Thursday, August 28, 2008

Haikara-Style Cafe & Bakery , Subang Jaya

Further down the block from Ben&Nick's is a little Japanese-styled cafe and bakery named Haikara. Small and quaint, and with the occassional delicious whiffs of something delicious being baked, one would immediately find the ambience cozy. The outlet was quiet on a late Sunday afternoon (probably because they were about to close for the day) except for a few patrons reading Japanese magazines and comics (which are provided for free reading) while sipping their coffee accompanied by yummy-looking pastries from their cake counter, which to my delight reminded me of those that I liked so much in Tokyo. In other words, petite in size with a touch of French-influence.

Their menu appeared to be rather simple. Most were westernized Japanese-cafe fare such as pastas (they serve Mentaiko Pasta here by the way), Japanese curries, salads, and light bites like sandwiches and Japanese croquettes.

I ordered a home-made daifuku or mochi that were displayed in their pastry corner for I was feeling rather famished and needed something to fill my tummy before the main meal arrive. I was a little let-down though. Costing RM2 a piece, the filling was too sweet (although most azuki paste tend to taste overly sweet) . It was not bad but I smugly told my friend that I prefer my own version like here and here. *lol*

Our sets came with complimentary soup and salad. The salad was typical Japanese-style garden salad. Crisp and fresh cucumber, tomatoes and shredded cabbage lightly dressed in creamy dressing.

The complimentary soup was rather special. When it first arrived, for a moment I thought it was a hot beverage. It looked more like hot water with bits of green herbs floating that a proper soup. See how clear it was:
Despite our initial doubts, it tasted pretty good. Simple uncomplicated flavours that spelt "comfort food". And what more, it was virtually grease-free.

My friend order their Japanese Curry with Rice set. One can also opt for Japanese Curry with Pasta or with Chicken Katsu . Nevertheless, both of us were rather surprised to see that it was what it was. The curry was plain with a few chunks of onions and potatoes but contained absolutely no meat. Portion of rice and curry sauce given were pretty generous but we reckon for the price (it was close to about twenty ringgit, if I remember correctly) there ought to be at least some scattered pieces in the curry instead of "nasi kari Jepun kosong". Fortunately, our initial disappointment quickly evaporated after a couple of spoonfuls of the curry. It was really good! Thank goodness they didn't use those ready-made boxed curry mix. It may looks simple but it tasted as if it was painstakingly made with much attention. Thumbs up!

I ordered the Chicken Korokke set which came with 3 pieces of croquettes lightly drizzled with tonkatsu sauce, a side salad and 2 soft bread rolls. No complains here. The salad was fresh and the bread rolls were soft and buttery. But of course, the highlight was obviously the croquettes. The freshly deep-fried chicken and potato patties were crispy without being oily. The fry technique is impressively dry and greaseless, leaving only crispy satisfaction. And the meat-to-potato ratio was very well-balanced. I am not a fan of korokke but I have to say I enjoyed this dish very much.

Full or not, I had already made up my mind earlier that desserts were a must! There were a few enticing selections displayed on their cake counter including a few varieties of eclairs and cake rolls. I ordered a Caramel Eclair (by the way it was the slimmest eclair that I have ever seen) and a slice of Matcha Cake Roll with a mochi center. The eclair was irresistable.
The cake roll was slightly on the dry side but it had a rich matcha flavour (not those that tasted like 'imitation') while the mochi center was quite a lovely surprise.

Although I didn't order any, there is quite an extensive selection of Japanese gourmet coffee and tea served here. A few varieties of soft and buttery bread and buns are sold here too. This outlet seems to be run by a Japanese family. Service, although not the most efficient was informal and warm.

Haikara-Style Cafe & Bakery
E-Tiara GF Jalan SS16/1, Subang Jaya (next to Carrefour)
03-5630 0743

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Light Bites and Some Bubbly at Divino, Jaya One

Those who know me well will also know my fondness of bubbly. Granted, prosecco is not a "purebred" bubbly (aka champagne) but being sparkly and slightly sweetish, it's still a delight to drink. Not to mention it's also much more affordable than its "purebred cousins" too. *wink*

At Divino in Jaya One, one can find a good bottle of prosecco at a good price such as this bottle of Conti Neri Prosecco. Light and refreshing, dry yet creamy, it is usually a hit with the ladies.

We ordered some light bites to go with the sparkly. The Nine Spiced Rubbed Grilled Vegetables came nicely arranged in a stacked tower. Good presentation! Simple yet tasty, it was grilled just right with a nice balance of smoky flavour.

We also ordered Calamari with Salted Eggs and Curry Leaves Fritters. This is quite a common dish at Chinese restaurants. However, their version somehow lacked the rich taste of salted eggs. Nevertheless, we enjoyed it very much. Quite an ideal tapas dish!

Divino @ Jaya One,
Jalan Universiti, Petaling Jaya.
(Near to Starbucks)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lunching at Al-Nafourah, Le Méridien KL

One more Starwood Privileges coupon to go before it expires, this one is for set lunch (for 2) at Al-Nafourah, an enchanting Middle Eastern restaurant in Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur.
I strongly agree with the description on its interior (excerpts from the official website):
"A contemporary oasis with private silken dinner tents, Moorish arches, ornate paintings, and richly woven carpets lend an enchanting ambience scented with spices...."
Take a look at the pictures above and tell me if you do not think so too.

The set lunch is pretty much "fixed" as in you do not get to have any choices at all (except for coffee or tea at the end of the meal). Some warm flat bread and olives were served at the beginning of the meal along side a petite complimentary glass of fresh orange juice. The cold appetizer followed soon after. The appetizer of that day was some eggplant and bell pepper timbale.

The main dish was served next. The chef's choice was grilled chicken with assorted grilled vegetables. To be frank, I couldn't remember much details of this dish but I do think it was just ok.

Dessert was "dessert of the day". In this case, it was Cherry Clafoutis, a typical French country dessert. Cakey yet pudding-like, it may looked plain and simple but was in fact, pretty good! As mentioned earlier, coffee or tea was served together with the dessert. I remember the coffee as being good and strong. Photobucket

So there you have it, if you happened to have a Starwood Privileges coupon for set lunch at Al-Nafourah, you can more or less know what to expect. Basically, you would just have to eat what the chef had selected for the menu at time of dining. I am sorry I could not be more specific on the descriptions but this lunch was a month or two ago. Since it wasn't remotely remarkable, I have kind of forgotten most details. Anyways, the above is only applicable to those redeeming the Starwood coupon only. I understand that their usual set lunches are available daily but with a different menu from the above.

Level 8, Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur,
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral, Kuala Lumpur.
Phone: (60)(3) 2263 7888

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Ice Monster, Subang Jaya

Red Bean & Sweet Potato Ice with Milk

I nearly melted in the heat of the afternoon, literally. It was a hot, hot day. There wasn't a better timing than this to try out this new dessert shop in the neighbourhood, Ice Monster. Apparently, Ice Monster is a hugely popular dessert chain specializing in snow ice desserts in Taiwan. This outlet in Subang Jaya has only just opened for a few months with a simple menu of mainly fruits-based and beans-based shaved ice desserts (not unlike our local "ais kacang") and ice-creams.

The fruits-based desserts look healthy and yummy heavily featuring the ever-popular mango, as well as kiwi and strawberry. But what caught my eyes were not these but the more traditional choices such as Red Bean with Yam, both being my favourites.
Red Bean & Yam Ice with Milk

I love the fact that they were generous with the red beans. The cubed yams were rather sweet although not candied. I suspect they soaked it in syrup beforehand. Evaporated milk was then drizzled all over. However, I was a little disappointed with the texture of the ice. I was expected very finely shaved ice, almost powdery that is like a trademark of "snow ice" but this was just like the ordinary "ais kacang", perhaps a little finer. Another similar offering is the Red Bean and Sweet Potatoes (pictured on top) where cubed sweet potatoes replaced the afore-mentioned yams. Too similar to pass a different judgement.

Although I was expecting to be "wow"ed but ended not, I still enjoyed the icy desserts which provided such a refreshing relief from the killer heat of a typical afternoon. I guess I should try their fruits-based desserts next as they seem to be very popular with the patrons at this outlet.

Ice Monster (*Outlet closed*)
No. 26, Jalan SS15/4D, Subang Jaya (same row as McD and Burger King)