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

14 May 2011

The Castle

The Castle is a Middle Eastern restaurant that has recently closed its flagship store on Jalan Damai and opened two in other locations. The one more popular with the local Malaysian crowd is now located at the edge of Kg. Baru. The one more visible to tourists (and reviewed here) is the branch on Jalan Imbi, across from Berjaya Times Square and next to the Imbi Monorail station.

The Castle attracts a good crowd for late dinners, and on weekends it is packed till the early hours of the morning. Smoking shisha is common with 'diners' here. The Castle on Jalan Imbi has replaced a mamak (Al-Esfan), so there is plenty of open-air (but roofed) dining space as well as an air-conditioned room in the back if you can't take the KL heat.

As with many Middle Eastern restaurants in KL, food prices are considerably higher than most other restaurants. It is best to come here in groups to order a number of plates and share over some bread or rice. The menu is not very helpful unless you eat Arab food often. But some of the waiters were able to explain the difference between the dishes.

We ended up getting some naan bread to eat with the other dishes we ordered, which were among the best-tasting Middle Eastern dishes I have ever had. The only thing that was good but not great were the falafels...a favorite of mine. The salad was delicious too. Our drinks were fruit juices mixed in some odd combinations...whether you like it or not will vary greatly depending on your personal tastes as most of these combinations they have are not too common. Still, it is good to try.

Overall, the drinks, naan, falafels, salad, stuffed grape leaves, and humus-type dish we had cost about RM60. It was typical price for Middle Eastern food, but it tasted great. While I wouldn't come here all the time, I did enjoy eating at the Castle.

My rating: 4 stars

The Castle
Plaza Berjaya
Jalan Imbi
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Open till very late (5am?)

08 May 2011

Akasa Taj

The Akasa Taj is a mamak style restaurant on the corner of Jalan P. Ramlee and Jalan Perak underneath the Rohas Perkasa Building. It sits right across the street from the Milkshake Factory, Coffee Bean, and Gaucho Steakhouse.

Akasa Taj is open 24 hours a day like most mamak restaurants. But it is located in a premium-pricing region, just a short walk away from KLCC and surrounded by Jalan P. Ramlee's popular bars and several offices and serviced apartments. Because of that, it is a bit pricier than most mamak.

To its advantage, though, it is quite clean and spacious. There are ample places to sit outdoors around the fountain or inside under the modern lighting. The help-yourself mixed rice bar looked great when I was there. I was one of their first customers just before the Friday lunch rush started so everything was nicely displayed.

The usual fare was on offer, ranging from fried chicken to fish curries. I jumped all over the tempeh, potato, and ikan bilis cooked in spicy sambal. Yum. The lady fingers cooked in oyster sauce was also nice. And a side of green sambal topped it off.

The standard mamak drinks were available. I kept it simple and ordered an iced milk tea. On such a hot day, it was refreshing. But it was a bit watery. Still, it worked.

The service was a bit slow though. There weren't many people in the restaurant when I was there. But it still took a while for someone to come over and take my drink order and calculate the price for the mixed rice. But this is a popular (and busy) place. I even noticed several of the expats working in the area stopped in and got a takeaway box.

For me, the teh ais cost RM2.50 and the mixed rice (3 veggie side dishes) cost RM7.00. Overall, I'd have to say that it was a nice place with pretty good food...but higher priced compared to the same quality in other locations.

My rating: 3 stars

Akasa Taj
8 Jalan Perak
50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Open 24 hours a day

06 May 2011

Milkshake Factory

For the first review, I think it is best to stick to a universal crowd pleaser...the milkshake. The Milkshake Factory is in the middle of the bars along Jalan P. Ramlee, right next to the Coffee Bean and The Beach Club. It is a short walk from KLCC...and I walked from here to Dang Wangi LRT station (feeling guilty perhaps and wanting to burn off the calories I just put on with the milkshake?).

These milkshakes are quite delicious, actually. Not overly sweet or milky. They went down very smoothly. There are only two sizes: small and large...but not much difference in size or price (Splurge a little and get the big one!). The cost ranges from RM8-RM12.50...not bad considering you won't find any equivalent drink at that price at the Coffee Bean next door.

The menu is quite impressive. "Kid in a candy store" is a good way to describe how I felt when walking into this mostly-open-air restaurant. Your milkshake is mixed with whatever your favorite candy is, from Kit-Kats and M&M's to Toblerone and Ferrero Rocher. There are "cereal" options too, like Pop-Tarts or Special K. For the more health-conscious, you can get a smoothie instead, featuring some interesting flavors, like rambutan, avocado, raspberry, and even beetroot.

I had the Snickers milkshake. And it really satisfied me. I would drink one of these everyday if I had the motivation to exercise it off! But I don't! So this will serve as a nice treat every now and then...or anytime someone invites me to go along with them!

The staff was very friendly and offered their personal favorites as suggestions for me while I took way too long to figure out which flavor I wanted to try. The soundtrack of the day was Earth, Wind, and Fire...surprisingly good music to listen to while drinking a milkshake. Who knew?

My rating: 5 stars!

Milkshake Factory
12, Jalan P. Ramlee,
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Website: http://www.milkshakefactory.blogspot.com/
Open from 10:30am until midnight


I don't know why I have not done this earlier than now...but here it is. Mostly Malaysian Food is my effort to showcase some of my favorite and some of my least favorite eating places(and everything in between) in Malaysia. I love vegetarian food and will review those places more often than you will find on other foodie sites. But I love eating, so I definitely won't limit myself to vegetarian-only places. By "Malaysian food," what I mean is food in Malaysia. But I also won't limit myself to just that either. Now to clear up a few matters...

  • I am not Malaysian but am a long-term resident, so with an opinion, that makes me qualified to review the food here.
  • I travel a lot...both around Malaysia and overseas. So from time to time, I will probably include some reviews from outside of KL. No problems there, right?
  • To oversimplify, I am vegetarian...but that does not mean I don't eat any animal products. I love belacan, keropok, and curries. Have you ever had vegetarian belacan (shrimp paste)? Ya, me neither. That's why I still eat it. I will eat fish from time to time. Gotta get the nutrients from somewhere, right? And I am increasingly eating shrimp/prawn. So that doesn't make me vegetarian by a militant definition of the word. But I don't need the label to make me feel good or whatever. So if you have a problem with me calling it vegetarian, please get counseling or substitute your own word for it. It just makes it a whole lot easier to explain my dietary habits that way.
So I hope that answers a few questions about who I am and why I am doing this. Don't be shy to share your thoughts on these reviews and give your own opinions or ask questions. The only thing yet to be answered is if I will actually stick to this and make it a regular thing in my schedule. Wish me luck. Here I go!