the kitchen table restaurant : brunch edition

6:23 PM sians 0 Comments

it was slightly over half a year ago when i met marcus and mei wan, the brilliant food minds behind the kitchen table supper club & bakery who hosted a memorable supper club dinner at a discreet location in mont kiara.

six months later on one sunday morning, i was sitting in a quaint restaurant, enjoying a similar affability and ambiance that i remembered. for proud co-owners of the kitchen table restaurant & bakery, marcus and mei wan, it was their passion and dream of opening a restaurant coming into fruition. 

both the chef and baker were completely in their element as the former was expediting at the open kitchen while the staff was putting together the sunday brunch menu dishes and the latter was brewing lattes and cappuccinos at the front counter where her vibrant baked goods flaunted themselves in the glass display.

the quaint restaurant was styled in modern minimalist accented by industrial chic details of the white-washed brick walls echoed by the arrangement of white tiles at the counters. several vintage industrial lamps and spotlights fill the dining space which were contrasted and complimented by the warmth of the wooden floors, tables and chairs . it was a classic theme - clean and simple but at the same time cozy as the sunday morning sunlight streamed in through the windows. a comfortable and a relaxing space. 

the dainty sunday brunch menu proffered three options - which were all classic brunch selections but marked with 'the kitchen table' twists and of course, a selection of pukka tea flavors and espresso based cuppas. 

i can't complain about our sunday brunch spread as {mh} and i decided to share a dish of sweet and savory each with our choice of breakfast liquid fuel. 

teas - pukka teas ::  lemon, ginger & manuka honey (rm 9)

served in a clear teapot, we gave it a few minutes as the tea steeped. {mh} took her first sips and thought it was very light in flavor (maybe too light) with an after taste to the tongue that dissipates after several seconds. out of curiosity, i tried a sip of it which funnily gave me an impression of fennel notes in the steep.

coffee :: latte (rm 9)

adorned with coffee art, the latte smelled promising as the comforting familiar whiffs of the coffee emanates its way to a pleasant start to my brunch. as much as the aroma was lovely, the latte was alright with sharp bitter endnotes - not quite the best but not bad.

sunday brunch :: chamomile french toast crunch, cornflakes, macerated strawberries, gula melaka syrup (rm 19)

the sweet. 

two pieces of thick cut toast (brioche, perhaps?) soaked in the egg-milk mixture infused with chamomile (it maybe that i tasted the addition of buttermilk too), caramelized in butter in a pan. the chamomile introduced itself at the first bite but quickly disappeared in the crowd of the other ingredients. but a few bites in and i think it needed more time in the pan to cook the center and to give it the crispy edges i desired. 

it was a mark of ingenuity with the sprinkle of cornflakes for crunch although i wouldn't mind another small handful for more texture contrast. more than that, my favorite part was the bruleed sugar on the top side of the toast for additional crunch and pleasant caramelized sweetness of the sugar that contrasted the lightly tangy cream that was akin to mascarpone. i loved the twist with the use of gula melaka syrup to complete the french toast which exemplified the kitchen table restaurant's infusion of local ingredients in their menu. it was crunchy vs soft and tangy vs sweet done almost right. almost since i would have loved additional syrup to elevate the sweetness. 

sunday brunch :: soft egg, streaky bacon, tomato jam, watercress & sourdough (rm 19)

the savory. 

the base: sourdough slathered with excellent tomato jam, both made from scratch. 
the bacon, perfectly cooked soft eggs and watercress salad were cushioned graciously.

once again, the tomato jam stole the show (although i have to say the smoky, salty and crispy thick cut bacon came in as a very, very close second) with its sweetness weaving through the tartness of the tomatoes. partnering with the balanced flavor profile was the fresh crispness of watercress tossed in a light lemon vinaigrette. to top it off, the golden richness of the yolk coated each bite-fuls of sweet, salty, smoky and citrus-y herbaceous flavors to bring it to a full circle. a delicious ode to the classic breakfast favorite. 

now if only marcus would sell the tomato jam in jars. :) perhaps it's a secret project in progress *fingers crossed* 

the kitchen table restaurant & bakery's food philosophy was evidently reiterated in their creations, rooted in their respect and love for each ingredient in their new american approach infused with local ingredients. short conversations with marcus and mei wan hinted that the brunch/lunch/dinner spread may be expanded over time but kept to a single page menu with the possibility of seasonal menus. in fact, my second session at the restaurant is in the planning, and this time for lunch/dinner. i can't wait. 

the kitchen table restaurant & bakery | location
22, jalan ss20/11
damansara kim
47400 petaling jaya

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



5:30 AM sians 0 Comments

have you ever faced this rather odd conundrum?

you're at a place where there is abundance of restaurants/food places and yet it seems like there is nothing to eat.

similarly reminds you of the typical dilemma of owning a full wardrobe but nothing to wear, huh?

actually, that was what led us to the discovery of a surprisingly pleasant find that involved japanese cuisine and noodles :: ori-udon. highlighting the flavored sanuki {さぬき} udon, ori-udon collaborated with the renowned udon expert, fujimoto-san of sanuki udon in taman desa (wishlisttttt!) in paying tribute to the noodles that is characterized by its square shape and flat edges. 

located on the lower ground floor in the mid valley gardens mall, the noodle shack sits right next to cold storage.  its decor has taken a liking to the modern wood theme as it mimics the interior of noodle shacks in japan. coupled with the open dining area with an open kitchen, it creates a more casual and relaxed ambiance.

there wasn't any waiting for seats since it was without a crowd attributed by the fact that it was still early for dinner. the menu was predominantly udon and with sides of tempura/karaage as well as kushiage {串揚げ} or deep fried skewers for your choosing. 

fresh handmade udon - soup :: niku beef udon (rm 9.9o)

swimming in clear warm broth, the udon were crowned with thin slices of beef which were slightly under-seasoned but overdone, which was a tad disappointing. the yolk from the soft cooked eggs dispersed its richness throughout the soup as i pierced the chopsticks into the yolk. the soup had a simple, clean flavor profile that allowed the noodles to shine but i thought i detected a slight hint of ginger in the soup to which {sysm} disagreed.

the freshly handmade udon makes a difference with its springy, chewy texture that was pleasant. it was cooked el dente that granted lovely, satisfying slurp-fuls. i thought the soup needed more of a punch of flavor but {sysm} enjoyed it just the way it was. 

ori udon set menu :: set 4 - mentaiko + karaage + green tea (rm 13.9o)

to be honest, i was drawn to the word 'mentaiko' on the menu and it was a done deal. mentaiko is marinated roe of pollock and cod. i may or may not have second thoughts with my order when the wait-staff asked me hot or cold and informed me it was a dry version. 

after a few seconds of uncertainty, my answers were yes and hot. served with a dollop of the coral colored yumminess, seaweed strips, a spoonful of mayonnaise and finally completed with a soft cooked egg.

stirring all the ingredients together, the el dente noodles were coated with a thickened, rich sauce of mentaiko and mayonnaise, decorated with speckles of dark green from the seaweed. the mentaiko 'sauce' had a rich, salty, savory, subtly spicy, briny seafood flavor that created a celebration on my palate. it may not be for everyone though especially if they are not one for prominent flavors of the sea. personally, i have not eaten this version of yummy mentaiko udon before which i think is rather special.

a side of fried chicken which was marinated in ginger, garlic and soy aka karaage { から揚げ} was served with teriyaki sauce sassed by hot japanese mustard. while the dark meat chicken remained juicy and moist, the coating could have been crispier and less greasy. the sauce is a saving grace that compensated for the chicken's shortcomings especially the hot japanese mustard that gives a kick similar to its traditional counterpart of wasabi coupled with the savory, tangyness but with a tinge of sweetness. 

side dishes :: kakiage (rm 3)

a basket of shredded vegetables, prepared tempura style. {sysm} felt that it was a dish not to be missed since she quickly realized that as crowd begins to fill the tables at the restaurant as dinner time approaches, it was a feature on almost every table. 

a combination of thinly shredded vegetables - which i guessed are carrots, onions and burdock root meant a natural sweetness, with the satisfaction of biting into the slightly crispy tempura shell that encased the soft inside. addictive, especially when dipped in the teriyaki-hot japanese mustard sauce. however, the greasiness quickly became evident which may have attributed to the tempura shell being less crunchy. the flavors are nice but execution had some room for improvement. 

for fans of green tea, rejoice because the tea (hot or cold) is refillable. 

ori udon has called mid valley gardens home since the end of 2o13 so it is a mystery that i haven't notice this quaint noodle shack until last week. the phrase "better late than never" aptly describes the discovery of ori udon because i foresee a follow up visit when the cravings strikes, especially for its mentaiko udon.

ori udon | location
lg-k01, lower ground floor,
mid valley gardens,
lingkaran syed putra,
59200 kuala lumpur

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


3-michelin-starred dinner in kl

10:16 AM sians 0 Comments

a three-michelin-starred dinner in kuala lumpur -- what are the chances!?

i was absolutely thrilled when i received a fb message from asian food channel (afc).

"i would like to congratulate you for winning a pair of tickets to enjoy a
 three-michelin-starred dinner by alvin leung"


what followed was my almost instantaneous gleeful confirmation to afc for details and subsequently a couple days of eagerly awaiting for the dinner night. :) 

molecular madness by chef alvin leung
oh, what joy!

before i start gushing about the event at the samplings at the fourteenth in berjaya times square, a quick snippet on the man of the evening. a masterchef canada judge, chef alvin leung is the brilliant mind behind bo innovation, one of the five three-michelin-starred restaurants in hong kong and ranked 15th under asia's 50 best restaurants 2014. his new restaurant in london, bo london has recently earned its one star status in less than a year as he dishes out cuisines similar to its hong kong counterpart, x-treme chinese

pre-cocktails ensued as the other dinner guests arrived and shortly after, we were ushered in to the petite dining space of about six tables of ten. it was a pretty intimate dinner setting with a promised demonstration from the man himself later in the evening. what i love with the dining space is the 'open kitchen' where we can see the chefs at work as we looked forward to a memorable evening ahead. 

a quick run through of the night's menu, sprinkled with a dash of humor by chef alvin tells the story behind the culinary adventure that we were about to undertake - his creations begin with the region's signature dishes elevated harmoniously, applying with the science of molecular gastronomy. a mix of east and west which is the foundation of the success story based on his renowned x-treme chinese.


appetizers :: tomato chinois 
tomato on vine braised with "pat chun" chinese glutinous rice vinegar, organic cherry tomato with "lam kok" fermented chinese olive, tomato foam, green onion, goat cheese, beet root. 

a lovely piece of art with natural bright hues of the tomatoes being centrepieces upon the streaks of green onion oil and a brush of lightly sweet and earthy beet root upon the white canvas of a plate. this was a great way to start the meal with its freshness, and tartness with a tinge of natural sweetness of the cherry tomatoes. the tomato foam on the left wore the familiar tastes of ripen tomatoes in an airy manner to go against the briny finish of the fermented chinese olives that also had a lovely crunch. however, the goat cheese was a tad off, flavor wise. 

i've saved the best for last which i found in the red tomato braised in pat chun (aka chinese glutinuous rice vinegar). the petite red tomato drank up the pat chun to give itself a plump disposition with the fragrance of the vinegar but oddly still sweet from the tomato. 

appetizers :: umami won ton mee
duck breast "char siu", crispy squid ink paper, langoustine tartar, rice noodle & vermicelli, flavor with "har mi" essence. 

an interesting presentation where the dark colored squid ink paper were dabbed with some gold leaf for some color and bling which stood out most prominently next to the orange toned noodles. what caught my attention was the innovativeness of the squid ink paper. i have never seen/tasted it before but it had similar nuances of seaweed with a salty sea flavor that almost melts on the tongue. 

the langoustine hid under the sail of the squid ink paper - clearly lightly cooked instead of tartar (chef alvin joked that it was tartar to the extreme - extreme rebel, that is!)

langoustine is a crustacean that resembles a crawfish, which has a cross between a shrimp and lobster where the freshness was oozing with its natural sweetness of the flesh punctuated by a dab of herbaceous sauce. the noodles were slightly overdone and soft but emphasized the shrimp flavors, intensified by the fine dried prawns, garnished atop the vermicelli. 

initially being unaware that it was duck meat, the gamy "char siu" caught me by surprise. then one look at the menu and it all fell into place with the borderline-dry-tenderness which had the familiar sweetness of the char siu that mingled with the smokiness. overall, a creation that celebrates umami flavors as its name impressed.

appetizers :: chilli crab / oyster omelette gazpacho
oyster custard, chili crabs

core ingredients of crab meat, oyster custard and soft boiled egg were center stage as the cold gazpacho streams down the odd shaped bowl. 

a sip of the cold soup offered a sweet, thickened broth with a hit of heat at the end. 

a display of the chef's ingenuity by the deconstruction of the classic singaporean favorite -- a deconstructed chili crab without the hassle of having to peel the crab, if you will. the oyster custard packed the brininess of the sea which somehow exalted the natural sweetness of fresh crab meat. it was topped with a soft boiled egg to impart some richness. on its own, each ingredient was disjointed but combined, it was a meticulous interpretation of the modern chili crab.  one minor issue was there were some small pieces of shell in the crab and so did a few more diners. 

a short intermission allowed diners to watch from the open kitchen as the dinner service intensified while the chefs were hard at work preparing the mains.

main :: bakkuteh short rib
beef short rib, compressed watermelon with "chinese angelica", aromatic bakkuteh chocolate.

not quite the conventional entree of meaty broth, it was updated to petite cuts of the short ribs cooked to medium so it remains tender and succulent, topped with a thickened chocolate sauce (mole sauce-inspired), finished with a pinch of salt and instead of the side of rice, a mini profiterole. i was wishing for a more obvious sear on the short rib but in the spirit of the braised meat in the traditional soup version, it worked.

the mini profiteroles were soft and worked as a replacement for the chinese mantou but eaten with the chocolate suggests a eastern+western collaboration. the chocolate mole sauce embraced the classic flavors of the aromatic bakkuteh that mingled graciously with the bitterness of the cacao and contrasted with the freshness of the sweet watermelon cubes, some of which had a light bitter flavor from the infusion with 'dong guai', which has similar flavors of ginseng. what was missing was the aroma from the fragrant chinese herbs in the sauce for the completeness of the dish to bring it to another level. 

main :: black forest
black truffle, chinese steamed rice pasta braised with sweet soy sauce, baby black carrot, cat ear fungus, asparagus, taro puree. 

lovely black truffle and several slices of the earthy goodness!

enough said?

not quite.

while the truffle was such a punctuating presence, the other elements came in par by offering a special something that worked in a way that i've never imagined would. the black carrot was lightly sweet unlike its common orange counterpart, where the subtle sweetness was mimicked by the creamy and starchy taro puree. the asparagus was a pleasant bright green addition to the monotonous dark grey colored dish, which is a departure from his other vibrant works of art. 

the chinese steamed rice pasta or "cheung fun", seared on one side for texture to the otherwise soft roll of pasta that was slightly sweetened by the soy sauce. it was slightly chewier - almost akin to korean rice cakes. chef alvin left no doubt that the black truffle was the star of the dish as small pieces of truffle was weaved in between the layers of the rolled pasta. it was an excellent dish where the level of earthiness from the truffle was perfection.

as the dinner was nearing the end, chef alvin kept the momentum of the meal going with a molecular gastronomy demonstration of the dessert creation. he announced that it was a virgin dessert, not because it was alcohol free but rather it was the dessert's debut to the public. we were one of the firsts to try his newest creations.

dessert :: modern ice kachang
peanut butter & condensed milk ice cream, freeze dried raspberry, cherry snow, banana caviar, pandan chococlate chips, red bean meringue, salty caramel pop corn, blue hawaii spheres, sous-vide strawberry with sichuan & maple syrup. 

an ode to a local favorite of shaved ice dessert, chef alvin applied his modern cooking techniques to highlight the many ingredients in the equally striking colorful dessert. 

while i applaud him for his courage to experiment to the extreme, this may have been too far over to the end of the spectrum. visually, it was a beautiful dish but just as he would coined it in masterchef canada: it was an asian confusion of a haphazard dessert with too many elements that felt disjointed and had too much going on at the same time. 

some of the elements brought a semi frown on my face but was compensated by the sweet, creamy ice cream and i absolutely loved the pandan chips which i would conclude as the best element on the plate with a burst of fragrant sweet herbaceous punch as i savor each chip. even so, a rather disappointing close to the meal. 

despite the minor shortcomings, it was a lovely, yummy dinner spread (mostly) infused with the creativity of chef alvin leung, featuring the application of molecular gastronomy to elevate the local favorites to different level of sophistication that could sway the conventional taste buds to either love or hate the modern take on the traditional flavors. what i am impressed with is his accomplishment of creating modern cuisines while the dishes strongly reiterate its identity and flavors that makes it truly chinese. 

thank you afc for such a great experience and the opportunity to meet up with chef! :) 

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