killer gourmet burgers - kgb

1:51 AM sians 1 Comments

"what do we demand of the perfect hamburger? that the meat patty be profoundly beefy in flavor, mouthwateringly browned on the outside, and succulent (a combination of juicy and tender) on the inside. the bread or bun should not interfere with any of these virtues. it should be soft, mild, and unassertive; it's job is to absorb every last drop of savory juice trickling from the meat while keeping the burger more or less in one piece and your hands dry."

jeffrey steingarten, an always precise food critic and writer, has decidedly listed the virtues that define THE perfect hamburger. 

he reiterates, almost with a sense of resoluteness...

"mouthwatering, beefy, juicy and tender - not too much to ask from life but entirely elusive, at least to me. it's not as though i haven't tried. God knows, i've tried"

mr steingarten is also a man with a brilliant food mind, whom i have utmost respect for and look up to as my inspiration for my foodie ways. so who am i to argue on his views of the quintessential hamburger?

valid points but these are merely the foundation that is mandatory for the perfect hamburger to build on; throw in a few more essential pre-requisites: a beautiful deep brown crust where the flavors are concentrated (think the maillard reaction) on a thin beef patty (not a fan of the thick patties - at that point, i'd rather go with a steak) cooked medium rare/medium on the griddle.

hmm... perhaps, those are more like my preferences.

// the maillard reaction - also known as the browning reaction - is a series of chemical reactions that take place when protein-rich foods are heated. large proteins break into smaller compounds which react with others, recombining into new configurations. they break apart again, recombine, and on and on in a cascade of chemical reactions that creates hundreds of brand new compounds."

sometimes keeping it simple is the way to go - the good ol' cheeseburger (with a ton of cheese, of course). even so, there are always those days where bacon, sauteed mushrooms, avocado, caramelized onions add ons can either elevate the flavors or accentuate the beefy greatness to a greater intensity when intricately paired.

THAT is my ideal hamburger.

and these were the qualities i was looking for when i was picking out one of their renditions under the crust seared burgers menu at kgb, short for 'killer gourmet burgers'.

its industrial inspired setup was akin a shack with exposed red bricks as its backdrop where the brightly lit sign hung above the menu behind the counter. once orders and payments were made over the counter, i took my metal number tent and picked a wooden table with metal chairs for two, while waiting my dining companion to complete her order.

it was tough to choose a burger i wanted, but my cravings had made the selection easier - the animal style - crust seared (of course!) 100% steak grade australian grass fed beef, mustard grilled, sharp cheddar, caramelized onions and shack sauce that i had requested to have it on the side (rm 14.90)

stamped with its signature logo on the top of the bun, and the cheese melted on the seared beef patty glistened slightly in its juices under the spotlight (literally... well, there was actually a bright lamp  just right above the table).

the juicy patty was cooked almost to the doneness i had requested for - medium-ish, begging for just a slightly more crust to the sear and another sprinkle of salt and pepper. the patty comes apart effortlessly with every chew in the mouth, intensifying the beefy flavor that shone behind the melted cheddar. it paired beautifully with the slight sweetness of the caramelized onions but the bun fell short (i frowned momentarily) - it was dry.

while all these time, the shack sauce was benched on the side as a spectator. there's a history between us, the shack sauce and i. my first kgb experience was a few years ago when i had gotten myself the same burger. my burger had been over-sauced, the sauce overwhelmed the palate and casted an eclipse over the beef patty. this time, i cautiously dipped my burger lightly in the shack sauce and took a bite - creamy with whispers of light spicy tartness. my personal inclination remained the same - without the sauce, please.

weak against fries, i succumbed to ordering a basket of fries with just salt and pepper to be shared. medium thick cut, deep fried but not too greasy. but most of them were not crispy enough either.

tldr // kgb starts their burger with the right stuff: all natural thin beef patties, seared crusted just enough to lock in the juices in the beef. some fixing are needed though, the dry bun distracts from the patties and the shack sauce - strong in its presence (sometimes too strong) may overwhelm the tastebuds. get those right, then we may have something great in our hands.

killer gourmet burgers | location 
232-b lg, the gardens mall
mid valley city,
59200, kuala lumpur
{opens daily: 11am - 10pm}

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


paul patisserie & boulangerie

7:22 AM sians 2 Comments

"On a tous dans sa vie des grands rendez-vous à ne pas manquer. J'ai moi-même saisi deux opportunités qui sont à l'origine des étapes décisives de cette formidable aventure."

a familiar dark facade caught my eye as i rushed through pavilion kl. i stopped abruptly on my tracks to take a glance at the off-white print against the black walls:

depuis 1889

obviously excited and quietly whispering "OMG" to myself while texting my foodie friend in bangkok, i doubled back slightly to find that the first outlet in malaysia has still some ways to go in the making.

that was three to four months ago. 

that was also how long i agonized/anticipated until the day it finally welcomed diners through its open doors where i jumped at the first opportunity to dine when i finally found a willing dining companion within the first few days.

priding itself with a 125-year long tradition through five generations, paul kept its signature trademark front that paired effortless with the checkered black & white floors where the golden pastries and the bright colors of the fresh fruit tarts flirtatiously beckons you over from behind the glass case. i was almost distracted by the golden brown pastries until my dining companion pulled me back to the maitre d's desk to request for a table for dinner.

shifting my attention between the open dining space centered around the espresso machine station and the french-english inspired dining space, we promptly made out choice and walked through the open french doors into the latter. the gold accented trimmings framed paintings against the off white walls. multi-colored chairs pushed in against the light brown tables where the familiar paper place mats are laid as the server placed the menu on our table.

slightly nostalgic, it took me aback very briefly to my first encounter with paul patisserie - a heavy brunch of crepe and super thick hot chocolate in rabat, morocco and my second in the form of pastries take out during my quick layover at dubai airport, both on the same trip. that was merely three of the paul patisserie locations in 33 different countries, globally.

flipping through the menu, it featured french classics - mains and sandwiches but my dining companion, who had tried its franchise in philippines, was surprised at the limited selection for the main dishes. she skipped ahead and spent more time poring through the dessert pages even when her mind was already made up for her dessert choice.

i was left with an unshakable need for a hearty grilled cheese sandwich after a friend had showed me a picture of one just a few days prior. unknowingly, my cravings had made my main dish selection quick but i still had an inner struggle to pick only ONE dessert off the menu.... okay, maybe two - one for here and another to go. and perhaps also a piece of their baked breads. or could i instead get two...?

the server returned to our table just minutes after, our faces immediately fell when she broke the bad news that neither of our dessert choices were available (i ordered tartelette aux fraise - crème pâtisserie and strawberries while my dining companion desired millefeuille chocolat - the napolean with chocolate crème pâtisserie). back to the menu, we went searching and as we named our second choices, to which our server shook her head, signaling their unavailability. we finally agreed to share one of the few available desserts, disappointment still looming over our heads.

it didn't help alleviate the frustration when the server returned for a third time when they ran out of the iced tea i ordered. in my head, i was imagining myself causing a scene and asking what is NOT unavailable on the menu. but i didn't. still, it wasn't an impressive start to the evening.

starting with a complementary basket of bread of just plain bread slices, it paled in comparison to the one i had at its moroccan counterpart where they served a variety of bread, one of which featured olives and served with softened french butter. here, they didn't even serve any butter.

nos croque monsier :: croque oignons caramélisés et tomates | emmental cheese, caramelized onions and tomatoes, cream and pain de mie (rm 30+)

halved diagonally and served with a simple side salad tossed in a light tart dressing, this no-ham twist that had the beginnings of a croque monsieur, was filled with decent amount of lightly sweetened caramelized onions and juicy slices of slightly tart tomato, contrasted against the melted nutty, mild flavored emmental crust; the soft but firm pain de mie was missing some crisp edges. i wished for more cheese, especially with that steep price tag for a french version of a grilled cheese sandwich.

desserts :: crème brûlée | smooth, creamy custard topped with brittle caramelized sugar (rm 18)

the fragile golden brown bruleed sugar top instantly cracked (in a satisfying manner) under the light tap of the dessert spoon. the creamy custard was smooth, borderline runny but oddly enough, had an occasional curdled texture on the tip of the tongue and eggy undertones.

the custard was lightly sweetened to accommodate the sweet, crispy layer of caramelized sugar, it would have been better with a more pronounced vanilla running through the custard. while the bruleed top was on point, a little tweaking could take this rendition of this traditional dessert to perfection.

i ordered a "to-go" dessert (it was a tart aux myrtle - the blueberry tart) but i figured it wouldn't be a fair review since i didn't get to it within the next day. thus, i'd have to reserve my thoughts, at least for now.

tldr // paul pâtisserie & boulangerie has a menu that is rooted in its 125 year tradition, serving french classics that were featured in all of my three encounters in different countries. it all highlighted one similarity - paul's strength lies in the breads (which translates to pain in french). while i'd imagine the same high quality in their renditions of tartelette and millefeuille, i'd love to affirm my suspicions during my next visit despite the steep prices.

however, the contrasting quality at paul kl from the rest is also its biggest flaw - the service...or rather the lack thereof. the service was slow, uninformed and unorganized. my biggest pet peeve was the unavailable menu items especially the sought after pastries & desserts despite it being still pretty early into the dinner service.

but for now, i'd stick with the pain, tartelette, millefeuille and the likes - oh, and can i get it to go please?

paul pâtisserie & boulangerie | location 
2.09.02 & s2.09.02, level 2
pavilion elite,
168, bukit bintang street,
bukit bintang, 55100 kl
{opens daily: 10am - 10pm}

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