Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Goat Year Of Bold Prosperity With GUINNESS®

Iconic GUINNESS® stout teams up with the Grand Imperial Group of restaurants to create a special GUINNESS® Lunar New Year menu to welcome the Goat Year with bold prosperity.
At a lavish sneak preview hosted by Bruce Dallas, Marketing Director of Guinness Anchor Berhad, we were treated to a sumptuous eight-course banquet paired with GUINNESS® stout served in different ways to complement and bring out the full flavours of each dish.
Dinner was off to a rousing start with the customary serving of Yee Sang – a rainbow-hued platter of fresh shredded fruit and vegetable that included crispy fried white bait, lots of almond flakes, cashew nuts, shredded mango, jambu air and chicken floss generously doused in a tantalisingly tangy sauce.  
The general consensus was favourable especially among us ladies who raved over the salad’s subtly tart accent and crunchy, nutty dimension. Suffice to say, the yee sang went superbly well with the rich, bold stout too.
Next up was a bowl of Bird's Nest Soup – a velveteen broth brimming generously speckled with aromatic black truffle flecks, chunks of fresh crab meat and delicate wispy egg white commas. A delightful luxe treat that even a non-soup fan like yours truly couldn’t resist.
After warming up our tummies with more GUINNESS®, it was time to pig out on Crispy Suckling Pig – a glorious showpiece of crackling crisp skin rectangles savoured with scallion florets and sweet bean sauce. Yummeh!
By now our GUINNESS® is chilled with some ice cubes, lightening the complex brew somewhat as we snapped up the smooth chunks of the sizeable Steamed Pomfret. The flavourful pool of classic Cantonese-style light soy sauce ramped up the fish's inherent sweetness, accentuated by some caramelised onion and pork strips.
Despite some much ado over a crustacean, ample attention was devoted to the claypot of Freshwater Prawns. Slick, sweetish-savoury tomato-soy sauce hugged the delectable largish big-headed prawns, never mind if they turned out a tad overdone.
Our glasses were never empty prior to the appearance of Braised Sliced Abalone with Dried Oyster & Beancurd Sheet (tau kan). The stout’s robustness certainly went glove in hand with the earthy, hearty dish that promises good things/prospects ahead for everyone.
Although the festive favourite of Claypot Rice with Waxed Sausages & Meat lacked the expectant ‘smoky’ overtone, everything was still polished off with much gusto.
Happily, the dessert duet of Steamed Nian Gao and Sweet Potato Pastries more than made up for that minor hiccup. The intermingling textures and mildly sweet taste got thumbs up all round, washed down with a bowl of Chilled Mango Puree with Sago & Pomelo.
Priced at RM1888 nett, the special GUINNESS® New Year banquet menu is available from January 13 until March 5 inclusive of two quarts of GUINNESS® stout and two sets of GUINNESS® ang pows. Full details of the exclusive menu can be found at:
Between 5 January 2015 and 28 February 2015, consumers throughout Malaysia may win one of the 100 pure gold bars with any purchase of a big bottle of Guinness, Tiger, Heineken or Anchor. All they have to do is look out for the winning bottle cap liners and answer a few questions correctly to stand a chance to win one of 100 bars of pure gold worth up to RM1 million. Now that herald Bold Prosperity indeed for the lucky winners.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Dinesh Nair with his mom who's the chief cook at KariGuys

Once upon a time back in 1951, Damodaran Nair began plying his Indian food from a push-cart at Pintu Padang in Raub, Pahang. The former cook for British settlers soon made good on his food business, expanding it to a wooden restaurant in Sempalit – Raub’s largest village.
Do the sambal...with prawns

To please his largely Chinese clientele, the savvy Domadaran tweaked his curry recipes, toning down the heat to suit their palate. The rest, as they say, is culinary history.

Today, Damodaran’s famed repertoire of dishes are capably replicated by his daughter-in-law at KariGuys, a modest Indian restaurant tucked away in a corner of the Bangsar suburb. Owned and run by brothers Dinesh and Ramesh Nair, they are now the proud custodians of their grandfather’s precious recipes. Walk in and you'd find Chinese-style marble and wood-topped tables, chairs and stools set against an exposed brick wall and further in, a chalkboard feature wall.

I’m a big fan of Indian rojak and the Rojak (RM7.50) at KariGuys is surprisingly up to scratch. One can easily down double servings of it in one sitting thanks to the irresistible combination of shredded yambean, beancurd puffs, fritters and hardboiled egg doused in that scrumptiously smooth, rich and well-spiced Sempalit peanut sauce.

That aptly paved the way for the restaurant’s signature dish of Kari Ayam Sempalit (RM6.50 per pc). The large chunks of chicken is lean and juicy while the mildly creamy but flavourful curry gravy sets the tastebuds tingling; drawing its robust nuances from dried chilli, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, garlic, ginger and curry leaves, enriched with coconut milk.

Likewise, the Sempalit Fried Chicken (RM6.50 per pc) is ‘to-die-for’. Marinated in a special house blend of eight spices for 12 hours, we can’t get enough of the super-crisp skin (look Ma, no floury batter!) and moist, tender meat.

Nasi lemak fans should try the sublime Nasi Lemak (RM9.50) here which comes with a choice of chicken curry or fried chicken.

If you prefer white rice, the Sempalit Mutton Peratal (RM8.50) and Prawn Sambal (RM8.50) are great accompaniments to spice up your meal. The former uses a signature blend of 11 different spices to cook that piquant dish while roasted and pounded dried chilli lends the latter its toasty chilli accent.

Those who have friends in tow will do well to sample the Fish Head Curry (RM65 – red snapper, RM75 salmon). Bentong’s famous taufu pok (beancurd puffs), ladies fingers, tomato and brinjal wedges lend extra substance to this mildly hot offering.

Diners can complete their meal with vegetable dishes (RM6 per portion) available. Take your pick from spiced brinjal, stir-fried cabbage or French beans with carrots or ladies fingers.

While the Sempalit Curry noodles (RM8) doesn’t float my boat, it’s a viable option for those who eschew rice. 

For dessert, try the Sugee Cake – a luscious, buttery slice of sublime heaven to wrap up your meal on a subtly sweet note.

Set lunch and dinner from RM12.75 onwards per person comprising 1 main course and 2 vegetable dishes with rice are also served daily. The restaurant also offers catering services.

Check out KARI GUYS at 24, Lorong Ara Kiri 2, Lucky Garden, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2201 9388; 017-812 6595 from 11.45am-8.30pm daily.

Monday, January 05, 2015


One foodie's bacon is another man's poison as far as Smoking Hog (SH) is concerned. The new resto upstairs from Crab Factory has generated such heated debate in FB and blogs that I reckon it is best you judge for yourself before saying 'yay' or 'nay'.

The bacon used in this resto is smoked on premise (up on the rooftop in a barbecue contraption) and some are lightly candied for certain dishes. TY Ooi and her partners have spent hours to test and experiment dishes for their menu so expect some curveballs that will catch you by surprise. Some offerings would go down better than others I suspect as the pairing of sweet and savoury remains an acquired taste among local palates.
Yours truly love everything bacon so Smoking Hog definitely gets a 'YAY' from moi, especially the signature Bacones (RM27). Just feed me two of the crisp smoked bacon cones (essentially bacon strips layered and rolled up into cones) stuffed with mash, scrambled eggs and SH's housemade baked beans and I'm a deliriously happy camper. They taste scrumptious slathered with the house tomato sauce (it's way better than the bottled stuff) but seriously, they're good enough on their own.
For those who like a little 'dramatic' effect with their food, SH's Signature Smoking Cheeseburger (RM34) literally gets smoke in your eyes as it comes to the table, covered in a glass dome lid filled with roiling wisps of smoke. The juicy burger patty is made from pork, beef and lamb mince with chopped onion. A slice of melted cheddar complemented by sliced gherkins, tomato and lettuce complete the tempting offering with fries and tomato sauce on the side. Burger maniacs rejoice!
IMHO, the classic BLT is never boring but hey, some crabby treatment here never hurts as SH's Ultimate Soft Shell Crab BLT (RM29) proves. I was sceptical the combo would work but it turns out better than expected...the chunky pieces of fried soft shell crabs and coleslaw lend a nice moreish taste to the ensemble so no complaints there.
If you feel guilty scarfing down so much bacon, order a portion of Caesar Salad (RM22) to boost your green intake. Not that it's any less indulgent mind you ;p ...the fresh romaine lettuce is tossed with bacon bits, salted egg and fried ikan bilis (anchovies) and topped with a poached egg. Chockful of rich, voluptuous flavours that leave you smacking your lips after the last leaf is devoured. Yums!
Ardent 'egg heads' would crack up over the eggs-cellent dishes available: Deviled Eggs (RM26 for six halves) and Runny Pan Omelette or Scrambled Eggs (RM22) are just but two options. The former has mashed egg yolks with avocado while the latter is cooked to order with a choice of mix cheeses, mushrooms or cherry tomatoes complemented by two slices of toasted Ciabatta. Personally, I'd roll with the latter though the cheesy version is strictly for fromage fans.
The Spaghetti Bolognese (RM33) features a tomato-based meaty sauce that again mixes the 'unholy' trilogy of beef, pork and lamb. I find it's a rather ho-hum option but heck, I'm sure no self-respecting spagbol fan will care two hoots what I think.
SH also brings new meaning to the 'ear to tail' eating with its Pig's Ear & Oxtail Stew (RM58) - marrying local pig's ears with Aussie waygu oxtail in a viscous stew brimming with barley, mushroom, mashed potato and grilled vegetable. It's disconcerting to see a whole piece of pig's ear in the milieu but overall, it's an earthy dish that should appeal to diners who have a penchant for innards, offal and such or those who want a dose of natural collagen.
Those with kids in tow may like the Mushroom Bacon Soup (RM16) - a creamy-rich, earthy broth flecked with smoked bacon bits. I surprised myself when I lapped up every spoonful but then, I abhor the thought of all those bacon bits going to waste.
In case you have pals who eschew pork, the Lamb, Brown Rice & Barley Soup (RM35) is a hefty meal on its own thanks to the whole lamb shank in it. Honestly, I was too distracted by the porky dishes served hence this particular dish just fell below my radar but I noticed several tables actually had it so presumably it's a hit in its own right.
What do you get when you cross pancakes with crepes? Dutch babies that's what. Baked until puffy then collapsing back into flatten pieces, you can sample Dutch Babies with eight different toppings such as Nutella, Crumbled Cookies & Ice Cream (RM22) and Chicken/Pork Sausages with Avocado/Tomato Salsa (RM24). A substantial serving that's enough for brekkie or lunch, their mouthfeel are chewier than normal pancakes.
I prefer the deliciously indulgent French Toast (RM27) which has two slices of thick-cut bread cooked with a hint of whisky and adorned with roughly crushed nuts, smoked bacon and bananas. A dollop of vanilla ice cream and maple syrup served on the side completes this perfect platter.

Equally notable is Beer & Bacon Mancakes (RM25), an adult version of pancakes made with Guinness Stout-laced batter. The fluffy pancakes are stacked with candied smoked bacon and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some maple syrup, resulting in a melding of sweet-savoury accents and crispy-fluffy soft textures.
Beer & Bacon Mancakes pix courtesy of Smoking Hog
Sweet encores appear in the form of Bacon & Egg Ice Cream (RM24) or Havana Rum & Raisin Ice Cream (RM16). Churned on premise, the former is loaded with bacon bits and accompanied by more crispy smoked candied bacon while the latter is boozy enough to leave you smiling from ear-to-ear.
First-time patrons will have to head to the side entrance of Crab Factory (Smoking Hog is on the 3rd Floor) and look for a flying pig sign. Take the lift up and you'd enter a dark, clubby space with dimmed lighting. Plush velvet-upholstered studded and leather armchairs, a long table carved out from a solid tree trunk and brass shaded lamps evoke a quirky, arty ambiance to dine in.
TY stresses that SH is an informal bistro that's conceived to be an inviting space where patrons can hang out with friends after a decadent pig-out session. A flight of wooden stairs adorned with specially commissioned art pieces leads to an upstairs dining cum lounge area as well as open-air rooftop patio. 

A bacon haven for an oink-ing good time...what more can you ask for?

For reservations, call SMOKING HOG, tel: 03-7865 9239. Address: 3rd Floor, 21, Jalan SS2/64, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Business hours: Tues, Wed & Thurs 11 am-11pm, Fri 11am-1am, Sat 9am-1am and Sun 9am-11am. Closed on Monday.