Monday, September 24, 2012


Spice guy...Soi23's resident Thai Chef Suphakit Khammungkhun

Nothing fires up the tastebuds more than a robust Thai meal! I'm a sucker for the cuisine's complex blend of sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter flavours. After much cajoling from my old friend, Tengku Anna, we met up for dinner at Soi23, a low-key but understated Thai restaurant at Pacific Regency.
Over to the dark side...fried air-dried beef with kaffir lime leaves
The wicked route to Thai culinary paradise began with Nua Dad Deaw Tod Bai Ma Krood Krob - yes, a real mouthful but it's simply Fried Air-Dried Beef with Kaffir Lime Leaves. Needless to say nobody resisted succumbing to the dark side...the meat's jerky-like texture released its deep-seated, full body accent in our mouths as our jaws got a good work-out.
Juicy pomelo transformed into an irresistible Yum Som O salad
Things continued on a roll with Yum Som O - a delightfully salad made from juicy pomelo sacs that's spicy, slightly briny and tart with fried garlic bits, sliced shallots and dried shrimps lending depth and textural interest. It's so incredibly addictive that we kept picking on this as dinner progressed.
Would you pass up on this robust Tom Yam with chunky Soft Shell Crab?
No Thai meal is complete without a fiery tom yam and this meal was no different. Forget about the usual prawn or seafood, Chef Suphakit set our tongues ablaze with Tom Yam Nam Kon Poo Nim - a tart, piquant tear-inducing broth scented with lemon grass and laden with chunky deep-fried soft shell crab and mushroom.
Perfect with and creamy Mussaman Curry with Lamb
Word has it that Kaeng Mussaman Kae (Mussaman curry with lamb) - a light, creamy meat curry with potatoes and ground peanuts(sometimes cashews) was originally a Persian Muslim dish from Central Thailand. The aromatic nuances of cardamoms, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg were discernible, making it quite distinct from the repertoire of fresh herbs that are the norm in ubiquitous Thai curries.

What a catch! A red snapper bestowed with three flavours and more
The prized catch of the night turned out to be Pla Tod Rad Sos Sam Rod (Deep-fried Red Snapper with Three-Flavour Sauce). With its vivid hues and riotous flavours, the crispy fish reeled in the compliments once it was devoured.

A green dish that was light and easy on the palate

To temper and balance the earlier feisty offerings, the chef plied us with a generous serving of Pad Ka Nar Plan Kem or crunchy Stir-fried Kai Lan (Kale) with Diced Salted Fish. 

Grab this! My favourite Crab and Glass Noodles in Claypot

Just when we thought that was the last of our hearty feast, the waitstaff popped up with two additional claypot dishes: Crab and Glass Noodles in Claypot and Chicken Rice in Claypot...I was especially taken with the former as the slippery smooth glass noodles had soaked up all the superb sweetness from the crab and whatnots that went into cooking it.

Stick 'em up...chicken rice-ing to the occasion
If I weren't so terribly full by now, I'd go potty over the latter too. The rice was fluffy yet each grain appeared to hold its own, well-imbued with an intermingling cornucopia of exotic spices, buttery chicken meat and mildly sweet golden raisins in each spoonful.

Stuck on you...sticky glutinous rice with fresh mango
Another sweet finishing thanks to this mango meets tapioca pudding
Sweet and heavenly - steamed tapioca with coconut cream
Precious and rubies of diced waterchestnuts immersed in coconut milk
Instead of two dessert, four actually appeared at the table as our meal drew to a close. Nobody complained though at the sight of the sumptuous treats: Khao Neow Mamuang (Mango with Sticky Rice), Tab Tim Krob (Chilled Waterchestnuts in Tapioca Flour served with Coconut Milk), Thai Pudding with Mango and Coconut Cream, and Steamed Sweet Tapioca Dices with Coconut Cream. Like real troopers that we are, we just mowed our way through the whole lot without much ado!

Soi23, KH Tower, Jalan Punchak, Off Jalan P.Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 603-2332 7777

Fifty Tastes of Great

Taking a leaf out of E.L.James' current runaway best-selling tome - Fifty Shades of Grey, I found over 50 shades of great-tasting dishes from local shores and further afield at the newly launched Sparkalite Brunch at InterContinental KL's Serene Brasserie. 
Unlike the leading male protagonist who's a total control freak, I had to get a firm grip of my own self-control when faced with the huge smorgasbord of goodies laid out...slabs of tender beef, lamb cutlets, crayfish, gourmet sausages, boneless chicken fillet and prawns tempting provocatively from the barbie whilst chefs dutifully dish out Aussie fish & chips, mini meat pies, potted eggs from live actions stations.

Heaps of chilled assorted seafood: shucked oysters, mussels, crabs and bamboo clams beckon from the entrance; jostling for attention amidst platters of colourful sushi rolls, glistening raw fish slices and mixed salads. Talk about sumptuous sea-duction!

What a fabulous way to add some sparkle to mundane Sundays and one's love life! Despite it being billed as brunch, the buffet opens at noon - perfect for city folks tend to snooze late and awaken just in time for a mid-morning lunch. At RM198++ per head, there's a free flow of sparkling, red/white wines and beer to leave you happily tipsy while teetotalers pay a sobering price of RM120++.

I can't recall the last time I was this excited over a buffet spread but it's a befitting avenue for
new executive chef Darrell O'Neill to showcase his inimitable creativity. Everything being so fresh, so enticing, so Oz-some...what's not to like?

Even if you have kids in tow, don't let them dampen your languid serenity... Leave them at the Kids' Corner - a section filled with colourful kids-size furniture, foil balloons and a Candy Station and you'd Zen out in no time at all. After all, there's a telly showing cartoons and animated movies plus lots of fun, interactive activities to keep even the most hyper junior master chefs occupied.

Need something to spice up your life? Ah, then take your pick from myriad Malay, Indian and Chinese delights: Peking duck wrapped in pancakes, mutton curry, prawns masak lemak, laksa and briyani rice...are but some blazing picks available.  

Ooohhh, you rather a more Euro-centric dalliance? Look no further! Get the chefs to rustle up some sexy, saucy Italian pasta or stake your claim on a piece or two of ye olde English roasts (we love the exceptional Sunday roast beef with Yorkshire pudding). Otherwise tango with Spanish stews of veal and meatballs and lap up bowls of hearty seafood tomato soup whilst scarfing down gourmet cheeses. 


Devilishly sweet but oh so decadent lamingtons, pavlova, rocky road and strawberry ice cream sprinkled with crushed pistachios should have you succumbing to temptations in no time at all!
Wrap up with wickedly indulgent chocolate-dipped strawberries and cups of airy popcorn from the kiddies corner washed down with copious amount of bubbly. Ah, these are the makings of a Sunday blissful Sunday!

Serena Brasserie, InterContinental Kuala Lumpur, 165 Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: +603-2161 1111

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