Tag Archives: usj

Restaurant Review: La Cocina (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

by Jayna Valen

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This Spanish cuisine restaurant has been a Subang Jaya icon for quite awhile now. I remember that more than a decade ago it was in USJ 9, within the Taipan Business Center. I was in college back then, and working part-time in a call center situated right behind the restaurant.

La Cocina’s head chef, Mr. Jega, sometimes stood outside the restaurant, in the junction-alleyway that I walked through to get to work. He was a friendly man with a ready smile, making small talk and always inviting me to come in and try the food. I always promised him that I would, but I didn’t think it would take me more than 10 years to finally step in! Hence, this is a long-delayed review.

La Cocina recently moved to Taipan Triangle in USJ 10. It’s my mum’s favourite restaurant, so we went there for dinner last week. I noticed that it’s gotten a cool new look – clean contemporary without compromising on the Spanish passion.

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Ambience and Service

I like the new makeover. The interior is spacious, unfussy and tastefully decorated, with artistic touches in all the right places. It makes for a very pleasant dining atmosphere that’s both rustic and modern at the same time. Service staff were friendly, polite and attentive. I felt that the décor could use a little more of that hot-blooded, Flamenco vibrancy of Spain. But hey, that’s just me and my usual flamboyant taste.

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Food

My mum had Pescado Fritos, which is essentially fish and chips (RM26). I ordered two dishes: the Queso Manchego (RM27.90), which is pure sheep milk cheese from the La Mancha region in Spain, and the Lamb Lasagne (RM27.90).

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Both main dishes were quite good. I wouldn’t say outstanding, but they were pleasant on the taste buds. The fish was firm and succulent, the fried batter crispy and not too oily. The lasagne could’ve done with a bit more minced lamb, but overall tasted great.

The cheese was excellent! It was soft and crumbly, flavourful without being overpowering. The serving size for the cheese was surprisingly small considering the price, so I made a mental note to check the prices of whole-wheel Manchego to see if the cost was justified.

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They stock an impressive selection of wines too. If you become a member of their wine club, you’ll enjoy discounts on selected wines and special corkage rates.

Summary

My overall experience here was quite delightful. It’s too bad that I forgot to have a look upstairs, but judging from the pictures on the website, it looks pretty impressive. I may consider going back to try one of their paellas sometime if I can get a friend to split the dish with.

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Special mention on the quality and freshness of all raw produce used in the dishes, as this imparted the lively burst of sun-energized ingredients into the final meal. Which, to me, makes all the difference in the end.

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My Ratings:

Food (Lamb Lasagne): 7/10
Food (Fish and Chips): 6/10
General Cleanliness: 10/10
Ambience: 8/10
Service: 10/10
Price: 5/10
Location (Subang Jaya, Kuala Lumpur): 7/10
Will I go back again : 7/10

Update: I received a nice message from Chef Jega himself! How lovely indeed.

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Related Links:

La Cocina – Spanish Restaurant and Bar

Restaurant Review: Bali & Spice (Subang Jaya, Malaysia)

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

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

*Photo credit: Main image of paella dish is taken from La Cocina’s official webpage.

Restaurant Review: Bali & Spice (Subang Jaya, Malaysia)

by Jayna Valen and Vas P.

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So it was one of those weeknights when Vas and me were doing that back and forth thing about dinner plans.

“So where do you wanna go?”
“I dunno. Where do you wanna go?”
“Anywhere. Where’s good?”

Silence. We crack our heads. Then suddenly she’s like, “I know the perfect place! It’s nearby! Can you do large portions?”

I roll my eyes. But of course. I can literally eat my body’s weight worth of anything when hungry enough.

So we drive over to Da Men Mall in USJ Subang Jaya. It’s brand spanking new, but a pretty lame excuse for a mall in terms of shopping. However, since we were going there for food, whatever. We parked and made our way to this restaurant called Bali & Spice.

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Ambience And Service

It appears that Bali & Spice is under the management of the same group of restaurants as Ole-Ole Bali, which I am familiar with (branches in Sunway Pyramid and Empire Shopping Gallery). Just like their other restaurants, the first thing you notice is the gorgeous Balinese décor. I don’t know why, but I just have to meddle with the bronze gong at the entrance each time I go to one of these places. Yes, the gong is real AND nobody ever stops me when I do that. How cool is that?

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I really have to commend the management for the stunning interior décor of their chain of restaurants. The wall art, furniture, menu design and everything, literally perfect. From the woven mengkuang placemats to the fresh ginger lilies in glass vases, an impressive effort. A 10/10 from me for ambience, vibe, visual and styling. Service was excellent. The serving staff were all attired in traditional Balinese clothing in keeping with the theme.

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Food

THIS. Food like this is what I call value for money, time and effort spent in eating out. I ordered the Jimbaran Grill (RM39) and Vas had the Ikan Salmon Bakar (RM37). Generous portions, reasonable prices. The Jimbaran Grill consists of grilled white fish fillet, large prawns and squid accompanied by two types of sambal (spicy paste). If you’re a seafood buff, this dish is a must-try. It’s such a divine pleasure to the tastebuds.

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The seafood was perfectly seasoned and spiced, cooked impeccably and presented beautifully. I’m great at detecting individual flavors in spice blends, but these dishes gave me a good challenge. I could taste the tang of lemongrass and ginger flower, but everything else was a pleasant mystery. I say the chefs deserve recognition for their outstanding culinary skills. Great job!

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I took a bite of the salmon. It wasn’t as satisfying as mine, but good nevertheless. I think salmon in general isn’t the best fish for Indonesian-Malay cooking styles, considering the oily flesh. Still, no complaints. We had matching Indonesian salads that accompanied the dishes. Not sure what that’s called, but it goes great with the sambal.

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Summary

I would highly recommend any of the restaurants under the same management. The overall quality and service has remained great over the years. Food isn’t overly spicy either, so it’s a perfect place to take your foreign guests.

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My Ratings:

Food (General): 9/10
Food (Jimbaran Grill): 10/10
Food (Ikan Salmon Bakar): 8/10
General Cleanliness: 10/10
Ambience: 9/10
Service: 10/10
Price: 8/10
Location (Subang Jaya, Kuala Lumpur): 7/10
Will I go back again : 10/10

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Related Posts:

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

Restaurant Review: Fuel Shack (Bangsar South, Malaysia)

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

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

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