25 September 2011


Vivo, officially called Vivo American Pizza and Panini, is a pseudo-American restaurant on the lower ground floor of Berjaya Times Square. It is very easy to get to (walking distance from Bukit Bintang and connected to the Imbi Monorail station) and has plenty of seating, enhanced by the fact that it never seems to fill up. This place does not strike me as the sort of restaurant that would be able to stay in business for very long, but it's been around for several years now. Good for them.

I've only ever noticed the one at Times Square, but they have a number of stores throughout the greater KL area (Tropicana City Mall at PJ, The Curve at Damansara, and Jusco Bukit Tinggi at Klang) and down south (a few in Johor Bahru and one in Singapore at Central).

It is billed as a pizza restaurant, but I didn't even notice. It has more of a feel of a diner...except large and clean. We were hungry and ordered more food than usual. That was a mistake though, as the portions are more in line with American-sized portions than local portion sizes. We were so full afterwards and didn't even finish everything on the plates.

The menu carries a wide selection of foods. And for being a pizza place, has a nice choice of pizzas too (7", 10" and 13"). We got toasted Panini subs with fries...which would have been filling on its own. But I got excited when I saw salads on the menu. It is not too easy finding salads (good or not) in Malaysia unless you eat at hotel restaurants or American chains. So I saw a few salad options and got one. Yum...crisp, fresh, and filling...also a meal on its own! The prices for mains started at RM10 and went up from there. Drinks were priced a little high. But aside from the relatively generic experience, it was a good and filling meal.

May rating: 4 stars

LG68, Lower Ground Floor
Berjaya Times Square
1, Jalan Imbi
55100 Kuala Lumpur

Web site: http://www.vivopizza.com
Telephone: (+6) 03-2148-9799
Open from 10am until 10pm

18 September 2011

Teh Tarik Place

Teh Tarik Place is a small chain restaurant that serves some basic Malaysian dishes, including the namesake national drink, teh tarik. I suppose this would be a good place to suggest trying teh tarik if you've never had it! The menu is fairly simple as are the interior decorations (mostly wood and stone).

The typical range of fried rice and noodle dishes (RM6-9) are on hand, as well as laksa (RM7), nasi lemak (RM4-8), a range of roti dishes (RM 2-7), and a small nasi campur bar. They also have set lunch combos (RM7-9) and serve breakfast (RM2-3) too. Some popular snacky foods that I could eat daily if given the opportunity, like curry puffs, ABC, and cucur udang. The drinks are also the standard ones that you would find at a local mamak stall. Prices are pretty good for restaurant, and it is a cleaner option than the typical mamak for those who value hygiene and cleanliness at restaurants.

At the time of writing, there were six stores open in malls around the greater KL area, including the Curve, 1 Utama, IOI Mall, Sunway Pyramid, Empire Shopping Gallery, and Sooka Sentral. None of these are really central except for the one at Sooka Sentral (right next to KL Sentral Station). But it is worth a trip to one of its locations to give it a try. I don't go often, but I would if I had one closer to my house (hint, hint).

My rating: 4 stars

Teh Tarik Place
Empire Shopping Gallery
Lot LG21, Ground Floor
Subang Jaya, Selangor

Sooka Sentral
Lot GC2, Ground Floor
Jalan Stesen Sentral 5
50470 Kuala Lumpur

The Curve
Ground Floor
Mutiara Damansara
Petaling Jaya, Selangor

1 Utama
Lower Ground Floor, Rainforest
Petaling Jaya, Selangor

IOI Mall
3rd Floor, New Extension
Bandar Puchong Jaya
Puchong, Selangor

Sunway Pyramid
Lot OB3 LG1.1 & G9
Oasis Boulevard Three
Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Web site: http://www.tehtarikplace.my/
Open from 10am until 10pm

12 September 2011


Morganfields is a higher end restaurant with the appearance of an old basement-level coffee shop in a run-down part of town. But in KL, it is located on the 4th level of Pavilion, above the alfresco dining area. There is dining on the balcony, at the long bar, on bar stools up front, or tables in the back. No matter where you sit, though, you get some pretty good food.

I would classify the restaurant as a steak house without an emphasis on steaks...kind of like a mix between Tony Roma's and T.G.I. Friday's. There are steaks and pastas and even a few Tex-Mex dishes. We came here for a buka puasa meal as it was one of the only places with available seating at that time. After ordering (and subsequently deciding that we didn't care), we found out that was because it serves pork!

There was almost nothing for vegetarians so I had the beer-battered fish and fries. Simple and fairly plain-tasting. I've had better elsewhere, but nothing bad about this dish. The coleslaw, which I normally don't eat very much of, was quite good. I also ordered a bowl of corn chips and salsa as an appetizer since we were hungry and didn't want to wait until the main course came to eat. Unfortunately, it arrived after the mains. Other than the slow and erratic service, we couldn't really figure out why it took so long to "cook" a bowl of corn chips. We were full after finishing and, even though the desserts looked nice, couldn't put anymore food down.

Generally, the prices are a little more expensive than Tony Roma's and Friday's, but I think the food tastes better at those other places. And the service is a bit better there too. Morganfields has a nice concept, but it still needs to work out its kinks. I'd eat here again if someone specifically wanted to try it, but I'm not sure I would recommend it enthusiastically.

My rating: 3 stars

C4.03.00, Level 4,
Pavilion Mall
55100 Kuala Lumpur

Web site: http://www.morganfields.com/
Telephone: (+6) 03-2141 3192
Open from 10am until 12am

24 August 2011

Naili's Place

Naili's Place is a small chain of (currently) 3 stores around Kuala Lumpur. For the sake of disclosure, I have never been to the Taipan--Subang Jaya branch. But I have been to the Ampang Point and Sentul branches and will base my reviews based off of these two. The Ampang Point location is at the end of shop lots next to the Ampang Point shopping center in Ampang and tries to cram too much character into its small location unfortunately. If you want the best experience, go to the Sentul branch. It is somewhat isolated but in an increasingly popular dining area. It has even opened for lunch recently.

The Sentul branch is all about ambience. The tropical setting is nice. Trees, stylish decorations, leaf-roof huts, and tree stump tables. In some cases, private dining hits were built around large trees that were there before the restaurant was built. Sometimes mosquitoes can be a problem here, but you will hardly notice as you take in the scenery (and sometimes even a DJ).

Naili's Place is popular for functions and parties but individual diners or "lepakers" fill up the rest of the tables or bar stools. The food is better than average...not out of this world...but the ambience makes up for that easily. A range of sheesha flavors is also available. It is a good place for (Malaysian or Western) dinner or just hanging out over a few drinks and maybe a snack.

My rating: 4 stars

Naili's Place
116C, Kampung Chempedak
Jalan Taman Dato' Senu
Sentul 51000 Kuala Lumpur

Ampang Point
39, Jalan Memanda 9
6800 Ampang

48, Jalan USJ 10/1B USJ Taipan
47620 Subang Jaya

Web site: http://www.nailisplace.com/
Telephone: (+6) 019-202-0755
Open from 5pm until 2am
(the Sentul branch has recently started lunch hours too)

01 August 2011


Amarin is a Thai restaurant located on the 2nd floor in the North Court of the MidValley Megamall. The mall is just off the Persekutuan and East-West Highways and has a KTM train stop (just one stop away from KL Sentral on the Seremban line). There are also free shuttles from beneath the Bangsar LRT station (which is walking distance to the mall if you are a little crazy and don't mind walking alongside the highway and crossing its onramps).

Inside the restaurant, the ambiance is nice and modern with Thai touches. It has that sort of look...made to look really fancy, but done on the cheap. Still, sitting on the sofas with colorful cushions makes it easy to sink back and get comfy after finishing a meal here.

Service was OK and the staff was friendly. I believe they were mostly Filipino, and not Thai, though! On weekdays it is fairly empty, but it does fill up on weekends.

The food was good overall. It is not the best Thai food in Malaysia, but there was nothing to complain about either. I'd recommend trying the Mieng Kam as an appetizer. It won't fill you up, but it will definitely wake up your the taste buds. As for mains, the usual range of Thai fare is on offer. I had the most common dish--pad thai...yes boring, but it was flavorful.

The cost for the dishes was similar to the other restaurants neighboring it. Prices for mains, however, start at about RM17 and go up so it is not a cheap dining option compared to what you can find elsewhere. Still, if you are in MidValley and have a craving for good Thai food, this is the place to get it.

My rating: 3 stars

Amarin Thai
Mid Valley Megamall
Level 2, North Court
59200 Kuala Lumpur

Web site: http://www.midvalley.com.my/
Telephone: (+6) 03-2938-3187
Open from 10am until 10pm

15 July 2011


Annalakshmi is an Indian restaurant attached to the Temple of Fine Arts in Brickfields. It takes about 5-10 minutes to walk here from KL Sentral Monorail station. Otherwise, there is parking beneath the building or on the streets in front of it near the Vihara.

The restaurant is quite large and fancy-looking. There is a basic dress code in place (no open-toed shoes and so on), but I did see a few delinquents dining there anyway. The concept is a buffet and drinks can be ordered from the waiters (and water is provided).

The choice of food was quite wide. Throw some rice and pappadom on your plate and go from there. Stir-fried cauliflower and potatoes, seasoned veggies, sambhar, dhall, and several curries give you plenty of options. If after stuffing yourself there is still room left in your belly, the desserts (caramelized bananas, warm tapioca pudding, etc.) are phenomenal too.

Yes, this is an all-veggie fare, and it is one of the best non-banana leaf Indian veggie meals I've ever had. At the end of the meal, you pay however much you feel like. There is no bill presented. It is up to you to pay what you think is fair. I'm sure there is a lot of abuse in this system. For me, I tend to over-pay out of guilt of paying too little. Then my friends scold me for being too generous! Either way, it is highly recommended for a good, clean Indian vegetarian meal.

My rating: 5 stars

116 Jln Berhala Brickfields
Temple of Fine Arts
Kuala Lumpur
Open 11:30am-3pm, 6:30-10pm on Tue-Sun
(closed Mondays)

06 June 2011

Dhivya's Cafe at Batu Caves

After the long (no, really...LONG) climb up to Batu Caves, then all the way back down, you kinda work up an appetite and thirst. Appropriately, there are a few small restaurants onsite at the base of the caves, some connected to souvenir shops. Dhivya's Café is unique from the others in that it has an outdoor and an air-conditioned indoor eating area. The rows of long tables encourage "community eating" and the waiters have quite good English actually...and are even friendly and a bit chatty (surprise!).

The food, as to be expected, is pure Indian vegetarian fare and is served on the largest banana leaf I've ever seen. That's unfortunate, in a sense, because it made the portions served look skimpy. The set lunch (which was heavily pushed by the waiters to every customer) cost RM7...a little high compared to what you would pay elsewhere for this type of meal, but it is a tourist site after all.

The helping of rice was good and the vegetable side dishes (boiled, pickled, and curried), although not too plentiful, were tasty. At many restaurants, you can find a caboodle of condiments (ketchup, soy sauce, salt/pepper). But here, you get three connected containers of vegetable curry, some sour milk thing (that I don't remember the name and never really got into that much), and dal. Dhivya's Cafe also offers different varieties of roti, mock meat dishes, and ice cream. Overall, it was nice.

My rating: 4 stars

Dhivya Cafe
Batu Caves
Jalan SM1a
Batu Caves, Selangor
Open for lunch and early dinner

27 May 2011

Dapur Penyet

Dapur Penyet is an Indonesian restaurant that is just getting started in Malaysia. Its outlet on the ground floor of Maju Junction next to Starbucks is unassuming. It's actually a bit odd as the store's main entrance is from the outside of the mall (from the mall side entrance you can't even see the ordering counter). Nevertheless, this is a tasty place to eat...especially if you like spicy foods.

The name 'ayam penyet' means flattened (or pounded?) chicken. The chicken is flattened out a bit and breaded in a crumbly exterior. It is served with rice, cucumber, tomato, and spicy sambal sauce. For vegetarians, the tahu telur is a good option, with its tofu, egg, and tempeh cooked in the same breading as the chicken. The sambal is quite spicy here...you don't need too much to get a kick.

Another Indonesian favorite of mine is soto, a type of clear soup which more or less is the local equivalent of chicken noodle soup (but not). There are some Indonesian drink options, but my favorite (though not for everyone) is the thick avocado juice mixed with chocolate syrup and sweetened condensed milk.

The counter staff is very friendly and the interior of the restaurant is nice. I've been here a few times. I think Dapur Penyet tastes better than the 'other' ayam penyet restaurant that has taken the city by storm.

My rating: 4 stars

Dapur Penyet
Maju Junction
101 Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Open till 10pm

(Near Ampang Waterfront)
No. 12 Jalan Wawasan 2/12
Bandar Baru Ampang
68000 Ampang, Selangor

16 May 2011


Castro is a Cuban-themed restaurant that really doesn't serve any Cuban food at all. The walls are decorated with Latin-American revolutionaries. It looks good, so maybe that is why they chose the theme. Complete with a pool table, Castro has an indoor and outdoor dining section, and is located at the main entrance to the new Axis Atrium Mall in Pandan Indah.

As for the food...well, the menu was filled with dishes that you wouldn't normally see at other Malaysian restaurants. Though, most of the names on the menu were just fancy ways of labeling fairly simple dishes. There were sections for beef, chicken, fish, pasta, appetizers, desserts...even pizza.

My friends tried the jambalaya...one chicken, the other beef. Jejaka Anggun got the chicken penne pasta. I had the "tropical" pizza...which was just a bunch of atypical vegetables and some chicken (which I picked off) on a super thin but limp crust with a bitter tomato base. Ya...doesn't sound too appetizing.

Speaking of appetizing...I broke down and got an appetizer. I had the onion soup...always hoping that I will find a good French onion soup served here somewhere. While it wasn't a good French onion soup, it was a good onion soup (with some cheese toast thrown in it)!

The dishes cost between RM10 and RM30, which was a little high priced for the low quality of the ingredients. But they are on to something...just need better execution of their dishes and some better ingredients overall. I wouldn't avoid this place, nor would I recommend it to anyone. If you're eating there, take it for what it is.

My rating: 2 stars

Axis Atrium
Jalan Cempaka, Taman Cempaka
68000 Ampang, Selangor
Open till 10pm weekdays, 11pm weekends