Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vin's Restaurant & Bar @ Taman Tun Dr Ismail, KL

I submitted this to The Star but it never got published... so waste not! I really like this restaurant :) ....

My friends and I are always on the lookout for new restaurants to try, so when I heard about Vin's in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, we headed over there for dinner.

It's located in the Datuk Sulaiman area of TTDI (near the TTDI mosque), just a stone's throw away from the main TTDI shophouse area. From the outside, it looks pretty low key with its muted, earthy color scheme but it is the first fancy looking restaurant on that block of shops, so don't worry - it's pretty hard to miss:
Just outside Vin's....

I liked that it was comfortable, fairly quiet and relatively smoke free inside, despite being somewhat of a pub/bar setting. I suppose this would be entirely reliant on who happens to be dining at the same time as you though.
(On the night that I was there, it was mostly families and yuppies)
Comfortable ambience inside....

There's a fairly extensive menu of Western food ranging from pub fare (eg. bangers and mash, fish & chips) to Italian (eg. pizza, pastas) and some Asian dishes.
(It seems like almost every Western restaurant in Malaysia just HAS to have Italian on the menu, doesn't it?)

We started off the night with a few appetizers to share:
- Mushroom Soup (RM 12.90++):
Creamy mushroom soup....

Nothing to really fault about this classic soup - the texture was a medium creaminess, and flavourful enough without being too salty.

- Chicken Nachos (RM 26.90++):
Ay caramba....

This mix of crunchy nachos and juicy sliced chicken breast slathered with a tomato salsa, melted cheese, chili, sour cream and lettuce, was a crowd pleaser that night and disappeared in mere moments.
(If there's only one thing bad about this though, is that I found the serving a bit small for that price)

- Mushroom Bruschetta (6 pieces) (RM 16.90++):
Mushrooms atop bread - delicious....

This is such a simple dish, found in many restaurants, but Vin's executed it well - The chunky slice of bread was crisp and not starchy (yay!), topped with a mix of sliced mushrooms, garlic, spices and cheese that was tasty without being too salty.

As for the mains:
- We tried both the Beef Burger (RM 25++) and the Grilled Chicken Burger (RM 22++):
Chunky beef patty....

Tasty chicken burger....

Both came served with some yummy chunky french fries, and I liked that both patties tasted freshly made and were fairly juicy. Out of the 2, I preferred the chicken burger, as it came with a generous slice of half melted cheese. :)

- Spicy Tuna Pizza (RM 27++):
Crunchy thin crust pizza....

What a nice surprise - the pizza base was perfectly crunchy and not starchy. There was also an adequate amount of juicy toppings (spicy tuna, capsicum, onions and cheese), making it a nice meal. Of course, those that dislike fishy flavours had better stay away from this dish - It is topped with tuna, after all. :)

- Pasta Carbonara (RM 25.90++)
Decadent pasta....

I was feeling naughty and chose to have the sinful pasta carbonara that night. :)

OMG. It was luxuriously creamy, with the pasta done just right (al dente). I would warn against trying to finish this all on your own though, because as delicious as it is, it is also really filling.

- Mee Mamak (RM 18++):
More carbs....

If you, for some reason, feel like having something Asian here instead, you can opt for the Mee Mamak which they claim is one of their specialties. Overall, it tasted pretty nice and comes in a really big serving but I found it a bit too spicy for my tastebuds and without the extra oomph of smokey wok hei (wok fried fragrance).

- Chocolate Lava (RM 16.90++):
Chocolatey dessert....

Despite eating so much already, we decided to share a dessert, or more like, I insisted we did, as I love desserts!. The moist chocolate fondant, nicely gooey in the middle, balanced well with the vanilla ice cream and was a nice way to end the night.

What a night! :)
I almost had to roll myself back to the car but definitely had a good time stuffing my face and catching up with my friends in this comfortable restaurant.
(I've been back a couple more times after that, and even organised a company department dinner there - gotta say wow! They are really consistent in quality!)

So it's: Friendly service, comfortable ambience, good range of Western and Asian dishes BUT nothing bad really, just that some of the pricing seems to be on the high side......


Restaurant Review
Summary Sheet:


Vin's Restaurant & Bar @ TTDI, KL

No. 6, Lorong Datuk Sulaiman 1,
Taman Tun Dr.Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur


Taste: 7
Ambience : 7
Service : 7
Price** : RM 50++ per person
Parking: OK

** Approximation - 3 course meal, excluding drinks

Telephone No.: 03-7725 9053‎
Opening Hours: 4pm - 2am everyday (Lunch or other times by special booking only)

NO PORK SERVED



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Friday, November 18, 2011

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka @ Pavilion KL

The ramen craze continues :)....

It does feel like there have been a lot of new (porky) ramen restaurants opening in KL lately, don't you think so?

One such place is Santouko, professing their own unique blend of Hokkaido ramen**. It's not too hard to find - just go up to the 6th floor of Pavilion and look for the (new) giant, red neon lit Japan Street section - its filled with little shops and restaurants, but its not a large area:
(** Apparently the Santouko ramen chain is pretty famous/established in Japan)
Mostly food/restaurants, with some shops and a big Daiso at the end....

It's comfortable inside, but pretty much just like any other above average Japanese casual restaurant:
Modern, casual Japanese restaurant setting....

We tried both the classic, Shoyu Ramen (Medium) (RM 25+), and the not quite so classic, Kara Miso Ramen (Medium) (RM 27+):
The classic Shoyu Ramen....

The Kara Miso Ramen - Looked oily but tasted good....

The ingredients that make up a Shoyu Ramen soup (mixture of pork broth and soy sauce) is not exactly groundbreaking but the key difference is in the execution - here, the broth is fragrant, slightly "heavy" (in a good way) from all the melted porky goodness but without being overpowering or too salty. The noodles were also a good texture - bouncey enough although just slightly over al dente, and the slices of pork cha shu were tender and tasty.
(Seems a bit expensive though, if you consider the small serving size, but its surprisingly filling)

Still, I preferred the spicy Kara Miso Ramen, if for no other reason than the fact that I like spicy food. :)
(Similarly, the broth was thick and yummy, just with a little extra "kick")

Do note that the Green Tea (RM 4+) is not refillable here... They serve it in a rather large bottle though so I don't think it'll be a problem:
Some energizing green tea to (hopefully) melt all the fat away....

I had a wonderful night - especially as I had wonderful company and equally wonderful surprise company at the next table. :)
(What a small world - Ran into a dear old friend of mine from university days, and he was seated right at the next table! I just sat down, looked up and we were like "Oh! It's you!")

So it's: Modern casual Japanese ambience, fairly friendly service, a (supposedly) famous Japanese ramen chain BUT nothing really bad, just that the menu is limited/ focused and seems a bit small serving (although filling) for the price......


Restaurant Review
Summary Sheet:

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka @ Pavilion, KL

6.24.03, 6th Floor (Tokyo Street Section), Pavilion Shopping Mall, 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur

Taste: 7
Ambience : 6
Service : 6
Price** : RM 40++ per person
Parking: OK

** Approximation - 3 course meal, excluding drinks
Telephone No.: 03-2143 8878
Opening Hours: 11am - 10pm
Official Website: Click here :)

NOT HALAL



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Monday, November 14, 2011

Impromptu @ Menara Hap Seng, KL

Can't get out of the city center at lunch time? Don't worry, there's Impromptu :)..........

Hello hello... This is an invited review, k? Please find my usual disclaimers as follows :)
1) I have not been paid to write this, but neither have I paid a cent for my meal,
2) I will still be as objective as possible re. the food/ restaurant, and
3) If I go back to the restaurant incognito and find that the food/service is horribly different from this experience, I will amend my ratings here...
(Again: This review is (more than) a little delayed *blush*...)

What an interesting name, I thought: "Impromptu"?
(Forgot to ask them why they chose this name, while I was there. Oops)
Casual but comfy dining area just outside the small restaurant....

Anyway, Impromptu is a fairly new restaurant in the also fairly newly revamped Menara Hap Seng (formerly known as MUI PLaza) off Jalan Sultan Ismail (just behind the Mercedes showroom)... Goodness! What a change - this old office building now looks fresh and bright with lots of interesting food options.

The USP (Unique Selling Point) of Impromptu that makes it different from the rest is its specialty home made pastas - classic, herb and charcoal pasta:
3 interesting freshly made pastas....

The preparation methods are also interestingly varied as there is a fusion twist. For example, the Seafood Tom Yam with mixed herbs fettuccine (RM 15.90):
Creamy, fragrant and mildly spicy..

... and the Curried Soft Shell Crab with charcoal spaghetti (RM 18.90)
Dark, mysterious pasta....

Both pastas were nice - cooked perfectly al dente so it had a good bite to it. I was kinda expecting the charcoal pasta to feel a little grainy** but wow, it was not at all, and the creamy yet fragrant curry sauce went well with it.
(** "Charcoal??", I thought to myself, "Yerr..")

Of course, they also have classic combinations like the Grilled Chicken Pesto with plain fettuccine (RM 15.90) if you do not feel experimental:
Chef's special fresh pesto - a blend of herbs and olive oil....

If you fear carbs, they have other dishes too, like the Japanese Wafu Salad with Soft Shell Crab (RM 16.90):
(Really enjoyed this dish! The crab was crispy, the veggies were fresh and it all went very well with the appetising Japanese wafu dressing)
Yummy....

The Crispy Crab Cakes (RM 9.90) was another more classic dish, made with fresh crab meat & crab stick (Note: It was a smaller serving of this during this food tasting, usually there's more)
Golden crab nuggets?....

The crab cakes were moist inside and crisp on the outside - overall nice but just a tad underseasoned.. A dab of the accompanying chili mayo sauce complemented it.

The Lamburger (RM 16.90) is one of their non pasta specialties that we were told is very popular with their patrons... and I can tell why - the lamb patty is juicy and had a nice taste of spices, matched well with tart/sweet topping of mango chutney and BBQ sauce...
Not gigantic but still, very worth it for the price and taste....

Don't like meat?/ Like animals too much - don't worry, you have options in Impromptu, like the Sauteed Mushroom & Veggies Panini (RM 14.90) which is a simple, slightly creamy mix of sauteed mushrooms and veggies, served on toasted panini bread:
Simple, healthier option....

If you want to complete your meal with some dessert, you can choose from their specialties, the (Non Alcoholic) Tiramisu (RM 8.90) and the Chocolate Cheese Brownie with vanilla ice-cream (RM 9.90)
Choc Brownie in the background, Tiramisu in the front....

To be completely fair, we were told these are lighter, healthier versions of these desserts.... so being a lover of decadent, sinful desserts, these were just ok to me - still, they were definitely not bad at all. :)

SHOUT OUT:
Thanks to Edwin of Click Click Culinary for extending the invite. :D

So, it's: Convenient location in the heart of KL, with a range of interesting fusion dishes BUT nothing bad to say really :)....


Summary Sheet:

Impromptu @ Menara Hap Seng, KL
Lot1.19, First Floor, Menara Hap Seng, Jalan P.Ramlee, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Taste: 6
Ambience : 6
Service : 6
Price** : RM 40 per person
Parking: OK

** Approximation - 3 course meal, excluding drinks

Telephone No.: 03-2141 0227
Opening Hours: 10am – 9pm (Mon - Fri), Closed on Weekends.

NO PORK SERVED



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