Tag Archives: Travel

Restaurant Review: Alexis Bistro And Wine Bar (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

by Jayna Valen

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Our group of eight decided to have an early Christmas team dinner, so we made a reservation at Alexis @ The Gardens in Midvalley mall. We were a little surprised when the waiter ushered us to a table outside the restaurant, but it didn’t bother us too much so we accepted the spot. However, if you don’t like the idea of dining in the middle of a busy mall, do specify it when making your reservation at the Midvalley outlet.

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Ambience and Service

The restaurant décor is chic-minimalist with a hint of lux, per Alexis’s usual vibe. The mood lighting is perfect for long, relaxed conversations. A little noisy, but perhaps that’s just a seasonal thing as it’s close to the holidays and the mall is crowded. The staff were helpful; they were kind enough to ‘rush’ an order of strong coffee for my boss who was having a bad migraine.

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Food 

They have an impressive wine selection and an interestingly varied tapas menu. I had the Slow Roasted Duck Magret (RM48) – it was well cooked and succulent, but the portion was ridiculously small considering the price. It was gone in literally four bites. This dish is a real disappointment in terms of serving size. I’d never order it again.

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My colleague Esmond had the Sarawak Laksa at RM29. It was a big portion and looked really tempting. He said it tasted good, though not exactly on par with the traditional dish (Esmond is from Sarawak). Choi Wan had Angelhair Aglio Olio (RM45, regular-sized portion), which she remarked was satisfactory. It came with this cool-looking crayfish thing, which was cleanly split in half and seasoned liberally.

Syirah ordered the Slow Cooked Lamb Shank (RM72), which came with pilau rice, pomegranate and smoked capsicum. I tried a little. It was tender and came off the bone easily, but it was too bland for Syirah and me. Considering that we’re Indian and Malay by ethnicity, we’re probably too used to stronger spices when it comes to lamb.

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Other dishes that came our way were Baked Button Mushrooms (RM20), Fried Calamari Rings (RM24) and three orders of steak in varying weights (Striploin Grain-Fed @ RM70 / 220gms, Ribeye Black Angus @ RM85 / 220gms, Tenderloin Grain-Fed @ RM92 / 200gms). My buddies gave the food an average to above-average rating.

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For dessert, we tried their famed Tiramisu (RM17.80). It certainly lives up to its reputation! This dessert was exceptionally good, and the serving size was generous. It had an interesting chiffon-pudding texture, topped with coarsely chopped nuts and drizzled over with a caramel-like sauce. Rich, creamy and flamboyant on the tongue, I imagine this would go great with a good, strong long black or espresso. Completely worth the price and I would say it’s quite the masterpiece.

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Summary

I’d definitely go back, but unless they do something about the duck serving size, it’s off my choice list for good. Pity, it was rather delicious and I love duck. Will definitely consider a takeaway for that divine Tiramisu in future. Do note that it’s notoriously difficult to find parking spots in Midvalley on weekends, so if you’re visiting this outlet, it may help to go a little earlier (plus make reservations in advance).

My Ratings:

Food (General): 7/10
Food (Slow Roasted Duck Magret): 6/10
Food (Slow Cooked Lamb Shank): 4/10
Food (Dessert – Tiramisu): 10/10
Food (Baked Button Mushrooms): 7/10
Drinks: 8/10
General Cleanliness: 10/10
Service: 8/10
Price: 5/10
Location (Midvalley, Kuala Lumpur): 6/10
Will I go back again : 8/10

Related Posts:

Restaurant Review: Fuel Shack (Bangsar South, Malaysia)

Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Devi’s Corner (Bangsar, Malaysia)

Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Moorthy’s Mathai (USJ, Malaysia)

 

Restaurant Review: Fuel Shack (Bangsar South, Malaysia)

by Jayna Valen

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So, we went out for lunch last week to this place, which is fairly new. If you want to try it out this weekend, it’s located in this building called Connexion @ Nexus, on the Ground floor between Souled Out and Starbucks, Bangsar South.

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I sulked a little after we chose our table and sat down, and I had a good look at what the other diners were having. It sucked even more once the food arrived. Why? Because this place makes me want to have a boyfriend, especially like this one bodybuilder ex I had.

You see, I absolutely loved the Coke Float, but the Fuel Shack serves it in only one size: freaking GIGANTIC. It was so much more convenient and fun to share large helpings of food when I was dating someone. Plus, when your date has the appetite of a water buffalo, you never have to worry about how you’d look pigging out, nor fret that any food would go to waste. Especially as a chick. So date me someone.

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Nah, I’m playing. I’d rather down my body weight’s worth of sugary carbonated float and welcome diabetes with open arms than risk yet another mess of a relationship, just so I can share a float. Which, by the way, I totally ended up wasting.

But seriously, Fuel Shack people, if any of you guys are reading this – wtf? PLEASE offer realistic sizes for floats. Pretty please. The stuff is delicious, but we’re not whales.

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The food in general is above average. We were a team of 10, so there was a variety of stuff I managed to get a taste of. I asked around and everyone seemed to agree with one thing more or less: the fare was a tad bit lacking in flavor and salt. It was pretty good stuff otherwise, reminiscent of TGI Friday’s and Chilli’s, just a little lacklustre overall.

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To their credit, all ingredients used in the dishes were incredibly fresh, and that’s something I really appreciate when it comes to eating out. The Chilli Chicken Fries (above – RM13) and Nachos (below – RM29) were amazingly good – couldn’t get enough of those. Fried Tempura Calamari, so-so (RM21).

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My Crispy-Skinned Grilled Salmon (below – RM38) had great texture, but the accompanying sauce (which was served separately) had an odd vinegary taste. I eagerly dumped the whole sauceboat over my salmon before I even had a taste, so don’t be the idiot that I was. I chose mac and cheese, sauteed vegetables and mushrooms for the three accompanying sides. Overall, my meal was alright, though slightly on the bland side. Pretty small helping of fish.

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Would I return? I would, since I work so near the place. But considering Bangsar South’s horrendous traffic situation, I’d probably not bother if I had to make a long journey to get here, or eat close to rush hour.

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The staff are lovely people too, good service. Be warned: if it’s your birthday, they’re going to make you stand on a chair and sing into a salt shaker.

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My Ratings:

Food (General): 7/10

Food (Crispy-Skinned Grilled Salmon): 6/10

Food (Chilli Chicken Fries): 8/10

Food (Nachos): 8/10

Food (Fried Tempura Calamari): 6/10

Food (BBQ Chicken Wings, according to my buddy Esmond): 7/10

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Drink (Coke Float): 8/10

General Cleanliness: 10/10

Service: 10/10

Price: 7/10

Location (PJ): 5/10

Will I go back again : 10/10

 

Related Posts:

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Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Devi’s Corner, Bangsar

Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Sri Nirwana Maju, USJ 9

Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Moorthys Mathai, USJ 4

Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Sri Ganapathi Mess, PJ

Restaurant Review: Alexis Bistro And Wine Bar (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Devi’s Corner (Bangsar, Malaysia)

by Jayna Valen

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It baffles me as to why this place is still so popular. Is it just the closest and most convenient place for Bangsar folks to have a full banana leaf meal? I’m not sure, but I’ll stick with that assumption.

Alicia and me went over during lunch hour on Tuesday. It’s been five years since I last ate here, and this visit served to remind me why I didn’t bother going back. We were seated for a good 15 minutes with no one coming over to take our order or ask us what we wanted. We tried to wave some waiters over, but our existence in that restaurant was about as significant as their greasy furniture. Eventually, one came over and said “Banana leaf upstairs.”

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Why, thank you. Perhaps you should have waited till we were on the brink of starvation before making that grand revelation.

So yes, it did appear that upstairs had a pretty well-oiled system of banana leaf food service going on. Service was prompt, systematic and quick, but don’t expect friendliness or warmth. Fairly clean environment overall, by local standards.

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Food:

In general, everything served here was overwhelmingly commercial-masala-powder bland, if you know what I mean. It just made me sad. There was no personal touch, no secret spice blend. Nothing sexy to entice the tongue or excite the senses. No enthusiasm on the cook’s part (considering the wages they’re probably paid, who can blame them?). Food was fairly fresh, though some of the chutneys were cold.

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I asked for the house specialty curry, and this dude unceremoniously dumped a truckload of crab curry onto my rice before I could say anything. Well, okay, that just meant I couldn’t try any other curry since my leaf was literally flooded. The verdict? The crab curry tasted of nothing but factory-milled masala. I may as well have swallowed a bag of curry powder with a glass of hot water. Fried veggies were crisp and drenched in oil. And there wasn’t enough mango in the sugar chutney.

Perhaps their only saving grace was the mutton, but even that was suffocating in masala. The least they could do to honor the fact that a goat gave its life up for our tamasic needs was to, at least, cook it properly (well, sorry for the disservice, goat). I was too depressed to even ask for mooru molega and rasam.

Bear in mind that this review is just a reflection of my own personal taste and opinions, and I am an excellent cook. If I cooked like that at home though, I’d probably be on the receiving end of really good seruppu adi from my mum, plus liberal cringeworthy thuppe from my brothers. Just to be fair, I asked Alicia to taste everything I ate – similar sentiments from her side.

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By the way, here’s a little more info about the pricing. One banana leaf set, one side of mutton, a glass of cold water and a glass of lychee juice came up to RM27. I’m not even going to bother going into details about the breakdown. Here’s an interesting fact though: the lychee drink is RM 5.50 downstairs, and RM6.50 upstairs. Why? Air-conditioning.

So, was it worth my time, total Uber fare price of RM15, plus my bill and experience? Should you visit this place? I’ll let you decide.

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My Ratings:

Food (Standard Vegetarian Banana Leaf meal): 4/10
Food (Signature Dish – Mutton peratal): 6/10
Food (Signature Dish – Crab Curry): 3/10
General Cleanliness: 6/10
Service: 5/10
Price: 4/10
Location (Bangsar): 4/10
Will I go back again : Maybe if kaijus destroyed the Klang Valley and this was the only place left standing.

Address: No. 14, Jalan Telawi 4, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Opening Hours: 24-hour restaurant

Related Posts:

Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Moorthy’s Mathai, USJ 4

Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Sri Nirwana Maju, USJ 9

Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Sri Ganapathi Mess, PJ

 

 

Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Sri Nirwana Maju (Subang Jaya, Malaysia)

by Jayna Valen

This is a surprisingly popular place for Banana Leaf Rice in Subang Jaya. Dinnertime is especially busy. Like every other place, it has its pros and cons. I’ve frequented this place for a couple of years now, and while their standards haven’t dropped in terms of service and cleanliness, the food is, at best, mediocre.

Lately, they’ve stopped serving roti canai, chapati and many other dishes, which is quite bewildering. When I asked the waiter why, he responded that they didn’t have enough cooks. Most of the time, all they serve is banana leaf rice and ‘goreng-goreng’. Cutting costs? Well, who knows. These are hard times for everyone.

Banana Leaf Rice Meal

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I dropped by with my buddy Thara, who is a vegetarian. Hence, this review is solely based on the vegetarian set meal. While the banana leaf rice set is pretty complete and the ingredients fresh, the taste is truly nothing to shout about. If you’re used to authentic Indian food with its full spectrum of spices and flavours, you may be disappointed with what this place has to offer.

The thing that put me off the most was the liberal addition of sugar to some vegetable side dishes (like pumpkin) and pickles. If you like sweet food with your rice, go for it; but if you’re anything like me, steer clear.

The Good: Very clean environment * Food is always freshly prepared * Spacious * Service is fast and efficient

The Bad: Food is generally bland and mediocre in taste * Uncomfortably hot during the afternoon (no air-conditioning)

The Ugly: Sugary-sweet vegetable dishes, pickles, certain chutneys and curries.

My Ratings:

Food (General): 4/10
Food (Banana Leaf Rice set): 5/10
Drinks: 7/10
General Cleanliness: 8/10
Service: 10/10
Price: 5/10
Location (USJ 9): 4/10
Will I go back again: 5/10

Address: No. 1, Jalan USJ 9/5M, Subang Business Centre, 47620, Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

Opening Hours: 10AM–11PM

Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Moorthy’s Mathai USJ 4

Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Moorthy’s Mathai (Subang Jaya, Malaysia)

by Jayna Valen and Ganesh Asirvatham

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Moorthy’s Mathai, I’m told, has been famous since 1969. Their loyal customers from back then recall a stall in Brickfields, run by a very exacting Mr. Moorthy (apparently he takes great care in choosing and preparing key ingredients), resulting in amazing food, notably their signature fried tenggiri fish. I’d never eaten at Mathai’s before this review, but boy did I keep hearing about them from just about everyone. So, my buddy Ganesh Asirvatham and I decided to do some mythbusting and dropped by for lunch on Monday afternoon.

Those of you who know us personally will know what to expect from anything written by us: we tell it like it is. We just went over like any regular customer would, so there was no ‘special treatment’ whatsoever. Makes me miss my good old journalism days when I received ‘gifts’ (not bribes, we don’t really acknowledge such terms in Malaysia, or at least that’s what I’m learning from our leaders) on an-almost daily basis from folks inviting me over for reviews.

My Experience

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Mathai’s USJ 4 is a modest place; a simple corner in an area better known for flashier, trendier stuff. The free parking just opposite the restaurant was an unexpected luxury considering the prime location – smack in the midst of the congested pandemonium that is Subang Jaya.

I avoid meat as I’m gradually moving towards a lacto-vegetarian lifestyle. However, for this review, I tried their famous fried fish to see if all the hype around it was justified. Ganesh and I both ordered the same thing: one ‘standard’ banana leaf set meal with a side of fried tenggiri fish. The banana leaf meal itself was pretty good. The industry-standard three vegetable sides were fresh and served hot. Extras like pickle, salted dried chillies, rasam and pappadam were dished out readily upon request.

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The fried tenggiri did live up to its reputation. It was delightfully fresh, succulent and evenly-cooked. Texture-wise, it was perfect. The guys at Mathai somehow managed to keep it naturally juicy instead of the overcooked, dehydrated fare which is common at other Indian restaurants.

However, the service was something else altogether. After our meal, we ordered some hot drinks and continued chatting for some time like we usually do. I mean, which self-respecting Malaysian finishes a meal with a friend and just leaves? We spoke for about 30 to 40 minutes before a senior waiter abruptly and huffily asked us if we were done. He then proceeded to grab everything off our table and stalk away with the lot, clanking glasses and all. No smile, no nod – just that vibe that he wanted us out of there pronto since we were technically ‘done’. To be fair, the restaurant was getting more packed at the time, so we got the hint and buzzed off.

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In summary, great food though slightly on the pricey side (the receipt was pointless, so if you need to know the exact prices, you have to ask). The fish is a hands-down winner. However, they may not go far with that attitude towards customers, considering the current economic situation and how easy it is to lose business these days.

My Ratings:

Food (General): 6/10
Food (Signature Dish – Fried Tenggiri): 9/10
Drinks: 5/10
General Cleanliness: 6/10
Service: 5/10
Price: 5/10
Location (USJ 4): 7/10
Will I go back again : 9/10

Ganesh’s Experience

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I’m a Klang boy who’s finally transitioned to the “we’re closer to KL!” part of Klang Valley; Puchong.

I’m not really familiar with Subang and tend to use Waze but Moorthy’s in USJ 4 is a straightforward drive. Just keep going on Tujuan and you’ll see it on your right, though by then it might be too late to make that U-turn. Best to Waze the first time if you’re not really familiar!

Unassuming façade as you enter, with the day’s dishes on your right. You have the option of AC or Non-AC but unless you want to come out smelling like the day’s curry, it’s best to sit inside and cool down. The drink du jour for Indians places is typically Ice Mooru (buttermilk with spices and salt). It’s supposed to cool you down and aid in digestion. The effects of spicy food can be countered by taking dairy, so Ice Mooru is one way to go if you think your taste buds are a tad bit sensitive.

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We ordered the banana leaf meal with all the usual accompaniments. The vegetables were decent but nothing really stood out. But we didn’t go there for the vegetables. We went there for the fish!! My dad used to take me to Mathai’s when it was at Brickfields, and even then it was famous for its signature fried fish.

No doubt about it, the fish was amazing! A delicious spiced batter gently coats the chunk of tenggiri, and it is gently deep fried until the outer layer is crispy but the fish retains its moistness. As you slowly pick apart the fish, steam arises from the inner layers. The aroma just hits the spot making you crave for that first bite. And boy oh boy, that first bite makes everything right in the world and you feel like going for more but wait… you have the rice and dishes to polish off.  You calm down, take a deep breath and ration the fish for the end so that you slowly savour each loving bite.

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The fish curry was really good and went well with the pullunga arasi (parboiled rice) that I ordered. All in all I was extremely satisfied with the meal and in fact tapau-ed some fish for the wife a week later. We also ordered a plate of brinjal poriyal which is the best damned Indian brinjal dish that I have ever tasted.

I believe that a piece of fish is about RM7 -8 which is typical of Banana Leaf places. Unlike other places where you get a thinly sliced piece, this chunk of heaven is to me worth it, especially since tenggiri retails for about RM40 – RM50 per kg.

Ganesh’s Ratings:

Food (General): 6/10
Food (Signature Dish – Fried Tenggiri): 9/10
Drinks: 5/10
General Cleanliness: 5/10
Service: 5/10
Price: 5/10
Location (USJ 4): 7/10
Will I go back again : 10/10

Want to try it for yourself? Go on, give them a visit. The tenggiri is worth it.

Address: No.24, Jalan USJ 4/9g, Usj 4, 47600 Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Opening Hours: 7AM–10PM

Related Post: Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Sri Nirwana Maju, USJ 9

Related Post: Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Sri Ganapathi Mess, PJ

Related Post: Banana Leaf Mythbusters: Devi’s Corner, Bangsar