in the dishes since we were gulping down glasses of water to quench the thirst after our meal there.

a good plate of nasi lemak this is, definitely worth a visit to try it for yourself if you are willing to wait for just a bit..

village park restaurant | location
5, jalan ss21/37,
damansara utama,
47400 petaling jaya
{open mondays to saturdays: 7am - 8pm;
 sundays: 7am-6pm}

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.

Friday, September 26, 2014

BEAM cafe

the food scene is always spearheaded by a trend.. 

a flavor of the season, if you will.

and i feel that it is especially obvious in kl. when something catches on, everyone wants to be part of it. since earlier this year, cafe & coffee have headlined the food scene with the many brunch spots and cafes dominating the many neighborhoods in the city. even though the movement has considerably mellowed to date, more than a few newbies have entered the scene to take a piece of that cafe pie. 

one of the relatively newcomer that opened in july is beam cafe, located in bandar sri damansara, which is a little ways away past one utama shopping mall on the ldp heading to damansara. unfortunately, the rain decided to 'rain on my parade' as i was hoping for the beautiful stream of dusk light to illuminate my photos with a lovely flair.

capitalizing on the vast space and high ceiling, the cafe is dressed in a industrial chic decor with its main hues of cement grey walls, black detailing of the inner structures that contrasted with the home-y rustic wooden furniture, exposed red brick walls and several potted plants to bring that punch of needed color to the cafe. the walls were adorned with whimsical art pieces, which breathed a special charm to the place.

oh, how i crave for natural lighting for my photos.

the space was oddly cozy.. one that i wouldn't mind spending hours in. my favorite features have got to be the lights fixtures and the coffee-related one-of-a-kind hand drawn graffiti/ art pieces..

it was not difficult to see where beam cafe's passion and respect lie - the coffee. elegant coffee machines flaunted themselves on the shelves that line the walls and a couple of tables. red coffee roasters revealed themselves grandiosely on the second floor. a centerpiece table where the barista offers hand-brewed or by siphon technique (love!) in brewing freshly ground, aromatic blend of coffee beans.

[#protip] pick a table and once you have your chosen table number, order and pay for your food&drinks at the counter. the drinks list on the blackboard at the back of the counter is only a fraction of what they have offer - a complete menu book can be found at the counter.

[#protip] oh btw, it's cash only!

from its limited offerings of entrees (four variations of both panini and salad - that's eight to choose from) on top of the many options of sweet pastries and local kuih, we opted share one of each with a nice cuppa joe for me and a cup of hot chocolate for {mh} to drown the rainy blues away.

ang mo pattern | latte (rm 11)

i always crave for caffeine especially in a cafe that pays meticulous attention to its coffee conception. the best way for a coffee taste test is the basic espresso+milk combination - the latte. crowned with a lovely foam art, that familiar coffee aroma wasn't prominent but the first sip more than compensated for that. the temperature was just right, the bitter undertones of the espresso lingered with the creaminess of the milk. smooth finish. a well done cup of latte which i would rank as one of my favorites after its counterparts from espressamente illy and azzurro.

hot picks | hot chocolate (rm 12)

this was worthy of a cheer-me-upper for {mh}, which was depicted accurately by its foam art in the form of a heart. her thoughts on the cocoa goodness was "the chocolate drink was quite nice. very rich." so if comforting sweetness is what you're looking for as a pick-me-up booster for the day, this might be the beverage for the job. ;)

panini | roast chicken panini (rm 18)

it was a panini kinda day. well, more precisely, we were both starving and craving for carbs to hit that hungry spot. toasty sandwich, served with a side salad of tossed greens in a rather thick italian dressing. a little lighter on the vinaigrette would have done the salad a whole lot more justice but i really liked the mix of the peppery arugula (it's called rockets here) to contrast that burst of sweetness from the sweet cherry tomatoes. the potatoes were seasoned  - cooked through perfectly but slightly chilled.

if i had to describe the panini in three words - chicken pizza sandwich

with slices of roasted chicken with more than a handful of julienned raw onion + green bell pepper, the usual suspects of tomato slices and lettuce, glued together with a generous amount of perfectly melted mozzarella cheese, sandwiched in between perfectly toasted bread. 

simple and light on flavor but seasoned aplenty while featuring the individual components in a wonderful manner. the chicken was almost borderline dry but i loved the melted cheese that came to the rescue, done just right where the melted cheese pulled satisfyingly as i took bites. a great play on the textures although i am not a huge fan of raw onions - but granted that is really a personal preference.

salad | japanese seafood salad (rm 18)

we were very much looking forward to the salad - we are suckers for seafood, after all - especially after a successful session with the panini. a mixed seafood bounty of shrimp, flaky cooked tuna and scallops with edamame to complete this japanese-inspired salad, rested atop a bed of coleslaw... 


-- yes. coleslaw. tossed in a creamy sesame dressing. 

the coleslaw threw me off -- like, a lot.
i suppose it's probably because coleslaw wouldn't be the first thing that come to mind when i think of japanese salad.

this salad rendition was disappointing after a promising start with the panini. the main stars of the salad - the seafood - could have benefited from slightly less cooking time and a tad more salt/seasoning, which was resonated throughout the muted/mild flavors of the rest of the salad. we agreed we would have been happier with another order of panini to be shared. 

with its coffee in the spotlight, BEAM - which is actually the abbreviation for 'bean expedition at manufactory' - displays such love and respect for every stage of  their coffee masterpieces creation. and while i haven't tried their sweet offerings, i have read that 'when tea meets coffee' seemed to reign as the crowd favorite.  in all, it's a great place to get your caffeine fix.

while you're at it, consider getting a panini too ;) 

BEAM | location
no 25 jln gangsa, sd5/3b
bandar sri damansara
kuala lumpur
{open daily except tuesdays; 11am-8pm}

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.