Hanaya Japanese Restaurant @ Grand Millennium Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit:  August 31, 2015

Getting good sushi outside of Japan is hard.  So I was very happy to find out that Hanaya at the Grand Millennium in KL serves an excellent Sushi Set Lunch.

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Hanaya

Thoughts have been put into the privacy concerns of the clients, that the tables are set further apart, and with privacy screens.  The one major drawback was the irritating background music.😞

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Glass privacy screens

Assorted Sushi , TAKE (RM60): Types of sushi as listed on the menu are – Tuna, Salmon, Trevaly, Boiled Prawns (I think I had a Alfonsino as substitute), Boiled Octopus, Scallop, Mackerel, Salmon roe, Squid, Kappa Roll: Cucumber Small Roll, Tekka Roll: Tuna Small Roll

Pictures of my Sushi Platter!  Fishes flown in from Japan and prepared by Japanese chef!  Absolutely delectable sushi!

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Beautifully crafted

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Kappa Roll: Cucumber Small Roll, Tekka Roll: Tuna Small Roll

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The other set worth mentioning is the Special Kaisen Don (RM88): Assorted sashimi served on a bed of sushi rice.

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Kaiseki Don

Same side dishes for all the Set Meals:  Comprising miso soup, salad and grilled vegetables

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Miso Soup

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Grilled Vegs

Complimentary dessert for the ladies: Black sesame gelato with chopped mixed fruits

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And Coffee or Tea to finish up!  Fab food, service and great value!  I shall be back! 😍

Aziamendi 88 @Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit:  August 24 2015

When I discovered that a 3 Michelin Star chef is opening a pop-up in Kuala Lumpur, I was very excited!  Perfect timing for a birthday celebration!  The pop-up is only in operation for 88 days. thus it’s called Aziamendi88👍.  It occupies the Mandarin Grill at the Mandarin Oriental, KL (my review of a prior visit here).

Eneko Atxa is Spain’s youngest ever 3 Michelin Star Chef and has recently been voted 19th Top Chef in the World by San Pellegrino.  Mind you, he designed the menu at the pop-up, but not the actual cook!

Well-advertised: Basque chef Eneko Atxa

Unfortunately, dinner slots on the day we wanted were booked solid, so we had lunch instead – after a lot of annoying phone calls from the restaurant to confirm our reservation, we rocked up promptly to secure our lunch at noon, to find the restaurant was not yet opened!  😁  It was also the first time I have been asked by a restaurant if I am sure about my 8-course lunch menu! Pfftt…

Whatever…Naturally, I had a high expectation of the the chef’s creativity and the MO’s service!

When we finally accessed the restaurant, we were led to a mock garden where we were served some amuse bouches before entering the main dining room.  (The jungle feel of the waiting area brought memories of  the now defunct ‘Rainforest Cafe’ in Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong where we used to go very often when I was little😄).

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Mock-garden:  Loved the sensory experience as well…smell of fresh of hay..😃

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Mock garden

Once seated on the park bench, we were handed a 8-course Dinner Menu 😳.  Caught by surprise with the mistake, I queried the waitress, apparently the 8-course dinner menu is same as 8-course lunch – so hence recycling of the dinner menu for lunch! Join the green crusades, dudes! 🌳🌳 👏

Pre-Lunch: Picnic

Amuse Bouches, aptly called ‘Picnic‘ on the Menu was served in the Picnic Basket while we waited.  There were 3 types of amuse bouches:  Anchovy Mille Feuille, Corn Toast & Caviar and Mojito Bon Bon.  

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Picnic basket

We were advised to start with the Anchovy Mille Feuille: Crisp crackers sandwiched with the briny tang of anchovy paste decorated with red local pine leaves, looking cute like little butterflies.  Then moving onto Corn Toast:  Black corn toast with caviar, fish roe and mayonnaise whipped with sea urchin.

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Anchovy Mille Feuille, Corn Toast and Caviar

For the finale, the fragile Mojito Bon Bon literally pops in the mouth giving an alcoholic rush of minty-tangy enjoyment.

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Mojito Bon Bon: Can’t remember the dusting on top 😟

1:  Bonsai Tree

A huge Bonsai Tree was waiting at our table, hmm… the presentation looks familiar, our minds race to Aronia Takazawa where we had the pleasure of dining in Toyko a couple of years ago. (review here)

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Bonsai Tree

Hanging on the tree were 3 cherry tomatoes, one for each of us.  The firm tomatoes flooded our mouths with juicy sweet liquid flood.  It was clever to take out the inside of the cherry tomato to replace it with a mixture of tomato and fruit juices.  It was absolutely delightful!  By far, the best cherry tomato I had ever tasted! 🙌

We finished off the 1st course with brown crackers with a sweet-earthy-savoury chew akin to beef jerky – ‘wood bark chip‘.

Cherry Tomato

2:  Truffled Egg

First the egg yolk was removed.  The yolk then infused with hot truffle jus then re-injected into the original membrane, hence cooking the egg inside out.  We swooped it in one mouthful, expecting a warm burst of truffled yolky flavour, but it was cold and gamey…no hint of truffles…hmmm…

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Truffled Egg

More to our expectation was the steamed milk bun served from a dimsum bamboo basket.  it was hot, fluffy and very delicious  especially with the dense and aromatic spanish olive oil.

Steamed Milk Bun

There’s wine pairing available, but we opted to choose a bottle of red instead. We were happy with our choice of  an easy to drink Tempranillo from Rueda within a reasonable price-point (RM268)

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2009 Tempranillo

3:  The Garden

Edible soil has been around for a while now, so nothing new for me.  There are 2 parts to this creation: ‘Soil’ was made from dehydrated beetroots and later adorned with miniature carrot, sweet peas, tomato, cauliflower, broccoli and zucchini.  ‘Earth’ was the sweet jelly tomato-orange emulsion.  Very pretty presentation, which I ate gleefully with my spoon.

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The Garden

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Earth: Tomato Jelly

Paired with the soft sweet corn bread.

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Corn Bread

4:  Foie Gras Ashes from the Grill

A bit of ceremony here, first I was given a wet towel, then my place was set with a black napkin.  I really loved the presentation of this course, although eating it was very messy.  The frozen foie gras paste sits on top of a toasted brioche and covered with foie gras shavings possibly mixed with ashes or squid ink (my guess 😜)  It was hard to eat because the brioche we hard and tough to chew.  In the end I had to use the towel to wipe my face and fingers – I was really messy. 😝

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Foie Gras Ashes from the Grill

Pretty… the local pine flowers made the grey lump looks like a dressed-up porcupine resting on a branch!
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Accompanied with Spelt Bread.

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Spelt Bread

5:  Squid Noodles with its own Crunchy Juice

First came the dish with squid topped with 3 slices of pickled onions.
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Then local fish roe and a croquette of squid ink and juice.

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Squid ink and juice Croquettes and a teaspoonful of Local fish roe.

Then the unctuously thick broth was poured over the squid noodles.

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We start with the fish roe, then move onto to squid noodles and then the croquettes.  Nice dish, but the broth was too salty for me… plus it was cold.

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6:  Grilled Tuna, Fried Eggs, Marmitako and Flowers

I had no idea what ‘marmitako‘ was, so I googled – it’s basically a tuna pot or fish stew eaten by the fishermen in the Basque country.  What we had was the modified version of a thick, salty soup.

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Modified Marmitako with Tuna Sashimi and Crisp

The soup was followed by the cold grilled tuna, it was tough, salty and fishy … good thing is that it sits atop the sweet pureed cauliflower… I could use that to tone down the fishy saltiness!  😜.  Although the 2 fried balls were fried egg yolks, i thought the runny centre was cauliflower pureé!   Whatever… I liked the pretty pickled flower petals!

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Grilled Tuna, Fried Eggs, Marmitako and Flowers

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7:  Lamb Shoulder, Pesto, Parmesan and Pine Nuts

The last savoury course was the very disappointing lamb shoulder sandwiched between 2 thin sheets of pastry with a micro salad garden on top.  The lamb shoulder was tough, raising suspicions that it was reheated from last night’s dinner.  In any regards, the liquid parmesan balls were delightful!

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Lamb Shoulder, Pesto, Parmesan and Pine Nuts

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8:  Dulcey Chocolate and Peanut, Salted Caramel Ice-Cream

Beautifully presented – like a Japanese art!  Basically a quenelle of salted caramel ice-cream that melts a bit too quickly and a peanut butter log coated in chocolate ganache dusted with some gold dust.   Added to the plate, some cookie crumbs for textures and chocolate and caramel sauces for decoration.

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Dulcey Chocolate and Peanut, Salted Caramel Ice-Cream

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Petit Fours

The petit fours came in a perspex box with 4 compartments filled with:  marshmallow sitting on a bed of sugar ( incidentally, this was my mom’s favorite), White chocolate on white cookie crumbs, Chocolate macaron on chocolate biscuit crumbs and Dark Chocolate on coco crumbs.  My favourite was the Dark chocolate praline with a sour-sweet fruity filling.  😛

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Petit Fours: Marshmallow, White Chocolate, Macaron, Dark Chocolate (L to R)

The rather underwhelming 8-course food only degustation lunch was priced at RM438 (inclusive of all surcharges).  There’s also food and wine pairing at MYR698.

My 2nd Revisit That Shall Last For A While …@RyuGin Hong Kong

Date of Visit:  December 26 2014

So I am back at RyuGin Hong Kong again…this time with my Bro to celebrate his birthday.  My last visit with mom was enjoyable (here), so I thought I should splurge again for my Bro’s special occasion!  The 3 of us had been to Ryugin Tokyo earlier in the year too (here)

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Place setting

We didn’t order the signature RyuGin Sake this time, but instead opted for a more ‘competitively’ priced hot sake. 😆

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Hot sake

COURSE 1

Monkfish liver from Hokkaido and ‘aka’ clam with spring onion in mustard miso sauce 

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COURSE 2

Simmered abalone with winter vegetables served with grated radish sauce

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Love the presentation!

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COURSE 3

Shiitake mushroom egg custard topped with Matsubagani crab

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Whilst I had the substitute without crustaceans, due to my allergy

Shiitake mushroom egg custard topped with simmered scallop

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COURSE 4

Poached oyster and mashed turnip soup in winter style

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COURSE 5

Assortment of Sashimi 

Fishes flown in directly from Japan!  Try as I want to, I can never recognise the fishes – except tuna (pink)  and salmon (stripey orange)! 😁

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Loved how the chef plated the course: Using salt to draw a mountain scenery

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I really like this, I think it might be razor clam (?)

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COURSE 6

Charcoal grilled Alfonsino served with crispy scales.  

Yes, the citrus is from a province in Japan!

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The crispy scales were the highlight

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The lump in the middle is the salty preserved yuzu peel

COURSE 7

Wagyu ribeye sukiyaki with onset tamago

The egg is from Japan as well…😆

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Thinly sliced beef hidden under the simmered carrots, leeks and onions

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Brilliant gooey orange colour – double yums 😋

COURSE 8

Sea-urchin rice with pickled vegetables and miso soup

This is the traditional set denoting the end of the savoury course in a Japanese degustation meal.

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COURSE 9

Pear

Being spoilt with the theatrics of desserts, needless to say, I am quite disappointed with the rather under-whelming presentation…no theatrics of dry-ice…

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Pear

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Powdered sorbet pear

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Cooked pear added after I cracking open the miniature pear

COURSE 10

Deep-fried sticky rice spring-roll with ice-cream

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Quite a traditional dessert

Matcha, personally prepared by the maitre-d to finish off our meal.

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Matcha

Overall, the meal was good – utilising the freshest ingredients ALL air-flown from different regions in Japan – as expected of a 3-starred Michelin Restaurant 😗, but unfortunately a rather straight-forward text-book execution with not much of a ‘wow’ factor after a couple of visits.

But what is a birthday without a cake? So off we went to Robuchon for our 3rd dessert…😗

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A Perfect Summer’s Day @Tin Hau Temple, Joss House Bay

Tin Hau Temple at Joss House Bay is the oldest and largest Tin Hau Temple in Hong Kong, built in 1266.

There are many Tin Hau Temples in Hong Kong because Hong Kong was originally a fishing village, and Tin Hau is the patron saint of the fishermen.

Who is Tin Hau? She is the Goddess of the Sea or Queen of Heaven.  She was taught by a Taoist priest at 13 to predict the future and help those who were sick and weak.  Legends had it that she travelled about the sea on a raft made of reed to save people from drowning in the sea.  Hence, she was revered as the ‘Goddess for safety in the sea‘.

How We Got There:  We boarded the private ferry at Shau Kei Wan Typhoon Shelter (Exit A from Sai Wan Ho MTR, then walked to the Grand Promenande). The boat service is a round-trip service between Shau Kei Wan and Tung Lung Chau, only available during Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays.  We had made a separate alternative arrangement with the boat company for a drop-off and pick-up at Joss House Bay. (Handy info: info@boatpeople.com.hk; call +852 2337 6568 or call the captain directly: +852 5114 676)

Shau Kei Wan Typhoon Shelter

Leaving the metropolis

Tung Lung Chau has 2 drop-off points on the island:  Nam Tong Pier and Fat Tong Mun Pier

Fisheries in Tung Lung Chau

Fishing pontoons

Fishing pontoons

Tung Lung Chau is a pristine unspoilt island east of Hong Kong with beautiful scenery.  It has an area of 2.42 sq km with only 100 inhabitants.  As we travelled on the boat, we could see waves crashing into the rocks, steep cliffs and evergreen vegetation on rolling hills, which makes a very secluded place for camping hideaway.

Hen Hill, Tung Lung Chau

Beacon at the northern most tip of Tung Lung Chau

We arrived at Tin Hau Temple, Joss House Bay which is opposite to Tung Lung Chau after about 45minutes.

While not a fengshui expert, I can tell that Tin Hau Temple sits on a good fengshui spot at the foothills of the peaks.  (Shall I also divulge that I was taught geomancy in uni by an Australian lady?  How’s that for learning ‘sha chi‘ and ‘chi‘, from a foreigner? 😛)

Great Feng Shui spot: Tin Hau Temple

Why was the Temple built?  Historical records noted that the Temple was built by 2 brothers from Fujian Province in the salt trading business.  Whilst at sea one day, they were hit by strong winds and were swept from their boat.  Struggling in the sea and desperate, they shouted to Tin Hau for help.  They later drifted  safety ashore to Joss House Bay.  From then on, they built a temple in honour of Her.

Hong Kong’s biggest and oldest Tin Hau Temple, built 1266. Also called ‘the Big Temple’

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External worship altar

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Incinerator for burning offerings to Tin Hau

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A second, smaller incinerator

Let’s take a tour inside the temple…

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Main Entrance to the Temple

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Elaborately craved Tin Hau’s vessel in front of the Main Portico

Hanging coiled incense

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A model of Tin Hau’s boat which is taken out for procession every year

I didn’t take pictures of the Gods and Goddesses out of respect.  I believe that they should have their privacy and moreover, it’s disrespectful to delete their pictures or misplace them… 😇

Interesting stuffs inside the temple:  Joss sticks, incense sticks, cocks, wind mills… everything auspicious!  

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I made a donation to the temple and prayed for good health for my family

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I wonder why the cocks are considered auspicious 😏

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Wind mills for Good Luck

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Offerings to the Goddess

Ahem… I did take a picture of the Laughing Buddha…His altar is outside of the Main Temple, in the enclosure to the right.  I certainly hope He’s OK with it!😊

Matreya Buddha (Laughing Buddha): Located on the left side hall

The temple also houses Lady Golden Flower (Patron of Pregnant Women) where pregnant women or women who want to fall pregnant comes worship.

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Lady Golden Flower (Patron of Pregnant Women)

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Guardians of the Temple

Architectural motifs made from Shiwan porcelains (Shiwan is now an extinct art)

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Shiwan Tiger

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Shiwan Fish

Carvings

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Lunch was a seafood fest at Po Toi O village.  The restaurant was a very basic timber structure but it was packed with people, speaking volume of its food!

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View from the restaurant

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One of the biggest fish ever! 😛

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Dried seafood for sell

It was a perfect summer day out, away from the scorching heat and humidity in the city!

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Contrast between fishing village and high-rises

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Typical trawler

Alternate way to get there on weekdays:  MTR Po Lam Station Exit A, take the green minibus route 16 (Po Lam to Po Toi O), get off at the Clearwater Bay golf & Country Club, walk for about 10 minutes down the steps nearby.

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Quivo, Pavilion KLCC, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visits:  Various since April 2015

There are many, many restaurants in Pavilion KLCC – and the thing is, they all serve practically the same stuff!

I have been frequenting Quivo quite often when I’m in town.  I like the interior decor – pretty and swanky, like sitting in a furniture shop 😜 – and with the opened terrace, I can indulge in my favourite activity that is people-watching, while sitting high up in the high chair by the bar area!

Pretty swish interior

The barman is entertaining too when he’s juggling the bottles to mix drinks! 👯👯

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Bar area

Art-deco-mod Menu Cover! (Slightly tired nonetheless…)

To drink…

A fruit juice combo (carrot, berries,etc..?)

Vino blanco💃🏻

There’s also a wide range of alcoholic beverages and cocktails which I shall try and Instagram (check me out here ) next time instead…

Even though I have been there a few times, I only just realised that Quivo is a ‘Mediterranean inspired restaurant’ when I googled it!  😜  Ex..see..Q..see..mee!  Anyway, here are pictures of stuffs I’ve tried!

A piping hot Cheesy Spinach Dip with toasted pita bread.  Nice snack while waiting for the mains to arrive.

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Spinach Dip

The healthy Meze share plate.  There’s hummus made from chickpeas and spicy salsa with roasted peppers.  There’s an inflated pita bread to dip the hummus and salsa and crunchy crudités and olives for munching.

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Mezze Platter

Chicken Caesar with an overly generous coating of shaved parmesan cheese, but only a skewer of chicken.  Although, I like the salad, I didn’t like the rock-hard cold chicken nor the poached egg with a just-thawed yolk!

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Chicken Caesar Salad

We have tried a couple of the burgers on the menu. Here’s a picture of the Spicy Fish Burger that I’ve tried, it was good – and rather healthy with grilled barramundi and extra jalapeños for a kick!

Spicy Fish

The Philly Style Wagyu Steak Sandwich was seared beef stacked with onions, grilled peppers, stir-fried mushrooms, cheese and mustard-mayo in a hoagie roll.  It was very American! So, I don’t think it is Mediterranean at all! Still, it was a nice stomach filler.

Philly Style Wagyu Steak Sandwich

The paddle board pizza selections are highly recommended!  If I recall, you can choose to have either the regular or thin crust pizza base.

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Pizza Margherita

And last but not least, the Fish and Chips

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Fish and Chips

…’til next time!

‘Superhero Mode’ @Strato, Troika KLCC, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit:  May 17 2015

Tired of eating around the Pavilion and Suria KLCC vicinity, my brother and I decided to done our capes to venture further afield – i.e. to cut across the KLCC Park over to Troika, a residential building complex designed by Norman Forster.  *superhero mode*🙌

In the heat of a tropical showdown, getting to the restaurant on foot is a mission in itself.  First, we have to contend with the heat, find our way through the park,  dodge speeding cars  then upon arriving at the destination to find out where among the 2 buildings that ‘famed’ Troika Sky Dining is located.

After enquiring with the guards on duty, we were escorted to the elevator and transported to level 23A…slightly dishevelled and sweaty!

Since we were early – the restaurant only opens at 12pm – we were seated at Claret (the bar), downstairs and given the drinks and food menu to peruse… Interestingly, being an Italian resto, there were pages and pages listing pasta and pizzas… with only 1 page of mains…hmmm…😏

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I quite like ‘kiddy’ graphics for the menu

The downstairs bar area is called ‘Claret’

Circular stairs to ‘Strato’ restaurant

View down to ‘Claret’ bar

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Strato, the Italian restaurant on the upper deck

Bench-style seating for the lone diners. Let the KLCC park views do the talkin’

No kidding – check out our obstacles in getting to our lunch here!

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Part of KLCC park under construction/renovation – but see what I meant when I said getting to the resto was a mission! ☺️

We were entertained by a group of aunties reliving their high-school days, let loose in the marvel of the apps on their smartphones.  They were happily WhatsApp-ing and FaceBook-ing each other (whilst in the presence of each other nonetheless?!🙊…) and with their friends in virtual space.

Cute reminder, but why bother?? 😳

I ordered the No.3 Rickey (steep at RM36++) – gin, fresh lime, soda and no sugar – it was an OK drink.  I didn’t get any ‘kick’ out of it! 😛

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My gin – and a disconnected but ‘wired’ lunch companion

While waiting for my lunch, my tummy started to rumble.  I guess it must be a sign of heatstroke… So off I went to the Ladies’… Sometimes, I wonder why in Malaysia or in other developing Asian countries, things are always half-done.  Here, we have a beautiful restaurant which was very thoughtfully conceived, but when it comes to the servicing part – e.g. the toilets, guests are made to run up/ down the dusty fire-stairs to a toilet that doesn’t even flush properly!

Complimentary Foccacia

Much to our delight, there’s set lunch where we only need to pick a choice for each course! RM50++ for 2 courses and RM65++ for 3 courses.  Naturally, we opted for the later, dessert was bonus for braving the ‘elements’.

The octopus salad was good. The deep-fried transparent leaves added a touch of colour to a  well composed plate of yellow, green, orange…and a squeeze of lemon imparted tanginess to the salted and smoked bean puree.

Grilled baby Octopus with smashed borlotti beans and lobster oil

I had a little ‘surprise’ when the beef tenderloin arrived as I find it very small.  The tenderloin might have weighed less 100g, but for the price of the set lunch, I should not be surprised. Nonetheless, it was well executed and I enjoyed it.

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Pan seared grass fed Tenderloin, roasted root vegetables and porcini jus (there were typos in the menu, but I won’t harp on it! 😜)

Beef done medium-rare, accompanied by roasted turnips, shallots, baby carrot and spinach

Budino is a sweet traditional Italian dessert, rich and creamy like a custard pudding. Here, it is served with plumped-up sweetened cranberries and biscuit crumbs.  It wasn’t too sweet, so I was happy with my choice and it was a good end to our lunch!

Vanilla Budino & Mixed Berries Compote

We lingered a bit with our coffees after the meal…

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Complimentary Coffee

Typically in tropical climes, after a really hot morning, dark clouds will roll in to bring in a storm for a cool-down.  Seeing the dark skies, we decided to hurry home…

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The Twin Towers of Malaysia

Chocolate World Heritage

While sorting out my old memory cards, I found this series of chocolate sculptures that I took during my pre-blogging days.  Rather than putting them into storage, I thought I might share them in a post for everyone to see…

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Stonehenge

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Great Wall of China

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Great Wall of China

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The Dolomites

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Parthenon

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Parthenon in Athens

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Egyptian Tomb

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Egyptian Tomb

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Roman Amphitheatre

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Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa

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Arc de Triomphe in Paris

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Japan’s Himeji Castle

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New York’s Statue of Liberty

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Saint Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square, Moscow

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Saint Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square, Moscow

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Sydney Opera House

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India’s Taj Mahal

The chocolate sculpture is a pastry chef called Mirco Della Vecchia who has a series of accolades besides being a Guinness World Record Holder.

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