Dining Lebanese in KLCC @ Al-Amar, Pavilion KLCC, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit: Numerous times since 2011, the latest visit being November 2012

Tabouli is basically a salad of bulgur, parsley, tomatoes, mint, green onions, olive oil and lemon juice. Simple as it is, I love tabouli very much. I love the zingy sharp acidity of lemons mixed with the robust flavours of mint, parsleys and shallots. When I first arrived KL, I often went to Al-Amar for my tabouli fix. Although their tabouli is overly masticated to a pulp, I still went there for their Tabasco-ey tabouli which included the hot red chili padi that suited the Malaysian tastebuds.

Yes, I know tabouli is easy to make at home, but getting my hands on the fresh herbs was a chore for a new arrival especially since the supermarket downstairs does not have a complete stock of fresh herbs and I don’t know where the market is.  Anyway, how convenient was it to have one of Malaysia’s Best Restaurant at your doorsteps right?

Anyway, here is the review of my last visit from a while ago:

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Tabouli

The nice thing about Al-Amar is that each table gets 2 types of complimentary breads together with olive oil and seasoning salts.

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Baby Bagels

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Pita breads

Normally one would order the mezze plate of assorted hummus, but why order them if one can whizz these dips easily at home? (Chuck a can of drained chickpeas and a drizzle a bit of olive oil, then blend in the blender).

Foods in Al-Amar tend to be on the sour side.   If you crave for something really sour, I recommend the Dolmades (rice stuffed in vine leaves and marinated in lemon juice and olive oil) or what they call Warak Enab in Lebanese for appetiser.  A really sour finger food which jolts one awake, this is a welcoming respite after all the sweet Malaysian fares eaten in KL.

The restaurant has a huge oven on display, so naturally one would ordered grilled dishes.

I ordered Lamb Kofta, which came with more bread, spices and onions – warranting no complaints from me. (for the adventurous, there are raw lamb meats too!)

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Lamb Kofta

The oven baked Snapper looked festive sitting on a bed of lettuce and surrounded by lemons, tomatoes and onions.  It was a delicious fish.  Tarator dressing (made from more lemon juice, yoghurt, oil and nuts) was paired with the fish if one wants more flavour.  In the midst of eating, we realised that the fish was not cooked in the middle so we had to send it back, which was a negative.

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Oven Baked Fish

We had a bottle of Lebanese red wine from Chateau Musar which I thought  was rather special, as this was my first time tasting vino from the ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia  (Interesting history read up here ).   It’s a young fruity wine, with a nose of rich red fruits, cherries and violets. The tannins left a long velvety touch hinting towards dark fruits at the end.

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Chateau Musar Jeaune Red

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Interior

The interior harkens to Aladdin’s caves with red furnishings and exotic ornaments which is rather dated, but still attracting Middle-Eastern clienteles.   The restaurants serve huge buffet spread during the weekends.  A perfect chance to sample all the offerings the restaurant has.  I definitely recommend Al-Amar to the vegetarians, raw foodists and those who wanted something savoury and tart, away from the unctuously sweet dishes.

Something’s Amiss @ Steakhouse, Hilton Kuching, Malaysia

Date of Visit: July 11 2013

Not sure whether I am alone on this – but, do you get a mixed feeling of guilt + depression – when you stay sedentary the whole day, only shuffling between meetings and eating?   I often do.  And I have been eating sugar-laden food for 2 days in a row! (here and here)

Despite a more than filling lunch  at Bangkok Thai Seafood Restaurant less than 5 hours ago, we still have ample time for dinner since our flight back to The Boo is at 8:20pm.

Our meeting concluded at the Hilton, naturally we thought of having a quick bite  at the hotel’s cafe.  Unfortunately, but the cafe will only open at 6:30pm for the iftar buffet.  So we tried our luck at the Steakhouse, upon enquiry the kitchen was willing to accommodate us for an early dinner at 6pm.  I am pleasantly surprised to find that Steakhouse has been nominated one of Malaysia’s Best Restaurants for 3 years running, from the displays of their awards near the entrance.

This is a small restaurant modestly done.  Clean, no food smell along with  attentive service from the wait staff who made sure that our glasses are never empty.

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Interior

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Awards

First we were given drinks and then offered  complimentary brioche presented in a cup. A perfect break from eating the white spongy ‘mantaos’ from Breadsense which I am getting rather fond of in The Boo.

Speaking of which, I am wanting to cut out all things sweet, white and processed but it is proving to be very hard, especially since sugar creeps up on you – even in their most natural forms in fruits and vegetables.

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Brioche

For my main, I was deciding between a Oven Roasted Barramundi (RM49) or Grilled Salmon (RM57), in the end the fennel salad that was to accompany the salmon won me over.  As I was tucking in my perfectly grilled salmon which  was still pick inside, I thought that something was amiss, I pondered then remembered that there was supposed to be a fennel salad.  I then realised that the kitchen had very cleverly  masqueraded bits of celeries as fennels hidden under the orange segments and olives.  Not wanting to kick a fuss, I sucked up in finishing my course.  The salmon itself was not bad, the bits of oranges, olives and celery imparted a tangy sweetness and earthly taste to the fish.

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Grilled Salmon

While waiting for our bill, we were served house-made petit fours made of corn flakes, white chocolate and coconut butter.

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Petit Fours

The Steakhouse has a good priced $105 4-course set menu which I hope to try in my next visit.

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Set Menu

Opposite the hotel is a waterfront esplanade which is perfect for an evening stroll.

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Esplanade

Before I sign off this post, this is an aerial shot of Kuching before our plane landed this morning.  Kuching is a lovely quaint town, far superior than The Boo in terms of facilities and infrastructure – clean and rather pretty even the lawns by the roadside are manicured!   Since Kuching is only 40mins away, I must plan my next getaway to visit the Bako National Park and Damai Beach.

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Aerial View of Kuching