Saturday, December 31, 2016

BRUNCH-ING OUT AT 2OX

The family that eats together, stays together. Now that a New Year is dawning, 2OX aims to encourage familial dining with the introduction of its Weekend Brunch. Channelling the charming, minimalist chic of Parisian-cafes, 2OX is the sister resto of Maison Francaise - an informal yet stylish French bistro with a skylight, shiny white tiled walls and rustic timber flooring.
Priced at RM120++ per person, Executive Chef Lescouezec Florent shows his prowess with a 3-course set menu of refined Euro-French brunch fare every Saturday and Sunday, from 11am till 3pm.
We had a sampling preview of what was in store recently. To get us into high spirits for the weekend, titillating Eye Openers (RM25++ per glass) featuring Kir Royale, Red or White Sangria, Rossini or Bloody Mary were proffered. My hot and zingy Bloody Mary was boozy enough to leave me hot under the collar...
Much to our delight and surprise, the opening volley comprised a triumvirate of hearty French starters: Chopped Caesar Salad (centre), a mini skillet of Scrambled Eggs with Salmon & Fine Herbs (left), and Focaccia with Melted Brie & Green Apples (right).
A fleshy anchovy lent a hint of brininess to the dainty mound of savoury dressed lettuce, jazzed up with crunchy cubes of croutons and grated cheese. The fresh green crunchiness was a nice textural contrast to the fluffy, custardy soft eggs which had bits of salmon in it. True to the French culinary essence, the simplest offering of focaccia toast with a generous slice of slightly melty brie atop sliced green apple was the day's stunner.
 
A choice of three roasts: lamb, salmon or beef is yours for the picking when it comes to the main course. After sampling the available options, the consensus flocked to the superbly tender, juicy Roast Lamb. The on-point doneness, when complemented by house made Yorkshire pudding, coleslaw, mashed potato and green beans, instantly won our hearts and minds.
Coming in neck-to-neck was Roast Beef. Accompanied by the same supporting sides, the roast was distinctly hearty and should leave no room for complaint. Personally, I found it a tad heavy but hubby had no such qualms so that itself was a positive sign.
 
Fishing for an alternative? Then you'd fall hook, line and sinker for the Roast Salmon. We expected the dish to be up to scratch and naturally, we weren't disappointed. Cooked on the outside with a translucent pink core, the slab of salmon was ship-shape in the taste department.
Fresh banana and caramel formed a winning combo for the dessert option of Sticky Toffee Banana Cake with Butterscotch Sauce. Chopped walnuts added crunch to the cake, making this an irresistible choice for those who like old-school cakes made with TLC.
Sheer indulgence aptly described the second confection of Crème Brûlée French Toast with Candied Walnuts, Roasted Apple & Whipped Cream. A wickedly decadent dessert to jettison one's dietary resolve but we suggest sharing this to ease up on the guilt factor.
 
Breads and pastries are something the French take seriously. Hence the Baker's Basket should please morning peeps who simply cannot forgo their daily bread. The feather-light, flaky mini croissant, scone and chocolate pastry served with a pat of butter and fruit preserve were manna for the soul when savoured in the company of family and loved ones. 


For reservations, please call 2OX at tel: 03-2692 2233. Address: 56G, Jalan Doraisamy, Kuala Lumpur.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

OPULENCE BOWL & FORTUNE SHAKE CHEER FROM SANGKAYA

Early birds like us caught a taste of Chinese New Year fever at Sangkaya amidst the whirl of Yuletide festivities recently. The homegrown brand, famed for its signature Coconut Ice Cream, launched two NEW products - Opulence Bowl and Fortune Shake for the coming Year of the Rooster in 2017.
The evening took on a decidedly CNY feel when thunderous beats of drums and clashing cymbals roused a pair of prancing lions to conquer the Sangkaya premise.
From 15 December 2016 to 28 February 2017, Sangkaya will entice ice cream and dessert lovers with their Opulence Bowl creations: Orange Tang (left) and Pineapple Zest (right). Each of the delightful treat is priced at RM8.40.
Behold the Orange Tang in which orange infused Sangkaya Signature Coconut Ice Cream comes prettily presented in a floral waffle cup, with a wedge of fresh lime and dried orange peel dices. A dash of freshly squeezed lime juice gave the ice cream a nice zesty tang and stirred up the appetite for this enticing treat. A fortune cookie lent it a fortuitous CNY touch.
 
The Pineapple Zest fought for our attention too with equal fervour. Here, pineapple infused coconut ice cream came topped with fresh chunks of pineapple, served in a floral waffle bowl together with a crunchy fortune cookie. We found the pineapple nuance subtler but just as pleasing.
You can even pack these two new Sangkaya ice cream flavours home with the specially designed Sangkaya cooler bag. Limited edition angpow packets will also be given away with any two purchase of the new products. Do check with the friendly Sangkaya team for more information.
Based on past weather patterns, the CNY period tends to be hot so nothing beats a cooling drink like Sangkaya's Fortune Shake. We recommend Orange Sunrise (RM7.40) - a splendid thirst-quencher of orange ice cream shake infused with coconut water and dried orange peel. One sip and you'd be slurping the drink down!
Alternatively, there's the captivating appeal of Pineapple Breeze (RM7.40) - an irresistibly chilled drink of pineapple ice cream shaken and stirred with coconut water and pineapple chunks. Now, this thirst-quencher is worth raving about too.
 
In case you're wondering if Sangkaya has all but forgotten about Christmas, the festive spirit can be found in the Christmas Glee creation. Pairing a crimson red velvet cupcake swirled with cream cheese frosting, it is crowned with a scoop of luscious Sangkaya Coconut Ice Cream, toasted grated coconut and a pretzel. Yummilicious!
 
For more information, visit Sangkaya Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sangkaya/ or Sangkaya website:  http://sangkaya.co/

Sunday, December 18, 2016

STAY, EAT, PLAY AT LEXIS HIBISCUS (Part 2)

Good food and fine company are part and parcel of weekend getaways...During our recent escapade to Port Dickson, staying at Lexis Hibiscus Port Dickson meant good opportunity to suss out the dining options available on premise.

DINE IN STYLE AT WAVE DINING

At the circular Lighthouse Club building where personalised check-in was held at the Captain Lounge (ground level), brunch and cocktails were dispensed at Wave Dining (2nd level) as detailed in my earlier blogpost: http://www.jommakanlife.com/2016/12/stay-eat-play-at-lexis-hibiscus-part-1.html

Since you're on holiday, we suggest spoiling yourself with the resto's 8-course degustation menu (RM238 per person with a glass of red or white house wine or mocktail). We had the privilege of savouring the menu shown and suffice to say, the various culinary offerings left us smiling from ear to ear.
In the call of duty, we opted to sample everything listed. After our amuse bouche (depicted above), Tuna Tataki with Citrus Soy Dressing set the pace for our culinary journey. Light yet flavourful, the spot-on starter whetted our appetite for more.
Luscious Salmon Pastrami with Toasted Sourdough, Brown Butter & Lemon Cream quickly reeled us in. The dots of citrusy cream was a nice zesty touch to balance the fish's natural oiliness.

Us landlubbers barely protested when the Gazpacho with Scallop appeared. It was the perfect bait to hook us at first sip of the subtly tangy broth.
Faint hints of spices set our palate alight as we dug into the Spicy Seafood Soup. Brimming with lush, bright accents that reminded us of Port Dickson's tropical sunshine and breezy sea surrounds.
Faced with a deconstructed Soft Shell Crab Spring Roll, we realised the seafood-laden menu was indeed a wondrous choice. This speciality alone looked deceptively simple but the textural milieu was imaginative and palate-pleasing.
My dining partner's bundle of Capellini, Crab & Sea Urchin stood up to scrutiny too. Small in portion size but big in the flavour department with a varied medley of textural interests, what's not to like?
No seafood dinner is complete without crustaceans and the subsequent Seared Prawns with Smoked Chilli Salsa & Air-dried Duck managed to hold its own against the earlier surfeit of dishes. We like the on-point smoky chilli salsa which bestowed excellent zinginess to the two grilled prawns.

I relished the Minced Shrimp, Wakame & Crema Di Balsamico tremendously. It was such a refined speciality that aptly demonstrated the shrimps' ethereal sweetness without the aged balsamic vinegar and tiny dollops of wasabi-mayo masking it.
Another show-stopping dish that left an indelible impression was Grouper Confit, Beetroot and Smoked Prawn Butter. A perfect example encapsulating the 'less is more' philosophy, with the ingredients allowing to shine minus unnecessary distractions.
By the time the Salmon, Foie Gras and Red Wine Butter hit our table, I must admit I couldn't appreciate the dish's full-on richness. It was deftly prepared and great tasting but stacked up against the grouper, there was no contest.
Ah, one of the main reasons I love my food reviewing job (besides the eating) is I learn something new occasionally. After our scrumptious Duck Breast with Berry Gastrique encounter, I discovered 'gastrique' has nothing to do with gastric...LOL! According to www.foodrepublic.com, 'gastrique' is a reduction of vinegar and sugar infused with flavouring (liquor) or aromatic (spices or herbs) or in this case, berries. The sauce was meant to bring out the assertive meaty flavour which it did exceptionally well for our main.
We were fast slipping into food coma mode after valiantly meat-ting the Buttery-tender Sous Vide Beef Cheek with Star Anise & Cinnamon doused in enticing beef jus. A bed of mash and some root veggies acted as the solid base on which the slab of beef reclined.
Yet we somehow magically found tummy space to fit in the irresistible serving of Chocolate, Mascarpone Cream & Vanilla Ice Cream. How could we not surrender to this festive-looking platter with chocolate 'soil', assorted berries and creamy loveliness?
If you are partial to nuts like yours truly, the Frozen Nougat with Red Fruit Coulis will melt your resistance to dessert. Luckily it wasn't a huge wedge but ample enough to leave sweet-toothed you on a high. A splash of mildly tart berry coulis helped to temper the sweetness with finesse.

YOKOSO JAPAN AT UMI

UMI is the Japanese word for sea; an apt name for the Japanese resto by the sea at Lexis Hibiscus PD. Located at the main building of the resort, the pragmatic design of the interior includes a show kitchen and a bank of picture windows.
After tantalising our palate with a simple starter of pickled seaweed, the procession of dishes began with a huge platter of Sashimi Moriawase (RM70). Prettily laid out on crushed ice strewn with crunchy seaweed, we had our fill of scallop, sliced salmon, butterfish, octopus and tuna. Fresh and succulent, the raw appeal was palate-pleasing.
Interestingly, the culinary team at UMI was given some creative space to interpret and show their own take on certain specialities. Instead of the familiar pan-fried Japanese dumplings, the Gyoza Kawa No Kani (RM15) were akin to mini pizzas -- delicious discs piled with baked crabmeat and grated cheese.
Dining with the family would never be a problem at UMI as the menu has plenty of choices to satisfy the young and old. We recommend the hearty sushi roll of Uangi Kani Maki (RM70). Crunchy tobikko crowned the vinegared rice and grilled eel roll stuffed with crabstick and cucumber, drawing much praise from us at every mouthful.
 
A harmonious combination of Japanese soya bean paste and thyme made its tasteful presence felt in the exquisite Gindara Thyme Miso Yaki (RM80). Should the going ever gets a tad cloying for you, nibble on the tart pickled ginger stem and all will be well again.
Fermented barley miso lent complexity and layered on lushness to the teriyaki sauce-basted Chicken Tori Moromiso (RM35). The clever inclusion of such an umami-rich condiment into the ubiquitous sweet-salty cooking sauce worked better than expected, suffusing the juicy chicken fillet with loads of big, bold flavours.
For a failsafe option, you can rely on the resto's perennial crowd-pleasing Tempura Moriawase (RM45). Sheathed in gossamer-light batter, the mixture of prawns and vegetables wouldn't go remiss with the young and old.
Swept up by the current hallyu craze, it was inevitable some influences of K-food found its way into the Japanese food realm too. Zesty kimchi brought a welcome dimension to the dish of sliced beef sautéed with assorted mushroom, creating the speciality of Shitake no Gyuniku Kimchi Tare (RM60). Thin slivers of sweet potato crisps gave the dish crunchy texture.
Sakura denbu - sweetened and fluffy pink dried cod condiment adorned the mound of garlicky Shake Chahan (RM20) to conclude our maiden visit to UMI. Salmon flakes, wispy fried egg and chopped spring onion came together to bestow the plump grains with superbly enticing accents.
 
The night's sweet closure arrived in the form of a vibrant tasting Mango Pudding with Mango Sorbet. Juicy pomelo sacs and diced fresh mango complete the slurpilicious offering, bringing waves of pleasure to the palate before we called it a night.

For reservations at Wave Dining or UMI Japanese Restaurant, please call tel: 06-660 2626 or visit: www.lexishibiscuspd.com

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