Saturday, March 19, 2016

GOOD FOOD BOUNTY IN KL




Keep things simple. That is the culinary philosophy of Executive Chef Logan Terence Lopez of Bounty KL, the new bistro concept restaurant at The Kuala Lumpur Journal boutique hotel. From what we sampled of his handiwork, the simplicity comes with a curveball or two thrown in to delight and tease the tastebuds.

“I like to showcase the food without playing around or touching it too much” says Chef Logan. The kitchen powerhouse enjoys creating dishes without too many frills or carb fillers. “Simple plating enables diners to focus on the core ingredient, be it a meat, poultry or seafood offering. We try to use fresh local ingredients whenever possible.”

Opened last December, Bounty is operated by Hooked Hospitality Group that also owns Bait in Bangsar. Framed by floor-to-ceiling windows, Bounty’s interior is outfitted with art deco furnishings loosely reminiscent of 1960s Kuala Lumpur, with food displays reflective of the bountiful offerings of its city surroundings. Raw brick walls decorated with repurposed, multi-colour vintage door grills enhance the vibrant vibes and clean lined furnishings.

The bistro’s focal point is an open pastry studio helmed by pastry chef Heng Jung Yang and his team who demonstrate their talents in front of customers. It's an added plus point as it means the gourmet breads served here are truly freshly baked.
According to Chef Logan, Bounty specialises in an unfussy, contemporary European (French, Italian and Mediterranean) menu using fresh, quality ingredients at accessible prices for the average diners. His handiwork fits the resto's hipster ambiance too.  

The a la carte line-up is changed on a quarterly basis. With the new menu coming into force, we will proffer new options but popular choices like Grilled Spatchcock will remain. Expect larger portions for main courses to give better value and for communal sharing.”

The dainty, crisp and flaky Salted Cronut with White Truffle Butter served gratis for dinner is a nice way of starting things on the right note. My previous encounters with cronut weren't anything to shout about so this creation hit the spot. Especially when it was smeared with subtly musky truffle butter. Yums!!

Non-beef eaters who hanker for French onion soup will be pleased to know Chef Logan whips up a mean French 5 Onion Soup (RM23) with crouton, gratinated cheese and poached egg. Using a clear base of chicken consommé culled from chicken carcasses and wings, he blends 5 types of onion: red, white and yellow onion, scallion and shallot.

The onions are gently caramelized in white wine vinegar for the sublime soup. A poached egg with molten yolk, a slice of melted gruyere cheese crusted crouton and chopped flat leaf parsley complete the rich and hearty taste dimension. 

Heirloom Tomato Soup (RM23) with smoked duck bits, capsicum salsa and grated hardboiled egg is another notable choice. Flat leaf parsley and a slice of baked focaccia lend extra nuance and texture to the soulful soup which draws inspiration from the Spanish cold soup of salmorejo (gazpacho’s richer, deeper ‘cousin’ from Córdoba).

There is more than one way to rustle up a salad and the Octopus Salad (RM38 best for sharing) proves it. Reinterpreted from a Basque speciality, the mound of roasted veges: baby carrots, capsicum, zucchini, piquillo pepper, onion, garlic and potato come liberally doused in mayo and some wild rocket. The citrus marinated octopus, which has been sous vide for 80 minutes, is lightly grilled and sliced for the salad. Personally, I hanker for more rocket leaves and less mayo in the dish.

Baked Lamb Kofta (RM29) with tomato chutney, harissa dip, Greek yoghurt and mint leaves pique our tastebuds further. Minced from lamb leg meat, Chef Logan flavours the patties with cumin, onion, garlic, sumac, coriander, turmeric, paprika and mint. Once cooked, the spice-suffused patties are delicious with the stealthy hot harissa dip leaving your tongue a-tingling while the tangy yoghurt cools things down.

Roasted Wagyu Bone Marrow (RM32) with bordelaise sauce, basil pesto, onion jam and grilled bread is an acquired delicacy for some. To enjoy, smear toasted slices of bread with onion jam then top with flat leaf parsley and cheese shavings. Scoop the marrow onto the bread slices and you’d find the gloopy clumps tastes reminiscent of foie gras with a feral aftertaste.

Saffron and sumac emerged as the condiments of choice in three subsequent dishes: grilled spatchcock, prawn with risotto and barramundi. The complex spice profile renders the tender, smoky rum-basted Roasted Spatchcock a riot of aromatic accents. Complemented by Chilli Butter, Roasted Veggies, Potatoes & Garden Greens, the juicy bird has become a raveworthy staple with the lunch crowd.

Seared on one side and charbroiled on the skin side for crispness, the Barramundi (RM30) with Sautéed Clams a la Vongole is light on the palate; its delicate sweetness amplified by the oceanic nuance of cherrystone clams in a pool of aromatic sauce. Chef Logan reveal some tobacco infused water is used to bestow hints of spicy smokiness to the concoction of fresh chilli, sliced garlic and Italian parsley. Cooked with Carotina oil, the sauce is flambéed with sauternes (sweet French wine) for the finishing touch.

Kimchi paste lends depth and bright robustness to the Risotto Tiger Prawn (RM49). Marinated in rum, the inherent sweetness of the prawn medallions forms a sublime affinity with the creamy, nutty short-grained arborio rice perfumed with saffron.

The light and mildly sweet Frozen Chestnut Parfait (RM26) is a most welcome treat in our current sweltering weather but is partly eclipsed by the stellar Hot Vanilla Soufflé (RM25) infused with Vietnamese cinnamon. One of the trickiest desserts to accomplish, it easily stole the thunder with its pouffy, foamy lightness and eggy richness.

Tobacco again lends some oomph to the Coffee Creme Brûlée (RM25), an ultra-lush creamy treat which evoked the coffee overtone well.

Bounty (The Journal KL, Jalan Inai, KL) is opened daily from 6.30am to 11.00pm. For reservations, call tel: 03-2110-5520 or visit www.thekljournalhotel.com/dine for more information.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

CRAB HUT DIVES IN AT CYBERJAYA




Fans of Crab Factory: Original Louisiana Boil residing in Putrajaya, Cyberjaya and nearby suburbs: Kajang, Bangi and Semenyih rejoice! You don’t have to go all the way to SS2 PJ or Brolly in KL now that Crab Hut has opened at Shaftsbury Square in Cyberjaya.

The spacious 80-seater restaurant boasts similar industrial chic décor like its sister flagship restaurant: chalkboard menus, bicycle wheels, long communal tables, cast iron chairs and tanks of live seafood, to evoke the same convivial atmosphere for your seafood feasting.
Pix courtesy of Crab Hut

Feistier sauces inspired by Malaysian and regional sauces rule at Crab Hut so that’s a plus point for seafood fanatics who prefer stronger, more piquant flavours to go with the wide variety of fresh seafood here.
At last count, there’s 16 types of seafood on the menu with four signature sauces: Zesty Lemon, Garlic Butter, tomato-based Jamba Jamba and Southern Bang. The last two veers from mild to hair-raising O’ly Crab and sweat-inducing Double Death (add RM5 to fire the sauces up).

Fork out another RM5 to set your tastebuds alight with Comel’s Round the World in 80 Sauces…the saucy additions are well worth it I tell ya! Current hot sauces comprise tongue-tickling Asam Pedas and Spicy Plum sauces until April. Then Thai Sambal and Sweet & Sour sauces will swoop in from May to July while Tom Yam and Curry heat up August to October. In the last quarter, take the heat from Jackfruit Curry and Lemak Cili Padi sauces.

Ordering is easy. Firstly, choose your preferred seafood in 300g OR 500g bag - you can go up to a maximum of 3 different types in a bag. Then select your sauce from the four staple sauces listed OR try the new "Comel's Round the World in 80 Sauces" (more on this later). Lastly, add in some bag buddies and the crew will set to work on your order.

Chilli fiends will find the heat is fully switched on should they decide to opt for the Asam Pedas Sauce – a butt-kicking chilli and tamarind concoction. We chowed down on Spanner Crabs (RM17 – 100g) and Yabbies (RM52 – 300g) and the sensorial meltdown came swiftly. Not for the faint-hearted this sauce.

A tinge of bright, fruity sweetness blunts the heat profile of the Spicy Plum Sauce just a little. We found it went surprisingly well with the succulent White Prawns (RM39 – 300g), Scallops (RM59 – 300g) and Mussels (RM28 – 300g). The seafood’s inherent sweetness remained discernible and our bag buddies of Corn (RM4.90) cobs and King Mushroom (RM8.90) soaked in plenty of the titillating sauce which we lapped up.

Crab Hut’s signature Southern Big Bang Sauce refreshed our memory of its firecracker hotness with a briny overtone. We savoured it drenched over Meat Crabs (RM69 depending size and weight) and Brown Crabs (RM17 per 100g). Superbly scrumptious but suffice to say there was more than we could handle. You can also sample them with Garlic Butter Sauce.

The Garlic Butter Sauce has always been a clear winner and its flabby, garlicky accent proved to be winsome with Japanese Hamaguri Clams (RM26 – 300g, RM39 – 500g). These imported babies are fleshier than local la la clams, with a nice toothsome bite to them.

A relatively new appetiser to sample is Salmon Sashimi (RM32) which I daresay can rival those from reputable Japanese restos. The thick slices, glistening with juicy moistness, hit the spot dipped in the house Southern Bang Sauce.
 

Not into raw stuff? Then chomp on crisp and sweet Fried Onion Petals (RM10.90) or strands of deep-fried battered Enoki (RM8.90). Carb lovers looking to add substance to their meal can look forward to Shallot Rice (RM5).

Just in case there’s an odd non-seafood eater or two with you in tow, Crab Hut still reels them in with BBQ Spring Chicken with Chamalla sauce (RM24.90). Rubbed with aromatic spices, the grilled chicken is a delectable, surefire crowd-pleaser for the young and young-at-heart. Salmon and beef steaks are the other viable options to consider.

While Malaysia has its nasi briyani, the Creole community in Louisiana has their jambalaya. Crab Hut’s Fried Jambalaya (RM25.90) should win local hearts and tummies with its soulful Spanish-French mash up of saffron-scented rice with chicken, prawns, spicy sausage and mussels in thick veggie sauce.

Befitting its name, crab lovers will find ample succour in Stuffed Crab (RM26.90), deep-fried whole then laced with spicy plum sauce. It’s a cheat’s way of eating crabs but if you’re too lazy to get your hands dirty, this is an agreeable alternative.

Otherwise, dive in and sink your teeth into Fried Soft Shell Crab Po’boy (RM22), the classic Louisiana submarine sandwich laden with lettuce, tomato, onion and chunks of deep-fried battered soft shell crab (prawn, oyster or chicken options available) to leave you replete.

Kids and pasta enthusiasts may like the hefty servings of Fried Soft Shell Crab Spaghetti Carbonara (RM23.90) or Prawn Aglio Olio (RM25.90). Complete with thick-cut fries and salad on the side, the dishes should go down well if you’re a hurry or in the mood for something simple.

Even the drinks deserve attention here. Creative and refreshing concoctions of fruit juices, sodas and flavoured syrups are aplenty. Priced at RM7.90 and RM8.90, you’d be spoiled for choice with JC’s Specialities such as Pineapple Lemonade, Watermelon & Lychee Smoothie, Rose Fruit Punch and Orange Mojito among others.


For reservations, call Crab Hut, tel: 03-8322 6861. Address: P2-25, Shaftsbury Square, Persiarana Multimedia, Cyberjaya 6.

Featured Post

LEMON GARDEN REFRESHED

Bright and cheerful vibes of the newly refreshed Lemon Garden restaurant generated much buzz recently, making it the talk of the town. You...