Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Uma @ The Strand, Kota Damansara



Reminiscing Balinese Flavours!


I can hardly believe that it’s been four years since I have been to The Uma at The Strand in Kota Damansara. The first time I had a taste of Balinese cuisine was at The Uma and it had certainly left me so impressed with the flavours of the cuisine. In addition to its gorgeous flavours, The Uma serves pork in their menu, just like how it is in Bali.


The Uma is the heart and soul of owner and Chef Ho Yau Chan, who fell in love with the country after working there for 8 years. After returning back to Malaysia, he was still reminiscing about Bali and its culture and decided to pursue his dream of owning a restaurant. He wanted to share his amazing Balinese dining experience with the locals here hence The Uma was born.


Walking into The Uma, I was immediately reminded how beautiful the restaurant looks. Designed in theme to its rich Balinese heritage, The Uma has filled with many Balinese paraphilia. The ambience is soothing and almost romantic with its soft glow lighting and Balinese music in the background. There are two levels of dining with the upper one perfect for private functions. As Uma translate to paddy field, the upper level has wallpapers of endless beauty of paddy fields.


I was pretty excited as I vividly recalled my previous delicious experience here. The menu hasn’t changed much but I was told that Chef Ho has tweaked his recipes to near perfection over the years. We quickly ordered our drinks of Jus Apokat (RM10) and Minty Cucumber (RM9). Jus Apokat is avocado smoothie laced with chocolate while the Minty Cucumber is a vibrant concoction of cucumber juice, lime and mint. I love my Minty Cucumber because it’s so refreshing and kept my palate refresh from all the heavy flavours of the food to come.


Since there were only two of us, we decided to share some appetizers and main course. Sate Celeng Asem (RM14) is Assam Pork Satay that is so well marinated that it didn’t need any satay sauce. Skewers of pork with bits of crisp fat that amped up the umami flavour are beautifully grilled till tender and smoky. I can taste the spices in the pork and it is just enough to create a wonderful palate of flavours. It is definitely a dish you won’t want to miss.


We were also recommended the Urutan (RM15), a housemade fried pork sausage stuffed in pork intestine casing. Since I am gamed for most part of the hog, I knew I would enjoy this appetizer. The sausage has a delicate hint of spices. The outer skin is nicely crisp while the sausage meat is moist and tender. A side dark soy sauce packed with heat and sweetness is the perfect condiment for the sausage.


Nasi Ratus with Grilled Pork Rib (RM27) is the house signature and this is what everyone orders when they come to The Uma. Nasi Ratus is Balinese version of mixed rice and can be served with various main dishes. We choose grilled pork ribs because I vaguely remembered that I had it before and it was delish.


Besides grilled pork ribs, there are plenty of other main dishes that one can choose such as Babi Kecap Manis, Pork Rendang, Balinese Steamed Duck, Crispy Fried Duck, Balinese Grilled Chicken, Tuna Sambal Matah, Prawn with Coconut in Banana Leaf, Balinese Lamb Curry and more.

Our Grilled Pork Ribs are indeed as good as I had remembered. There is a nice crisp char and caramelized note on the ribs and yet the meat remained tender and moist. It has a good balance of savory and sweet with hints of spices. The ribs are just so tasty that you will want to make sure that you lick all your fingers and the ribs too. One can also order the ribs as a la carte.


The Nasi Ratus comes with lots of sidekicks. First up, Nasi Saur is pale turmeric tinted rice with coconut and black eye peas. The rice itself is light in flavours and is a good base for all the other stronger accompaniments. The rice came with Plecing Kangkung, Lawar Kacang, Kentang Goreng Bali, Be Siap Plalah and two sambals of Sambal Mbe and Sambal Tomat together with a skewer of Sate Lilit       . Plecing Kangkung is stir fried water spinach while Lawar Kacang is long bean salad with coconut and Kentang Goreng Bali is thin potato sticks deep fried till crispy and spiced up. Be Siap Plalah is shredded chicken salad with lime and chili dressing while the Sate Lilit is fish satay. What diners want to watch out is the two sambals that is guarantee to hit your taste bud and light it on fire. Sambal Mbe is crispy fried shallot mixed with chilies while Sambal Tomat is a tomato chili sambal with shrimp paste that rocks!

When you savor every condiment with the rice, it is a kaleidoscope of flavours! Super spick and shiok…


Since we had a grilled meat, we opted for Bebek Betutu or Balinese Steamed Duck (RM28) as a la carte. Surprisingly I had forgotten about this dish till I referred back to my old post and saw that I had also ordered this dish. This round, it looks a little different but the taste is vaguely familiar. A whole duck Maryland is steamed in spice stock for hours to achieve the tender falling apart duck it is famous for. It has strong robust and salty notes with a good hint of heat. I loved the aroma of the spices. The duck is nicely moist, tender and tasty. It may be a tad too salty eaten on its own but when savored with rice, the flavours are just spot on.


Nasi Kuning (RM3) is a side order because I wanted to try different rice. I enjoyed this one very much as it reminded me of our nasi lemak with its coconut cream.


I am really glad to be back at The Uma. Chef Ho showed that his passion for Balinese cuisine is still as strong as ever, in fact, he has devoted much time to keep improving the flavours of his dishes. We hope he introduces new dishes soon such as Babi Guling and more simply because we cannot get enough of the flavours of The Uma. If you want to try authentic Balinese cuisine, The Uma is the perfect place to start. And then there is the addition of serving pork at The Uma… need I say more? LOL…


THE UMA
7-G & 7-1, Jalan PJU 5/21,
The Strand, Kota Damansara
47810 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-6142 2771

GPS Coordinate:
N3 09.283 E101 35.541

Website: www.the-uma.com

Business Hours:
Lunch 12:00 pm - 03:00 pm
Dinner         06:00 pm - 10:30 pm
Closed on Tuesdays

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Underground Société @ Bandar Sunway




It’s All About US!

Following in hot pursuit of their famed Coffee Société and Garage 51, the owners of the same establishment is set on another culinary and coffee journey with their latest offspring of Underground Société (US). Located in Bandar Sunway, US is quite the talk of the town with its concept of serving great food and respectable coffee with wine thrown in for good measure.


The smart casual bistro cum coffee bar strives to defy the norm of many F&B outlets. While many goes all out to make sure everything is clearly blasted for its diners, Underground Société takes on the underground route to showcase their alternative lifestyle and artistic expression through their food and coffee. One might even miss US while you are driving pass the place as the bistro has a discreet signboard that only states US with some artistic impressions on the building situated along shop lots of car accessories and services area. It is all a hush hush operation… after all it is named Underground Société


Once you walked into the bistro though, you’ll be taken into a modern contemporary space filled with many foodie enthusiasts hanging out for a decent meal with coffee. Designed to vibe a hip and urban industrial ambience, the bistro has wood and steel set with backdrops of unfinished floor, dark ceiling, wood wall panels and a long graphical wall mural. Long banquette seating is available as well as the standard seating in the bistro.


Menu is fairly long and filled with solid lists of breakfast, light meals, main course, pizza, pasta and dessert. The beverage menu is also a good one, filled with coffees, wine, beer, cocktail and more. As they are known for their coffee, coffee junkies will certainly be pleased with the various choices of coffee available including Coffee on Tap (RM16), a refreshing cold brewed coffee fresh from the tap. Coffee on Tap even has a layer of creamy foam on top, mimicking a stout I know…

I had their mocktail of Virgin Mojito (RM17), a sour and minty beverage that I am very fond of with its refreshing flavours.


Kids meal are also available at US so ask for it if you have little ones dining with you. My kid’s meal of Fish & Chips is really good as the golden crispy crumbed fish is yummy while the chips are nice, crisp and golden.


If you are into brunch, you would like US’s brunch and lunch menu. The offerings are delightful and creative with lots of prettiness injected on the plating. We had Eggs Atlantic with Avodaise (RM18), US’s version of Eggs Benedict. The platter is so pretty with vibrant colors. Savor thick slices of toasted sourdough bread with smoked salmon, two beautiful poached eggs and avodaise or avocado hollandaise sauce. There was even a strewn of edible colorful flowers on the Benedict to make it prettier. It’s not just a lovely presentation but this dish is delicious. The poached eggs were perfect with the gorgeous soft flow of egg yolk enriching the salmon and toast while the creamy avocado hollandaise is silky, buttery and savory.


Another pretty dish of Smoked Salmon Scramble on Sourdough (RM18) was also decent with simple renditions of creamy scrambled egg with salty smoked salmon on sourdough toast. Best eaten hot as the eggs are more soft and creamy and contrasted nicely with the smoked salmon flavours.


French Toast with Nutella (RM15) was a whooper! When we saw the dish, we were delighted at the thoughts of French Toast with mint ice cream for brunch. It’s an icy treat and the whole French toast and ice cream was drizzled with Nutella and piled with fresh berries and edible flowers. Now I am not a fan of mint ice cream so I would have preferred this with regular vanilla ice cream but it’s just my preference. It is still a treat as the French toast with Nutella is a match made in heaven.


200g Grilled Atlantic Salmon with Pesto Gnocchi, Sautéed Capsicum and Foyot Sauce (RM36) is also on their brunch and lunch menu. Recently, I have a fondness of fish and have been enjoying lots of fish dishes. This one was pretty good in my books. The salmon was cooked till medium, another plus point for me, the pesto gnocchi was deliciously yum because it was lightly fluffy and the pesto sauce was flavourful. I think it’s quite clever to pair the fish with lots of capsicum as it gives the fish a nice sweet peppery note. The foyot sauce was ok as it is quite similar to a Bernaise sauce. I think the portion is really good and I was happy with the overall flavours and textures of this dish.


After we had out brunch and lunch dishes, we moved on to appetizers and main courses for dinner. Platter of Avocados with Jamaican Pineapple Salsa, Stuffed Mashed Egg, Couscous & Caviar and Feta Cheese (RM26) was an appetizer and it was a fairly light one too. Since avocados are good for health, savoring this appetizer with plenty of avocado is a good choice. You get four variations of fillings paired with creamy smooth avocados. Out of the four, I love the Stuffed Mashed Egg and Feta Cheese the most as they have the most flavours in the pairing.


Smoked Duck with Pesto, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Arugula on Thin Crust (RM28) was one of my favorite dish that day. I love the smokiness of the deep rich duck flavours paired with nutty pesto and the lightly bitter note of arugula leaves with lots of cheese. All the ingredients go so well and the flavours compliment each another harmoniously.


Slipper Lobster Aglio Olio with Asparagus & Chili Flakes (RM34) proved that the most basic pasta can even be a match for the lush slipper lobster. This one is sufficiently satisfying with lovely garlicky and chili notes. Pasta is served only after 4pm.


After 6pm, for dinner, check out their Grilled Cajun Chicken Breast with Asparagus, Roasted Pumpkin, Broccoli, Beetroot, Sauteed Herb Potatoes & Robert Sauce (RM33) or Grain Fed Australian Beef Tenderloin with Asparagus, Roasted Pumpkin, Broccoli, Beetroot, Sauteed Herb Potatoes & Robert Sauce (RM49). Both dishes are similar except for the main protein where you choose chicken or beef. The good news is whether you choose beef or chicken, both are really prepared well.


The grain fed Australian beef tenderloin is beautifully tender and cooked till medium as requested. The chicken breast was surprisingly delicious as it was cooked to perfection with succulent juices and tenderness from the white meat. There are lots of sidekicks for both dishes and together with Robert sauce, a rich and robust mustard sauce, married everything together beautifully in flavours and textures.


Grilled New Zealand Lamb Rack with Mint Crust with Asparagus, Roasted Pumpkin, Broccoli, Beetroot, Sauteed Herb Potatoes & Robert Sauce (RM45) is also another similar dish to the earlier two but this one has nice thick cuts of lamb rack cooked to your liking. I like the mint crust a lot on the lamb as it helps to add more depth of flavours to the lamb.


Desserts proved to be hot conversation pieces! From Underground Grenade (RM26) to Underground Fireball (RM12), both which contains alcohol and is quite the showpiece.


Underground Grenade even comes with a tagline of ‘You haven’t been underground till you try this!’. There is a 30 minutes waiting time for this dessert. Beneath the toasted meringue is a mount of mint chocolate chip ice cream with chocolate. Sambucca is poured over and light up to burn off the alcohol. It’s an icy oblivion of minty cream with dark chocolate and fluffy sweet meringue with hits of Sambucca. What more can a girl want in a dessert? Wink!


Underground Fireball is also another dessert worth lusting after. Chocolate ball on chocolate sand with a ring of meringue and edible flowers also gets the hot light up treatment with alcohol. Once the fire died out, the chocolate ball melts lightly to unveil more hidden chocolate lusciousness inside the ball. It’s utterly divine and sinful.


It may be an underground concept but Underground Société won’t remain anonymous for long. The Choong brothers have certainly added one more potential F&B outlet to their group. At US, it’s not just coffee anymore, it’s also about the food!


UNDERGROUND SOCIÉTÉ
68, Jalan PJS 11/7,
Bandar Sunway,
46150 Subang Jaya
Tel: 60 3-5613 3851


Business Hours:  Open Daily 11am – 2pm

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Yuzen Japanese Restaurant @ Damanasara Perdana


Authentic Japanese Dining



Hidden in the heavy populated residential area of Damansara Perdana is Yuzen Japanese Restaurant in Plaza Emerald North, an authentic Japanese restaurant serving up some of the best Japanese cuisine in the city. Yuzen’s location is fairly discreet but foodies know how to hunt this restaurant down, especially if the restaurant is as good as this one.


Walking into Yuzen Japanese Restaurant, the ambience is simple and dressed with modern contemporary design with touches of Japanese influence. There is a small sushi bar at the back of the restaurant but it is only to catch some live sushi actions rather than to dine at the bar. The restaurant is fairly spacious and there is another sectioned off area for few private rooms for more privacy. The owner, Mr. Matchi has over 15 years of culinary experience in Japanese cuisine and goes all out in serving up some of the very best catch of the sea in Yuzen.


The menu at Yuzen is decent and sufficient with many popular Japanese classics together with a list of beverages of tea, sake, beer and soft drinks. Yuzen also offers specials of the day, Omakase sets, dinner sets and air-flown highly prized Japanese produce such as Wagyu, Toro and more.


Omakase Sashimi (Market Price starting RM200 and above)

We had their Omakase Sashimi and were thoroughly impressed at the quality of the sashimi that evening with cuts of Fatty Tuna (Toro), Yellowtail (Hamachi), Horse Mackerel (Shima Aji), Sea Urchin (Uni), Hokkaido Scallop (Hotate), and Salmon Belly.


The Toro, the ultimate cut of the tuna with high fat content, was gorgeously superb! It was simply irresistible. Marbled with light pink and white flesh, the Toro melts-in-the-mouth with glorious creamy notes. The Shima Aji was also another delight, firm and creamy with moreish flavours of the ocean while the Hamachi is gloriously sweet and luscious as well. The others like Uni, Hotate and Salmon Belly are also very fresh and delicious. I was in heaven for a few moments while savoring this platter of sashimi. It’s quite a hefty price tag but well worth every bite!


Tuna Tataki Avocado Salad (RM22)

Tuna Tataki is a fairly common dish in Japanese cuisine but this one had a lovely twist of being paired with an avocado salad in wasabi sesame dressing. The tuna was nicely seared on the outside and left raw in the middle. On its own would have been tasteless but after savoring this with the aromatic and creamy sesame dressing kicked up with hits of nostril-tingling wasabi, it was a really good dish. The fresh slices of avocado also added a nice creaminess to the overall dish.


Crab Meat Chawan Mushi (RM10)

Chawan mushi may be a simple dish but it is always a much sought-after dish by every one of all ages. This one is nicely steamed with a smooth and creamy custard-like consistency. Going the extra mile, the chef topped the steamed egg with a lovely sweet mount of crab meat cooked in savory broth. One can opt for the crab meat or seafood or simply as its original.


Salmon Teriyaki (RM18)

Chef Matchi makes his own teriyaki sauce so this Salmon Teriyaki is another signature of the restaurant. The fish is nicely seared and was cooked till medium well. It has a nice creamy texture and the teriyaki sauce compliments the fish very well. The sauce had a good balance of salty and sweet notes.


Dragon Unagi (RM38)

We enjoyed the Dragon Unagi roll very much with its splendor of caramelized sweet grilled eel over the roll stuffed with prawn tempura, shredded lettuce and masago. 6 piece per order, we were happily fighting over the roll as it was moreish, lightly sweet and smoky with a nice textural bite.


Mochi Ice Cream (RM10)

Dinner ended with simple Mochi Ice Cream served with red bean paste and a drizzle of dark sweet chocolate sauce.


Yuzen Japanese Restaurant serves premium quality Japanese food set in a simple and elegant ambience. Prices are reasonable as certain ingredients are imported by air such as the sashimi. If you’re looking for authentic Japanese cuisine, Yuzen is an ideal choice for an authentic Japanese meal.


YUZEN JAPANESE RESTAURANT
LG03, Plaza Emerald North
Jalan PJU8/3A, Damansara Perdana
47820 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-7732 9730


Business Hours:
Monday-Saturday    Lunch 12pm - 2:30pm | Dinner 6pm - 10pm
CLOSED on Sunday


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