Sunday, May 25, 2014


Unthinkable as it sounds, local street food in the city would probably be extinct by the next decade or so, steamrolled into the sands of time by the fast and furious pace of development. Already the number of independently run kopi tiams are dwindling by the day; their places usurped by shinier, air-conditioned local coffee franchises. Hence when entrepreneurs like Willie Tay of Grandeur Gourmet come a-calling and inviting old-time established hawkers and street food vendors into modern food courts (Tay prefers to call his ventures food atriums), the savvier ones find the offer too irresistible for words.
That's why you'd find familiar names like Heun Kee Claypot Rice and Sentul Ah Yap Charcoal Hokkien Mee inside Taste Enclave, an ultra-modern yet cosy food haven in Avenue K. With 16 stalls and 4 mini restaurants nestled within, diners are naturally spoilt for choice.

The spacious 550-seat space is adorned with lush faux foliage and tactile decoration in the forms of whimsical bunnies, topiary and running water feature, to create an indoor serene garden setting and a comfy area to dine in.
One of the mini restaurants here is Grandeur Teppanyaki, a designated section specialising in beef, chicken or seafood teppanyaki that's prepared a la minute.  We love the shrimp, squid and scallop combo (RM17.90) which came piping hot, flecked with freshly ground black pepper and doused with sticky, buttery and briny sauce.
 To balance that rich serving of seafood, you may want to order a plate of the refreshingly minty Vietnamese Mango Salad (RM6.90) from Ythu Wendy Vietnam Cuisine. Although the bracing salad bears some similarity to the Thai version, the inclusion of crushed peanut, fresh mint and nuoc cham makes it somewhat different.
Sometimes local food tends to fall short at modern food courts but Mandarin Chicken Rice proves that its signature chicken rice can rival even the home-cooked version. Not only is the chicken marble smooth and succulently tender, the flavourful rice and piquant chilli dip also got the nod from the Hainanese gastronomes in our dining party.
You can also add a meaty boost to your meal with delectable siew yoke (crispy roast pork) and char siu (honey glazed BBQ pork) from Tong's Roast. Having made their cut at the Pudu market for three decades, this family-run enterprise is now moving with the times and winning over a new generation of food lovers with their delicious offerings.
Rice loving diners will go potty over Heun Kee Claypot Rice (RM19.80 for a set inclusive of soup, vegetable and seafood beancurd) - an evergreen favourite with foodies who venture into the Pudu area. Served with a dish of mui hiong salted fish on the side, the comforting rice dish is further enriched by sliced Chinese sausages, chunks of chicken, lashings of dark and light soya sauces, and freshly chopped spring onion. Trust us, it's so good that you'd be scraping the bottom of the crusty pot in no time at all.
Taste Enclave is a rice haven for farn toong (rice fiends). Besides the Chinese fare we sampled, the Wrap Time and Jalan Kayu Prata stalls also take pride in their rice dishes. The tasty Mediterranean Rice (RM11.40) from Wrap Time is well-scented by myriad aromatic herbs and spices that's used to cook it. Side servings of fresh salad and chick peas make the platter a complete meal by itself.
Closer to home is Dum Briyani Chicken (RM14.90) which has quarter of a chicken and a hard-boiled egg buried in fragrant, fluffy long grain rice perfumed by a heady spice mix. Pickles, deep-fried crackers and a side dish of curry ensure every inch of your tummy space is adequately filled once you polish off the serving. By the way, the Roti Prata deserves special mention for its flaky softness and sublime fish curry.
Besides smoky charcoal-fried Sentul Ah Yap Hokkien Mee (RM9.90), noodle enthusiasts can find ample satisfaction from Stall No.21 Beef Noodles, a spin-off from the famous Soong Kee Beef Noodles. Brimming with rich, deep-seated beefy nuances, the Beef Balls with Tripe Noodle Soup (RM9) is comfortingly simple yet slurpilicious; a complementary combination of different textures: springy, smooth, chewy, gristly and soft in a bowl.

The second mini resto is Svea Cafe which adds some Swedish slant to the premise with casual but popular crowd-pleasers such as pastas, pizzas and burgers. Delighted by the lightly flaky, moist Grilled Salmon with Baked Mashed Potato (RM19.80), we promised ourselves that we'd return some day to sample the meatballs and pork chops.
This is possibly the only food atrium where live seafood can be prepared upon request. Besides hallmark dishes such as Singapore Chilli Crabs or Black Pepper Crabs, Xi Qing Seafood whips up a mean Marmite Short Pork Ribs too. Wickedly scrumptious, these porcine pieces are worth sinking your teeth into.
Fancy firing up your tastebuds? Then Golden Hot Pot's Ma La Golden Hot Pot (RM6 onwards) should set them ablaze. A sizzling hodge-podge of prawns, lotus root, mushroom, peanuts, vegetable and black fungus, the tongue-numbing speciality from China has about 27 different spices in it. Depending on your preference, the hotness level can be moderated or ramped up - just inform the chef when you order.
Taste Enclave
Level 2, Avenue K
156 Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2181-8888
Opens 10.00am till 10.00pm - See more at:

TASTE ENCLAVE, Level 2, Avenue K Shopping Centre, Jalan Ampang, KL. Opening hours: Sun - Thurs & PHs 10 am-10 pm; Fri, Sat & eve of PHs 10 am - 11 pm.

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