Friday, March 31, 2017

THAI TEMPTATIONS AT TIGERLILY


A wallet-friendly Thai restaurant? Sounds unbelievable in today's F&B scene especially in KL when soaring prices are the norm rather than the exception. Yet the office crowd who work around Pusat Bandar Damansara and the surrounding areas find Tigerlily Thai Restaurant a boon for brekkie, lunch and early dinner thanks to the resto's reasonably priced fare.
An arty rendering of the resto's namesake - Tiger & lily...geddit?
The retro-inspired, well-lit interior decorated with pastel and weathered wood accents, quirky art renderings and pawsitive vibes make Tigerlily a welcome outpost in this months old mall. 

Opened in November last year, the menu runs the gamut between one-dish meals to a selection of familiar Thai dishes that appeal to most Malaysians without making a clean sweep of their wallets.
We started on a roll with pleasingly cool thirst-quenchers: Pandan Kasturi (RM7.90) and Thai Iced Tea with Gula Melaka (RM6.90). The sweetness level was on the mark - just to my taste instead of being shudderingly cloying.
Appetite-whetting Firecracker Prawns (RM6.90) satisfied our peckish craving as we perused the menu, trying to decide our choice of dishes. Dipped into the house chilli sauce, these deep-fried prawns wrapped in wonton skin did a great job of staving off early hunger pangs.
The speciality of Steamed Otak-otak (RM5.90 each) was rather muted in the spice department although the texture was acceptable. A decent tummy-filler, we felt the offering would have made a better impression if it was steamed in banana leaf casing and topped with a dollop of rich coconut cream like those in Thailand.
Now if you're in a hurry with limited time for lunch, a hearty dish of Pad Thai (RM9.90) is just the thing to fill you up in a jiffy. The noodles came nicely presented to please the eye and tummy at one go. Other quickie, crowd-pleasing options include Pineapple Fried Rice (RM15.90), Red Curry Chicken in Claypot served with Rice (RM11.90) and Satay Chicken served with Rice, Fried Egg, Pineapple Salad & Crackers (RM9.90) among others.
I love the fresh, green citrusy aroma of lemongrass and it was clearly discernible when we bit into the Lemongrass Chicken Satay (RM9.90/5 sticks). The fragrant stalks imbued the clumps of minced chicken spiked with spices and herbs with its enticing scent, making the satay so delicious eaten on their own or accompanied by the peanut dip.
As a counterpoint to the meaty satay, the Mango Salad (RM7.90) was spot on. Look out for bits of lethal bird's eye chilli studded throughout the briny-tangy-hot shredded young mango along with crushed peanuts. A definitive salad to get the gastro juices flowing!
Of course, no Thai meal is complete without fiery Tom Yum (with a choice of seafood or prawns, RM26.90). This proved to be a hit with our dining party as the soup's feisty heat underscored by assertive sour-salty-spicy robustness left us hot under the collar.
It is impossible to partake a Thai-style meal without rice. Especially when typical dishes like Thai Basil Minced Chicken (RM8.90), Green Curry Prawns (RM26.90) and Red Curry Chicken (RM15.90) beg to be eaten with it.
All the dishes passed muster and should give no cause for complaints. The portions were ample enough for our dining party of six. Also both curries were rich and creamy on the palate even though they lacked the tongue-searing hotness of tom yum.
Tired of the ubiquitous steamed fish? Then we recommend you try the delectable Muay Thai Fried Fish (RM56.90). We thoroughly relished picking the bones clean from the sweet, fleshy and superbly crisp deep-fried seabass which was served with two complementing chilli sauces.
Similarly, we discovered the squid offerings here comprising Crispy Sotong (RM18.90) and BBQ Sotong (RM18.90) were notable too. The grilled version was pleasantly toothsome despite our apprehension as the squid looked suspiciously rubbery. It even eclipsed the rather ho-hum deep-fried version.
Luckily the veggie department made up for the hiccup with both Four Angle Beans with Peanuts (RM9.90) and Spicy Eggplant with Dried Shrimps (RM14.70) had us smitten at first bite. The former was not something you'd find in local Thai restos so it's worth sampling.
 
No surprises in the dessert section. Among the few choices available, we voted Tub Tim Crob (Red Ruby, RM7) as the most bankable with strips of jackfruit adding to its evergreen appeal.
My own hope for a sweet ending was somewhat crushed as none of the choices: Mango Sticky Rice (RM9.90), Banana Fritters with Ice Cream (RM12.90), Ice Kacang (RM11.90) and Cendol (RM4.90) hit the spot for me (yes, I'm finicky that way)...but hey, I reckon you'd have to live up to the motto below. You're the best judge of what works for you...or doesn't.
For reservations at TIGERLILY THAI RESTAURANT, call tel: 03-2011 2912. Address: Lot LG18, Lower Ground Floor, DC Mall, Jalan Damanlela, Pusat Bandar Damansara, KL. Biz hours: Daily 8am to 8pm

Friday, March 24, 2017

GRAPE EXPECTATIONS AT GALLO


Snugly ensconced in the clubby confines of Gallo Wine Bar, it was surreal knowing we were in KL’s suburbia. With recessed ambient lighting casting a honey-gold hue on clusters of tufted Chesterfield leather sofas, exposed brick walls and mirror ceiling within this wine haven, the debut of Gallo signals KL’s increasingly sophisticated F&B scene.
Opened in Dec 15, 2016, Gallo is a lifestyle wine bar tapping into today’s burgeoning youthful and middle class segments who thirst for immersive experiences and aspire to enjoy the finer things in life.
Conceptualised by the F&B entrepreneurs behind The Monkey Bar, Fuzio Bar & Ristorante, Tetto Rooftop Lounge, Gallo (which means rooster in French, Spanish & Italian) aims to be more than a neighbourhood wine bar. Informal wine education is reputedly the main focus here; cordially imparted through wine tasting sessions, samplings using different glasses for wine tasting notes comparison and the art of matching wine with food.
Of course, wine enthusiasts will find Gallo a shoo-in for private sessions to indulge in their passion. Cigar smoking is permitted at the bar and a designated seating area as well as in the private enclosure which can be partitioned.
Come April, Gallo will have more than a hundred labels with 80% wine and 20% whiskey in its cellar for savouring. Complementing the range of grape expectations is an Italian fusion tapas selection.
Each month showcases a Wine of the Month. For the entire month of March, Litoral Leyda Valley Pinot Noir 2012 takes the limelight – a Chilean pinot noir (promo price RM230++ per bottle; regular price RM310++). It's a pulling factor to spur return visits to Gallo.
A supple, smooth red with berry and smoky tobacco nuances, the Chilean pinot noir mimics a Burgundy-style red with big, lush flavours. Sampled from a Bordeaux glass with a more slender bowl, the wine expresses softer acidity. The difference was obvious when we drank from the Burgundy glass – somehow the wine yielded well-rounded complexity & tannic characteristics with hints of savouriness.
We detected the tipple’s umami overtone once we tried it with the inventive appetiser of Cheese Crackers (RM18). Propped up like a wigwam, the gossamer-thin wafers of grated then baked Parmigiano simply amplified the wine’s delicate umami smokiness.
 
While not everyone can afford a chick magnet Lamborghini, they can always trump up enough mollah for Gallo’s signature Lambor Guinness (RM18). This house speciality of delicious lamb meatballs wrapped with duck bacon went down a storm to complement the red. Rich and subtly sweet from the melding of caramelised onion and creamy Guinness reduction, we shamelessly lapped up every drop with the hunks of garlic toast provided.
In America, the classic comfort food of mac & cheese is a perennial fave. At Gallo, it's tricked up with with duck sausage, cheesy cream sauce & minced duck Bolognese to become a decidedly on-point Grown Up Mac & Cheese (RM35). Lusciously decadent with big, big flavours, what's not to like?
Occasionally, an Asian morsel or two makes the list of tempting morsels. One of the more popular options is Sea Prawns Yakitori (RM20), skewers of grilled prawns glazed with teriyaki sauce, spiked with lime zest and served with pickled papaya. Nothing to write home about except the housemade pickle was notable but hey, the local populace may beg to differ.
Carb loading is possible with choices like Mantau Slider with Beef Brisket Asian Slaw (RM25) and Mantau Slider with Smoked Salmon Cream (RM12). Again these hardly rocked our world but we concurred the young mango chilli aka Asian slaw deserved special mention. The guys probably would bank on these to fill them up we presume.

More bankable fallbacks include Mushroom Pizza (RM15) and Anchovies Pizza (RM15). The former flaunted crisp but not overly thin base slathered with tomato sauce, chopped button mushroom and melted cheese. A definitive crowd-pleaser.
Likewise, the latter came up to scratch with its droolworthy appeal amped up by musky truffle oil, briny pops of capers and a handful of fresh peppery rocket.
For textural crunch, try the Threesome Mushroom (RM18) - a delightful trio of deep-fried button mushroom coated in panko breadcrumbs, eringi grilled with tomato concasse and portobello paired with crisp pieces of moreish duck bacon.
Dessert should be compelling for cheese lovers as Gallo takes pride in its Baked Brie with Berries (RM16). A superbly decadent treat which has a whole hunk of brie baked until slightly melty before it's served in a skillet, complemented by walnuts, blueberries and diced strawberries, toast points and syrupy berry sauce.
For reservations at Gallo Wine Bar, call tel: 03-7971 9005. Address: 5-1-1, Jalan 3/109F, Taman Danau Desa, Off Jalan Klang Lama, Kuala Lumpur. Open daily from 4pm-2am.



Thursday, March 16, 2017

HOMESPUN NYONYA FLAVOURS AT MELTING POT





Nyonya laksa, ketam bercili, pie tee, onde onde and kuih kosui gula Melaka among others get star billing at Concorde KL’s Celebrating Nyonya Flavours with Chef Adriana Tan promotion from now until March 26, 2017 at Melting Pot CafĂ©.

Roping in Adriana Tan from Ayer Keroh, Melaka as the guest chef, Melting Pot will be showcasing an array of homespun Straits Chinese or Peranakan familial recipes in addition to its regular lunch and dinner buffet. 
Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, people eating, table, food and indoor
Pix courtesy of Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur
The passionate cook who runs a home-based catering business known as Adriana Nyonya Delights, has garnered her own regular following in Melaka, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore prior to her promotional stint at the city hotel. 

We enjoyed sampling her signature Nyonya laksa - noodles drenched in lemak-rich and well-spiced curry gravy with beancurd puffs, prawns and sambal. Just ensure the chefs stir up the curry broth as it's the warmth that amplifies those aromatic rempah accents.

To whet the appetite, we suggest going for the DIY pie tee -- little top hats filled with shredded yam bean. Otak-otak, sambal timun with fish cake and sambal mangga are other notable starters to look out for.

Plain rice is called for should you want to appreciate the complex deep-seated flavours of ayam pong teh, chicken curry kapitan, sambal petai prawns, steamed egg with cincalok or asam pedas

Keep your eyes peeled for mee siam perked up with robust housemade chilli sauce too. Main dishes may vary based on the daily rotational menu so certain mains such as sambal sotong, sek ark (braised duck), sambal ketam, chicken rendang or sambal kupang petai may appear in the line-up, depending on your luck.

Kuih is part and parcel of the Peranakan heritage hence Adriana has ensured a wide enough variety to satisfy expectations. Proffered in vibrant jewel-like colours culled from natural ingredients like local flowers and leaves, we feasted on dainty pieces of putugal, abok-abok sago, pulut tekan served with homemade kaya and onde-onde. 

Tempting morsels of kuih ang koo, kuih seri muka, kuih kosui pandan, kuih kosui gula Melaka and apam balik durian were duly 'ooh' and 'aah'-ed over before they were polished off.

The Celebrating Nyonya Flavours with Chef Adriana Tan promotion is priced at RM80 nett per person for lunch and RM110 nett for dinner. For reservations or enquiries, please call Melting Pot Cafe, tel: 03-2717 2233.