Wednesday, February 27, 2013

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon @ West St London

It was a cold cold evening in London and since I am staying right in the West End of London, a visit to L'atelier de Joel Robuchon at "theatreland" seemed to be a great idea. Morever, not knowing what to expect from this 2 Star Michelin restaurant since this is my first visit to any of the JR chain restaurants, this is going to be interesting!

The restaurant in London consists of 3 different floors where the 1st floor is the L'atelier and you can choose to sit at the high counter concept like a sushi bar but we prefer to go to the first floor where they called it "La Cuisine" and it's a traditional seating and dining concept with an open kitchen and a wood-fired oven. I love the concept as I can see the chefs and staff working in the kitchen and how they immaculately decorate each dish before it is served. It's just amazing because I was just seated next to the kitchen! The third floor is La Salon which is more like a bar and terrace for a chill out evening.

Instead of bread basket, we were served this plate of thin crispy pastry that goes well on its own or with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I love the service here as they are not only efficient, the staff are so informative and so attentive. Now that's what I called a Michelin Star restaurant!

Le Jambon "Iberico De Bellota" £19
It's a plate of wafer thin slices of Iberico that feeds on acorns and are cured for a long time (as I couldn't recall how many because I was too busy eating) and served together with tomatoes on a crispy bread. I tell you... this is one of the best and most delicious Iberico Bellota I've tried! If I am returning, I would definitely order this again. The robust taste of nuts makes it all delicious even on its own.

Le Canard £29
 This dish consists of glazed duck breast, daikon and foie gras "mille feuilles" and braised lolly leg.I can't really remember the taste of this dish as I wasn't the one having it but I remember I did try the duck breast and it was oh-so-tender and flavourful.

Le Caille £29
This is a recommended dish from the restaurant as I can see from the many reviews, this is a must-order dish here. Oh well, this is also my first preferred choice as I love quails... as in eating them. This free range quail is stuffed with foie gras and truffle mashed potatoes. Did you see the beautiful slice of black truffle? The mashed potatoes is also a signature of Joel Robuchon where the potatoes puree is so silky smooth and are rumoured to be cooked with lots of butter in a Le Creuset pot. I absolutely adore this dish as the quail was tender and infused with foie gras which makes it so rich! After this meal, I'll never look at quails the same way again and perhaps with a sheepish nefarious glint in my eyes.

1999 Domaine de La Grange des Peres
I think this is the last 2 bottles they have at the restaurant. It was a great choice of red wine as I have not tried this label before and it's one of those must-try cult wine! Grange des Peres is one of those arguably the greatest and most respected domaine in the entire Languedoc region and availability is really limited.

 A complimentary white chocolate lolly with lemon sorbet. So refreshing and cute!
 Le Chocolate Tendance £11
 When I saw this on the dessert menu, I knew I had to order this due to a profession disease that I could not cure. It's a creamy Manjari chocolate, bitter chocolate sorbet with Oreo cookie crumb. Something so simple yet presented so beautifully and the chocolate was so rich, bittersweet and creamy!

 This is a happy me after the meal. I wished I had more space for some more food grazing but unfortunately I'm all stuffed by the end of the dinner!
 Next up, I would love to try more Joel Robuchon outlets all over the world.
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon 
13-15 West Street, 
London WC2H 9NE 
Tel:+44 0207 010 8600

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hibiscus @ Maddox Street, London

Ranked #8 on the Good Food Guide 2012 and 2013, Hibiscus is one of my top priority in my dining list in London. Hibiscus is a brainchild of Chef Claude Bosi which he started in Ludlow way back in year 2000 and later in 2007, the restaurant was relocated to London and maintaining its 2 Michelin star. The restaurant also is named one of The World's 50 Best Restaurants by the Aqua Panna and S. Pellegrino awards in 2010 and 2011.

The facade of the restaurant was so simple that one wouldn't have thought that this place serves such fine cuisine. And lucky, the cab driver managed to locate this place with the address that I have brought along during the trip. There are so many Michelin starred restaurants in London and so don't expect all cab drivers to know them all.

 Chef Claude Bosi

The interior was also simple but elegant and I love the electric blue chairs that perked up the white interior. I was seated at a comfy couch that was half enclosed which allows some privacy. There's no air about Chef Bosi as he would walk around the tables and greet his customers. I even grabbed him for a photo opportunity (isn't that what a food blogger always do?). It was also very kind of the restaurant to prepare a nice card and signed by the chef himself on the table for my partner as we are celebrating a special ocassion together.

 Parmesan Cheese Balls & Olive Balls together with a bread basket to start our evening. I love those cheese-filled balls! That was not it as we were also given a glass of complimentary Rose since we are celebrating a special ocassion. Now, that is a true kind gesture!

His cuisine is quite gastronomical but with influences of French and traditional British cuisine. There's nothing too extravagant in his dishes as he wants to keep it close to the natural flavours of the ingredients. Hibiscus offers a very interesting seasonal menu for dinner. I took the 6-course dinner of winter menu as recommended as the portions are small and I could sample more of the Chef's specials. The degustation menu is a surprise and thus you won't know what you will be expecting. And I love these kind of surprises!

3 courses - £87.50 ++
6 courses - £95.00 ++
  8 courses - £105.00 ++
 Hibiscus "Kedgeree" served in an egg shell. 
Kedgeree is actually a traditional British breakfast from colonial India that consists of smoked fish, boiled rice, parsley, hard-boiled eggs, curry powder and ghee but the Hibiscus "Kedgeree" contains smoked Haddock, soft egg and a tint curry oil.

Leflaive Les Pucelles Puligny Montrachet 2001 Premier Cru
A deep gold hue, a nose of pears, apricots and jasmine flowers. On the palate, there's honey suckle, slight mint and spices coupled with citrus notes. The wine is dense, long lingering flavours and needs time for it to develop. Knowing that I love a Puligny montrachet, my partner made the right choice in picking up this from the wine list.

And a picture of me with my "Kedgeree". Pictures are all taken using the iPhone 5 and due to low light conditions, please bear with the quality of my food pics.

Salad of Devonshire Crab, Tokyo Turnip Smoked Olive Oil Cream and Ginger
I would have thought that the cream would be too overhelming and oily but it wasn't.

Ravioli of Smoked Potato & Hen's Egg Yolk, Truffle
I found this dish to be too salty for my liking and thus I told the staff about it. Otherwise it would be a very nice dish as I love the truffle and smoky flavours.

Grilled Hand Dived Isle of Skye Scallops, Pork Pie Sauce and Pink Grapefruit Gel
This delicate Scottish scallop is really nice but I was told that if I were to eat it in Scotland, fresh from the catch, it would even be better! The pork pie sauce was really interesting and who would have thought pairing it with a seafood and the grapefruit gel provides a citrusy and refreshing flavour to the scallop dish.

Adour Foie Gras Skewered on Liquorice, Pear Gel, Nashi Pear Confit, Shaved Black Liquorice
Service recovery was instant as they apologized for the salty dish and they offered this dish as compliments from the restaurant. When I think of Licorice, the sweet black candy comes into my mind. Liquorice is actually from the legume family and if you boil the plant, you can extract a sweet syrup from it. The foie gras pairs very well with sweetness, no doubt.

South Coast Monkfish, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower & Mulled Wine, Sauce Coq au Vin
The monkfish is a huge fish which looks like a cross between a flatfish and a shark and is popularly fished at the South Coast of England. It is also known as the "poor's man lobster" due to it's firm texture and the and a natural sweetness to the taste. I absolutely love those cute little brussel sprouts too!

Goosnargh Duck, Quince Aioli, Jerusalem Artichokes & Sharon Fruit
Goosnargh (pronounced as goose-ner) is a village in the City of Preston in Lancaschire, England and it's ducks and confed chickens are championed by the chefs. The producers in Goosnargh has a reputation for top quality birds fed on a chemical-free diet, so much so that there is an EU protection sought to prevent ducks produced elsewhere being tagged as coming from that village. Fantastic taste and structure, intense flavours and I simply love the crisp dry skin which felt almost like the crackling skin of the pork. Would you just look at the colour of the duck meat?!!

Melilot Panna Cotta & Hibiscus "Tarte Au Chocolate" with Indonesian Basil Ice-cream

The whole dinner was very enjoyable as the restaurant was spacious and the service was tip-top. A thumbs up to the team for the attention given to us and even the fine details I sent to them by email before the dinner was followed up. I made a reservation using Toptable and there is a penalty of £50 if I cancel the reservation within 48 hours which I gulped when I entered my credit card details while booking this place.

After the dinner, we were given a small bag each which contained a cute muffin and the tasting menu which we have just experienced. That is really professional! And guess how much was the bill?!! When I asked for the bill, my heart also jumped out from my ribcage. It's £800+ where the dinner for 2 costs around £300 and the £500 goes to the the bottle of Puligny Montrachet. And since my partner is so sweet, he took care of the bill.

29 Maddox Street
London, W1S 2PA
Tel: + 44 020 7629 2999
Hours of Operation:  
Lunch: Monday - Saturday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
Dinner: Monday - Thursday: 6:30pm - 10:00pm
Friday & Saturday: 6:00pm - 10:00pm

Friday, February 15, 2013

Little Wonton @ Jalan Telawi, Bangsar

Jalan Telawi at Bangsar is now abuzz with new dining outlets. This is a great improvement as I really like to hangout here on weekends. One of the outlets I've wanted to try since a few weeks ago is this Little Wonton shop which you could easily miss while passing by due to its small and humble setting. It's actually next to Nosh.

I like the ambiance and the modern oriental deco in this shop. It's very cosy and the bright colours did lift up the moods as well. I think cute is the right word for this place. However my friend complained that the chairs are too small for his butt and he prefers siting on the cushioned seats.

There's a table in the middle of the room for all the sauces and condiments you'll need for the wontons. It's self-service and you will have to order from the counter and then pay before the food is delivered to you.

The menu is pretty interesting. I don't see the usual shrimp or meat paste wontons here but you'll get chicken ham with pineapples and cheese wontons, chicken sausage with tomato and cheese, mushroom, onions and cheese wontons and seafood tofu, thai sauce and onions wontons. These savoury wontons are priced at RM7.80 for 6 pieces.

I also ordered a dessert wonton from the sweet wonton menu. It's banana chocolate wontons at RM7.90 for 6 pieces too. I must say that these wontons taste really good despite the out of the ordinary fillings that is unheard of. The skin is thin and crispy and the right amount of filling is enough to fill you up.

And we brought our own bottle of wine and our own glasses there.

Little Wonton
9, Jalan Telawi 3,
59100 Bangsar, KL.
Tel: +603 2202 2613

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Gold Mine @ Bayswater London

Sorry for the long spell of silence in my postings and also the lack of comments in the blogs that I frequent. I just came back from London a few days ago and then I had to rest my eyes due to an eye infection and dryness. The last one week I was in London for a nice holiday was truly the best trip I ever had in my life, not because of London but due to experiences I had while I was there. It's my 4th time to the city and this time, it's just different.

This time around, I managed to experience a culinary journey throughout my stay and also thanks to the recommendations of friends who has been hanging around London and dining at every corner of the city. 1st post of the trip would be something I really like - ROAST DUCK.

Everyone knows the famous London Four Seasons Roast Duck at Bayswater but actually, there is a shop that sells roast duck a few shops away from it. Sources told me that the ex-chef at Four Seasons left and opened his own shop called "Gold Mine" and the secret of the delicious roast duck is its sauce and that this chef has brought his secret recipe with him to this outlet.

You can't miss the shop with its roast meats hanging at the window and this row of shophouses is just right in front of the entrance/exit of the Bayswater Tube station. Usually there's a queue at this place but because I was there on Saturday at 3pm, I don't really have to queue. It's just a 5 mins wait for them to clear the tables.

The Roast Duck is a must-order-dish. Half portion of the duck costs £10.30 and you can have an option to have it deboned (which of course I did). Service was fast and they delivered the roast duck in about 10 mins. The duck meat was so tender and full of flavour. This is not a crispy-skin-duck type but I must say that the secret lies in the sauce. The sauce was a great compliment to the roast duck with a slight hint of caramel sweetness. Love the roast duck!

We had sake to go with chinese food. How weird is that?!!
Well, it's not really my idea but I have my dining partner is really adventurous.
But in the end, I had a whole pot of chinese tea to myself.

Some of the more common dishes that I ordered was the sweet & sour pork. The pork cutlets were quite big and fried in a crispy batter and then there's the sweetness and sour flavours from the pineapples and tomatoes. My dining partner enjoyed this very much as it is his first time trying this dish. It's also my favourite dish that I would order when I'm at the "tai chow" places back in KL.

The plate of green spinach was so big that I think it can easily feed 5 people. The dishes here are meant for 4 people at least because I really have trouble finishing them even when I didn't even order any white rice!

The other dish that impresses me was the "Chow Ngau Ho" which is literally translated as Fried Flat Rice noodles with beef. The beef slices are so tender and you can really taste the "wok hei" or rather the slight burn or charcoal taste in this noodle dish. It's best when served warm because as it gets cold, it was a little oily.

This is a typical eat & go chinese restaurant in London as the spaces are tight and they don't encourage you to sit here for a few hours to sip your tea. I find it rather difficult to feel comfortable especially during winter where you have your jackets and the seats are so tight. There's no extra space for big jackets or shopping bags.

The oranges are complimentary after the meal. However I didn't enjoy them because it was too sour and I hate eating sour food especially from citrus fruits. The bill came to about £43.50 which is not cheap if you convert it to local currency but I guess the price is pretty reasonable in London. You wouldn't be able to eat half a duck at 10 bucks here!

I love the sight of this... cold cold London...

Gold Mine
102 Queensway  London W2 3RR, 
United Kingdom
Mon-Sun 12 noon to 11.00pm
Tube: Bayswater
                                                               Tel: +44 20 7792 8331                      

Friday, February 01, 2013

CNY dishes at Oriental Cravings @ 1 Utama

One of my favourite casual dining outlet which I've never written about is this humble little restaurant at the Ground floor of 1 Utama (Rainforest section) and my usual order is always their Bak Kut Teh which I have ordered it countless times. This place has been here eversince the new wing was in existence which came to 9 years now. I call this restaurant a melting pot of chinese cuisine as it has influences of Hainanese, Teochew, Hakka, Hokkien and etc in their dishes.

Coming Chinese New Year, they have a few new additions to their otherwise already quite extensive variety of local favourites. These special dishes are not in their standard menu but it's written on the black board at the back of the outlet or you can also simply ask the staff for daily specials.

Pomelo Salad (RM21.90)
 Made with specially selected pomelo from Tambun, this dish has a mix of sweet and refreshing flavours from the pomelo, kafir lime leaves, bunga kantan, mint leaves and crushed peanuts. I like this for a change because it whets the appetite and definitely the best entree to the meal. The pomelo salad is served during Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival.

 Lap Mei Fan (RM21.90)
This is probably the only place I know that serves a single portion of "Lap Mei Fan" which is a type of rice dish cooked with waxed meat and chinese sausages. They are using both types of sausages - meat and duck liver sausages. The rice is cooked with minced sausages and then topped with slices of sausages to give it an extra "kick" of taste in the rice. Yes it may be a little pricey for a single portion but it's worth it if you don't have to cook it yourself.

 Arrow Root with Leek (RM25.90)
This is also another signature dish during CNY because the arrow root are only available during this time of the year. There's arrow root, leek, roast pork, carrot slices and also button mushrooms stir-fried together and topped with some red chillies. Love the arrow roots which has a very smooth and powdery texture.

 BB Chicken (RM23.90)
This is one of their recommended dishes which is quite unique and it's not the "3 cups chicken" that you would think it is. It's actually chicken braised in a claypot with a spicy caramelised sauce and you can also have it non-spicy.

Hainanese Assam Fish (RM43.90)
This is one dish that I would love to take my dad here to try. He loves fish and since we are Hainanese, he would love to try this dish. I like the sweet, sour and spicy tastes all interwined together with this fresh Silver Promfret. Excellent!

They also have other recommended dishes which is available on a daily basis such as a side order of their crispy Roast Pork (RM15.90/100g) and also their Crispy Oatmeal Prawn (RM31.90) which I simply adore for its golden colour and crisp oatmeal with succulent prawns.

One must really try their Blended Cucumber and Lime Juice (RM6) which they claimed to be "best in the world". It was truly cooling and it's a good drink for detoxing! Hue Gee and I ordered that and Mom gave their Chendol (RM5.50) which is made with the authentic Gula Melaka.

We have so much to eat for lunch and after that we had to walk a few hours at the shopping mall to burn off the calories overload. Thanks to Fay for inviting me to try their CNY dishes and just for your info, they are closed on 1st and 2nd day of CNY and only open for half a day on CNY eve.

Oriental Cravings
:G359, Ground Floor, Rainforest
1 Utama Shopping Centre 1 Lebuh Bandar Utama, 
47800 Petaling Jaya.
Phone:+603-7727 2581

P/S: I'm staying home on my 29th birthday because I had an eye infection. How sad could that be?

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